A Buff is a staple item of clothing that contestants of Survivor wear to identify which tribe they are a member of for the audience.
Buffs are tubular bandannas made from microfiber and can be worn in a variety of ways. The composition of the fabric used for the Buff allows the contestants to cool down in hot conditions and warm up in the cold (typically nighttime).
Replica Buffs can be purchased from CBS.com.
From 2009 to 2020, planetgearcompany.com was the official website to purchase Buff replicas, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic they have opted out of selling Buffs from the Survivor franchise.
Based on the motif of the season, the Buffs typically match and follow a particular design regardless of the installment. Each side of the Buff shows three logos with a strip down the crease with a local design (sharks, islands, fire, skulls, etc.).
Beginning from Survivor: Nicaragua, starting tribes began having their names on the material (with the exception of Survivor: Game Changers, Survivor: David vs. Goliath, Survivor: Island of the Idols, and Survivor: Winners at War). Buffs used for merged tribes have never featured a tribe name, as the tribe is named by the contestants themselves. From Survivor: Philippines onward, all subsequent Buffs possess the new Buff logo.
According to the Survivor Rulebook, contestants must have their Buffs on at all times unless otherwise directed. In the event of a tribe switch or a merge, castaways are to dispose their old Buff and wear their new one.
While they usually do not have in-game value, Buffs in Survivor: Redemption Island, Survivor: South Pacific and Survivor: Blood vs. Water were burned by castaways in a small fire pit as a symbol of their elimination from the game following their defeat on Redemption Island.
In Survivor: Island of the Idols, at the final five, the castaways moved from their camp to the Island of the Idols, where they retired their blue merge Buffs in favor of new Buffs, black ones with blue accents. Tommy Sheehan discovered that these new Buffs contained a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol, which was then found by Dean Kowalski.
The Buff Brand
Not counting the commemorative Buffs issued over the years, there were Buffs that were supposed to be used in the game but were shelved mostly for unknown reasons. While never seen on the show, these Buffs are considered rare and are widely sought after by Survivor fans.
- A green Survivor: Palau Buff was produced and intended to be used by the merged tribe, but was never used in-show due to Ulong's decimation. This Buff was still commercially sold during the season, however.
- A light gray variation of the Survivor: Redemption Island Murlonio Buff was supposed to be issued to players residing on Redemption Island.
- A green Survivor: Island of the Idols Buff with a frog emblem.
- Survivor: Borneo is the only season to have the Survivor logo in a different font than in future installments. This is probably due to the design being changed in post-production. The iconic font used in subsequent seasons is called "Survivant".
- Prior to filming, at least 20 units of Buffs for each tribe are produced. Additional Buffs may be produced in cases of tribe switches, merges, or in rare cases, eliminated players returning to the game via The Outcasts twist, Redemption Island or Edge of Extinction.
- The women of the Pagong tribe are the first to wear the Buff as a top.
- Colleen Haskell is the first female to be seen wearing the Buff as a skirt.
- Reebok, who sponsored the series from Borneo to Survivor: Marquesas, used to have its logo on the Buff. Reissued Buffs from the said seasons no longer bear the Reebok logo.
- The Marquesas Buffs have two variants of the season logo, where the Survivor logo is either written in black or white.
- In Survivor: Gabon, contestant Bob Crowley introduced the bow tie as a new way of wearing a Buff. He is the only person thus far to sport a Buff this way.
- Randy Bailey is the first contestant to throw his Buff in the fire after being voted out.
- In Survivor: Redemption Island, there was supposed to be a separate gray Buff worn by the inhabitants of Redemption Island but it was never used. Instead, the survivors retained their original Buffs.
- Francesca Hogi is the first contestant to throw her Buff in the fire at Redemption Island.
- In Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Colton Cumbie was the only person to depart from Redemption Island with his Buff after quitting the game; Jeff reminded him that only those who compete (and thus, lose, a duel) would be allowed to throw their Buffs in the fire.
- Due to being mentors, Sandra Diaz-Twine and Rob Mariano wore the merge Buffs from their winning seasons on Survivor: Island of the Idols.
- CBS (December 11, 2008). "The Art of Buff Bowties". CBS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwB4bRTS0so. Retrieved May 13, 2012.