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The bandana is an item that is on practically every list of recommended survival gear, and for good reason. It’s incredibly lightweight and has many different uses in survival situations. For this reason, it’s a good idea to carry several in your survival kit, and not just one. To give you an idea of just how versatile a bandana really is, here is a list of uses.
Perhaps the most obvious use is as a neck gaiter. In cold weather, this will help to keep your neck warm, while in the summer, it can help to protect your neck from a sunburn. Hypo and hyperthermia are not to be messed with.
When you have a headache, soaking a bandana in water and then setting it over your head will alleviate pain if you don’t have proper medications such as ibuprofen. This is also something you should do if you have a fever and need to bring your temperature down.
If you or someone in your group sustains any kind of an open wound on a leg or an arm, you’ll want to fashion a tourniquet above it, to inhibit the flow of blood. Tying a bandana tightly above the site of the wound will work great for this.
Of course, perhaps the simplest medical use for a bandana would be to just use it as a bandage over an open wound. Place a clean bandana over it and then tie it down either with a cord or another bandana.
First Aid Sling
A tourniquet and a bandage aren’t the only first aid use a bandana can have. You can also use it as a sling in the event of a fracture. You have to tie the corners of two bandanas together or tie the bandana to a cord for it to be long enough to wrap around your neck, but it will work.
To Tie A Splint
Instead of a sling, you may have to use your bandana to tie a splint around a broken arm or leg to help heal the fracture. Find two sticks and place them on either side of the fractured limb, and then tie them in place with the bandana.
It may be primitive, but a simple bandana and stone may be what gets you dinner. If you’re going to rely on a sling for hunting game, or for defending yourself for that matter, it’s imperative that you know how to use it. For this reason, collect a pile of stones and spend a few hours training yourself in using your bandana as a sling until you get the gist.
Simply cut up a bandana into smaller and thinner strips to serve as cords. Obviously, you won’t be able to put it back together. This technique should arguably only be used if A, you have another bandana to fall back on, and B, you have absolutely nothing else to use as cordage.
A brightly colored bandana may not be the most effective signal in the world (smoke signaling or a mirror reflecting the sunlight will be better), but it’s still better than nothing if you need to get someone’s attention quickly.
This is likely how you will find yourself using your bandana most of the time. There are many reasons for why you would want a rag or a washcloth in a survival situation, the vast majority of which have to do with cleaning and personal hygiene. Assuming that you don’t have an actual rag with you, can you think of anything that would serve this purpose better than a bandana?
While images of old western outlaws with bandanas over their faces may come to mind here, what we’re referring to here is using your bandana as a means to protect your mouth and your nose from inhaling anything they shouldn’t: smoke, toxic chemicals, or dust.
It’s imperative that your firearms be well taken care of for them to work properly. If you have any with you in a survival situation, you’ll want to wipe and dry them down daily to prevent rust or corrosion from setting in. However, this will always be more difficult if you’re stuck in the wild with limited resources. Fortunately, a bandana will work excellently as an alternative to a normal gun rag. While you can use your whole bandana to wipe down the exterior of the gun, you can also cut it down into smaller strips or patches to wipe the internals.
All of the metal gear in your backpack can make a lot of noise when it’s all clanging together, but you can strategically place your bandana(s) in between those metal items to reduce the noise as much as possible. This will be key if you’re hunting game and need to be as quiet and stealthy as you can.
If any of the straps on your backpack break, you may think this means you now have to actually carry your backpack in your arms. Fortunately, an ordinary bandana will serve as an excellent remedy. Simply tie your bandana tightly to the two ends of the strap that broke and you should be set.
It’s not the most pleasant use for a bandana by any means, but if you don’t have disposable tissues with you to serve as a handkerchief, there’s always your bandana.
This means that you’ll be sacrificing your bandana obviously, but if you need fire desperately to cook food or warm yourself and you can’t seem to get anything going, it could be worth it. Cut the bandana into small pieces and thin strips. If it’s dry, it should take a flame easily, but even if it doesn’t, you can soak it something flammable such as Vaseline, hand sanitizer, or chap stick, and it should convert a spark into a flame almost instantly. You won’t want to sacrifice your entire bandana for this use, so it may be wise to just cut a single thin strip and then leave the rest of the bandana intact.
You can use your bandana as a net to catch fish in a stream. Either tie the four corners the bandana to the end of a stick or tie two corners between two sticks and then wade through the stream when you find a fish. While it may be difficult to catch a single fish with this method, you should be able to catch several if you come across a school of small minnows, for example.
The main purpose of wearing a hat in a survival situation is to keep your head warm, especially in a cold climate. But if you don’t have a hat, the next best option will be to simply tie a bandana around it.
Folding up a bandana, or tying the four corners and then filling it up with a few leaves, will be better than nothing if you need a pillow to help you get a good night’s sleep and conserve your energy for the next day.
As you can hopefully see by now, there’s perfectly food reason for why most survival checklists have a bandana near or at the top of the list. Bandanas are just so small, lightweight, and cheap that there are practically zero reasons not to include at least one of them in your bug out bag, get home bag, inch bag and even as part of your edc kit. Better yet, you should try and include at least two or three so that you always have backups.
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