Make packing light easy. Join the ultralight packing class waitlist.

The One Little Thing: Buff

bobbi lee hitchon and her buff

This is a post in an ongoing feature on Her Packing List called “The One Little Thing“. Each week or two, I’ll be interviewing a traveling lady to find out the one little thing she just can’t travel without. This one is brought to you by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

I may have traveled to over 30 countries in the past five years, but I’m actually quite lazy. Maybe all my energy is used up on traveling, maybe I’m just not fussed with always being made up for destination photos, regardless, I don’t like or try to put much effort into preparing my face and hair for the world while I’m traveling it.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good.

What one little thing can you not travel without?

bobbi and buff closeBuff. You’ve probably seen this headband on Survivor. While it’s usually used in more extreme adventure scenarios, it’s benefited me most as a headband. I would have just referred to it as that, a headband, but I don’t think that would be doing the product justice.

>> Check out the Buff headband on Amazon

Why has this one item been so important to you?

I noticed the stretchy, bulky headband in a travel shop in London and purchased it immediately on a day when my hair looked especially bad. I tend to use it often on days like this, but the product has been beneficial in several other ways since.

I spend a lot of time in the sun, usually running around, jumping in and out of the water and my forehead and scalp always take a beaten. Foolishly, I never intended to protect myself from the sun with Buff, but I definitely think it’s been a shield in the harshest of climates.

Buff also transitions well. I’ve used it in the sun, but also in the snow and it’s kept my head and neck extremely warm on hikes or just walking around on a cold day. Buff can be worn in 12 different ways all over your body, so while I usually use it as a headband, I also use it as a scarf and wristband.

How packable is it? Does it take up much room? Is it heavy?

It’s not a concern at all when packing. In fact, when I’m not wearing it, I usually keep it in my coat pocket or purse.

Bobbi with her Buff at the Emerald Lakes at Tongariro Crossing, NZ.
Bobbi with her Buff at the Emerald Lakes at Tongariro Crossing, NZ.

Why would you recommend this to your travel friends?

It’s a no-effort way to clean up your act if you’re having a bad hair day and it’s helpful on various activities on your travels. Whether it be wiping the sweat from your eyes while trekking in the jungles of Thailand or keeping your neck warm while skiing in New Zealand, Buff comes in handy in an array of different scenarios on the road.

Can you name one incident or situation where you were so happy to have this item with you?

I hiked the Tongariro Crossing this past April, a seven-hour walk in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park. I wore it for the crossing to keep my hair out of my face and to look somewhat presentable in photos on a walk that I knew would have me disheveled.

It served in a few other ways though.

Starting the walk and at various points on it, like climbing up to the base of Mt. Ruapehu, I used my Buff as a sweatband. As we walked at higher altitudes and the temperature dropped, Buff kept me warm.

bobbi at Tongariro Crossing
Bobbi at the Emerald Lakes at the Tongariro Crossing, NZ

How did you hear about this item?

I never did hear about it, just noticed it in a shop one day. But I have heard about it now and then since.

What sort of traveler is this item perfect for?

Buff is meant for the more adventurous, hikers, climbers and skiers. While I sometimes dabble in a few of these things, I wouldn’t classify myself as the extreme adventure traveler.

It’s worked best for me as a woman with fussy hair, but no motivation to make it look nice most days. So I would recommend it to all lady travelers with or without hair issues. It’s one of those products where its uses become more and more evident with time and experience.

About the author: Bobbi is a long term traveler and freelance writer. She’s spent most of the last three years down under with an Australian and New Zealand working holiday visa. The rest of those three years have been spent galavanting in SE Asia. She writes about her adventures on Heels and Wheels. Visit her website or get to know her on Twitter or Facebook.

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

Add your voice & leave a comment!

Gear We Use

speakeasy hidden pocket travel scarf ad
Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


tom bihn 3d organizer toiletry bag
Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Melissa- The Mellyboo Project says

    My buff came in so handy when I was in Africa – like you said I used it mostly as a hairband/bandana… but I also used it as a mouth cover when the overland truck got dusty. And the time I was so thankful to have it was when I was volunteering at the lion conservation project and my task was to help clean out one of the meat coolers that had lost power and meat had gone off inside… needless to say the stench was pretty much enough to make you puke. if it weren’t for the tiger balm i stuffed up my nose and the buff i had over my mouth and nose, i would’ve spewed for sure! 🙂

    • Cassie says

      Hi Melissa!

      I was just wondering where you volunteered? Volunteering for a lion conservation project is something I’ve always wanted to do, but many of my searches have only turned up travel/”volunteer” companies that overcharge, and a lot of the money doesn’t go to the costs of having volunteers, but rather the pockets of the middlemen. Not to mention, I’m a college student—along with my siblings–, so paying for that plus African airfare isn’t something I or my family can afford. Thank you!

  2. Emily says

    My buff totally came in handy when I did a night hike through the jungle in Belize. It worked well as a sweatband and kept the bugs from biting me. I always wear it when flying too – it makes for a great sleep mask!

  3. Katie K says

    Do you happen to know the name of the print/color of your buff (the one in your pictures above) Love the look of it!

  4. Emma says

    I absolutely love my Buff! I’ve got several different kinds of buff-ish thingys from different brands with fleece and different materials, but my one and only lifesaver is my simple, black buff. I think it’s made from wool, but I’m not sure. It’s perfect for planes, since it makes a great sleeping mask and can even cover your face if you don’t want to show offf your sleeping face. I’ve used it for a headband and scarf on my trek to Everest BC, it’s shielded my face against a sandstorm on Gran Canaria, and sweatband/wipe in the jungles of Malaysia. At home I use it everyday when cycling, and I’ve even folded it and stuffed it under my shirt to warm up an aching tummy. Love it! It’s definitely my one little thing too!

  5. Sal says

    How do you wear it as a hat? The website shows that you twist it halfway to wear it as a hat, but that doesn’t look that way in your photo

  6. Janice says

    Hi, this came in handy for me during caving trip in the Philippines. My partner cut his foot, near the ankles, on one of the sharp rocks, we were halfway through the underground tunnels with no proper first aid kits. The buff served as binding for his foot to stop the bleeding until we could get out. Makes me squirm just remembering it now, but it definitely for sure one hundred percent helped us that time.


Leave A Reply