As I walked through the aisles of REI preparing for some Christmas shopping back in 2017, I came across a display of buffs. Merino wool buffs, to be exact.

I heard some of the buzz about Merino wool on backpacking forums – and what Survivor fan hasn’t heard of Buff – but it was the first time I knowingly encountered it at the store. So, I decided to splurge and got a lightweight dark gray Merino wool buff as an early Christmas present to myself!

And that’s how it all started. Six years later, we are the leading Merino wool clothing reviewers worldwide!

None of that would have happened without that Merino wool buff!

More than half a decade later, my weathered Buff is still kicking. It has bounced around Europe, climbed to the top of mountains, and trekked across glaciers. And, as you can imagine, it has the battle scars to prove it.

But even today, it’s become a vital clothing accessory, whether I wear it as a headband, beanie, gaiter, or sleep mask. I keep it in my bag at all times!

So, reviewing the Merino wool buff – my Merino wool buff – almost a decade in the making would only be proper. I’ll go over the good and the bad, then we’ll answer whether or not you should add a Merino wool Buff to your wardrobe.

Who knows? It might even change your life; It sure as hell changed mine.

The Proof

Would I divulge our origin story without proof?! Of course not! Here’s a snapshot from that fateful in-store REI purchase six years ago.

Screenshot of Merino wool buff purchase from REI

Still, that was all just the beginning. Six years later, I’ve taken this Merino wool buff on some once-in-a-lifetime adventures. And I have the pictures to prove it!

Man wearing a Merino wool buff on a glacier

As you can see, I rocked this buff on a winter trip to Iceland. It served as my daily scarf/neckwear. And, when we trekked on Vatnajokull glacier, exploring the ice caves and glacial streams, I used it more as a face mask. It was my first wilderness experience using the Buff, and it didn’t disappoint.

Man sitting on top of Half Dome in Yosemite

A few years later, my wife and I took a trip to Yosemite, hiking to the top of Half-dome (we got lucky in the permit lottery). And you guessed it, the same Merino wool buff wrapped around my wrist the whole time, from struggling up the cables to nearly running into a bear!

Since this hiking trip was during the summer, I didn’t use the buff for warmth but for moisture management. It was a glorified sweat rag, so that’s why I wore it around my wrist. Although I did use it as a gaiter during a few brisk mornings in Yosemite Valley.

Blonde woman wearing a Merino wool buff in Lisbon

The buff still held its own years after getting beat up on a glacier and drenched in sweat on Yosemite. It wasn’t ratty (yet) and still looked great as a beanie. My wife even decided to use it on our trip to Portugal!

From traveling worldwide to everyday life, my Merino wool buff has been with me on every adventure. And six years later, as I take on the new experiences of writing and fatherhood, the same Merino wool buff – My Merino Wool Buff – is still going strong.

Man wearing a hat and buff next to an infant

The Good

Everything. Everything is good about this buff. It’s the best piece of Merino wool gear you’ll ever find. And I’ll argue with any who says otherwise.

But you don’t want my biased buff affection. You want some actual helpful information!

So, from industry-leading versatility and warmth to packability and utility, let’s dive deeper into the four main reasons why I love my Merino wool buff so much!

12 Different Ways To Wear A Buff

Buffs are made for functionality. They replace a scarf, beanie, balaclava, and any type of headwear you plan on wearing. And if you no longer have hair like I do (I’ve changed a lot in six years), having versatile headwear is a must.

In total, there are about a dozen ways to wear a buff in total. Anyone who tells you anything else is just modifying one of the other ways. Don’t listen to them. Listen to me, the guy with an unhealthy infatuation with his Buff.

  • Classic Gaiter: Always ready for adventure. Quickly transforms into a face mask in cold conditions.
  • Beanie/Hat/Cap: Double-layered insulation, excellent for keeping my bald head warm.
  • Sleep Mask: Get some quality shuteye by blocking out the light during the day. Add noise-canceling for the ultimate napping experience.

My buff is the lightweight version (125 gsm), but I use it in all weather conditions. I wear it hiking in the summer to help keep the sun off my neck and wipe away sweat. And, I wear it as a gaiter in the winter to keep my face and neck warm.

Winter and Summer pictures of couple

This buff has such fantastic temperature regulation properties because of the Merino wool! The process is simple, really: sheep live outside, and their coats need to protect them from the sun, rain, wind, and snow. When that wool becomes a Buff, it has the same natural properties.

Check out our comprehensive benefits guide for a deeper, more scientific explanation of Merino wool’s natural properties.

One rarely mentioned benefit of the Merino wool buff is its packability. It is so lightweight (1.7 oz) and convenient that it will be barely detectable in your bag. You can stuff it in the side of your backpack, tuck it away in your suitcase, or even squeeze it in your pocket. And whenever you need it, it’s ready to go!

A folded Merino wool buff on a bed between two dogs

Plus, if you properly care for your buff, it will stay fresh for years. You can wear it casually or save it for mountain expeditions. It will be an essential piece of gear for all your adventures – just as it’s been with mine.

And, if you want to adventure in style, you should get a couple buffs in different colors. My dark gray one is best for versatility, but there are nearly 20 options, so you can choose the color buff that best works with your wardrobe.

My buff is just that – a buff.

It’s sometimes a gaiter or a balaclava; other times, it’s stuffed away in my day bag. But it’s always there.

It always serves its purpose, whatever the purpose may be that day.

I’m such a big fan of this reliability. In six years, there hasn’t been a situation or adventure where I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t take my buff.” That’s because it’s the most useful, versatile, functional, and reliable clothing accessory on the market.

The Bad

Honestly, I can’t say anything wrong about this buff. Yes, it’s experienced a few ‘bad days’ – which I’ll go over below – but to call these things “Bad” is a gross misrepresentation.

Still, it’s my website, and I will do it anyway!

Alright, one of the downsides of this buff is its durability. At 125 gsm, it’s the same thickness as ~1.5 pieces of paper! That’s super thin! And as you can imagine, I’ve accumulated some wear and tear over six years of adventure.

In all, there are three observable imperfections. The first was after about two years when I cut the tag off improperly. So, really only two that weren’t my fault.

Merino wool buff holes and tears

But here’s the thing, these imperfections are barely noticeable. And I’d say they give the buff a bit of character. The memories from my travels and adventures – which I call battle scars – give my buff its authenticity. And after over half a decade, I would expect any piece of heavily-worn Merino wool gear to show its wear.

Despite these battle scars, I still wear the same buff. I’m wearing it now as I’m typing! And I intend to keep wearing it, holes in all, until every last thread comes undone.

What do you want me to say?! I absolutely love this thing. I mean, it’s just a tube of Merino wool fabric. Buff can’t really improve anything on it. It’s not like they are going to add extra features anytime soon.

It’s not like they can change the manufacturing process to improve it. The fabric is ideal, the versatility is there, and there are tons of different color options.

The lightweight Merino wool buff is immaculate, and they shouldn’t change a thing.

Should You Get A Merino Wool Buff?

Does a one-legged duck swim in a circle? The obvious answer to both questions is ‘yes.’

You should get a Merino wool buff for yourself, one for your brother, one for your mom, and even one for your neighbor. That’s not a joke; these buffs make excellent gifts since they are affordable and practical.

Now, my buff baby is the lightweight Merino wool version, which is best for daily use. Even in frigid conditions, it works well. Still, if you plan on using the buff mainly for arctic expeditions like heli-skiing in the backcountry or shoveling your driveway, you want to get the midweight version instead.

I get it if you’re still on the fence about getting a Merino wool buff. Maybe that whole story about it literally changing my life wasn’t enough. So, to make the decision easier for you, here are my top five reasons why you should – and shouldn’t – own a Merino wool buff.

  • It will get you at least six years of use.
  • It replaces a scarf, beanie, and balaclava.
  • You can take it anywhere.
  • It’s super easy to care for.
  • There’s nothing like a midday nap with a Merino wool buff as a sleep mask.

  • You care nothing about comfort, warmth, or functionality.
  • You’re afraid of sheep.
  • You are a sheep and already have your own wool.
  • You’re a nudist, so you don’t need any clothing at all.
  • You’re a member of the Illuminati and must adhere to a strict dress code.

Final Note About My Merino Wool Buff

That’s all that’s left to say. Hopefully, you’ll believe me when I say that the Merino wool buff changed my life. Merino wool gear wouldn’t be here without it.

Stories aside, this is my most versatile piece of Merino wool gear. To this day, it’s always in my daily bag. I never leave home without it. And you shouldn’t either!

Finally, if you liked our Merino wool buff review, and want to learn more about Merino, poke around our site a bit. We put out long-form product reviews, best gear lists, and facts sheets about our favorite high-performance fabric: Merino wool!

And if you want the latest deals, discounts, and news on Merino wool gear, follow us on the socials below. Or, if you prefer e-mail, sign-up for our newsletter. We’re always looking for members to join the flock!

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