Musa Masala would like to thank Douglas Burns for this awesome post on the humble buff. Often used to save voices and throats at Everest Base Camp, buffs have been proving themselves in the mountains for years. (The recycling of moist, humidified air from your lungs helps stave off the dreaded Khumbu cough.) Doug is going to tell you about many other uses and we included a handy chart so you can play with yours to create your own unique look.

Since this post was written, times have changed and Doug, who is a resident doctor, along with many of our Musa team find ourselves entrenched in the world of COVID-19. Given that, we now have a new important use for the buff: protection while social distancing. 

Musa Masala has been supplying buffs to our frontline members and coworkers. They aren’t medical grade PPE, but they do provide an added layer of protection to cover your nose and mouth and meet the standards for personal use for your essential errands. 

Our buffs are our first collaboration with our friend, Binod Mani, of Makalu e Traders and the Raeko and Nirvana brand of mountain clothing. We look forward to creating a line of Musa Masala clothing that will benefit the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital. When you’re able to go, please check out his awesome climbing shop in Kathmandu!


— You’re in the mountains. You’re cold. A wind is blowing snow in your face. Your teeth hurt, even though you swear you went to the dentist recently enough that you shouldn’t have any cavities. If only there was something to cover your face! You thought about bringing that balaclava your mother knit for you, the same kind your grandpa wore when he went Nordic skiing before having coffee and reading the newspaper. That was a pretty cool scene, but the balaclava really doesn’t carry out of it too well, you think as you continue digging your snow pit, staking out your tarp, your ski partner saying, “Isn’t this just great?!,” a long, frozen strand of snot dangling from his left nostril.

— You’re riding the streets of New York, a bus in front of you kicks out a cloud of exhaust and the acrid taste stings your eyes and nose. Why?! Just, WHY?!? 

— You’re out for a run; the day seemed warm enough, but lets be honest. You slowed for a little “break” and that sweaty brow has cooled considerably, and would really appreciate it if you hadn’t declared “no hat necessary” today. If only there had been a way to run through the winter without all that cold air irritating your throat. You would be fit enough to keep running without this “break” at all! 

      Use the “mask” style for personal protection from COVID-19.

— You’re on the plane back home. It was a great climbing trip in the desert, the back of your neck got real burnt again, but otherwise, no complaints. Except sleep really wasn’t a top priority. And you have to go straight to work from the airport. And the plane’s lights are too bright. And that weird fan somewhere is blowing right on your face while the person next to you has the audacity to ASK YOU QUESTIONS??? I’m trying to sleep, and survive. Please let me rest. 

Maybe none of these scenarios apply to you, but they all apply to me. And in each one, and so many more, I have found use for the humble buff, an article of clothing I find that too many people can’t distinguish from a dishcloth, yet really could benefit from. 

I leave the house with two buffs each day: one around my neck, the other around my head. They fit under helmets to keep me warm or sweat out of my eyes, whether I’m skiing or biking, they cover my nose and mouth and stay breathable through snowstorms and city smogs. They’re light enough that I’ve never begrudged them space in my pack. And if I ever want to take them off in the middle of things, I just loop them around my wrists. 

These simple tubes of fabric can be doubled over themselves to fit any forehead, or unfolded to cover your entire neck and face (aka SLEEP MODE) 🌙 No matter what activity you’re doing, whether it’s high alpine explorations or a more humble bike across the neighborhood, I believe you will find the buff makes a good companion. 


Who is this Doug who so proclaims the merit of the buff to you? He’s a Chicagoland native but an expert transplanter, having spent years being dragged up icefalls, gullies and scree fields in the mountains of Montana by friends who always seemed a good decade more “acclimatized” than he. But he also did some time dragging of others “less acclimatized” than he down the mountain while volunteering as a ski patroller at a mountain resort south of Bozeman, Montana. He spent some time professionally riding in the bike saddle, flirting with the iconography of being a bike messenger in the city of New York and has since been biking the streets and bridges of that city, as a commuter and for pleasure, through every season of the past six years. Bike tours in Norway, long winters sleeping in a bivy in Chicago and ice climbing as the sun came up, buffs have always been with him. He’s now a student doctor with high hopes in that direction, but occasionally find himself daydreaming about mountain biking in Moab, corn turns in Montana and a long line of green lights in a Manhattan traffic jam.

Please contact us here ( if you would like to order Musa buffs or bandanas, which we’re currently offering at a discounted price, in light of the pandemic.

Thanks, Doug, for this great homage to a tiny but mighty piece of cloth. Stay healthy and safe everyone. Jam Jam!!