My original Buff® – an essential piece of gear

I’ve been enjoying outdoors since I was given to birth. My parents were raised on the country side and they moved to the big city to start a new life and build a family. We used to escape from the city every single weekend, expending time in the nature with cousins as a big outdoor loving family. Then I became a mountain bike freak, before I discover my true addiction: mountain climbing. One of my first pieces of gear I’ve got was an original Buff®. Original because by that time it was a very innovative headgear and no one else in the market was producing something similar. My friends used to wear regular winter hats, neck gaiters and balaclavas, but I was an enthusiast of all-in-one clothing and thus I was always substituting these items with my original Buff®.

Original Buff S.A. is a company established in Igualada, a small city 60km from Barcelona where they created the first multi-functional, seamless, tubular headgear in the Buff® brand. In 1995, it began to export to diverse European destinations. Currently, 80% of sales are in exports to over 60 countries through exclusive distributors. One of them is Global Climbing, and they are the only distributor for original Buff® in UAE.

Buff® can be worn in loads of different ways: as a scarf, cap, headscarf, facemask, balaclava, headband, wristband… and that is in my opinion the success factor of this very well know product worldwide. Also the product is available in hundreds of colors and designs like the UAE flag or the traditional Ghutra that many Arabs wear in their heads.

On top of the original Buff®, the company has developed very innovative designs to better accommodate to specific people and usage. They have the WOMEN SLIM FIT BUFF®, one made of REFLECTIVE material, INFINITY LYOCELL long and soft made from eucalyptus wood, WOOL BUFF® made from 100% natural Merino, POLAR versions for very cold weather, HEADBAND, HOODIE BUFF® a stylish and superbly comfortable hooded garment, VISOR BUFF® which mimics a cap, STORM and CYCLONE BUFF® incorporating the amazing Gore Windstopper®, and HIGH UV PROTECTION BUFF® made from CoolMax® Extreme fabric to block 95% UV rays and wick sweat quickly away from skin.

My experience with Buff® has always been fantastic, and after years the last two models are the ones I pick for my outdoors activities these days.

CYCLONE BUFF® is an essential piece of gear whether I’m riding my motorbike in the cold winter in Spain or climbing high mountains somewhere like Nepal. It has two sections, the top with two layer microfiber and the bottom with Gore Windstopper®. The top section is elastic and soft for better fit and comfort, and the tow layer microfiber system has amazing thermal characteristics and works incredibly well keeping the humidity away from the skin. The bottom section has a very wise design: It’s actually made of two different materials, Gore Windstopper® in the front, which today is a standard on wind protection, and a very warm and comfy Polartec-like fabric in the back. The front section is slightly longer going all the way down to the chest, while the back is more elastic. This fantastic design allows the Buff® to seal all around your neck without restricting movement and giving the maximum protection to the front, which is ideal when riding my bike at high speeds while the thermometer drops.

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Both sections incorporate POLYGIENE® and Active Odor control technologies, allowing all fabric to stay fresh, and believe me, after a month hiking and climbing in Nepal without showering at all, you’ll really appreciate this… Try to go with one of the Chinese versions of Buff® and even the Yaks will stay away from you on the trail!

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We all passionate mountaineers know how important is to keep certain areas of our body sealed to prevent the heart from escaping. There are three key areas to protect, and most newbies forget about them and focus mainly on chest and hands. Most of the heat then tends to scape around the neck, wrist and sculp. These areas are highly irrigated by small capillaries and although it is a myth “40 to 45 percent of body heat” is lost from the head, it’s equally important to protect these areas along with chest and hands.

We also understand how the conditions change from one minute to the other up in the hill, and you need flexibility in your gear to quickly accommodate and prevent overheating and consequent dehydration. That´s why using a balaclava or regular winter hat doesn´t look ideal to me. You have to put it on and off all the time, store in a pocket where it might blow away or you lose it while the conditions are taught… With original Buff® you go from one fitting to other in just one second in order to protect different areas and accommodate to climate conditions. If fits perfectly well under a helmet, and doesn´t feel itchy even after weeks of sweating it out.

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HIGH UV PROTECTION BUFF® is my second choice for outdoor activities in the desert or icy mountains. Having to apply high UV protection ointments in your face over and over again is just a hassle you tent to avoid, and then is when problems arise… I´ve just had small surgery done in my left ear to remove a very suspicious lump that was taken under histology to discard skin cancer. Applying full protection sunscreens when you wear globes is not easy (although I have some tricks I´ll explain a separate post) and you are never 100% sure you left some portions of skin exposed, such as ears or nostrils, which commonly are the body parts all of us burn over and over again. The UV Buff® is made from CoolMax® Extreme fabric, which has the ability to block 95% UV rays. This popular fabric is extremely breathable, allowing you to cover your face and mouth even when you are performing cardio intensive activities and you need to respire heavily.

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In high altitude and extremely cold conditions this is also a lifesaver when spending a long night wrapped around my subzero sleeping bag. Many mountaineers suffer from what is known as The Khumbu cough or high altitude hack. It is caused by the low humidity and extreme temperatures experienced at altitude. Spending time at extreme altitude (over 5500m) leads to an increased breathing rate, which exposes the delicate lung lining to excess cold air, resulting in dried out membranes and partially damaged bronchi. I still remember my winter climb of Korma Kuh in Iran, where we set up a bivouac with temperatures around -20C and I was comfortably sleeping in my North Face Superlight sleeping bag, with thermal underwear and other stuff. I sealed zippers, velcros, and neck collar in the sleeping bag just to leave my mouth and nose exposed to the air while sleeping. In the morning I had extreme irritation in my throat, and my uvula was the size of an egg! I had ibuprofen, summited my mountain, and went back home with a good lesson learned. Running nose and dry persistent cough can be prevented by keeping the bronchial mucosa moist. Here is where any of my Buff® become an invaluable asset. Breathing through them, especially at night, heats and moisturizes the air. I personally find easier to breathe through my HIGH UV PROTECTION BUFF® than the CYCLONE BUFF®

There are no many things I would improve in these two models of original Buff®, and as I mentioned before the product catalogue is wide enough to cover all scenarios and requirements from outdoors enthusiast like me. There is only one thing I’d love to be incorporated in it, and it’s one of this vapor shield devices that are available in the market these days, like the Psolarmanufactured by EX.Mask

In summary, it’s been many years performing all sort of outdoor activities, and my original Buff® is a piece of gear I trust 100% and I will definitely take with my to the highest mountains on Earth.

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