View Full Version : Shemaghs, The Most Useful Items in Your Pack?

04-18-2018, 08:58 PM
1564The people of the Middle East have been using Shemaghs, or Keffiyeh, for centuries. These simple scarves are so versatile, and useful, they are still used the world over by military personnel, hikers, campers, survivalists, and of course the inhabitants of the Middle East. In fact, they are often standard issue for soldiers and for good reason. There are plenty of articles and videos out there on the benefits and uses of Shemaghs so I doubt I'll introduce any new ideas here. My goal is gather as much information as possible, in one location, to help others who may not have heard of Shemaghs.

Here is a small list of the uses for a Shemagh. There are countless other uses for these scarves and no doubt different regions may have different uses for them. If you have additional uses please let us know.

1565As you may have guessed, the primary use for these scarves is protection against the harsh sun. By keeping your head and face covered you can avoid a potentially very painful and/or dangerous sunburn. It also helps prevent dehydration by allowing your body to retain more moisture. Because your skin is not exposed evaporation occurs at a slower rate.

Wrapping a cool wet (or damp) shemagh around your head and neck can help cool you down. In addition to preventing heat exhaustion this also helps prevent dehydration as you won't need to sweat to stay cool. While this can be done with virtually any clothing these scarves lend themselves perfectly to the task since, even as a dry cloth, you will probably already be wearing it in this manner.

On the opposite end of the spectrum these scarves can also be used to help stay warm. You can wear it as an additional layer under a hat or hood, tuck it into a jacket, wrap it around your waist, or however else you might need to. It can also be incorporated into your shelter build to help keep the shelter warmer.

While it may not seem very important to most people, in an already harsh environment, wind and sand can be detrimental to survival. Wind speeds up evaporation of sweat which increases dehydration. Sand, insects, and other airborne particulates can lead to their own health issues. Use your Shemagh to breathe in a sandstorm, keep biting insects at bay, and more.

1566You can use your Shemagh to collect water, although not very efficiently, by sopping up small seeps in rocks or dew on plants and wringing it into a container. You can also place a container under a draped Shemagh to collect falling rain water. Once collected, you can also use the cloth to filter out large particulate for boiling. While a charcoal or sand filter would be better this will work in a pinch if needed.

You can make a pillow by rolling up the cloth by itself or stuff it with whatever you may have on hand such as leaves, straw, moss, cotton, cattail heads, etc. Sometimes a little bit of comfort can make all the difference in a survival situation by keeping hope and morale up. Not to mention the adverse effects of sleep deprivation in a combat or survival situation.

An improvised bag can be made to carry supplies and tools. This can allow you to free your hands while foraging or hiking.

Because of their large size you can use a Shemagh as a towel or cleaning cloth. Since it is made from breathable cotton it will not only absorb moisture readily but will dry just as quickly.

1567Of course, the first aid uses of this cloth can't be overlooked. You can improvise a sling for an injured or broken arm, tie splints, make a tourniquet, create bandages, apply poultices, and more.

If you lose or tear clothing you can fashion a patch or replacement from the Shemagh. It is especially useful as a foot wrap or sock replacement. A minor foot injury such as a blister can quickly become a major issue in a survival situation. If you lose a sock it's imperative you have a replacement to avoid injury.

Use your Shemagh as a potholder to take that pot of boiled water off the fire. This is an oft-overlooked problem with cooking over a fire but if you have your Shemagh there's no need to worry.

You can make an effective improvised weapon by twisting a big rock or other heavy object in the cloth and swinging it.

In a survival situation you should make every attempt to be found as soon as possible. The Shemagh can make an excellent signal flag to get a rescuer's attention.

Due to the varied usefulness of this cloth this should be a last resort but you can use it as a firestarter or wick for lamp when other materials are unavailable.

If you need to setup camp in an area with large wildlife you can fashion a "bear bag" to keep food and other interesting items safe.

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