5 Best Running Bandanas for Dust, Sweat and Sun

Are you looking for a running bandana to keep your hair together, protect you from the Sun, keep the dirt off your face, or to soak up sweat? Here are my top 5 running bandana picks for you.

  1. Buff Multifunctional Bandana/Scarf
  2. Nathan Ice Bandana
  3. Levi’s Bandana
  4. Nike Dri-Fit Head Tie
  5. Under Armour Head Tie

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1. Buff Multifuctional Bandana/Scarf – The Best Bandana for Running

Buff Multifunctional Bandana/Scarf - Best Running Bandanas
Provided by Amazon

This is the best running bandana that isn’t really a bandana. You can use it for all the things that you would use a running bandana for except it is better.

You can use this Buff to hold back your hair and catch your sweat while you’re running. It can also be used to cover your mouth and nose, like an original bandana, when it’s dusty outside.

I have personally used it as a headband to hold back sweat from dripping down my face. Some people like to use it as a nearly full head covering or as sun protection on their neck, head, or face.

Here are 12 ways you can use Buff. This is from Buff’s website. You can click on the picture to get more information from them.

How to Wear a Buff - From Buff’s Website
Provided by Buff

As you can see, a Buff scarf can be used as so much more than a bandana can. I have used it as a full mask, half mask, head band and beanie.

I live in a area where I try to wear as little clothing as possible due to the 80+% humidity. But, when I am running, cycling, or training in an area where it is dry and there is a bit of dust, I will try to wear a Buff-like scarf to protect me.

You can also use them as ice bandanas. When you are in a race and ice is available, you can put it inside the Buff. Dipping the Buff in ice cold water can help as well.

Cold Weather Buff Running Bandana/Scarf

If you need more of a winter time bandana, Buff has a great selection of merino wool scarves as well. They even have really a sweet balaclava if you need even more protection from the cold or wind.

Buff Merino Wool Scarf
Provided by Amazon

Another great thing about Buff is that they have a huge, and I mean massive, selection of designs that you can choose from. And they are creating new designs every year.

I have written an article about cold weather running masks if you are looking for something for winter time or mountain runs.

Buff is my top recommendation because of the versatility they offer. The good thing about bandanas is that they are really cheap. If you don’t like one, try another one and see if it works better for you.

My next recommendation is a basic bandana that has the same shape and design that you would expect from a bandana. It’s from Levi’s.

2. Levi’s Bandana – Simple and Reliable Running Bandana

Levi's Bandanas - Best Running Bandanas
Provided by Amazon

They are just simple cotton bandanas that are not particularly designed for running. They are designed as clothing accessories that help you get that western, cowboy/cowgal or equestrian look. Regardless of its design intention, Levi’s bandanas are your quintessential bandana that works for us runners.

Running with this type of bandana is great for keeping large dust or allergen particles off of your face. If you are running on a dusty road or down a dry trail, these bandanas will work very well.

I have not personally tried running with this kind of bandana for dust protection. This is because I am rarely in a very dusty area when I run. But, when I was in dusty areas, I wish I had brought my Buff or a bandana like this one.

Another way that you can use this bandana is to keep your hair back and catch sweat when you run. I have used this kind of bandana when it was super hot out and I wanted to keep the sweat from dripping down my face into my eyes. I like them because they they are thin and light weight.

They are also 100% cotton. My personal believe is that they are cooler and allow your skin to breathe a little better than synthetic bandanas.

I feel that overall, a normal bandana will work just fine as a running bandana. Levi’s provides just that.

The next bandana I will discuss is one that is designed specifically to put ice into.

3. Nathan Ice Bandana – The Best Running Bandana to Keep You Cool

Nathan Ice Bandana - Best Running Bandanas
Provided by Amazon

This bandana is specifically designed to cool you down on a hot sunny days. It was designed for runners and is the only running bandana on this list.

With a pocket in the middle of the bandana, you can put anything inside. But, ice is the intended filling. It has a mesh lining on the interior to allow for cold melted ice water to seep out slowly.

Wherever you decide to place the ice bandana be sure it is a place that you want to get wet. I have never used this method of cooling down, but lots of runners and long course triathletes will put ice on to a part of their gear that allows their body to cool down during a race.

As with most bandanas, you can tie them wherever you see fit. Typically you will see people wearing them on their wrists, necks, foreheads, or covering the bottom half of their face. I don’t recommend using this as a face covering if you’re going to have ice in it.

I highly recommend this product because of the applications for holding other things that are not ice inside of it. You could use the extra pocket as a place to store nutrition. This might include a gel or a nutrition bar that is small enough to fit inside. You could also put little salt packets in there.

A Time That I Wish I Had a Running Bandana with Ice in it.

Coming from personal experience, keeping the body cool during a hot race or a long hot training session is very important. Preventing heat stroke is a very important precaution to take.

I was in a triathlon on a seasonally warm day, but not a heat record breaker by any means. After the swim course I felt very hot. But, as I got into the bike ride, I started cooling off due to the wind. I had been regularly hydrating and had a typical diet plan during the race.

Then, as I stepped out of transition onto the running course, I found that I was way too hot. Wherever there was water I would pour it over my body. And I probably should have stopped without finishing. But, I was determined to push through the pain so to speak.

After I got finish with the race, I couldn’t get rid of a headache, I was super hot even in an air-conditioned room and I just wanted to lay down. I did that for about 10 hours until my body fully cooled down.

I really wish I had used an ice bandana during my race. It would have helped me cool down and not have such a strong reaction to the heat.

4. Nike Dri-Fit Head Tie – Great Headgear for Keeping Sweat and Hair off of Your Face

Nike Dri-Fit Bandana/Head Tie - Best Running Bandanas
Provided by Amazon

The Nike Dri-FIT Head Tie is not a running bandana. It is just a head tie that wicks sweat away from your skin and exposes that sweat to the air so that it can evaporate.

If you’re not looking for something to block dust from your face or from breathing it in, and you just want to keep sweat out of your eyes or off your face, this is a perfect inexpensive option.

There are generally two places that people will wear these on their head. One place is just over top of the forehead at the hairline, and then wrapping it around the back of their head above their ears. The second place is loosely around their neck.

Putting this at the hairline will keep sweat off of your face and absorb the sweat from the top of your head. It will also catch sweat that comes down from the back of your head onto your neck. Placing the head tie around your neck will serve as minimal sun protection and also help catch sweat running down from your head.

I only recommend this product if you are looking for a way to just keep sweat out of your face or eyes, while also holding your hair back so that you don’t have to wear a hat. Any other usage can be handled with a Buff or a regular bandana.

The next product I will discuss is a similar head tie just without the Dri-Fit technology.

5. Under Armour Head Tie – A Useful Running Accessory to Keep Sweat and Hair Away

Under Armour Head Tie/Bandana - Best Running Bandanas
Provided by Amazon

As described in the Nike head tie, this product prevents sweat from dripping down to your face and it also keeps your hair back without the need to wear a hat. It is not a running bandana, but it works well for the use as a head tie that a bandana would provide.

Like all the products that I recommend, Under Armour is a reputable brand. Their design and attention to detail is excellent. That is why I have picked their head tie over many others that could easily have made the list.

I recommend this head tie if you want to purchase something that is of high quality but yet is a little bit cheaper than the Nike head tie.

In Conclusion

As with every article of clothing or product that I recommend, try them out for yourself. See what works best for you.

We all have our personal preferences and none of us are cookie cutter replicas of one another. If you really want the look of a bandana while you’re running, then I would recommend either the Levi’s or the Nathan’s bandanas. If you’re looking for a very practical multi-use product that will do everything you could want with a bandana, then I would recommend a Buff scarf.

Buff has a great reputation, their products last a long time, and I think they really care about outdoor adventurers and athletes like ourselves. When it comes to the purpose of having a running bandana, Buff nailed it. As described with a Nathan’s bandana, you can use ice and put it inside of a fold that you make with your Buff. It can become an ice running bandana.

I hope this article has helped you narrow down a couple solutions to try for a running bandana. I hope you have an awesome day and keep training!