What is a neck gaiter? Unraveling the most versatile garment in our ultimate guide

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Neck gaiters are tube-shaped garments that go around your neck, but are stretchable enough to be pulled over your cheeks, head, and face.   

While quite simple, this incredibly versatile piece of clothing raises questions like: what’s the point of a neck gaiter? What’s a neck gaiter used for? 

Given our extensive 30-year expertise in creating and crafting this highly adaptable article of clothing, BUFF® is proud to present you with this comprehensive 101 guide on our joyous innovation, the neck gaiter! 

What is a neck gaiter?

As we said, a neck gaiter is basically a tube-shaped piece of clothing. 

But it has other names, in fact a neck gaiter can be called a “snood”, “tube neck scarf”, “neck scarf”, “neck tube”, “neck snood”, etc. 

From protecting against harsh weather conditions to functioning as a makeshift mask, neck gaiters have become a go-to accessory for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers alike.  

The lightweight and stretchy fabric allows for breathability and comfort, making them ideal for activities such as hiking, bicycling, and skiing.  

Additionally, their versatility extends beyond outdoor sports, with many people using them as a stylish fashion statement or even as a convenient hair accessory. 

neck gaiter characteristics

What's the purpose of a neck gaiter?

There are multiple reasons to wear a neck gaiter:  

  • Comfort. They offer comfort by effectively wicking away moisture, ensuring that you stay dry and sweat-free. Additionally, they can either provide a cooling effect or a warming effect, keeping you at the perfect temperature throughout the year.  
  • Protection. It protects you from harsh sun rays with UPF 50+ protection. But it’s effective against dust, snow, and rain, thanks to its waterproof technology. Keep in mind these features vary depending on model. 
  • Safety. Furthermore, there are specific features that increase your safety – such as reflective technology to offer better visibility when running at night, as well as fireproof and antistatic neck garments for outside workers such as fireman, for instance.  
  • Style. Neck gaiters come in various weights and designs, allowing you the freedom to match your personal preferences. This, thanks to its incredible versatility, enables you to have it perfectly aligned with your unique taste regardless of the weather or wardrobe. 

What's the difference between “BUFF” and “Neck Gaiter”?

A neck gaiter is what we produce – we offer a wide range of them. 

BUFF® is… Us! The brand and creators behind this very successful piece of garment.  

So, clearly, there’s a big difference there.  

Even though you will find that sometimes the term “buff” is used as a thick neck gaiter, don’t confuse them: that’s when the term “neck warmer” comes in hand.  

Different uses of a geck gaiter garment

You can use your neck gaiter all year-around, and especially for:

Keeping yourself warm

As temperatures drop, the neck gaiter proves to be an excellent companion to keep you warm and cozy.  

Its snug fit around the neck acts as a barrier against the cold, keeping the heat in, making it a must-have in your winter wardrobe.  

You can try a lot of different neck gaiters for cold climates and activities:  

  • Thin, yet cozy under helmet eck gaiters and balaclavas for your ski days. 
  • Sweat-wicking, Merino neck warmers perfect for fall or winter hiking.  

Protecting you from the sun

You must think that a neck gaiter is a no-go for the summer. 

But it’s not true at all: snoods (aka neck gaiters) can be used as a shield against UV rays. And we highly recommend it since it is a great way to prevent sunburn without having to reapply expensive and potentially environmentally damaging sunscreen. 

Plus, thanks to the sweat-wicking and lightweight fabric, a summer neck gaiter offers you high breathability while you’re enjoying your outdoor activities under the sun.  

Pro tip: Dip your lightweight neck gaiter in water, especially cool water, before putting it on in hot weather. The evaporation of the water in the warm sun will feel like air conditioning on your neck! 

As a face mask

The ongoing need for face coverings in the face of climate change has elevated the neck gaiter’s status as a versatile mask option when you’re in very windy or dusty environments 

For outside workers

Outdoor professionals, rejoice! The neck gaiter proves invaluable for those working in varying conditions.  

From protecting against wind to providing relief from dust, its utility extends beyond traditional expectations. 

How to wear it?

You can use our BUFF® neck gaiters in 12 ways:  

  • Neck gaiter 
  • Half face cover 
  • Full face cover 
  • Balaclava 
  • Hood 
  • Sahariane 
  • Pirate 
  • Beanie 
  • Bandana 
  • Sweatband 
  • Headband 
  • Durag 

Still curious?  

Check out our video guide, where we showcase various positions and styles, ensuring you make the most out of this versatile accessory.  

And if you want to see in detail how to realize these methods of wearing, check our how to wear page

different ways to wear a neck gaiter

What materials do we use for our neck gaiters?

Ever wondered about the materials that make our neck gaiters exceptional?  

We take pride in using top-quality fabrics, and our commitment to recycling aligns with eco-friendly practices; we have used more than 47 million plastic bottles to create our neck gaiters. 

Merino wool

All our Merino neck gaiters are made by ethically sourced wool. When owning one of them,  you get all these features:  

  • Temperature Regulation: Merino wool has excellent thermoregulatory properties, helping to keep the wearer warm in cold conditions and cool in warmer weather. It wicks moisture away from the skin, maintaining comfort. 
  • Odor Resistance: Merino wool has natural antimicrobial properties that help resist the growth of odor-causing bacteria. This makes it suitable for extended wear without developing unpleasant smells. 
  • Softness, non-itchy Comfort: The fine fibers of Merino wool are soft against the skin, providing a comfortable and non-itchy feel even during prolonged use. 
  • Natural Insulation: Merino wool provides insulation even when wet, making it a reliable choice for various weather conditions. 

Technical yarns

Our technical fabrics like ThermoNet®  and Dryflx®  are synthetic fibers engineered for specific purposes, such as reflectivity or enhanced thermal properties. The benefits of our technical neck gaiters are: 

  • Reflective Yarns: Neck gaiters with reflective elements enhance visibility in low-light conditions. This is particularly important for outdoor activities such as running or cycling, providing an added safety feature. 
  • Thermal Yarns: Technical yarns designed for thermal insulation help retain body heat in cold environments. This is ideal for winter sports, hiking, or any outdoor activity in chilly conditions. 
  • Moisture Management: Many technical yarns have moisture-wicking properties, ensuring that sweat is efficiently moved away from the skin to keep the wearer dry and comfortable. 
  • Durable and Lightweight: Technical yarns are often durable and lightweight, making them suitable for active pursuits without adding unnecessary bulk. 

Recycled plastic

Neck gaiters made from recycled plastic often use materials like recycled polyester, derived from post-consumer plastic bottles. 

Utilizing recycled plastic reduces the demand for new raw materials and helps divert plastic waste from landfills. This contributes to environmental conservation efforts. 

basic features - comparison chart for neck gaiters

technical features neck gaiters comparison chart

5 best features to search for in a neck gaiter

What really makes a neck gaiter good?  

Even though we have a wide range of fabric options and models for each adventurous spirit, we came down to these 5 factors to determine what makes the best beck gaiter. 

During our 30 years of studying, we have concluded that the most important features of a neck gaiters are the following: 


  • Secure fit: Elasticity in the fabric allows neck gaiters to stretch and shape the wearer’s neck and face, providing a snug and secure fit. This is particularly important when using them as face masks or headbands during physical activities, ensuring they stay in place without constant adjustment. 
  • One-size-fits-most: The elastic nature of neck gaiters often makes them versatile in terms of size. Many snoods are designed to fit a wide range of people comfortably, accommodating different head and neck sizes without sacrificing comfort or functionality. 
  • Ease of movement: Elasticity contributes to the overall flexibility of the neck gaiter. This ensures freedom of movement without constriction, making them suitable for a variety of activities where flexibility and range of motion are essential. 
  • Quick and easy application: The stretchiness of the fabric allows for easy on-and-off application. You can quickly pull the neck gaiter over your head or adjust its position without the need for complicated fasteners or closures. 


  • Material selection: Neck gaiters are typically made from breathable materials. This design allows air to circulate easily, preventing overheating and ensuring comfort during various activities. 
  • Moisture wicking: Many neck gaiters like ours are designed with moisture-wicking properties. This means they can effectively pull sweat away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable. Breathability is crucial for activities like running, hiking, or cycling, where proper airflow is essential. 


  • Resilient materials: When using a neck gaiter for outdoor activities where the gear might be subject to rough conditions, abrasion, or frequent washing, durability becomes a crucial factor. Top-notch materials, high-quality stitching, and seamless design also contribute to their longevity and increase their resistance to wear and tear 

Lightness and packability

  • Comfort: Material weight is a key feature for any accessory worn around the neck. A lightweight neck gaiter ensures that it doesn’t become a burden during prolonged use. Especially for long hikes, runs, or outdoor sports. 
  • Easy to carry: The lightweight nature of neck gaiters makes them easy to carry in a pocket or backpack. It’s extremely convenient to have them always accessible for immediate use without weighing you down.  


  • Adaptability to different uses: as we saw, neck gaiters are incredibly versatile and can be worn in various ways. They can function as a neck warmer, face mask, headband, beanie, or even a wristband. This adaptability makes them suitable for a wide range of activities, from outdoor sports to casual wear. 
  • All-Season wear: Whether it’s protecting against the cold in winter or providing sun protection in the summer, the versatility of neck gaiters makes them a practical accessory year-round. They can be used in diverse climates and environments. 

Our top selection of neck gaiters

Experience the full potential of our collection, which offers an extensive variety of choices suited for both frosty winters and scorching summers.

Winter selection

Whether you’re hitting the slopes or braving the winter chill, our neck gaiters are the perfect accessory to keep you warm and stylish.  

Made from high-quality materials, they provide excellent insulation and protection against the elements.  

Choose from a range of designs and colors to suit your personal style and stay cozy all season long. 

neck gaiters for winter

Summer selection

Whether you’re heading to the beach or exploring the mountains, our collection of lightweight and breathable clothing will keep you comfortable all day long 

neck gaiters for summer

Conclusion: what’s the best neck gaiter for you?

Choosing the best neck gaiter depends on several factors, including the season, material, and intended purpose of use. Here’s a guide to help you select the most suitable neck gaiter for different scenarios: 



  • Best Material: For winter, choose materials with excellent thermal insulation, such as Merino wool or gaiters with thermal technical yarns like ThermoNet and Polar. These materials will provide warmth and comfort in cold temperatures. 
  • Features: Look for gaiters with added features like moisture-wicking and wind-resistant properties to keep you dry and protected from harsh winter conditions. 


  • Best Material: Lightweight and breathable materials like moisture-wicking polyester are ideal for summer. Look for gaiters with good ventilation to keep you cool during hot weather. 
  • Features: UV protection and quick-drying properties are beneficial for sun exposure. A gaiter with moisture-wicking capabilities will help manage sweat. 


Merino wool

  • Best For: All seasons, especially cold weather. Go thicker for colder climates and/or lower-intensity activities. 
  • Benefits: Natural insulation, moisture-wicking, odor resistance, and softness against the skin.

Technical yarns (Reflective, Thermal)

  • Best For: Varied based on the specific technical features. 
  • Benefits: Reflective yarns for visibility in low light, thermal yarns for winter warmth, and moisture-wicking for active pursuits. Think ThermoNet and Polar. 

Recycled plastic

  • Best For: All seasons, particularly for those prioritizing sustainability. 
  • Benefits: Thin recycled polyester fabrics with a UPF specification are perfect for summer use. 

Purpose of use

High-intensity outdoor sports

  • Best with: Lightweight technical fabric, reflective features, and moisture-wicking properties.
  • Benefits: Reflective yarns enhance visibility during activities like running or cycling. Moisture-wicking helps manage sweat during intense workouts.

Casual wear

  • Best For: Comfortable materials like Merino wool
  • Benefits: Softness against the skin, versatility in styling, and all-day comfort.


  • Best For: Lightweight and versatile materials.
  • Benefits: Easy to pack, quick-drying for on-the-go use, and adaptable for various climates. 

Ultimately, the choice of the best neck gaiter will vary depending on individual preferences, the specific activities one partakes in, and the expected weather It is advantageous to possess a variety of gaiters tailored to different purposes to guarantee preparedness all year round.  


How do I choose the right size?

Choosing the right size involves considering your neck circumference and preferred fit. Our sizing guide can help you find the perfect match. 

Can I use a neck gaiter as a face mask?

Absolutely! Many of our neck gaiters are designed to function as effective face coverings, but remember that it won’t have the protection of a surgical mask.  

Are neck gaiters suitable for all weather conditions?

Yes, neck gaiters are versatile enough to adapt to various weather conditions. Whether it’s cold, sunny, or windy, there’s a suitable option for every situation. 

What makes a neck gaiter eco-friendly?

Our commitment to recycling and the use of sustainable materials contribute to the eco-friendly nature of our neck gaiters. That’s why we have recycled more than 47 million plastic bottles to make our neck gaiters.  

How often should I wash my neck gaiter?

We recommend washing your neck gaiter regularly, especially if used as a face covering. Follow our care instructions for the best results. 

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