GET OUT: Praise be to buff

By on April 7, 2015
Whether in the mountains or by the pool, don’t forget an essential item that wicks away sweat and protects you from the sun: the almighty buff. (Photo credit: Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

Whether in the mountains or by the pool, don’t forget an essential item that wicks away sweat and protects you from the sun: the almighty buff. (Photo credit: Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – The days here in northwest Wyoming are almost desert-like. Freezing temperatures in the morning quickly change to mind-melting days in the sun. Cold mornings sometimes make me think that I will never be warm again. For this reason, I begin the day in my ultimate down puffy and scrunch my hands into a small ball to prevent frostbite on my fingertips. I eventually heat up throughout the morning. As the afternoon sun wears out its welcome, I despise my snow pants and every article of clothing I have ever owned.

Summer, winter, fall, spring – I have owned only one article of clothing that has fulfilled my every need. I realize this may sound a bit silly, possibly even crazy, to love an item simply consisting of cotton and polypropylene, but in all honesty, my love for this thing will never die. Some call it a buff. I call it my uniform. It is a long, narrow tube with versatility beyond my wildest dreams. Possibilities are endless with this thing.

040815getout.ladyHere are the top 5 uses for my beloved uniform:

The headwrap: This technique entails wearing the buff around the ears. From there, you may fold it down for extra protection on cooler days. I prefer leaving it fully expanded with the top of it hanging off my head. That method helps me with breathability and prevents my glasses from fogging while keeping my ears warm.

The face mask: This is one of the most common ways I have seen people wearing the buff. They pull it over their head and face, covering their ears, then typically put goggles on overtop of it for a snug fit. On extremely sunny days, I wear this with sunglasses to cover my nose and skin from high altitude sun exposure. Typically, this is worn in addition to sunscreen, for extra protection. My face will not last long in the mountains without this extra addition to protect and preserve my youthful glow.

The shirt: I use this method most often in the summertime, or on exceptionally warm touring days. It comes in handy when I forget my T-shirt and do not care to create awkward moments with my fellow mountain partners. To perfect this use, pick a buff that is not too new, but also not too stretched out. Pull over the head and arms, and there you have it: a convenient tube top. This method has also saved me many times when caught without a bathing suit top while adventuring to hot springs that were not as quiet as I expected.

The skirt: There are times when everyone forgets shorts but needs them. In my case, there have been times when I’ve left my house for a river adventure, only to realize at the grocery store that I am wearing bathing suit bottoms. Rule No. 1 at the grocery store and other fine establishments: no shirt, no shoes, no service. Although this doesn’t explicitly state one has to wear bottoms, I’m assuming I would be quickly kicked out should I attempt to buy avocados without pants. The skirt method allows me to answer to societal expectations, wherever I may find them.

The makeshift bandage: I once considered myself a decent runner. After scraping sidewalks or tripping on trails, a buff helps quell the bleeding. The elasticity allows me to wrap the buff around whatever bloody open skin I expose until I reach a decent first aid kit. Of course, after using this method, a thorough washing is necessary. The consistency of the buff fabric does not easily stain, so feel free to use and re-use this method.

I won’t delve into further uses for this beloved article because I fear if I do, you may be disgusted or taken aback by my candidness. Or perhaps you’ll never look at buffs in the same way again. All I can say is the possibilities are endless, and one can never have too many buffs. Stash them in your car, give them to your friends, and have them handy for times when you just may find yourself in need of one.

About Elizabeth Koutrelakos

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