Gear Every Climber Should Have – Buffs!

June 25, 2008 at 6:19 pm

I’ve been reading a lot of other climbing blogs lately, and I’ve found myself enjoying gear reviews more than I expected. It’s interesting to hear what people are using, and how they are using it, in a sport that we all enjoy. Let’s face it, half the fun of climbing is playing with gear. Ok, maybe more than half.

Also, I’ve noticed that many gear reviews are done by men, of men’s gear, for men in the outdoors. As a woman who climbs, hikes, mountaineers, mountain bikes, and otherwise thoroughly enjoys being active outside, I feel there is a derth of gear reviews for women. There is plenty of gear sold to women these days. Is it any better? Any worse? I’m hoping to address some of those issues with these posts.


So, every other week or so, for as long as this holds my attention, I hope to highlight some piece of gear that we use on a regular basis, and talk some about it’s benefits to all climbers.

In this post, we’ll look at Buff Wear.

I am completely in love with this simple, very flexible, piece of clothing. It is a piece of coolmax (or one of several other types of stretchy fabrics) that is woven into a tube, about a foot long and seven inches in diameter. I do a lot of trad climbing, and in that mindset, I like all of my gear to serve several purposes. The buff does a great job with that.


Generally I, and many of my friends now, use the Buff as some form or another of hair containment unit. This can be done as a headband, sweat band, bandanna or head rag. The best part of a buff over traditional headwear is the lack of a seem. So, if you wear this thin piece of fabric all day under your climbing helmet (and you should be wearing a helmet!) you won’t get one of those obnoxious red lines from the seam pressing against your forehead all day. Neither will the buff shift due to a knot interfering with your helmet: no knots!

But, as I mentioned, it comes in handy for many other uses. It can cover cold ears easily. I often do the inside-out plus one twist move to get a little skull cap that I can wear to warm up on chilly mornings. In the winter, I usually use my buff as a scarf or light balaclava while skiing or snowshoeing. Mark made very good use of a buff after shaving his head last weekend. And if you’re skinny enough (as seen on Survivor) you can wear the thing as a loincloth/tube top.


My only complaint about the Buffs is that they can be a little expensive. It might seem to silly to drop $20 on a tube of stretchy fabric, but mine have lasted years and been totally worth the investment. Also, there now seems to be about a million options available. Winter buffs, shorter buffs, high UV buffs, and reflective kid-sized buffs. Specialization is never good for a product that’s main strength is its versatility.

But the Original Buffs are still available in almost every outdoors store. If you want to see the full range of options (with an astounding number of patterns available), check out the Buff Megastore. I’ve bought from them before and always been happy with the transaction. If you are an REI member, they are available through them as well.

Buffs! Approved by Kate for everybody.