June 24, 2017

The Shemagh

The Shemagh

The Shemagh, pronounced shmog, is a garment worn in arid climates as a scarf or headdress. They were incorporated by many in the American armed forces in the last decade and by many in the British armed forced decades ago. The Shemagh can be worn is several ways and has several other uses. It is an item I believe belongs in every BOB. The Shemagh is a 46”x46” piece of fabric, coming in several colors and designs.

When worn as a scarf, it can keep the neck shaded in the sun, can provide warmth in the cold and can stop debris from falling down ones shirt in the field.

When worn as a headdress, it can shade the head and neck from the sun, and if worn dessert ninja style, can conceal ones face.

Medically, the Shemagh could be used for an arm sling, fashioned with branches in the field for a leg splint or two of them could make a decent, impromptu, stretcher.

With a bit of cordage, it would make a decent “hobo” style bag.

It could also serve as a towel, small blanket or pillow or, dunk it in cold water and use it as a headdress or scarf for added cooling.

For these reasons and more, I think each BOB should have one of these beauties. One word of warning though; if you buy one, you will want to rinse it thoroughly to remove excess ink. Mine came from Pakistan and I had to soak them for days, changing the water and rinsing them several times before the ink quit bleeding; not something you want in your washing machine!


Prepared Christian supporter, Camping Survival, carries a wide selection of Shemaghs,! If you’re interested in them, head over and check them out! The colors shown in the image are just a partial view of their selection.

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  1. mariowen says:

    I think I would find a way to wear it that didn’t make me look like a mid easterner. Since a lot of our fabric comes 44/45″ wide, it would be so easy to whip up some of these. I do see the usefulness of something like this. Some suggestions: wear it around the shoulders for a scarf. Wrap it around the waist. Use it in the ways that you mentioned, but I would avoid the way that the picture shows here. I do not want to emulate the mid east.

    • scoutsout23 says:

      So you would rather not use the shemagh as it is intended to be used so you don’t look middle-eastern? Your thoughts make no sense. Its like not wearing a bandana because you might look like a gang member or an old west train robber. I’ve used them overseas and they are great for keeping dust, sand, and other things out of your nose and mouth.

    • I am a desert lover/explorer living in Southern Calif. I have been doing the desert thing for over 40 years now and only recently got onto the shemagh. Middle Eastern desert dwelling people have been using them since before who knows when. I, almost always, on foot forrays am wearing a shemagh. I wear mine ‘ninja’ style in cold or windy/dusty weather I also wear it on my head and held in place by my boonie hat and bloused out over my shoulders to keep the sun off. They can keep you warm, help keep you cool and can serve other utilitarian purposes only limited by your imagination. YES! you do look middle-eastern and I have had a few chance encounters with some pretty suprised people. In that case just pull it off your head and speak with a drawl. They’ll be okay. The shemagh is time-tested-and-true desert technology you need a couple of them

  2. Jim Moore says:

    Size matters! Be careful if you buy them anywhere else. Look for the size. I’ve seen them as small as 32 inches square. I would love to find a supply of larger shemaughs, like 50″ X 50″ or larger.
    If anyone comes along some larger, let me know please. Materials are different as well. I prefer 100% cotton, but I have seen some 100% polyester.

    • Jim,
      All the fabric stores have 60″ wide fabric, so I think a 50″ or 60″ would definitely be possible. I wonder if these are a special weave or something. I’m heading over to camping survival and check them out. Try your local fabric store.
      Stay well, Nancy

      • Jim Moore says:

        Thanks Nancy! Great idea.
        I think they are a cotton weave. Reversible is key as well. I see some reversible cotton weave on Amazon that may work. I’ve thought about a light wool weave for winter too.

    • Chris Ray says:

      good stuff to watch for Jim, thanks.

  3. GatorGeek21 says:

    I have seen a few articles on these a they have suggested having a few of them depending on the situation. For example one in white for the winter and perhaps one in camo for the woods. They also suggested having bananas as well.

    I believe one of the other uses I heard of as well was being used as an emergency strap replacement for a backpack. Or could be used as a water filter as well. I suppose the uses are only limited by ones imagination.

    I didn’t know about the ink thing but could to know. And never thought of making my own or larger ones. I am planning to pick one up in the next couple weeks as my first one.

    • Chris Ray says:

      I have seen water filter mentioned as a use in the past, and don’t care for the idea. It would only filter out sediment and debris, not anything that would actually be harmful.

      I do like the idea of having different colors to go with the seasons though.

    • Jim Moore says:

      Hey Gator, I like to have several bandanas in my packs. I try to keep a bright orange or yellow bandana for signaling. Of course I want to keep that hid when I don’t want to be seen, that’s where the darker ones come into play.
      You’ll love a good shemaugh. They are soft and useful, plus you can wear it while watching Joe Teti on Dual Survivor!

      • GatorGeek21 says:

        I have a wide selection of bananas. Actually just picked up an orange one at an event specifically as a potential signaling prep.

    • GatorGeek21 says:

      I picked up my first shemagh today. Traditional 44×44 OD green made in India. They have a similar tan one as well but I will start with this one first. They did have some cool balaclava type things in a number of colours including white and camo. They are light weight and I believe they can be used in 8 ways and around $22. Might consider these in the future. Was my first time in this tactical based store so spent most time looking around. Did find a place I can get fat guy camo pants though. :-)

      • Chris Ray says:

        glad you picked one up!

        fat guy camo lol!

        • GatorGeek21 says:

          No quite camo pants but was able to find a pair of khaki and camel cargo pants in my size. Very durably made with wide belt loops to accommodate a web type belt if needed and very spacious. They even coordinate with my shemagh. Regular $65 pants marked at $20 on the clearance tag. Price at the till…wait for it…less then $5 per pair. Even with paying for tailoring on leg length they are still a deal.

          Did actually find a cool balaclava type wrap in my search. Looking at getting one soonish. If I do I will let people know more.

  4. In the Vietnam era a plain OD undershirt often was used as a head covering in place of a helmet or boonie hat. Also small OD colored towels are great to have as padding or to absorb sweat around the neck.

  5. Chris Ray says:

    I was informed from someone who wants to remain anonymous, that they learned in the Middle East that red shemaghs denote support for Israel’s enemies.

  6. mariowen says:

    There are so many signals that you can send if you choose the wrong – or right – colors of these things. It is kind of like the gangs here. If you wear the wrong color of bandana, you could get yourself killed. In the same way, these scarves can be construed as friendly or enemy by some people. Just be careful. We may see them as a great prepping tool, but they can be a signal to those who use these scarves as a sign of solidarity or aggression. Be sure and be careful………..

  7. GoneWithTheWind says:

    OK. I’ ll agree with everything you said. But what you didn’t say is that it makes you look like a terrorist. Every time I see one I automatically think of Yassar Arafat. I think it needs to be “Westernized”. Use Camo cloth, a towel or some pattern that simply is never used in a real shemagh. Maybe a nice Hawaiian print would be good.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Not sure I agree with the terrorist, but I get where you’re coming from.

      Hawaiian print, lol I love it.

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