Whether you use it to reduce the wind chill in Winter or keep the sun off in Summer, I think a buff an essential part of every outdoor person’s kit list.
If you’re not familiar buffs they’re very simple but incredibly versatile items of clothing. They’re designed to keep you warm in the cold but will also wick moisture (sweat) away from your skin to keep you cool when it’s hot. The ‘original’ buff is made from a lightweight (35g), breathable, Microfibre fabric that’s also wind resistant and extremely comfortable to wear. It’s essentially a tube of microfibre material 52 x 24.5cm. It can be worn as a neckerchief, headband, wristband, mask, hair-band, balaclava, scarf, headband, scrunchie, saharaine, pirate cap, beanie and bandana. Take a look at the many ways you can wear a buff here:
I’ve owned a couple of buffs for several years and have frequently used them while out walking and running. When recently asked to review a buff I realised that there’s a much wider variety available than simply the ‘original’ buff. These include versions cut to a particular size for a particular purpose (such as balaclavas, neckwarmers and infinity buffs) as well as buffs made from different materials (including wool, cotton, reflective Scotchlite, Polartec and Gore Windstopper fabrics). Given that I’m doing a lot of winter cycling training at the moment I chose to test a black/grey merino wool neckwarmer.
First impressions were very good. It feels soft to the skin, made from two layers of 100% merino wool. I’m aware that merino is naturally anti-microbial and so won’t pick up odours after extended wear. I have used it as a neckwarmer scarf and beanie (under my cycling helmet) and on cold Winter days it has proved really effective in keeping me warm while not overheating. While cycling into a cold wind I pulled the neckwarmer up over my mouth and nose and it worked very well to keep my face warm while still allowing me to breathe. The website notes that the neckwarmer buff can also be used as a headband and mask, being ideal for skiing, snowboarding, climbing, trekking, skating or motorbiking.
The neckwarmer is 35cm long as opposed to 52cm for the ‘original’ buff. In retrospect it’s obvious that it will be shorter, having been designed specifically as a neckwarmer, but I didn’t appreciate this when selecting it. Consequently, it makes only a small beanie that doesn’t quite fit over the ears, particularly for those with larger size heads. I’d therefore advise that unless you think you’ll be using it primarily as a neckwarmer then the ‘original’ buff may be slightly more versatile. The merino neckwarmer buff weighs 46g and comes in one size.
I’m a real convert to buffs and will always take one in my rucsac or paniers now. Given its multipurpose functionality it’s an ideal item for any number of uses (including clothing, first aid, mending or tieing things).
Ease of use 10
Features and design 9
Build quality 9
Value for money 10
Extremely versatile headwear for all seasons, very lightweight, quick drying, no odour (merino version), windproof, relatively inexpensive, comes in a wide variety of styles and colours.
The neckwarmer tested is slightly too short to be used effectively as a beanie.
An essential item of kit for all walkers, cyclists, canoeists, skiers, motorbikers and other outdoors enthusiasts.