March 13, 2019 / Comments (0)

Scarf vs buff for hiking

Hiking Buff vs Scarf

As the weather starts to cool, it’s time bring the cool weather gear out of storage. And on the really chilly days, you might be wondering whether you’re better off hiking in a scarf or a buff. Here’s what we think.


Scarves are quite versatile. On overnight-hikes, they can double as a pillow or even a towel. You can wrap it over your eyes to block out the light, allowing you to sleep beyond sunrise.

Scarves are also deliciously warm. But are they practical for hiking?

They’re a bit bulky and when you’re moving steadily up and down peaks, you can overheat with a scarf around your neck.


Buffs are a tube-like bandana. ‘Buff‘ is really a brand name, but somehow, ‘buff’ has become synonymous with the term neck gaiter, neck warmer or headwear, a bit like how we say ‘Kleenex’ for tissue or ‘Googling’ for searching.

They come in a wide variety of colours, patterns and fabrics. You can get them in merino wool, poly cotton, or soft and fluffy fleece-lined buffs.

Buffs are even more versatile than scarves. When it comes to wearing a scarf, you can only really use a scarf as a scarf, wrapped around your neck.

But there are many ways to wear or use a buff, including:

  • as a headband or beanie and to keep your ears covered during nippier weather
  • as a neck gaiter, keeping your neck warm and also protecting it from the sun and UV rays
  • as a balaclava over your  nose and all the way up to your eyes to help keep out the cool air or dust
  • as a wrist band to soak up sweat
  • as a pot holder to take saucepans or your billy off your camp stove or fire

Buffs also take up a lot less space than scarves.

TIP! If you’re camping, you can put your buff over your pillow to stop it from slipping on your sleeping mat.

Buff while hiking in the snow
Me wearing a colourful buff while going for a walk in the snow in Korea.

Scarf vs buff

Are you starting to think we might prefer a buff over a scarf?

You might be right!

Actually, you are.

We have quite a few buffs between us and in different styles. We have some lovely warm fluffy ones for our son, too. We love that we don’t have to worry about his scarf coming loose or choking him.

I save my scarves for when I’m not exercising outdoors, am in jeans and boots and getting around town.

Over to you – what’s your recommendation and why? Buff or scarf?

Last modified: April 22, 2022

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