I just returned from a trip to Northern California, where I completed a high-elevation overnight hike in Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, the broad-spectrum sunscreen I had in the car failed to make it into my pack, which I realized only when I entered the open landscapes above 10,000 feet, where UV exposure is much greater than at sea level. (UV levels increase approximately 10 percent for every 1,000 meter increase in elevation.)
What to do? To protect my face and neck, I relied on two items I always carry: a visor and bandana. (Any snug-fitting hat would work, I’m just partial to visors.)
To accomplish it and gain maximum coverage, I took my bandana and positioned it so that one corner was directly above the center of my forehead, the opposite corner hung down my neck, and the other two corners extended down over my ears and along the sides of my neck. (I folded the corner under above my forehead to keep it from dangling between my eyes.) I then put my visor on over the bandana to hold it in place and, voila!, I was spared one of the worst sunburns of my life.
Bandanas are inexpensive, lightweight, and useful for many things in addition to emergency sun protection—I definitely recommend carrying one. Personally, I pack a bright orange version that provides me with extra visibility during hunting season and in potential emergency situations.
There’s a better option, of course, to keep harmful UV rays at bay. Don’t leave your sunscreen in the car!