Made out of soft, warm, wind-resistant 100% Merino Wool from humanely raised, non-mulesed sheep. Keeps you warm.
May run bigger compared to other BUFFs.
Features HeiQ cooling technology and Polygiene odor control which helps during workouts. Multi-sport headwear.
May roll down during wear.
Structured to provide comprehensive coverage for the face and the back of the head. Stretchy fit works well to mold to your neck.
The material can cause your neck to feel too hot.
Has a fleece lining that locks in warmth which makes it a good choice for skiers. Material is rated UPF 50.
May develop pilling over time.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Even if you’ve zipped your coat, there’s a chance you’ll feel a chill down your neck in whipping winds and plunging temperatures. To seal out the cold and stay warm, invest in a buff, better known as a neck warmer or gaiter.
A buff is a long tube of material that is folded or scrunched around the neck. On average, buffs measure 9 to 10 inches wide and 14 to 22 inches long. According to many men, a buff is a better option than a traditional scarf. Not only are they lightweight and stylish, they offer concentrated warmth around the neck.
Buffs are just plain cozy, too. With soft, gathered material in the form of chunky knits or plush polar fleece, the feeling of wearing a buff is often likened to wearing a blanket around your neck. If you prefer something less bulky, there are plenty of lightweight thermal buffs made with ultra-thin materials.
Wondering which buff is right for you? We put together this buying guide to help you narrow down your choices.
Buffs are available in several material blends including cotton, polyester, microfiber, polar fleece, and wool. While they’re all soft and cozy, it’s important to understand each material’s attributes to choose a buff that suits you best.
Pros: Cotton and cotton blends are best known for their softness, not to mention their breathability. Most of these buffs are light or medium weight, making them ideal for both cool and warm temperatures.
Cons: Because they’re fairly thin and the weave can let in a draft, buffs made of cotton and cotton blends aren’t very warm. Furthermore, these buffs aren’t colorfast, and they may shrink in the wash.
Pros: Polyester and microfiber are lightweight yet warm. These buffs aren’t very bulky, so they’re ideal for wearers who prefer a pared-down look. What’s more, the extremely durable material won’t shrink or fade.
Cons: Unfortunately, some polyester and microfiber blends are prone to pilling or thinning after repeated washing.
Pros: Polar fleece is known for its soft and insulating design. It’s one of the warmest options, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular option for cold weather wear. Despite its warmth, polar fleece happens to be lightweight and fairly breathable.
Cons: Polar fleece generates static electricity, which means hair can end up with quite a few flyaways. It’s not windproof, so you might feel a chill in whipping winds.
Pros: Wool is the warmest and most luxurious option for buffs. Because it’s naturally non-toxic and resists mildew and mold, it's popular for those with sensitive skin and allergies. Wool also has the best curb appeal of all buff material options.
Cons: Buffs made with 100% wool tend to come with lofty price tags. The material requires special care when it comes to washing, and even then, it’s prone to pilling or becoming “fuzzy.”
Buffs are popular in cold climates due to their unyielding warmth and coziness. Styles for cold weather are designed to buffer the cold with materials like wool or polar fleece, many of which have tighter weaves. Some buffs have insulated linings while others are made with unique thermal materials.
Buffs aren’t strictly for cold weather; there are plenty of warm weather buffs on the market, too. Because they protect the neck, they’re often worn by outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy sports and activities in direct sunlight. These styles tend to be thin and lightweight and are often made with wick-away or UPF materials.
Warmth without bulk: A buff can keep your neck warm without adding unnecessary bulk to your upper body. They also eliminate the need to tuck the ends of scarves into coats.
Compact size: Buffs are usually more compact than regular scarves. They’re highly packable, easily stowed inside a coat pocket or bag.
Buffs can protect your ears and mouth: If you need extra protection from the cold, a buff can stretch to provide it. Some can be pulled over the crown of the head and ears, thus exposing only the face as a balaclava.
Buffs boast contemporary style. While the design is far from new, buffs have been embraced by the world of fashion in recent years. They’re considered a youthful yet functional alternative to scarves, which can “age” some outerwear looks.
A machine washable buff should be laundered inside a lingerie bag to prevent other garments with zippers or buttons from damaging it.
Buffs are often sold with UPF ratings, which refer to their universal protection factor. It’s considered an essential feature for outdoor enthusiasts that offers an additional layer of protection beyond sunscreen.
If you’re wondering exactly how UPF measures protection in buffs and other garments, it boils down to how much UV light penetrates the material and reaches the skin. UPF ratings range from 15 to 50. The higher the number, the more protection offered. Take a buff with a UPF 50+ rating as an example. It will allow no more than 1/50th of the UV light penetration. In other words, the buff is capable of blocking 98% of harmful UV rays.
Because buffs are worn around the neck and face, they come into contact with some of the most sensitive skin on the body. For that reason, many manufacturers adopt seamless designs for smooth, soft, irritation-free construction. When that isn’t possible, flatlock seams are often used to minimize chafing.
Many buffs are made with moisture-wicking materials, particularly those intended for activewear. These materials sweep sweat away from the skin to keep the wearer dry and comfortable. Moisture-wicking material dries fairly quickly, too. Not only does this mean sweat or moisture won’t last long on the buff, the material will also air dry quickly when washed.
Buffs for men range in price from $8 to $120. Construction quality drives price the most, but the name on the label may also have an impact.
Inexpensive: Entry-level buffs cost $8 to $25. These styles include a wide variety of fashionable buffs as well as some basic styles intended for outdoor athletic wear. Quality is hit-or-miss in this bracket.
Mid-range: Mid-range buffs run between $30 and $60 and include styles from well-known fashion and athletic brands. Construction is noticeably better in this range, and you’ll find more premium features in these styles, such as seamless construction or UPF protection.
High-end: The most expensive buffs cost $70 to $120. These styles are made by high-end fashion and athletic brands. If you’re looking for a 100% wool buff, this is the bracket in which you’ll most likely find them.
Buffs make great gifts for cold weather runners, especially those made with UPF and wick-away materials.
Q. What’s the difference between buffs for men and buffs for women?
A. There really isn’t much difference, and it’s safe to say that most styles are unisex. With that said, buffs for men tend to be slightly larger than those for women. Buffs for men and women are generally one-size-fits-all accessories.
Q. Are buffs available in different colors and patterns?
A. Yes, and some buffs come in as many as 20 options for color, print, or pattern. There are a few buffs on the market that are reversible, which means you essentially get two choices for the price of one.
Q. Are buffs fitted or loose?
A. Some buffs are advertised as fitted, which means they’ll fit your neck more like a turtleneck. Those that aren’t marketed as fitted tend to be much looser around the neck. According to some wearers, the latter is more comfortable. This includes men who dislike the feeling of form-fitting clothing around their neck.