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:

  • 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 exposure.
  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
  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 coffee).
  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 location).
  12. Lunch liner (hold sandwiches and snacks in lieu of  plastic bags).
  13. Bacon grease catch (then wash it or use it as a firestarter).
  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

  • Bandanna Use #5: 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
  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 rubbing.
  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 burning.
  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 clean).
  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 snow).
  11. Use with flour as a poultice to relieve soreness and inflammation.

    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 Flag.
    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
  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.
  1. Clean eyeglasses.
  2. Improvise diaper, sanitary napkin, toilet paper in extreme situations.
  3. Use as a handkerchief (sneezing, tears, sweat).

  • Bandanna Use #16: Pet control.
  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 uses.
    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 fields.
  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.
  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.
  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 camouflaged.
  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 visibility.
  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 purifying.
  2. Water filtration for potable water using charcoal, sand, and rocks.
  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.
  1. Sling a big rock and attack and hurl from afar (medieval style).
  2. Tie up coins and knock opponent over the head (blackjack style).
  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.
  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 tracks.

  • 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 territory.
  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.
  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 person.
  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...

Prepare to live happily ever after with us at - the emergency
preparedness Web site of prepping, survival,
homesteading, and self-sufficiency.
------------------------------------------------- Revised 03/23/16
(C) Copyright  2012-2016 by All rights reserved. The site happily targets concerned
citizens who are self-reliant survivalists, preppers and homesteaders with original content on survival
following societal collapse. You may link to our site, but
you may NOT reproduce any part of our content, or
store our content in any retrieval system to represent it as your own. Further, you may not transmit content in
any other form or by any means, including (but not limited to) electronic, photocopy, mechanical, or recording
without written consent. makes no warranties. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising
program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, or Amazon is a great place to buy emergency supplies. In
other words, we recommend prepping gear sold on Amazon. It's a great place to shop.

Get prepared! Read more emergency preparedness information on our home page. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising
program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, or Amazon is a great place to buy emergency supplies. In
other words, we recommend prepping gear sold on
Amazon. It's a great place to shop.

Get prepared! Read more emergency preparedness information on our home page.

Do NOT copy.
We have NEVER given permission to anyone to copy content. Do NOT steal.
It is plagiarism to steal our copy!
Prepper's Tarp
Camo bandanna
Military bandanna
Paisely bandanna
CERT bandanna
Military bandanna
bandanna assortment by the dozen
Woodland camo bandanna
hunter green bandanna
Survival bandanna with map
Knots tying bandanna
First Aid Bandana
Rothco bandanna
purple camo bandanna
Bandanas by the dozen
Happy Prepper's icon
Tactical scarf tutorial: how to wear a keffiyeh or shemagh
know your knots bandana
button lamp: bandana and coin
Stretch bandanna
Quilt making
History of bandanna
Tubular bandanna
Happy Preppers site for survivalists + preppers
Thanks for visiting us at! Prepare
to live happily ever after
with us. We're the happiest
preppers on the planet.
Volcano Oven
How a bandanna couls save your life
Google +