bandana uses

instructional article

25 Reasons to Carry a Bandana

25 bandana uses-survival bandana

A standard 22" bandana is a powerhouse piece of gear. It's an item that's long history goes back beyond the taming of the West and has been an outdoorsman's staple since then. And for good reason. A bandana can serve so many different uses that it essentially replaces a dozen other pieces of gear. If you traveling by foot, the idea of dropping a dozen items from your pack list can be pretty appealing. 

There can be much more exhaustive lists made of what a bandana can be used for, but today I'm going to focus on 25. Some more in depth than others. 


1. Headband (Sweat Protection)
2. Head Wrap (Sun Protection/warmth)
3. Neck Wrap (Sun Protection/warmth)
4. Wash Cloth
5. Towel
6. Pot Holder
7. Hand Wrap (To Prevent Blisters With Repetitive Work)
8. Gloves
9. First Aid Splint
10. Tourniquet
11. Wrap Sprained Ankle/wrist
12. Ice Pack
13. Fire Building Tinder
14. Strain Sediment From Water
15. Dust Mask
16. Signal Flag
17. Improvised Bag
18. Rope
19. Sponge
20. Blind Fold
21. Dog Collar
22. Fly Swatter
23. Sling
24. Check Wind Direction
25. Hobo Bindle

I'll go a bit more in depth into some of my favorite bandana uses here. 


I'm sure I'm the only one here that seems to be letting a little bit more light in on the top on the head these days. It can really be a bad thing on sunny days when I forget a hat. Luckily for me, I always carry a bandana and can tie one on, pirate style, in a pinch. 

25 bandana uses- survival bandana


I have on occasion (more often than not...) found myself outside with out sun screen. One of the first places I get toasted in the neck. My neck has been saved many times by a bandana and a quick square knot. 

25 bandana uses - survival bandana


A pot holder is one of those things you don't think about until you really need it. It's also something I would never add to my backpacking list... Not when a bandana will do nicely. Of course, the cast iron skillet in this photo isn't on my backpacking list either. 

25 bandana uses - survival bandana


In a pinch, you can strain the sediment from water using a filter made from bandanas, sand, gravel, grass and charcoal. I did it once here

25 bandana uses - survival bandana


Waving a high contrast flag around is a great way to get attention. In nature red is usually going to be a good contrasting color. Unless you're in New England in the fall, I suppose. I've also see people use bandanas to mark a fork in a trail for a later group to follow. Or to create a landmark in unfamiliar territory. 

25 bandana uses - survival bandana


This is a favorite of mine. By simply tying together diagonal corners with square knots you get a handy little pouch for carrying smaller items, like berries. It's kind of like a loose hobo bindle. 

25 bandana uses - survival bandana


I'm not just talking about pin the tail on the donkey here. You can use a bandana to block out unwanted sunlight to grab a quick nap during the day. 

25 bandana uses

Hopefully this will get the gears turning on new uses for your bandana. Maybe it will empower you to be able to leave a few more items home on your next backpacking trip. I know I'm always looking to lighten to load. 

Here at Colter Co., we are on a mission to improve the humble bandana. We add another layer of benefit to every bandana to make them even more useful in the outdoors. Whether it's knot diagrams, star charts, or board games, we are making bandanas better. Pack less, take more. 

instructional article

Bandana Use #147: Water filter

The internet is full of tips and tricks and gadgets. Half of which make me wonder if they really work. Some I know for a fact do not work. So before I repost anything I like to make sure it's legit. One I've been wondering about for a while is this diagram I found of a water filter tower made from 3 bandanas, and layers of grass, sand and charcoal. 

bandana water filter_survival bandana

On my last camping trip I decided to put it to the test. I did some modifications for my design. I wanted to limit it to one bandana, and simply layer the materials in that bandana. I did a base layer of sand, then rocks, then dry grass. MAJOR FUNCTIONALITY NOTE!!! This type of filter is NOT meant to make water safe to drink. It does not remove any kind of pathogens, or water born illness. It is meant to remove sediment making it easier to prepare for boiling or some other form of treatment. 

I started by making a 4 sided "quadpod". I make this the same way I would a tripod, but with an extra pole (for those really bad at math). Start with 4 equal length branches. 


Tie a clove hitch around the first branch. Then weave the rope over and under the other branches. When you get the end, weave the rope back the other way. Do this 3-4 times. You can simply wrap the rope around the outside of all the branches, but the weaving method creates better friction and will hold better.


After that wrap the rope between each of the branches vertically to cinch down on the weave and tighten the whole thing up. This is called frapping. Then finish off with another clove hitch. 


Then you can stand it up and space the branches apart. Tada! You've got a quadpod. This little structure has an endless list of uses. It can be used as the beginning of a shelter, or to hang a pot over a fire, as the starting point for a latrine or a dining table (don't get those two mixed up...). I could go on for ages.


To connect the bandana to the quadpod, I tied two half hitches around a small pebble in each corner of the bandana and tie the other end of each rope to a branch. 


I am using our Know Your Knots bandana for this one (it does feature the two knots used to create this contraption.) At this point I started filling the bandana with fine sand, then gravel and last a thick layer of dry grass. 


Next I grabbed some excessively gross water and poured it over the top of the grass. 


Here's a clip of the filter in action. You can see there's a major difference in the before and after!

The results were good. I found that I needed to run the water through a few times to get most of the sediment out, but it was certainly effective. If I were to do it again (and I probably will) I would make sure to wash the sand ahead of time. I think a lot of the first couple runs were just washing the soil from the sand out. A triple layered version of this would be more effective, but would also take more time to set up.

I would love to hear about your experiences with anything like this.