survival uses of a bandanna

Bandanna Usefulness
32+ Ways a Prepper Can Use a Bandanna for Survival

An icon of the American cowboy and of the scouting community,
Webster's has defined the bandanna as a square piece of cloth
with two basic uses, but we have happy news for Webster's,
because we've come up with dozens of practical and survival uses
for a bandanna!

Prepper uses for a Bandanna
While Webster's defines a bandanna with just two practical uses
(head and neck covering), preppers have 32 practical uses of a

  • Bandanna use #1: Clothing.
    With a bandanna you can look like Rosie the Riveter, a
    bandit, a cowboy, a gangster, or Maryann from Gilligan's
    island. The following are practical uses for bandannas and
    not for fashion:
  1. Wear as a belt to cinch clothing at the waste.
  2. Protect ears as earmuffs in cold or windy weather.
  3. Collect sweat as a headband or sweatband bracelet.
  4. Keep hair tied (as for fire building or to cool neck).
  5. Cuff leg as a gaiter to keep legs warm and dry from
    damp conditions or to minimize tick and chigger
  6. Cover neck to keep, cold, wind and rain out (or keep
    you from being a red neck!)
  7. Cover head to prevent heatstroke or sunburn (especially
    for those balding or who have thin hair).
  8. Line a hat or helmet to make more comfortable, protect
    against sweat or make it fit better.
  9. Add a layer of warmth to neck in cold weather.
  10. Wear over a hat to keep it from flying away in the wind.
  11. Cinch your boots if your shoe lace fails and you're stuck
    without paracord.
  12. Shield hands from the cold (makeshift gloves).
  13. Make a dress for girls from a couple of bandannas. The
    same principal could be applied to making a halter top.
  14. Repair clothing as a knee or elbow patch.
  15. Improvised apron.

Bandanna Use #2 +3: Cooking and eating.
  1. Improvise a dishrag or sponge.
  2. Dry off as a towel.
  3. Use as washcloth.
  4. Keep your knife clean.
  5. Wipe as a napkin.
  6. Keep food out of the dirt as a place mat.
  7. Prevent burns as a potholder
  8. Strain or filter food (clean berries, or filter pasta or
  9. Cover food (to help keep away flies).
  10. Wear as a hobo pack to collect edibles.
  11. Sit upon (a place to sit in the dust or in a damp
  12. Lunch liner (hold sandwiches and snacks in lieu of  
    plastic bags).
  13. Bacon grease catch (then wash it or use it as a
  14. Taking the bitterness from acorns.
  15. Hold a bottle or your picnic Japanese style.

Bandanna Use #4: Conceal.
A bandanna is an ideal way to conceal just about anything -
nefarious or otherwise. While travelling you can conceal an extra
biscuit, muffin, pastry or cookie from the buffet, for example. If it
makes you feel better, you can take bite and then if caught you
can say that you didn't want the food to go to waste.

Bandanna Use #5: Cordage.
There are many ways to use a bandanna for cordage:
  1. Tie equipment to trees or tent.
  2. Strap gear to backpacks.
  3. Make a pouch to protect or carry loose gear.
  4. Make snares.
  5. Bridle a horse.
  6. Lashing (a cord used to fasten something securely).

    NOTE: While bandannas are an excellent material for
    cordage if you don't have any other suitable material, your
    bandanna won't do you any good if you don't know how to
    tie knots/ Be sure to get a bandanna with knot tying
    instructions printed directly on them if you are not familiar
    with them. Having instructions certainly will help the novice.

Bandanna Use #6: Comfort.
  1. Keep dirt, dust and wind from nose and mouth as a
    dust mask.
  2. Mask foul smells (death and sewage).
  3. Comfort head to rest or sleep (use as a pillow cover
    over folded clothes).
  4. Whisk away mosquitoes, flies and other insects.
  5. Mitigate chafing (repetitive friction), as with a backpack
    that rubs in one spot on the skin causing irritation. Just
    pad the straps with a bandanna or the part that's
  6. Rest by day (place over face to shade from sun).
  7. Clean sunglasses or eyeglasses to increase visibility.
  8. Tether a walking stick to your hand.
  9. Wipe your teeth if you don't have a toothbrush.
  10. Wrap your palm for heavy axe work if you don't have a
    work glove.

Bandanna use #7: Firearms.
  1. Improvised a gun cloth or cleaning patch.
  2. Makeshift rifle sling.

Bandanna Use #8 + 9: Fire starting and candle
  1. Use as tinder (cut it in little pieces).
  2. Tie together a fire bundle or gather natural tinder.
  3. Soak it in oil or Vaseline and use as fire starter or
    candle wick.
  4. Make a char cloth.
  5. Keep hair neat for fire building or food making.
  6. Pad your hand for making fire with a bow drill.
  7. Make a button lamp!

Bandanna Use #10: First aid.
  1. Improvise a bandage for a wound (if the bandanna is
  2. Cover head wounds.
  3. Improvise an eye patch for eye wounds.
  4. Apply pressure to a wound.
  5. Bind as splint.
  6. Keep contagion at bay as a pandemic mask.
  7. Sling for an injured arm.
  8. Craft a tourniquet (provided you know how to use a
    tourniquet). Using a tourniquet incorrectly could cause
    more harm than good. For example, a tourniquet is for
    cutting off circulation, and not for snake bites.
  9. Improvise gauze .
  10. Cold water compress for a burn (if you have ice or
  11. Use with flour as a poultice to relieve soreness and

Right is a first aid bandanna: instructions are printed directly on
the material so you'll know how to deal with anything from a
snake bite to a bee sting on the trail.

Bandanna Use #11: Gang or Group Identifier, Militia
Did you know bandannas were used by the first American
militias? Left is the first bandanna created in honor of George
Washington with militia flags and cannons. It was born of the
struggle for independence!

The American bandanna is much more than a cloth: it is an icon
of the Spaghetti Western cowboy, the classic bank robber, the
modern gang member, and also the prepared scout. A bandanna
can provide an identification of your group to quickly identify your
commune. In an apocalypse situation there will be gangs: it may
as well be you heading them! Order a group color for
identification purposes, such as green, purple, brown or orange
(instead of the traditional red and blue). Since there are many
ways to wear a bandanna, certainly you can use one as a gang
identifier in the manner you tie it. Wear it on your upper thigh,
upper arm,  hang it out of the back pocket for example. A
bandanna can be a unifying identifier depending on how you tie it
and the color you choose.

Bandanna Use #12: Hide identity.
The American bandanna is much more than a cloth: it is an icon
of the Spaghetti Western cowboy, the classic bank robber, the
modern gang member, and also the prepared scout.Did you know
the word "bandido" comes from wearing a bandanna? Certainly a
bandanna has become iconic with bandits, but you can hide your
identity in many way:
  1. Muffle and alter your voice on the telephone, microphone or
    video camera.
  2. Hide face to help disguise your true identity.
  3. Personal Camouflage (if you're hiding in the wilderness and
    you have a camouflage pattern).

Bandanna Use #13: Improvised Gas mask.
While previously we demonstrated a bandanna can provide a
measure of protection for a pandemic, it probably won't suffice,
but at least it's better than nothing. The same is true of using a
bandanna to improvise a gas mask: however, a prepper never
gives up hope! With charcoal dust you can do your best to create
a barrier between you and the noxious toxic materials.

Bandanna Use #14: Knee pads or forearm protection.
If you must crawl or kneel, a bandanna can provide knees with
improvised extra protection if the knees are exposed (as with
wearing shorts). Likewise, you can protect the forearm or hands
from thorns of fruit trees (lemons or blackberries, for example)
while foraging.

Bandanna Use# 15: Personal hygiene.
For personal hygiene a bandanna can come in handy:
  1. Clean eyeglasses.
  2. Improvise diaper, sanitary napkin, toilet paper in extreme
  3. Use as a handkerchief (sneezing, tears, sweat).

Bandanna Use #16: Pet control.
Control pet or livestock with a bandanna:
  1. Improvise a muzzle.
  2. Create a dog leash.
  3. Identification (should members of your group need to
    identify members of the pack).
  4. Makeshift bridle.
  5. Make a hogtie.

Bandanna Use #17: Sewing material for domestic
The following are economical survival uses of bandannas, which
would be useful ideas during war or economic depression:
  1. Bedding + quilt making. See the pioneer spirit of using
    a bandanna to make a quilt, left!
  2. Bib for babies.
  3. Pillow covers and seat covers.
  4. Table cloth, napkins or place mats.
  5. Wrapping presents to save on paper and with the
    purpose of recycling.

Bandanna Use #18: Signaling.
With a wet bandanna you can make smoke signals, but does
anybody know how to
make smoke signals let alone read them?

Here's something you can do: flag down a rescue copter! (Or
throw in the towel: surrender with a white bandanna!)

With a bright colored bandanna in orange, as pictured left, you
can signal for help. It won't do you much good to wave an orange
bandanna unless you do it properly. You must wave in a pattern
that looks something different than just shaking off dirt from
your campsite gear. Try a deliberate pattern. As an example:
three quick shakes, followed by a pause. When you do this in a
pattern, you are signaling that you are in need of help.

With basic survival and camping techniques explained on a
convenient, right orange bandanna, you'll find  tips on water
purification, setting up an emergency shelter, navigating using
the stars, first aid, useful knots, identifying animal tracks and
more. Bright orange color makes for a visible signaling device.
The large size and bright orange color make this the perfect
bandanna to carry in case you need to signal for aid, and the
information printed on it may just help you in a wide variety of
emergency situations.

Bandanna Use #19: Snow Survival.
Surviving in the snow, you'll find a bandanna useful:
  1. Prevent snow blindness (burning of the cornea) by cutting
    slits into the bandanna with a knife, then wrapping the
    bandanna around the eyes to minimize the glare. This will
    provide a measure of protection against the reflective snow
  2. Melt snow over a fire to make drinking water. (Do not ingest
    snow or you will reduce the temperatures of your body
    further.) To do this, make a snow ball, tie it up in a
    bandanna, affix the bandanna to a stick and melt the snow.
    You'll need to have a receptacle underneath.

Bandanna Use #20 +21: Subduing and controlling.
There are many ways to use a bandanna to both subdue and
control an individual:
  1. Wear as a blindfold.
  2. Control a person as handcuffs.
  3. Gag the mouth.
  4. Tie a person to a pole or tree.

Bandanna use #22: Tent and gear tethering.
There are numerous ways to use a bandanna when pitching a
tent or for tethering your gear.
  1. Tie bandanna or strips to the guidelines of your tent to
    avoid tripping.
  2. Accent the top of your tent with a bandanna as a signal flag  
    in a search and rescue situation, where you can help
    rescuers find you are resting inside and otherwise well
  3. Tether a flashlight to create a lamp.

Bandanna Use #23: Vehicle convenience and
improvised repair.

  1. Wipe windshields to help defog windshields to enable better
  2. Shade window.
  3. Improvise temporary repair (e.g. hose leak, radiator pipe).
  4. Clean battery post and get the grime off the terminals.
  5. Handle a hot radiator cap.
  6. Check the oil.
    (Do not use it to plug a gas tank.)

Bandanna Use #24: Water filtration.
Be sure to wash your bandanna prior to filtering water or for
using for food. You don't want to ingest the dye.
  1. Pre-filter for water to get out the major debris before
  2. Water filtration for potable water using charcoal, sand, and
  3. Dew collector for hydration.
  4. Sponge for water collection.
  5. Snow melter (collect a snowball, hang over a fire and collect
    the water).

Bandanna Use #25: Waterproof map.
The "trail hankie"with a map is a practical tool. The benefit of
having a map made of cotton is that moisture will not affect
legibility! Glacier National Park maps, pictured right, are
topographic maps of national park. Because they're made of
100% natural cotton, and printed in great detail and color, they
can help you orient your way to safety if you're lost.

Bandanna Use #26 +27: Weapon, Self Defense.
There are many ways to use a bandanna for self defense or as a
  1. Sling a big rock and attack and hurl from afar (medieval
  2. Tie up coins and knock opponent over the head (blackjack
  3. Put a choke-hold on your attacker or trespasser.
  4. Use the bandanna as a whip without rolling it. Use it loose.
  5. Make a Molotov Cocktail (use the bandanna as a wick).

Bandanna Use #28: Wild Animal Control.
There are many ways you can use a bandana to control wild
  1. Distract a charging animal by flagging it.
  2. Shoo away a large animal (throwing stones in it).
  3. Make your size appear larger to discourage an animal from
    getting closer.
  4. Hang a bear canister in the trees (wrap stones into a
    bandanna, then tie your bundle to paracord which will enable
    you to throw your line up and over a branch so you can
    create a pully and lift your cannister to safety). Hanging
    food will also prevent raccoons from getting their claws into
    your vittles.

  • NOTE: There are bandannas with printed survival
    instructions on dealing with wild animals or for identifying

Bandanna Use #29: Wind direction.
With a bandanna you can check wind direction, which is key for
survival in many regards. Wind chill is the effect of cold moving
air on skin and can devastate morale. Knowing the wind direction
will help you to block the wind and moisture to start a fire. Also,
when you are lost, among the most important things you can do
is to remain where you are until you have a strategy. Your
survival strategy, depends on the Wind, as well as the Weather,
Water, and Warmth resources.

The key to survival is to STOP:
  • Sit (stay where you are and let the panic pass)
  • Think (take inventory of resources)
  • Observe (weather, surroundings, time of day)
  • Plan your actions around wind, weather, water and warmth.

Staying calm and clear headed will give you an edge towards
survival.  If temperatures are 40 degrees with wind and rain, you
have potential for hypothermia, making shelter from the wind
very important.

Bandanna Use #30: Wilderness Survival.
Bushcraft bandanna uses, include:
  1. Signal flag for help or to direct to safety.
  2. Mark a trail (rip pieces to show where you’ve been) or mark
  3. Water filter (a first line of filtration).
  4. Net small fish or crawdads.
  5. Brewing pine-needle tea. A remedy for many ailments and a
    wonderful source of vitamin C.
  6. Wet it to get out of a smoky wildfire situation.
  7. Lashing shelter.

Bandanna Use #31: Wrap a lighting source.
A bandanna is use for helping you dim light:
  1. Dim a flashlight.
  2. Wrap a light to make a lampshade.
  3. Make a night light (put a bandanna over a
  4. Cover face for an afternoon rest.
  5. Protect eyes from the glare of the sun.

Bandanna Use #32: Zombie Apocalypse Curls.
How are you going to curl your hair after the zombie apocalypse?
With a bandanna of course! This is a no heat "rag" curl popular in
days gone by. Revive the idea and give it a try on your favorite
prepper girl (or guy).

This "fashion survival" idea demonstrates the many ideas for
using a bandanna.  What will you think of next?

How to select your bandanna:

  • Material: Select cotton muslin, so that the material will
    breathe and best absorb water. Additionally, cotton will be
    best of your emergency char cloth and making tinder.

  • Color: The color of your bandanna is important. Gang colors
    are red and blue. A red bandanna would be appropriate to
    signal help camping; however, in uncertain times you'll want
    a bandanna that's a neutral color so as not to stick out.
    (Reserve the bright colored bandannas for signaling.) In
    addition to helping you camouflage, another benefit of a
    neutral color is that it will retain its original look by
    absorbing more of the dirt and dust. You won't have to clean
    it as often.

  • Size:  Generally bandannas are about the same size, but the
    bigger a bandanna you can find the better, so why not select
    an over-sized bandanna? A tactical scarf has more fabric
    than and is ultimately more useful because of the size and
    also the fringe.

  • Information: Bandannas also can provide useful information:

  1. Survival Bandanna. The two survival bandanna,
    pictured immediate right provides basic navigational
    help and basic survival instructions.
  2. CERT bandanna. The Community Emergency Response
    Team (CERT) bandanna in blue, right, provides some
    basic instructions for tying knots, plus offers a pictorial
    instruction on fire suppression, utility control, and more.
  3. First Aid bandanna. Get quick tips for aiding an injured
  4. Knot tying bandanna Discover some useful knots or
    get a refresher.

Multi functional items, such as the bandanna are prized highly by
scouts, preppers and survivalists alike. How will you use a
bandanna to save your life? Will you make tea? Check wind
direction? Muffle your voice on the telephone to help disguise
your true identity? Pad feet or shoulders on a long hike?  As a
rifle sling? This list is virtually endless!

What about a tactical scarf?

Survival experts worldwide suggest carrying some kind of
bandanna with you into the wild because of their many uses, but
why not upgrade with a
tactical scarf? In case you find yourself in
a survival situation, a tactical scarf, also called a keffiyeh or
shemagh, will serve you well.

Make a bandanna (or a tactical scarf) part of your everyday carry!

Happy endings...
It's very American to have a bandanna and to have it as part of
your everyday carry.

Related Articles...

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