Winter Gear: Neck Gaiter / Buff

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Two buffs, orange and and gray

Synthetic orange buff, and merino wool buff

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Sometimes small tweaks yield big benefits, and that’s exactly what wearing a buff does.

A neck gaiter is like a leg-warmer for your neck, face and head

It’s a thin, light tube of fabric that traps a layer of warm air right next to your skin.

But it’s also stretchy, so you can arrange it in a dozen ways: as a scarf, as a lower face mask, as a full balaclava, as a headband, as a bandana, and so on.

A buff works well all year round. Buffs are great in summer, adding a layer of SPF protection to your head and neck while they wick away sweat. You can also douse them in water to help stay cool.

In an Instagram poll I ran, 57% of people already knew what a buff was. I’m part of the 43% who just found out.

I ordered a basic neck gaiter from Amazon to try one out — and was converted on the spot. I’ve worn it on a few icy walks and it’s great.

I hate scarves around my neck because of how they restrict my head and shoulder movement. But the buff is so thin, I barely feel it. Even pulled over my lower face, it didn’t restrict my breathing at all.

Later, for options, I ordered a second buff made from merino wool, which is still very soft and stretchy. It’s a good addition to have for when the mountain temps get below freezing.

If you like your tutorials delivered with an English accent, you’re gonna love this three minutes of original buff tutorial video.

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Here’s a list of things you should have in your basic mountain hiking kit.

Grab the Winter Day-Hike Checklist — a handy PDF download with everything you need listed in one place.

These are the winter additions you need to survive and thrive in the cold.

Remember: always pack a headlamp.

In winter, in the mountains, you’ll need proper winter traction.

Heading out? Make sure you always pack The Ten Essentials and the correct emergency number!

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