Survival Bandanna – Uses & Needs

Survival Bandanna copy2A commonly overlooked piece of survival kit gear is the survival bandanna. A survival bandanna is a large piece of cloth, about 20 square inches, and made of thin cotton fabric that is usually a bright color such as “blaze” orange. These bandannas commonly have survival tips printed on one side of them. These tips may include tips such as building shelters, gathering food and water, to first aid and plant & animal identification.

Printed survival tips aside, these bandannas themselves can be used for many different tasks in a survival situation. I believe the bandanna is a must for any survival kit because of its multitude of uses. Combined with a good knife and a few yards of 550 para-chord or bank line, and you almost have everything you need to survive. That is if you know how to use them of course – knowledge is everything. Theoretically once you have acquired a knife, everything else you may need can be made. This article however is about the survival bandanna and it’s many, many uses.

Common Uses of a Survival Bandanna


  1. Pre-filter- Held tightly against a container when being dunked into a water source, the bandanna will act as a filter to keep sediment, leaves and other debris from entering your container.
  2. Water Container- Coated in pine pitch or clay to clog the pores of the fabric, the bandanna can be used for as a way to carry water once the corners are tied together.
  3. Water Filter- Using 3 bandannas tied and suspended to a tripod made from branches. Then filled in order from top level to bottom level with grass, sand then charcoal.
  4. Water Collection- A bandanna can be used to swipe across grass that is wet with morning dew, the water can be squeezed into a container for consumption or storage.


  1. Container – Tie the ends of the bandanna together to create a basket shape to be used while collecting berries, nuts and other wild edibles.
  2. Sling-Shot – Start at one end of the bandanna and roll it tightly until it is completely rolled. Tie a knot in one end. This can now be used with a stone as a sling. Place the end with the knot under your pinky finger, the other end will go between your thumb and index finger. Now, place a stone in the basket part of the bandanna. The stone projectile can be thrown by swinging the bandanna overhand at your target. Release the unknotted end when your hand is aimed at the target. Practice makes perfect.
  3. Traps – If you tear the bandanna into small strips then braid three of these strips together you can make a simple cordage that can be used in making traps or a multitude of other things.


  1. Wick – Roll a section of the bandanna into a tight cigar shape and fray one end of it. This should now be able to take a spark from a farrocerium rod. Once a spark is caught it can now be blown into a flame or large red ember that can now be used ignite your tinder.
  2. Char-Cloth – A char-cloth is made by layering a number of pieces of the cotton bandanna cloth  cut to size into a tin container with a pin hole in the lid. Then place the container in the coals on the edge of a fire. When smoke stops exiting the container through the hole, it is finished. Knock the tin out of the fire and let cool. The blackened char-cloth can now be used to catch a spark (or ember from friction fire) that can then be blown into a large ember and used to ignite your tinder.
  3. Tinder – Scrape the bandanna with a knife or fray and separate the strands of the cloth. Then, fluff up the collected material. This should only take a spark or an ember to ignite now.


  1. Bandages – Strips and squares of a survival bandanna can be cut to make bandages to help stop bleeding or be tied around a wound or gash.
  2. Splint – With the bandanna rolled or torn and made into cordage, you can now tie sticks along side of broken limbs to help immobilize them.
  3. Eye Patch – If there is an eye injury, a folded piece of bandanna can be held in place over the eye with a strip of the bandanna wrapped around the head.
  4. Broken Jaw – If the jaw is broken it can be held in place by wrapping the bandanna under the chin to the top of the head and tying it on top.
  5. Heat Stroke Prevention – When wearing the bandanna on your head or tied as a scarf around the neck, it can be soaked in water or cold urine to help cool down the bodies temperature.
  6. Sun Block – Wearing the bandanna on your head with the long side draped over your neck and shoulders will help block the sun from burning your skin.
  7. Sling – In case of a broken arm or injured shoulder, fold the bandanna into a triangle, wrap the large side under the arm in need, and tie the tips around the neck to keep the arm still. By tying another bandanna around the rib cage and over the arm with the sling on it can further immobilize that arm.
  8. Eye Swipe – If there is debris in ones eye, use a corner of the bandanna to swipe it out of the eye instead of using a finger nail that could cause more damage.


  1. Travel Signal – Tie the bandanna to your back pack or wear it on your head. Show as much of the bright color of the bandanna as possible. This will help others see you when they are behind you.
  2. Waving Signal – Tight two corners of the bandanna to a long stick. Now wave the stick in the shape of the figure eight above your head when trying to get the attention of others.
  3. Smoke Signals – Keep a small fire burning at your camp with a lot of dry wood near by to create a large fire. Also keep wet material such as damp leaves near the fire. When others are seen at a distance toss the dry fuel on the fire to make it larger and hotter. Then place a few handfuls of the damp material on it to create smoke. You can now take a wet bandanna and place it across the fire to temporarily stop the smoke, then remove to create a ball of smoke. This smoke will look out of the ordinary to others, especially in an area where fire smoke is common. The smoke signals should get their attention.
  4. Flag – Tie one or two corners of the bandanna to a long stick and place it above your camp so it can be seen from a distance. This way if you are gone from camp there is still a signal flag.


  1. Towel – Use after swimming or bathing a way of drying yourself off a bit.
  2. Hair – If you have long hair, use the bandanna to hold it up out of the way when wearing it on your head.
  3. Luggage – Bring the ends of the bandanna together and tie them so you now have a container to carry items in.
  4. Pot Holder – fold the bandanna up and use it as insulation between your hand and a hot pan when pulling it off the fire.
  5. Tea Bag – Wrap a handful of your favorite wild tea into the end of the bandanna and soak it in hot water just like you would a tea bag.
  6. Information – In the case that you are using a survival bandanna that is sold as a “survival bandanna” there is usually a lot of other nature survival related information printed on one side.

I know there are also many other uses for a bandanna when in a survival situation or just around camp. I hope this helped you out and that you now make the choice to include a bandanna in your day pack and survival kit.

What other uses can you think of for a survival bandanna? Please tell us in the comments below!

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