Jimbo Bandana

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A picture of me running at the midnight boogie race wearing a Jimbo bandana.

The Jimbo Bandana is a bandana that is sown into a triangle shape, with an opening to add ice. The McGinn uses a sock to hold the ice inside a bandana. Both are cheap and effective ways for staying cooler when Running in the Heat, and both are named after the runners who invented them. You can find out more about Jimbo at http://sofarfromnormal.com and Shannon McGinn at http://shannon-creatingmomentum.blogspot.com/p/coaching.html.

My collection of Jimbo bandanas, along with a couple of the commercially produced cool off bandanas.

1 Making a Jimbo Bandana

The Jimbo bandana is made by folding an ordinary bandana into a triangle shape and selling along the edge nearly all the way. You need to leave a gap that is large enough to get the ice into; too small and you'll have trouble filling it with ice quickly, but too large and the ice will tend to fall out. An improvement on the current design might be to use zipper along one edge, but I've not tried this.

A close-up of the Jimbo bandana with the side opening showing.

2 How much ice?

Obviously putting more ice into the bandana will keep you cooler for longer, but more is not always better. Putting too much ice into the bandana makes it heavy, and the bandana will press on your throat which can be quite uncomfortable. Getting the right balance of ice requires a little trial and error.

This Jimbo bandana is probably at the limit of how much ice you can reasonably carry. In most situations you want rather less than this.
A side view of the slightly overfilled Jimbo bandana.

3 Caveats

The Jimbo bandana alongside the cool off bandana.
Wearing a Jimbo bandana can make a big difference when Running in the Heat, but there are a number of downsides to you should be aware of.
  • It's best to wear some type of top with the Jimbo bandana to prevent chafing. The photo at the top of the page shows me running shirtless with the Jimbo bandana, and I ended up with some more skin across my shoulders. I would recommend an UnderArmour HeatGear Top.
  • The Jimbo bandana keep you cooler but you also end up with the melted water soaking you. In my experience pure water seems to cause more chafing problems than sweat, and you can easily end up with your Shoes and socks completely soaked. (Note: in some conditions you can be sweating a lot and if the sweat evaporates rather than rolls off, there may be an accumulation of salt crystals that can act as an abrasive.)
  • You can tie the Jimbo bandana so that the ice is pressing against the side of your neck. This is very effective at keeping you cool, but can also be extremely painful for a little while.
  • Be careful tying the bandana to tightly or you may have problems getting it and done when you need to refill.
  • Once all the ice is melted, the Jimbo bandana does not provide much cooling. There are commercial products, such as the "cool off bandana" that has a chamois that will hold water. I've used this product and rather like it, but it does not hold as much on ice is the Jimbo bandana and is obviously a lot more expensive. The "cool off bandana" is probably a better choice if you want some simple evaporative cooling without filling with ice. (See image on the right of this section.)
  • Depending on the situation having several Jimbo banned and those pre-filled with ice and stored in a cold box can save a lot of time.
  • You won't get frostbite from the ice. As noted in Cryotherapy, frostbite does not occur until the skin goes well below freezing point. (Never use gel packs - they are cold enough to cause skin damage and then warm up too quickly.)

4 The McGin Enhancement

The McGinn is an enhancement to the Jimbo bandana. The McGinn uses a knee-high sock filled with ice, tied off and the bandana wrapped around it. The sock should be thin, such as a dress sock, but not pantyhose type nylons. The McGinn holds less ice than the Jimbo, but it positions it better.

This is the ice filled sock, tied off and positioned on the bandana.
Wrap the sock in the bandana so that the ends of the bandana can be knotted around the neck.
Here is the McGinn in situ.

5 The Autoloader

Getting the ice into the Jimbo Bandana or McGinn can take longer than you’d expect. I simply cut the bottom off a quart pot and used it to feed the ice quickly.

The quart pot with the bottom cut off.
The autoloader in use with the McGinn.