It has to be said that I’m probably the biggest Buff fan ever since I first discovered these neck scarves. Was it 2003? Or maybe 2004? Just for those wondering where the name comes from, Buff is short for “bufunda” which means scarf in Spanish. It was developed around 1992 by Joan Rojas, a motorcyclist, who was looking for something to protect his neck from the wind and cold.
Will I ever forget the first five Buffs we bought. Five! Not one or two to try them out first. No, it had to be at least five. That probably consumed all our savings, but it just sounded (hadn’t even seen one in real life yet before ordering them) like the best invention since sliced bread.
Friends took up Adventure Racing and was put in contact with the rep at that point. I remember his name as Chris. We sometimes seconded for these friends at AR events and when it was mentioned that we could also make use of this great opportunity to obtain these new garments, we jumped at the chance. I just knew that I had to have some of these most exquisite pieces of fabric – no seams to scratch you, no size issues, no loose bits that end up in your coffee … nothing really, just a tube of highly flexible, soft, warm, fabric. The best invention ever.
We were given a printout (ah, the days before everything happened so easily via social media) of the various pattern designs that were available to us at that stage. We decided on these five (yep, still have them all, despite having to fish one out of a tree a day after a trail run in 2015, when our drop bags were stolen and “unwanted” items thrown into the river nearby. Stupid thieves don’t realise they biffed the best item!):
I’m sure these will become collecters items one day! 😉 I have to point out that the first in the set is known as a “polar Buff”, containing a strip of polarfleece at the one end for extra warmth. Sadly, I only ever used this Buff on Mt Kilimanjaro in 2005. Not sure way, but I never really warmed to it.
The next Buffs we owned after these, were from a trail running series – the Montrail/Capestorm Gauteng Winter Trail Series. They were prize items – still my go-to Buff for anything and everything. And on the topic of race Buffs, the only other event we’ve done where Buffs are handed out, is the Tarawera Ultra Trial Run many years later, where you receive a Buff in exchange for a can of food which is donated to charity.
Subsequent event “buffs”, include Buff copies, which come very close to the real McCoy these days and are called headbands or tube bandanas (as Buff is obviously trademarked). One such item (on the right) was even made from good ol’ T-shirt fabric, scratchy seams and all):
Hallaluja for the day I won a Buff as a spot prize at a trail running event! (my two least favourite colours, but who cares! It’s a Buff!)
Then we went through a patriotic stage:
Then a safety-conscious stage (I sewed on the high-vis tape, which defeats the property of highly flexible, but thought it a good idea all the same):
And the 100% wool phase – a copy of the real thing of course. We live in NZ after all, and wool is just a fantasic product (until fish-moths get into your most prized possessions, as have happened to some of these, unfortunately):
And last, but not least (being unpatriotic to Buff) all the copies that are sold dirt cheap (or that you find left behind on trails as the owner probably didn’t feel as sorry for them, like the second and fourth one below). The ones you intend on using where you might want to “save” you real Buff for a better opportunity. Which hardly ever happens, because, it’s just not the same, but you still use them because they are there.
So there you have it. Buffs and “buffs” that are good for just about anything. Like wearing it as a tank top, or a skirt on Survivor (it has to be Survivor, as I would never be able to fit into one of these). Or using it as dressing or compression when you fall and have a bruise or bleeding or some such in the middle of nowhere. Or as a knee-guard. Not to mention keeping your neck or ears or head warm. Need I go on?
So go on – buy one. You will not regret it. Ever.