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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Buff Headgear - High UV Buff > Test Report by Sheila Morrissey



Initial Report - May 29, 2007
Field Report - July 25, 2007
Long-Term Report - September 18, 2007

Initial Report: May 29, 2007

Name: Sheila Morrissey
Age: 26
Gender: Female
Head Circumference Behind Ears: 21 in (53 cm)
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email Address: geosheila(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Goleta, California, USA


I hike and camp at every opportunity and in every season. I usually travel with friends and my dog, Patch. I especially enjoy backpacking in the Sierra Nevada and in Los Padres National Forest. My pack typically weighs around 25 lb (11 kg), including consumables. I sunburn easily and usually wear a lot of sunscreen, even on my scalp, on my backpacking trips.

Manufacturer: Original Buff, S.A.
Manufacturer's Website:
Size: Adult, for head circumferences (measured just behind ears) of 21 to 25 in (53 to 64 cm)
Listed Dimensions: N/A
Measured Dimensions: 10 in x 21 in (25 cm x 53 cm)
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 1.3 oz (37 g)
MSRP: US$ 21.00

Buff Multifunctional Headwear are tube-shaped, 100% polyester pieces of material that can be worn to cover the head and/or neck in a variety of configurations, including as neckbands, head scarves and beanies, and are available in a variety of colors and patterns. The High UV Buff is made from Coolmax and blocks more than 95% of UV radiation. Although no information on creating different configurations of head and neck protection was included with the Buff, video demonstrations are available on the manufacturer's website.

The idea is quite simple and so is the product. It really is just a piece of thin, stretchy Coolmax. Though there are no irritating seams (possible because of their "unique proprietary knitting process"), it is possible to see where the patterns change across these otherwise not-so-obvious seams.
The ends aren't hemmed, but are already curling a bit, after just a few attempts at trying on the Buff. According to the Buff website, I shouldn't expect any fraying of the material. 


he manufacturer accidentally initially sent me a Junior Buff, intended for kids aged 7 to 12. I would like to point out here that the website also says that the Junior Buff is best for adults with head circumferences between 19 and 22 in. I measured my head circumference at 21 in and found their claim to be wrong; the Junior Buff definitely didn't fit my head. The elasticized tube of fabric fit over my head only with considerable force. I tried wearing the Junior Buff as a neck band (something I won't be doing while hiking, unless the Buff is wet, since it feels quite warm), as a head band (way too tight for my comfort), as a head scarf holding all of my hair back, and as a scrunchie. I practiced some of the configurations modeled on the manufacturer's website, but couldn't get any of them to work because the Junior Buff was too small.

My new adult-sized High UV Buff has arrived and is the right fit. It slides easily over my head, has a looser fit around my neck and can be comfortably worn as a head band. So far, I have been able to figure out how to do all of the different hats and headbands demonstrated on the manufacturer's website, but I will need some more practice since my beanie is still a little elf-like and I can't always get my hair through the knot on the pirate's bandana.

I will comment on my uses of the Buff and how comfortable it is, the level of sun protection it provides, and cleaning and durability of this product in my field report.
I sunburn easily, but I'm hoping the High UV Buff will end my need to put sunscreen on my scalp while I hike since doing so makes my hair disgustingly greasy, especially after a couple days on the trail.  I expect I will use the Buff mostly as a beanie during this test, but will also try other configurations. My greatest concern at this point is that I might be mistaken for a bandana-wearing hippie.

Field Report: July 25, 2007

My "bandana-wearing hippie" comment in my initial report really wasn't a joke. I was most concerned with the look of the Buff. After a couple months of use, I can't say I'm proud to wear the Buff in public, but it has turned out to be a great product for field use. Soon after the Buff arrived, I brought it along on a class field trip. A couple of friends were as intrigued by the idea of it as I was and we had fun playing with it, but they also had some difficulties perfecting the Buff beanie. I should have worn it anyway, since my scalp got some sun that day, but I didn't. It just seemed too silly to wear, especially after I found out that the Buff is nearly identical to a product called a "snood" that poodle owners put on their dogs to keep the dogs' hairy ears out of their food dish while the dog eats. Oh goodness.

A poodle models my Buff snood with me.

My first real use of the Buff was on a three day trip to a walk-in campground in Inyo National Forest in California's eastern Sierras. We camped at approximately 10,000 ft (3,000 m) elevation and dayhiked to over 11,000 ft (3,350 m). Temperatures ranged from 40 F (4 C) at night to 70 F (21 C) during the day.

I wore the Buff nearly every day for two weeks while working outdoors all over South Florida and during some time off kayaking in the Biscayne Bay and by Key Largo. Elevations ranged from sea level to a whopping 30 ft (9 m), and temperatures ranged from 80 to 90 F (27 to 32 C) with extremely high humidity and frequent afternoon thunderstorms.

I brought the Buff along on a five day car-camping and trail-maintenance trip to the Lake Edison area of Sierra National Forest in California's western Sierras. Elevations ranged from 7,800 ft (2,400 m) to 9,000 ft (2,700 m), and temperatures ranged from 45 F (7 C) at night to 75 F (24 C) during the day.

I also wore the Buff while backpacking for two days in the Sespe Wilderness in the Mt. Pinos District of Los Padres National Forest. My hiking elevations ranged from 4,800 to 5,900 ft (1,500 to 1,800 m). Temperatures ranged from 60 to 90 F (16 to 32 C).

On my first trip with the Buff, I wore it as a headband to keep my hair out of my face while driving with the windows open. When I arrived at our lakeside campground at an elevation near 10,000 ft (3,050 m), the temperature was about 60 F (16 C) and it was cool enough to wear the Buff as a beanie. After a few Buff-twisting attempts, I think I have the Buff beanie perfected. (I don't think I was twisting the material enough before.) I brought along a fleece hat to wear as the evenings cooled, but never felt the need to change out of the Buff beanie. Nighttime temperatures dipped just below 40 F (4 C), but since the Buff material was doubled over to form the beanie, it kept my head warm enough for chatting around the campfire. I also kept the Buff beanie on overnight. It slipped up above my ears and was quite deformed looking in the mornings, but it did help keep me warm enough for those nights.  I twisted up new Buff beanies before starting hiking in the mornings.

My Buff beanie for sitting around the campfire.

After only a few minutes of hiking at 10,000 to 11,000 ft (3,050 to 3,350 m) in temperatures near 60 F (16 C), the Buff beanie was too warm for me. I untwisted the beanie, pulled the Buff down around my neck and slipped it over my head like broad headband, covering all of my scalp. With my ears and neck uncovered, it didn't feel too warm to wear the Buff while hiking. Each day I wore 45 SPF sunscreen covering my face and arms, but didn't apply any to my scalp. I ended up getting more sun on my face than on top of my head and didn't have to deal with any greasy sunscreen on my scalp.

My Buff head covering for hiking.

I still wasn't too impressed with the look of the Buff, but I did like that I didn't get sunburned. One morning I tried to use the Buff as a towel after washing my face, but that didn't work well at all since it didn't seem to absorb any water. However, used as it's supposed to be used, the Buff was always completely dry and never got sweaty or smelled bad from sweat or campfire smoke. Except to change the shape of it, I didn't take the Buff off for three days. I found myself re-twisting the beanie occasionally as it loosened. 

Buff headband.

It was much more hot and humid during my trip to South Florida, where I mostly wore the Buff as a headband, yet the Buff never felt wet with sweat. It dried rather quickly after getting soaked with hot rain. I got teased for the look of the Buff, but it again kept my scalp from getting burned. I had no problem with the Buff falling off when I wore it as a headband, even while limbo-kayaking in the mangroves.

Buff headband stays on while kayaking.

In the western Sierras, I used the Buff as a headband to keep my hair back while I washed my face, as a beanie in the evening (switching to a fleece beanie to sleep in), and wore it as a broad headband to cover my scalp while I hiked. I was especially glad to have it with me while hiking in Los Padres National Forest, where the trail was very sunny. I was drenched in sunscreen on my face and arms, but was able to rely on the Buff to protect my scalp from sunburn.

Long-Term Report: September 18, 2007

During the long-term testing phase, I carried the Buff along on a four day backpacking trip in the Jennie Lakes Wilderness, Sequoia National Forest in California's western Sierras. Elevations ranged from 7,500 (2,300 m) to 9,000 ft (2,750 m) and temperatures ranged from 50 to 75 F (10 to 24 C). I used the Buff as a beanie in the evenings and to manage my wet hair after swimming in the lake, but switched to using a baseball cap while hiking.

Though the Buff did a great job of keeping my head from getting sunburned on my previous trips, I think I need the extra shade from the brim of a cap to protect my face, so I won't likely go back to wearing the Buff as a headband while backpacking. However, since the Buff weighs next to nothing, I do think I'll probably continue throwing it in my pack just in case I decide to use it.  I will probably at least continue to use it as a light summer beanie for backpacking and might wear it as a headband if I get back into paddling because it stays on better than a baseball cap.

The Buff never got too dirty or smelly during my test, but I threw it in the wash frequently. It has now been washed a dozen or so times. It is only slightly faded and has the same elasticity as it did when I received it.

  • Less cumbersome to carry than a brimmed hat
  • Versatile and can be easily (after a little practice) transformed into different style hats
  • Light beanie is perfect for summer evenings
  • Protects my head from sunburn
  • Available in different styles (including ones that look less like a typical bandana pattern)
  • Still looking pretty new after a few months and frequent washes
  • Dries very quickly
  • Light weight
  • A brimmed hat can be better than the Buff for providing shade
  • It looks really silly!
This concludes my Test Series. Thank you to Original Buff, S.A. and for providing me with the opportunity to test the High UV Buff. 

Read more gear reviews by Sheila Morrissey

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Buff Headgear - High UV Buff > Test Report by Sheila Morrissey

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