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Buff from Buff // Review

A lot of people love a good buff.  This versatile loop of fabric, created in the 1990s by a keen off-road motorcyclist, is the staple of many climbers and outdoorsy people.  It’s for good reason. The buff is a multifunctional piece of clothing, which can double up as a scarf, hat, face-covering, or even as a bandage if need arises. I’ve always found them an invaluable piece of my winter and even summer climbing exploits. In the past, I’ve used cheaper buffs from shops like Decathlon or Go Outdoors, so I thought it would be good to compare the cheaper versions with an official buff from Buff, which I’ve recently tried out.

On the left, the red buff by Buff, available at Kitshack. On the right, the black and lime buff from North Ridge, available at Go Outdoors.

Buff Comparison

I’m going to be comparing a Polar buff from Buff (£27.25) from Kitshack with a North Ridge buff (approx.£9.99), bought from Go Outdoors.  It is possible to buy the Polar buff cheaper from retailers than on the Kitshack website.

Why So Expensive?

When I started out this investigation, what I really wanted to know is why the official Buff buffs are more expensive, because cost is a consideration for me and lots of outdoorsy people.  What I found is that there are lots of features that the original buff boasts, which you just don’t get in the cheaper versions.

Did You Know? The name ‘buff’ originates from the Spanish word Bufanda, meaning scarf.

Breathable, Lightweight and Fast-drying

The buff performed really well in the period between Christmas and New Year, when I went camping in the Lake District.  It accompanied me up Great Gable in mithering rain and I stayed relatively warm and draught-free throughout.  Sometimes there’s a tendency for cotton fabrics to chafe, but the buff worked well and there was no sign of chafing.  I’ve used it as a hat, doubled round on itself and stayed so warm that I didn’t realise how wet my head would have been without it. I like this multifunctionality.

Red Buff buff is longer and larger overall than the smaller North Ridge Buff. It's also slightly heavier, as there's more fabric.

Size

As you can see from the images, the Buff buff is larger than the North Ridge one – it’s longer and wider. It makes it much easier to use in a multifunctional way. The North Ridge buff is too small to wear comfortably on my head as a hat, whereas the red buff did the job comfortably.  The extra length makes it easier to turn into a hat, with extra fabric if you have an extra large head. The extra fabric does mean slightly more weight, which I worked out to be around 12 grams.

Active Weekender show the different ways to use a buff.  Click the image to go to their article talking about protecting your head from sunburn using a buff.

Thick Polar Fleece Fabric

Not only is there more fabric, but the fleece is also considerably thicker, making it warmer than the North Ridge buff. I reckon the fabric is at least twice the thickness, which is a big difference. Overall, the extra length meant that there were fewer gaping bits for the wind and rain to get into, as it tucked into my clothing better. With the extra thickness, it definitely added warmth compared with the North Ridge buff.

LOTS More Choice & Awesome Designs

Buff have 100s of different colours and styles compared to the cheaper brands, which means they’re much more appealing.  I often wear my red one for work, because it’s smart enough to wear with my suit and shirt on a chilly day. On their website, I could find a different buff for every occasion if I wanted. They have fun fabrics and the full range of colours, so if you want to look stylish, you have an easy option.

Just some of the 100s of buffs on the Kitshack website.

No Stink

One of the key benefits of the Buff buff is the non-smell technology.  They’re designed firstly to wick away sweat, so if there’s less sweat hanging around, there’s bound to be less stink. They also have antimicrobial technology, which inhibits the growth of micro-organisms, leading to better odour control. This is especially useful for multi-day trips where you’re limited on weight and have fewer clothing change options.  Personally, I’ve always found that my buff is the last thing to smell anyway, but perhaps that’s because it’s not so easy to identify your own stink!

The Verdict

So, onto the million-dollar question...…Is this buff worth the extra £££?

The buff by Buff comes in at more than double the price of an own brand/ other branded buff.  For this type (Polar), it's two and a half times the price of a cheaper brand buff.  My answer to this question is that it just depends what you’re after.

If warmth is really important, then every little helps and this buff is warmer.

If you want style and choice, then the Buff buff will definitely give you hundreds of style options.

If you’re someone who likes the newest fabric technology then, again, this will probably tick your boxes.

However, if you’re on a budget or want to reduce weight and these things above don’t matter so much, then maybe the cheaper option would work better for you.

Tech Specs for buff:

Technical Features:

  • Weighs 60g
  • Machine Washable
  • Non Iron
  • Made from 100% polyester

What is a buff?

A buff is a loop of seamless lightweight microfibre fabric.  Due to the climate in the UK we mostly see buffs with one end of microfibre fabric and the other end made of fleece.  These Polar Buffs are the ones that I use, but there are other styles available, which you can check out on the Kitshack website.  They even have cute doggie buffs available for those canine-lovers among us!

Ways to wear your buff:

Thanks to Buff who sent us this item to review. We don't receive any money for reviewing items, so what you see is what you get. Gaining trust in our community is important to us, so we aim to give you the positives of the items we review, as well as aspects of the product that we don't like so much.  We're honest, so you can trust Womenclimb.

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