Four score and seven years ago, I was taught that you should always take a bandana hiking in case you find yourself in a life or death situation and need to use it as a tourniquet. Albeit true, I personally have never had to use my bandana to save a limb.
I have, however, found a handful of other uses for bandanas on the trail. These include a headband, dust mask, cooling towel, napkin, sun protection, and neck scarf.
As you can see, bandanas are the MVPs of hiking gear. This post contains a roundup of 7 great hiking bandanas and a buying guide.
To save you some time, the best bandana for hiking is the Levi’s Bandana. Read on to discover more trail-worthy bandanas.
|Best Overall||Levi’s Bandana||
|Runner Up||Soophen Cowboy Bandana||
|Budget Pick||Colter Co. Stayin Alive Bandana||
|OHSAY USA American Flag Bandana||
|Wazoo Animal Tracking Bandana||
|CoolNES UV Face Mask or Neck Sunshield||
|UST Survival Bandana||
Hiking Bandana Review
Levi’s Bandana – Best Overall
- PACKS OF ASSORTED SIZES & COLORS: Our Levi’s bandanas are available in packs of 2, 3 or 6 pieces in multiple colors. From the timeless American Red, White and Blue, to additional designs in Green, Black, Turquoise, Camo and even Pink! Our packs give you various style options that make it easier for you to mix it up or even share with your friends.
- VERSATILE & MULTIFUNCTIONAL: The only limit in styling these unisex bandanas is your creativity. From using as a protective face mask, to wrapping it around your wrist, to using it as a headband to style your hair, or even as an alternative to a neck tie, our Levi’s bandanas are as versatile as they are functional. You can also use our bandana as a cotton square, handkerchief, neck scarf or pocket square to complete your look with a casual touch.
- AUTHENTIC LEVI'S STYLE: Since 1873, Levis has been a pioneer in crafting pure American heritage products. From its iconic jeans, to jackets, and now accessories, the Levi's brand is an iconic flagship of the American fashion industry.
- PRODUCT CARE AND FEATURES: Hand wash only for best care. Made of high quality 100 percent cotton. Product dimensions for each bandana is 21.5 inches x 21.5 inches
- THIN MATERIAL FOR EASY WEAR: Our bandanas are made with breezy thin material for multi-use purposes. Durable yet lightweight and breathable, this cotton fabrication will be sure to stay comfortable all day long.
We are keeping it classic with our #1 pick for the best hiking bandana in 2021. You’ve seen it before, you know it well. It is the traditional Levi’s Bandana.
The iconic paisley print on these bandanas is dubbed a timeless classic, so you don’t have to worry about it going out of style. Nor will it look out of place on the trail.
Levi’s bandanas are made of 100% cotton, which means they are very breathable. The cotton used for these bandanas is thin and lightweight. This allows you to breathe easy when using the bandana as a facemask and fold it for other purposes.
These classic bandanas are a perfect square, measuring 21.5 x 21.5 inches. Its lack of clamps, clips, or closures allows you to fold or scrunch the bandana into a variety of styles for a variety of purposes. And this size gives you enough length to knot the bandana around your head.
We cannot say enough good things about this simple, yet versatile, bandana. Instead, we’ll let the customer reviews do the talking. With over 1,000 ratings, the Levi’s Classic Bandana has an average rating of 9.5 stars.
Soophen Cowboy Bandana – Runner Up
- 12pc Per Package
- Wash by Hand with Cold Water and Mild Soap.Hand Dry to Keep It's Shape
We understand that not everyone wants to pay $15 plus for a square piece of fabric, so we also looked at the best low-cost bandanas. Our budget pick is the Soophen Cowboy Bandana. These bandanas come in a pack of 12 for only $11.99. That’s only about $1 per bandana.
Soophen’s Cowboy Bandanas are made of 100% cotton. The material is thin to help you manipulate and breathe through it. The measurements for each square bandana are 22 x 22 inches.
These bandanas are great for hiking because they have a classic look and can be used for a variety of purposes. There are no clasps, straps, or fasteners on these bandanas, so you have the freedom to wear them how you want.
Soophen’s Cowboy Bandanas are available in 29 color options. And with a price like this, you can use them without caution, and just replace yours with another from the 12 pack when needed.
These bandanas have over 4,000 ratings on Amazon. The average rating is 9.2 stars, which indicates high customer satisfaction. This product is a great, budget-friendly hiking accessory.
Colter Co. Stayin Alive Bandana – Budget Pick
- High Visibility - This bandana is printed with high visibility reflective ink which makes it ideal for marking a shelter or landmark at night. When hit by the beam of a flash light it will light up light up like a Christmas tree
- Survival Information - This bandana contains helpful survival information on all of those subjects, while reminding you to Stop, Think, Observe and Plan
- Bandana Fabric - Printed on 100% cotton. 22” by 22”, made and printed in the USA
- Perfect Gift for Outdoor Enthusiasts - An excellent gift for the outdoors enthusiast or survivalist on your list
- Hunters Orange - Printed on a hunters orange bandana for high visibility; add some multifunctional information to you survival kit
We’ve selected Colter Co.’s Stayin’ Alive Bandana as a premium option. This bandana is more expensive than others on the market but worth every penny for its hardy fabric and stylized accents.
The Colter Co. Stayin” Alive Bandana is made of high quality 100% cotton that is thin, yet durable. The bandana comes in two color options, orange or camouflage. Both color options have the top four survival priorities (shelter, water, fire, food) printed on them along with a long list of wilderness tips and tricks. A large reflective “X” is also printed on this survival bandana.
This reflective survival bandana is one of the best hiking bandanas on the market because of its safety benefits. The high-visibility orange or classic camo color options make it great to use while hunting. And the reflective detailing keeps you visible at night time. The bandana measures 22 inches square and is made right here in the USA.
Arguably the best bandana brand, Colter Co. is a company dedicated to John Colter of the Lewis and Clark expedition. They pride themselves on helping their customers fulfill their spirit of adventure and obtain the skills needed for survival. The Colter Co. Stayin’ Alive Bandana is a direct product of this mission. This bandana has a high customer satisfaction rating of 9.7 stars.
- 50/50 poly-cotton; printed on one side
- Made in the USA; sold by Veterans
- Color fast; lead free
- Rolled hem on all 4 sides
- 21 inches by 21 inches
OHSAY USA brings one of the best hiking bandanas that is made in the USA. And of course, it’s only fitting that it is has the American flag printed right on it.
The OHSAY USA American Flag Bandana is a great hiking accessory to take with you on your outdoor adventures in our beautiful country or to represent your patriotism while hiking abroad. Even more, purchasing this product supports our veterans because these bandanas are sold by the veterans themselves.
The bandana is made of a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester. Layed flat, it measures 21 x 21 inches. All four edges on this bandana are reinforced by being rolled and sewn. This detail keeps the bandanas shape overtime by preventing fraying.
The OHSAY USA American Flag Bandana is high on patriotism and customer satisfaction. Its overall rating is 9.7 out of 10 stars.
- ►21 TRACKS | (Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Domestic Cat, Gray Fox, Red Fox, Coyote, Domestic Dog, Striped Skunk, Virginia Opossum, Northern Raccoon, Nine-Banded Armadillo, Cottontail, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Woodrat, Deer Mouse, American Beaver, White-Tailed Deer, Feral Hog, Turtle, Frog, Crawfish)
- ►PROFESSIONALLY DRAWN tracks using stippling technique to provide most accuracy, detail, and 3-Dimensional profile. All tracks are to-scale and grouped to allow side-by-side comparison between similar patterns.
- ►COMMON GAITS of each animal along with "The 9 Questions to Ask While Tracking".
- ►DESIGNED in cooperation with expert trackers Mark Elbroch, Jonah Evans, and Beau Harger
- ►MADE and printed in the USA on 100% cotton. Lifetime Guarantee! We're proud of our gear and thankful for our customers. If you are not 100% satisfied with your product, please get in touch and allow us to make it right!
We selected the Wazoo Animal Tracking Bandana for its abstract print that is both fun and informative. Wazoo is a trusted brand that delivers high-quality hiking products with a lifetime guarantee. The attention to detail on this particular product is outstanding.
This bandana is 100% cotton and made in the USA. It measures 21 inches square. Wazoo custom-designed this bandana with the help of a few expert trackers (Mark Elbroch, Jonah Evans, and Beau Harger). They even used drawings that were professionally articulated using techniques to show precise detail and dimension on the animal tracks.
All in all, there are 21 tracks featuring animals that are commonly found in nature. Each track printed on this bandana is drawn and printed to scale. In addition, the tracks are grouped together to allow you to compare with similar tracks you may find on the trail.
Wazoo has printed tips and tricks to help hikers correctly distinguish animal tracks along the border of the bandana. Even more, they also include the common gates of these animals. There is nothing Wazoo has left off of this bandana. Their attention to detail proves that they view their bandanas as more than a clothing accessory.
Wazoo’s Animal Tracking Bandana is a fun and informative hiking buff for hikers of all ages. The overall rating for this bandana is a whopping 9.9 stars. That is about as close to perfect as it gets.
- A Patented Universal Fit Head Accessory for Caps, Hats and Helmets, One Size Fits All. CoolNES 4 Season Performance. 1 Pack includes 1 Flap and 2 Headbands. CAP NOT INCLUDED. Fits under or over any headgear.
- CoolNES Neck Face Shield is composed of a unique Mesh Fabric that offers a Shield System containing UPF 50+ Solar Protection, Quick Dry breathing and Chemical-FREE Cooling.
- Prevent Facial Skin Damage, Cool Protection, wear CoolNES¨ Flaps. 26cm long / 10.2 inches long. One Size Fits All. Breathable and Light Mesh 100% Polyester.
- Unisex Head Design. Perfect for Tennis, Golf, Fishing, Biking, Hiking, Landscaping, Running, Skiing and any Outdoor Sport or Activity requiring All Day Sun and Snow Protection. CoolNES is Proud to Support the Fight Against Skin Cancer.
- CoolNES¨ Headbands can be worn with any cap, hat or helmet. 100% Non toxic, heat resistant natural silicone band - 18cm / 7 inches long - Non slip - Doubles it stretch. CoolNES¨.
The best cooling bandana for hiking is the CoolNES UV Face Mask or Neck Sun Shield. This bandana is multifunctional and helps to keep you cool while hiking. With 15 color options, CoolNES makes it possible to find the right bandana for your style.
While it is not square, thus can’t be manipulated into as many uses as a traditional bandana. The CoolNES UV Face Mask or Neck Sun Shield carries high value in its cooling capabilities.
The CoolNES UV Face Mask or Neck Sun Shield can be worn as a face mask that extends from your nose all the way down to your chest. It is made of thin mesh that is 100% polyester. This material is quick-drying and breathable.
This product is extremely helpful when hiking in hot weather. Cooling your neck helps to cool your whole body. So, whether you were it in front of your face or at the back of your neck, it efficiently cools you down. It’s important to note that in order to wear the bandana at the back of your neck, you will need to be wearing a hat or helmet.
This bandana protects your skin from sunburns with its UPF 50+ solar protection. You can easily adjust the bandana from front to back depending on the angle of the sun. This will keep your skin protected no matter which direction you are hiking.
The CoolNes bandana can be worn with any kind of hat or helmet. The silicone band on this bandana is 7 inches of anti-slip silicone.
The CoolNes UV Face Mask or Neck Sun Shield has an average rating of 9.4 stars.
- DIMENSIONS: 22” H x 122” W and weighs 1.3 oz
- VERSATILITY: Can be worn for protection or read for outdoor survival tips and tricks about hiking safety, navigation, knots, first aid and more
- RELIABLE: Surface area is covered with outdoor survival information that can be vital in emergency situations
- CONVENIENT: Cotton construction can withstand harsh conditions and is machine washable
- BE PREPARED: High visibility orange color allows for signaling for help or for easy location when lost
Ultimate Survival Technologies’ (UST) Survival Bandana is our pick for the best survival bandana for hiking. This bandana is arguably more useful as a survival guide than it is as a bandana, which means you get the best of both worlds.
This synthetic bandana measures 22 x 22 inches and weighs 1.3 ounces. One convenient aspect of this product is that it is machine washable. It might surprise you that not all bandanas are.
The print on the bandana includes safety and survival information that provides tips about what to pack, how to signal when you need help, and how to stay hydrated. It also has information about using paracord, finding your way when lost, and using the bandana for different purposes.
The bandana is a perfect square, so it can be folded into a variety of different shapes for different uses. In addition, the bright orange color is highly visible and could be used as a signal or location marker if you are ever in need of help.
The UST Survival Bandana is currently marketed as an “Amazon’s Choice” for its high ratings and fair price. The overall rating for this product is 9.3 stars.
What is the best material for a bandana?
100% cotton is preferred by the vast majority of hikers. Cotton is reliable, breathable, and easy to manipulate. The nice thing about cotton is that you don’t have to worry about what it will do in the wash. If you didn’t already know, 100% cotton will shrink slightly during the first (and only the first) wash.
Because hikers often wear a bandana as a face mask, headband, or neck shield, the breathability of cotton is highly beneficial. Our recommendation for the best 100% cotton bandana is the Levi’s Bandana in this review.
Polyester is another common material used to make hiking bandanas. Polyester is known for its moisture shedding and quick-drying, which makes it a great material for hot weather hiking. Many types of polyester have been engineered to be breathable like natural cotton.
A good polyester bandana for hiking is CoolNes’ UV Face Mask or Neck Shield (see the product review above).
How big are bandanas?
Bandana sizing is pretty universal, with only slight variations. The most common and recommended size for a square hiking bandana is 22 inches on all four sides. A perfect square shape allows you the most freedom to fold the bandana in different ways for different purposes.
A 22-inch bandana also makes it easy to tie the bandana around various head and neck sizes. A great 22-inch hiking bandana is our premium pick, Colter Co.’s Stayin Alive Bandana.
Some bandanas, like OHSAY USA’s American Flag Bandana in this review, are sized slightly smaller at 20-21 inches square. The size discrepancy is a non-issue for most people. However, if you have a large head or plan to wrap the bandana multiple times, then we recommend sticking with a 22-inch bandana.
Bandana Colors and Designs for Hiking
Color and design are totally up to personal preference. There are endless options to choose from. Personally, we think you can never go wrong with the classic paisley print seen on the Levi’s Bandana and the Soophen Cowboy Bandana.
Another trend we are seeing— and loving— in 2021 are survival bandanas, which have survival and wilderness tips printed on them. This is a great tool for junior hikers, especially, who are still building their outdoor resumes. But survival bandanas can be helpful for anyone in a sticky situation.
Our favorite survival bandanas are the UST Survival Bandana, the Colter Co. Stayin’ Alive Bandana, and the Wazoo Animal Tracking Bandana.
UPF Ratings Explained
An ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating measures how well a fabric protects your skin from sun damage.
An excellent UPF rating is 50+. This rating blocks 98% of UV rays from penetrating the fabric. CoolNES’ UV Face Mask or Neck Shield is an example of a hiking bandana with a UPF rating of 50+.
Traditional cotton bandanas with no UV coating are rarely marked with a UPF rating. This is because the UPF rating of cotton is very low. To combat this issue, you can choose dark colors that will reflect the sun and wear sunscreen even on skin covered by a bandana. Folding the bandana in half, to create two layers is another way to increase sun protection.
Why do hikers wear bandanas?
Hikers wear bandanas for a number of reasons. And aside from physically wearing them, bandanas can be used for almost any reason under the sun.
Most commonly hikers wear bandanas as a headband to keep sweat from dripping into their face. Or a face mask for warmth or to block dust from getting in their nose and mouth. Hikers also wear bandanas to protect their skin, especially the back of the neck, from sun damage. Wearing a bandana in this way is also a great way to cool down while hiking.
Bandanas can also be used for safety. Many hikers have used bandanas as tourniquets to stop a wound from bleeding or even save a limb while they find professional help. Bright colored bandanas can be worn for visibility in areas where hunters may be out. Additionally, bright-colored bandanas can be used to signal for help.
Even more, bandanas can be used as clothing. Hiking buffs are often used by women as tube tops. More generalized clothing options include using the buff bandana as a head covering to keep warm or protect your hair from moisture. Tying a bandana around your wrist can act as a sweatband, wrist warmer, or simple accessory.
How do you wear a bandana when hiking?
Once you learn the many ways to wear a bandana when hiking, it will become your favorite hiking accessory. Bandanas are extremely practical and easy to use. Instead of writing a never-ending list of instructions, we’ll just show you.
Parker York Smith made this great YouTube video demonstrating seven ways to wear a bandana. These can all be used while hiking or easily adjusted to meet your hiking needs.
How do you tie a bandana around your head?
To tie a bandana around your head, first, fold the bandana in half to make a triangle. Then, repeatedly fold the bandana to create one long rectangle. Once you’ve done that, you can wrap the bandana around your head and tie a double knot at the back.
So, Which Bandana is the Best for Hiking?
Levi’s Bandanas are the best bandanas for hiking. This timeless classic is a good size, made of durable cotton, and has a low-key yet stylish print. These features allow you to use the bandana for whatever you may need while hiking.
Other good options are the Soophen Cowboy Bandana and the Colter Co. Stayin’ Alive Bandana. Like the Levi’s Bandana, these bandanas are large and versatile. The Stayin’ Alive Bandana doubles as a handy survival tool.
Whichever bandana you choose, it will surely bring you many good uses in the backcountry.