70+ Uses/Reasons to Carry a Bandana in Your EDC and Bug Out Kit

A bandana is such a simple thing, yet has so many uses.   Essentially a bandana is a big kerchief, often printed and colored with a country’s color, a sports team, or interesting location.  Not to long ago, every man carried a handkerchief.   Before the advent of portable tissues packages, everyone carried a handkerchief, but no longer.   A simple, cool looking, and highly utilitarian replacement for the handkerchief is a bandana.    Typically I carry two bandanas when out and about.  One is in my pocket.  The other is in my everyday-carry kit, contained within a LL Bean fanny pack.   One of the major themes of being a survival prepper is skills are more important than supplies.  A highly skilled prepper can improvise, innovate, adapt and overcome in most circumstances.   Having a few basic tool, such as a knife and celox blood stopper bandage, are very helpful.  A bandana is one of those tools.


Why is a bandana an important tool?  Because it doesn’t look like a tool.  But in the hands of a knowledgeable person, it can be used in hundred’s of situations.  Here are a few:


(In no particular order)

  1. Tourniquet – After the recent bombing in Boston, the readiness to apply a tourniquet was demonstrated.  The reason why so few relative deaths occurred was that bystanders immediately started applying tourniquet.   With a bandana and a pen or pencil, you can apply a tourniquet in under 5 seconds.  Grab the far corners of the bandana, twirl until it becomes a short rope, wrap the bandana around the limb between the heart and the bleeding wound, then twist the end around a pen or pencil until tight.  Only use a tourniquet as a last resort for active bleeding of limbs.
  2. Pressure Bandage – Just as can be used for a tourniquet, a bandana can be used as an impromptu pressure bandage.   Found the bandana into a rectangle, cover the wound, and press firmly to constrain bleeding.  This is effective for head and stomach wounds.  Do not remove until emergency personnel arrive.
  3. Head cover – In hot or cold weather, a bandana can provide impromptu head cover.
  4. Scarf – In hot or cold weather, cover your neck.
  5. Dew rage – Can be used cover the forehead in hot weather or physical activity to keep sweat out of your eyes.
  6. Hobo bag – Tie the 4 corners of the bandana together in a knot, hand under a stick, and there you have a quick hobo carrying bag.
  7. Sling – One bandana or two bandanas tied together can provide the basis for a sling.  Can be used to support a broken arm or sprain ankle.
  8. Face mask – In a dusty or smokey situations, a bandana is a quick face mask.  Making it wet helps.
  9. Ice pack – For a bee sting, sprain, muscle strain, bonk on the head, or other reasons to apply ice, a bandana is very effective at holding the ice against an injury.
  10. Eye care – Whether dust or injury to an eye, or tears after a child’s boo-boo, bandana comes out for eye care.
  11. Snot rag – If you have kids, as I do, someone is having a nose issue every day.   One kid decides to dig for treasure at a fancy restaurant.  Another kid gets a bug up their nose.  Another kid tries to color their sinuses with a crayon.   Or just ordinary allergies, colds, and flu can arrive at any moment.   One of my bandanas is fading due to frequent washing, just for this very reason.
  12. Napkin replacement – Noses were covered above, this covers mouths.  I am a bit of a sloppy eater.   If the lobster, crabs, barbecue or other finger food gets to messy, bandana is quickly pulled out in a pinch.
  13. Bib – Not only for children, but a bandana can be a bib for adults also.  If I’m eating messy food while wearing a dress shirt, out comes the bandana.  Every parent has forgotten to bring a bib for their infant at some point in time.
  14. Handling hot objects – Whether cooking over a camp fire, putting a lid on a grease fire, grabbing a tea kettle, brewing some coffee, microwaving some popcorn, we all handling something hot everyday.    A bandana is a quick pot holder.
  15. Modesty cover – Who hasn’t split their pants, ripped their swimwear, or put an immodest hole in their clothing.  On the first day of a college internship, my cheap black slacks split right down the butt crack.  I look a staple into the bathroom and stapled the pants shut until the end of day, when I sewed the pants shut that evening.  That was an uncomfortable day (but the internship was very successful).   At my age, not much shames me.  But my kids, as they do, are easily embarrassed.   With a safety-pin, a bandana can be pinned over the clothing hole or rip.
  16. Toilet paper – In an emergency situation, why not?  Better to lose a bandana than be unclean from a bout of diarrhea.
  17. Cleaning equipment – Bandana is a quick rag to make a quick clean of a tool or equipment.
  18. Fire starter – Rip off a piece of cloth from a bandana, cover with tinder, and start your fire.
  19. Insulation for a cold drink – A nice cold brew for me or soda for the kids, bandana is a fine can or bottle holder.
  20. Water filter – Before your treat impure water with tablets or boiling, filter the fettered water to remove particulate matter, sand, and dirt.
  21. Dish rag – Use for impromptu washing of dishes and kitchen ware.
  22. Dish cover – Cover a meal or food dish from bugs and flies.  Keep a plate or food dish warm.
  23. Pot holder / trivet – Place under a hot pot to prevent damage to a counter or table.
  24. Gloves – In surprise cold weather, wrapping a bandana around a hand can provide some warmth.
  25. Jar Opener – Use to open wet or slimy jars.
  26. Emergency signal – Tie the bandana to the end of stick, wave high above your head, and attract attention during an emergency.  For this reason, my bandanas are typically bright colors – red or yellow.
  27. Book marker – Make a section in a book for future reading.  Use a bandana to keep a book open, such as reading from a first-aid book while helping an injured person.
  28. Wind direction – Bandana on a stick can show the wind direction.
  29. Wash cloth – Use with water and soap to clean up.
  30. Towel – Dry off after getting wet or after cleaning.
  31. Pillow-cover or head mat – Place a bandana on a dirty hotel pillow or the headrest of a bus or train.
  32. Diaper change mat – On dirty or unkept surfaces, or to prevent soiling of a carpet or bedding, place a bandana under an infant’s bum during a diaper change.   When I was on daddy diaper duty, I prided myself on clean, dry bums for my children.   When the baby gets diarrhea, you can contain the mess with a bandana.  If diaper changing were an Olympic event, I’m would win a metal.
  33. Bottle cap / Gas cap – If you leave the gas cap at the gas station 30 miles back, stuff a bandana into the gas tank intake.  Use a bandana to stuff into a drinkiing bottle to prevent bugs from entering.
  34. Molotov cocktail – As a law-abiding person, I do not advocate the use of a molotov cocktail but only for extreme self-defense reasons.  When the progressives-come-socialists-ala-communists ride tanks through your neighborhood, the Minute Man comes to the call of defending democracy and freedom.
  35. Naughty blindfold games with your spouse/partner – Just making sure you are paying attention.  Today, I’ll use a bandana to cover my eyes while trying to sleep on a plane.
  36. Occupied Flag– When I was single and had roommates, the bandana tied to the doorknob was the signal to “come back later, I’m getting busy.”  Joking aside, bandanas are excellent in many situations as a signaling flag or travel marker.  Can use as a marker for a bathroom, porta-potty, or outhouse being “in use”.
  37. Foot care – When ripping or putting a hole in a shoe, can cover feet or the shoe damage with the bandana.  If incurring a foot blister, it is important to cover the blister to prevent further friction to the feet.
  38. Eye glass cleaner – For occasional eye glasses or sun glasses cleaner, help clear muck or dirt that obstructs vision.
  39. Tie-down – To use as short cordage, you can tie down a tent, yard games, and hundreds of possibilities to tie-down an item that might blow away in the wind.
  40. Kite flying – Bandanas are an excellent kite tails.
  41. Placemat – When having your meal outdoors, bandana is a quick placemat to keep your food off of a dirty table or ground.
  42. Emergency flag on a vehicle – tie it around the antenna or hang out the window as an emergency flag.
  43. Keeping a toupee from flying way – Again, checking to see if you are paying attention.  For the ladies who don’t want their hair messed from the wind or light rain, a bandana comes to the rescue.
  44. Owner flag –  When the kids go jumping in a bouncy-house, I’ll gather their socks and shoes in a bandana.  Just your try sorting socks among 20 screaming kids!
  45. Bag marker – If you mixed in crowds or traveling, a bandana can be used to mark your boxes or luggage.  In a busy airport, a bandana tied to a suitcase or roller bag is a quick way to identify your goods.
  46. Shoe shine – Walking through New York City streets during the wet winter into an important meeting, bandana will provide a quick shoe shine.
  47. Games – For playing cowboy/indians, cops/robbers, pin the tail on the donkey, playing pee-a-boo with an infant, there are hundreds of games to play with a bandana.
  48. Helmut liner – For a motorcycle or bicycle helmet, a bandana can relieve a pinching part of a helmet or provides a sweat barrier.
  49. Knuckle cover – Before punching a bully or intervening for an animal attack, cover your knuckles.  If an angry dog approaches my family, I’ll cover my weak hand with a bandana to present as a target, while holding a knife in my strong hand.  Same usage applies to a mugger, if I’m without my concealed carry pistol.
  50. Cover of bright electronic gear – Since I travel often for work, some hotels have very bright clocks, DVD players, or other Ipod docks.  I’ll use the bandana to cover a bright electronic item.  Do not cover a light.  A light bulb will set a bandana on fire.
  51. Dog dew picker-upper – If your pet suddenly makes a mess in an area where you must pickup, bandana works in a pinch.
  52. Dog collar – A bandana soaked with water is a good cover for an active pet.
  53. Clean a light source – If the headlamps, rear view camera or mirrors on a vehicle are covered with mud, dirty, or an animal strike, give it a quick wipe and be traveling again quickly.
  54. French military communication flag – An all-white bandana has been an effective tool to signal intent of the French military for 100 years.  Sorry just a joke.  I love french wine, cheese, art, perfume, and cooking.  Everything in France smells good, except Frenchmen.
  55. Belt replacement – If you lost or broken your belt, use a bandana to tie up the front loops of your pants, allowing you to get back into the action.
  56. Shoulder pad – Under a backpack, laptop bag, or performing as a mule for your wife’s shopping, a bandana can act as a shoulder pad.
  57. Hair tie up – Use for ponytails, headbands, etc.
  58. Protecting breakables – When buying or transporting a ceramic or glass item, use a bandana to protect from damage.
  59. Hide your identity – During terrorist event or WROL situation, use bandana to protect your identity.   Tie a bandana over mouth and nose during your fast exit from a bad situation.  My suggestions are offered towards law-abiding people only.
  60. Equipment air filter – In a dust or sand storm, cover the intake values of equipment to prevent damage.   Combining duct tape with a bandana to cover an air intake, and must have 100’s more uses together.
  61. Seat cover – Place on dirty surface while you are sitting.
  62. Drink coaster – Prevent water damage to nice furniture.
  63. Loin cloth – For playing Tarzan with your wife/partner or quick swim bottom replacement for a child.
  64. Diaper – As a quick, temporary replacement in case you run out of diapers while traveling about.  For any parent of child under the age of 2, put an extra diaper in your everyday carry kit.  Before my children where potty trained, a diaper could be seen in my computer laptop bag.  Bandana is a last-ditch option when all the travel diapers are dirty.
  65. Feminine hygiene – If a lady friend runs out of tampons/pads or your daughter arrives at womanhood suddenly when traveling about, a bandana is a good item to give up.
  66. Wrapping noise items – For items that rattle in boxes, backpacks, or bags while you are traveling about, you can wrap the noisy item in a bandana.
  67. Protect valuable electronics – Wrap up a mobile phone, camera, watch, computer tablet, or other electronics during a messy or wet situation.   Wrap up your car keys while taking a skinny dip.
  68. Left over food – Take home that last piece of bread or chicken from the picnic or restaurant.
  69. Cover a burn – Wet a bandana with clean water to cover a burn.
  70. Bottle marker – When at a party or picnic, I’ll tie a bandana on the neck of the beer bottle.  This hereby declares my ownership over this bottle.  No need to mix spit at my age.
  71. Blindfold – Playing naughty hide-and-seek with your spouse/partner.   Or interrogating an outlaw biker caught attempting to raid your neighborhood during WROL.   Or the kids are playing Marco-Polo in the yard.  Bandana is an adequate blindfold.
  72. Collecting souvenirs – When I travel about, I’ll buy a bandana from a cool place.  My favorite bandana is from the Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. 
  73. Being cool – A bandana just looks cool.  Wearing a bandana as a head cover or neck cover says, don’t mess with me.
  74. Being a good ole fashioned redneck – I love rednecks, because they are colorful personalities.  Most rednecks would give you the shirt off their back to help someone in need.   In the event of an emergency, I’d rather be side-by-side with a redneck, than with the average city slicker.   Your average city slicker can’t be bothered to call 911, let alone messing their hands over a bleeding wound.  One of my dearest friends and best man at my wedding is a true redneck.  He can take a pile of junk and turn it into something useful.  I hope it never occurs, but if I had to do battle with zombie-cannibals-outlaw-bikers, I want a redneck in my foxhole.  A redneck doesn’t fold when faced with a bit of dirty and blood.  A bandana is a quick way to identify a redneck or kindred spirit of rednecks, as I am.


Knowledge and abilities distinguish the quality of men.  The quality of tools identifies the professional.  The ability to adapt, overcome, and improvise separates the survivors from the victims.

Many all your travels be safe and fun.   Enjoy your Summer!

Disclaimer: This is article is not intended to provide any medical advice, legal advice, or financial advice.  Consult first-aid books or take a first-aid course or consult a medical professional for any medical advice.


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