Gear Review: Merino Wool Buff

A versatile head accessory that morphs from hat to gaiter to balaclava to pony-tail holder

Buffs are long, stretchy fabric tubes that multitask as neck gaiters and hats. And we made fun of them until our Rocky Mountain editor changed our minds. “It absorbs sweat more and dries faster than a bandanna,” he says of his CoolMax High UV Protection Buff ($21; 1 oz.), which he swears by for hot and exposed canyon hikes.

Our gear editor is another big fan. She now packs the cold-weather Merino Wool Buff ($27; 2 oz.) on every winter trek; it keeps her ears warm and even pinch-hits as a ponytail holder.

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