If you’re a survivalist or spend a lot of time outdoors on expeditions, you have probably encountered the shemagh. Previously largely used in Middle Eastern countries, this simple type of cloth has since become popular with military, special forces and everyday civilians from across the world.
Knowing how to use a shemagh and the right way to tie it can have many benefits. It’s an incredibly versatile scarf that can have many uses on an outdoor mission. You can use it for everything from sun protection to first aid.
It can be really frustrating to struggle with using a shemagh and having it come off easily can be more of a hindrance than a help.
We want to help you get the most from a shemagh and its many uses. We’ve sourced the best tutorials for you to quickly and effectively learn to tie your shemagh scarf – whether you’re using it for camouflage, sun protection or to shield your eyes or identity.
So let’s jump in and discover more.
What Are Those Scarves That Soldiers Are Wearing?
Shemaghs have appeared in many action movies in recent years and alongside footage of fighting and military in different countries, more and more people have been exposed to them.
Pronounced either ‘shamay’ or ‘schmog’, a shemagh is a soft piece of woven cotton cloth – bigger than a bandana and smaller than a sarong.
Traditionally it has been used as a headscarf in many Arab nations but it’s fast become a useful, convenient and durable piece of equipment for those spending time outdoors.
How To Choose A Shemagh
Lots of people like to choose their shemagh in person and if you’re traveling abroad you can often find some great options in markets and from street sellers. However there are some excellent shemaghs available online in different colors and styles.
You need to think about where you will be using your shemagh and the type of conditions you’ll be experiencing.
You can get both heavy and light weight shemaghs so you need to consider whether you’ll mainly be using it in warm or cool climates. Many survivalists will have two shemaghs – one for Winter weather and one for Summer.
Check for the stitching – it should not be loose and the fabric should feel strong and durable.
Go for the largest size possible with a shemagh to give you the most flexibility when it comes to usage. A larger shemagh will allow you to use it for things like slings or even a stretcher if you get injured.
How To Tie A Shemagh Around Your Neck
It’s really simple to tie a shemagh around your neck and it gives you instant warmth in cold weather and protects you from the sun in intense heat.
Many people have also used this style to pull up over their nose and mouth during the Covid 19 pandemic instead of wearing a face mask. Obviously this does not offer medical protection but it does create a light barrier.
To tie a shemagh around your neck, you should:
- Fold opposite corners of the shemagh to touch each other. This creates a triangle fold
- Place the center of the folded shemagh to cover your face right along the nose line and below the eyes
- Ensure the two corners appear on either side of your face. The third point should drop in front of your face onto your neck and chest. Tie the two ends behind your head in a knot.
- Pull down the top portion to cover your nose and mouth. The shemagh should rest just under your chin and sit comfortably around your neck.
- Loosen or tighten to ensure the shemagh is comfortable for you.
There are a few different options for how to tie a shemagh around your neck featured in this helpful video below which you can use to follow visual instructions.
How To Tie A Shemagh Over Your Head
One of the main reasons that people use a shemagh over their heads is as sun protection and to shelter them from extreme heat.
Often shemaghs are used in desert areas where temperatures can get very high especially in the middle of the day. Many soldiers and survivalists like to soak their shemagh in cold water before placing it over their heads to help keep them cool.
This is a useful video to help you learn how to tie a shemagh over your head and to use it as a head wrap.
How To Tie A Shemagh As A Face And Neck Wrap
Using the shemagh as a face and neck wrap gives you the ultimate protection and can be a good way to conceal your identity.
Follow these simple steps to tie your shemagh as a face and neck wrap:
- Carefully lay the shemagh out flat and fold it in half corner to corner. This should create a large triangle.
- Put the shemagh on the top of your head with two points hanging down over your shoulders. The third point should be placed between your shoulder blades. Do not worry if one side is longer than the other.
- Cover your face by wrapping the shorter point up and under your chin and in front of the other point.
- Pull the long end across your face covering your nose and mouth until only your eyes are visible.
- Pull the two points together behind your head until they meet at the back of your ear.
- Finally, tie the two points together using an overhand knot.
What Are The Uses Of A Shemagh?
One of the biggest benefits of a shemagh is that it has a multitude of uses and is an extremely versatile piece of clothing and equipment.
Let’s take a look at all the different ways that you can use your shemagh:
A shemagh is an essential piece of clothing/equipment for your bug out bag, hiking bag or simply to wear when you’re out and about.
- Sun Protection: wearing a shemagh over your head, neck, face and body can provide instant protection from intense sun. When you’re exposed to the elements for hours on end, you need to keep your skin safe from direct sun and avoid heat stroke at all costs.
- Protection from Sand/Dust: if you’re in a desert or by beach areas, you could encounter sand storms which can result in sand getting in your face, eyes and hair. Similarly if you’re riding motorbikes or walking in hot dry climates, you can use your shemagh to protect you from dust.
- Use as a flag: due to its size, a shemagh can be useful if you’re in need of rescue and have to attract attention from an overhead rescue team using drones or a helicopter.
- Water Filtration: if you’re in the wilderness with no access to clean water, you’ll need to boil it before use. However if you can use a shemagh to filter out the debris before this, you’ll increase the cleanliness and safety levels of the water and could avoid disease.
- Use as a weapon: in extreme circumstances you could use your shemagh as a weapon when you’re defending yourself. Either using it as a rope to tie your attacker, or by twisting a rock in the middle of it and swinging it at a predatory wild animal.
- Use as a sling: on risky expeditions in remote areas, you won’t have access to medical support. If you break an arm or a wrist it’s important that you immobilize it as quickly as possible – your shemagh will be ideal for use as a sling.
- Use as a bandage: its ability to absorb blood flow and protect wounds from possible infection make a shemagh a useful option to use as a bandage in an emergency. You can tie it around a limb easily and quickly.
- Towel – fast drying and lightweight, a shemagh is perfect for use as a towel.
- Ground cloth – if the ground is cold or wet it’s important to always ensure there’s a barrier between your body and the ground in order to help you preserve your body heat. Use your shemagh as a ground cloth to avoid sitting directly on the floor.
- Blanket – depending on the temperatures where you’ll be sleeping or resting, you may be able to use your shemagh as a blanket.
- Eye mask – if you are in the wilderness on a remote expedition you’ll probably have to get sleep whilst you can. This often means sleeping in daylight hours so covering your eyes with a shemagh and creating darkness will help you get essential rest.
Protecting your Identity
- Hiding your face – whatever the reason, you sometimes need to hide your face and protect your identity. The shemagh is an excellent way of doing this as it can be done quickly and effectively giving you immediate disguise.
- Hiding a weapon – you can also use your shemagh to conceal any weapons that you might be carrying for self defense. Similarly if you feel threatened in a busy urban area you may want to hide expensive equipment such as cameras or computers.
What’s The Difference Between A Shemagh & A Keffiyeh?
A shemagh is specifically designed for wearing in a desert environment. As a headcloth it helps to protect the user from desert sand and intense heat. It offers good protection from the intense sun and helps avoid sunstroke and dehydration.
A keffiyeh is a cloth that is also worn around the head and neck but it is worn indoors as well as outdoors. As such it is less rugged and less suitable for extreme outdoor weather conditions.
What’s The Difference Between A Shemagh & A Bandana?
A bandana is smaller than a shemagh and is more of a neckerchief than a full sized scarf. This means that a shemagh is more versatile in what it can be used for.
Many survivalists like to wear bandanas for sun protection, protecting their identity and to remove sweat from their face – so there are some areas where shemaghs and bandanas can overlap.
If you’re tight on space in your bug out bag or emergency survival bag, you may want to opt for a bandana instead of a shemagh but you should be aware of the limitations it has.
We can see that shemaghs are a brilliant option to use as either clothing or equipment when you’re in a survival situation. Many campers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts use a shemagh for everyday purposes too.
Find the right shemagh for you and you’ll enjoy a wide variety of uses. Having a shemagh in your bag will give you the peace of mind that you’ve got a versatile item you can use for everything from First Aid to concealing your weapon.