Bandana Crazy!

In Articles, Technical by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

Bandanas always feature in Westerns, Cowboys wear them around their neck, cover their faces when robbing banks or driving cattle to keep the dust out of their nostrils, yet even though the bandana is synonymous with the Western genre they actually originated in India many years ago! They were originally brightly coloured handkerchiefs of silk or cotton either in a spotted or paisley print on blue or red backgrounds. Today they are still used to tie hair back, worn around the neck as a hiking or fashion accessory, yet they have multiple uses in the bush and when outdoors or even on an urban adventure always find space to add a few to a pocket or backpack, you never know when you will need one. And choose bright colours as opposed to drab colours.

So let’s give it some thought what can we do with a bandana when outdoors? Strangely it features on just about every survival list as a must-have item of equipment.

Well, I asked around and arrived at this list.

  • Cleaning equipment, one should have a clean bandana in your camera bag as well as your daypack, use it to clean spectacles, sunglasses and even dust of camera equipment- lenses should rather be cleaned with compressed air and a proper brush.
  • One suggestion that came up was that a large bandana or two could be used as a wrap around a campsite; personally I would opt for the larger Kikoi for this purpose.
  • When trying to attract attention a bright bandana can be used to signal, either by waving it or attaching it to a stick for additional height.
  • If the need arises one can put a few small items in a bandana and tie the opposing corners together to make a small carrier bag.
  • For emergency bleeding one can use it as a tourniquet, this is however for dire emergencies and should be carried out by a trained first aider.
  • Years ago as a police reservist we used a small towel as a “ pressure bandage” to stop bleeding from a gunshot wound, a few bandanas with pressure could also be used in such a situation.
  • A mask, yes if caught in smoke, sand or heavy pollen a wet bandana would act as a filter to protect you.
  • Should you need to bind something strips of bandana woven into a “rope” will help.
  • For an arm injury, one can fold and tie a bandana to use it as a sling.
  • As with the pressure bandage, a few wet bandanas can be used as a cold compress for a fever, bite or sprain.
  • Forgot your towel? A bandana or two can help you dry yourself, always rinse them to keep them clean should a medical emergency arise.
  • Around the kitchen or braai they have multiple uses, use a folded bandana as a mitt to lift a hot pot lid or dish or get the kettle off the fire or even as a dish rag.
  • If you have to filter water a bandana with some fresh moss can make a reasonable filter but only for clean flowing water, not stagnant water. Boil before use and add in a few purifying tablets for safety’s sake.
  • Hopefully, it’s clean but more than likely it will be the cleanest cloth that you will have to use in an emergency as a bandage, if in doubt rather rinse it before applying, a second bandana can also be used as a dressing.
  • In cases of extreme cold, you can wrap a bandana around your neck as a scarf or tie it over your ears for protection.
  • In strange terrain, you can also use strips of a bandana to mark a trail and collect the strips on your return.
  • Noisy kit can be wrapped up to stop rattling!
  • A napkin and hand wipe- rinse afterwards to keep it clean.
  • If you have to make a fire and have no tinder a strip of oil-soaked bandana will suffice.
  • And the final use of the bandana will be as toilet paper in an absolute emergency.

Leave a comment; let us know if we have missed anything!

About the Author

Glyn Demmer

My first 4x4 was a Nissan Hardbody thereafter I started travelling all over the country. In 1992 we held a big 4x4 day with hundreds of Nissan families, and then the 4x4 bug really bit. A friend Monty Brett and I started running 4x4 courses at the Hennops Off-road Trail just outside of Johannesburg. At first we offered day-and-a-half courses that started on Friday afternoon and finished on Saturday afternoon. Hannes Grobler the Rally Ace regularly assisted, and we reached a nice balance between our two styles and our skills.

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