Shemagh (pronounced “She-mog” or "shemog" ) also know as Smaug or Keffiyeh is is a significant piece of any survival kit or bag and great for everyday use. It is associated by the Western World as a Arab Scarf or Arab headdress. The Shemagh Scarf has long been used as the traditional Arab Head Scarf and Tactical or Military Scarf. This Arabic Head Wrap or Middle Eastern scarf often gets scorned by the West due to political and religious differences. The true usefulness of this Desert Scarf should not be ignored.

How to wear a Shemagh or how to tie a Shemagh depends on how you want to use it at the time. The Arab head scarf can be used as a shade, for warmth, a sling and to help filter the air you breath. Some even refer to this Arabic Head Wrap as a Palestinian Scarf. Think of it as a large Bandana. Whatever name you use, it’s one of the best all around survival tools. Every Backpack and Survival kit should have one.

The most common material used is cotton. Cotton is soft and has less chance of irritation than other materials. It is good for maintaining body temperatures in warm or cold by retaining heat or providing shade. Drying fast is another plus for cotton.

Hikers, Backpackers and Survivalists want lightweight quality items or tools that are useful and often pay a premium for them. In the case of the Shemagh it meets the lightweight, quality and useful criteria without paying the premium price. A deluxe Shemagh weighs seven ounces and costs about ten dollars. The lighter version weighs five ounces and cost even less. I recommend the Deluxe Shemagh for the extra durability and protection.

I realize not many Horsemen are going to trade in there Cowboy Hat for a Arab or Afghan scarf. But to see them with a Bandana is not uncommon. The Shemagh is a better, larger and more versatile Bandana.

Motor Cycling, Four Wheeling with big rigs or ATV’s and OHV’s can be a very dusty experience. Having a Shemagh along can cover more area against dust and dirt. If a breakdown happens a lot of these types of motor vehicles have no shade. I live in the South West part of the USA and shade is a premium commodity. Bringing my own shade in the form of a Arabian Head Covering is a good part of my pack for the day.

Home Gardeners could tie the Shemagh loosely over the head and draped on the shoulders. This would be very breathable, lighter than a hat and provides great sun protection.

I’m an American through and through. My hat of choice is the Boonie Hat. I, like the Cowboy, will not give up my hat of choice. However, adding a Shemagh to use with it is very practical. Making it a part of a to go bag or an everyday carry item is a good idea. Keeping one in the car for emergencies means I will always have a little extra warmth or shade.

Usage of the Shemagh has increased in the US due to the Military personnel spending so much time in the Middle East. They gained an appreciation for the Shemagh as a usefulness tool for so many applications.

Here’s a list of Shemagh uses (not complete or in order of importance).

Cordage. Cut into small strips and weave into cord.

2  Weapon and self defense. Place a rock in the middle, twist and swing. Also can wrap knuckles to protect them.

3  Towel. Dry yourself or use as a Washcloth.

4  Protection. Dust, Wind, Sun and Insects.

5  Sleeping. Use for a makeshift pillow by stuffing leaves or grass. Also eye shade for sleeping in daylight.

6  Scarf. Warmth in the cold months and shade for the heat of the direct sun..

7  Camouflage. For blending in, hiding, or covering something.

8  Medical.  Tourniquet, Sling, Splint tie and to stop Bleeding.

9  Water Filter. Pre-filter water to remove particles and debris. Fold the Shemagh several times for a thicker pre-filter.

10  Cooling. Soak with water and wear around head and neck.

11  Blanket. Covers small part of body for extra warmth. A improvised baby swaddler.Shemagh Scarf Deluxe Olive/Black with Stars

12  Padding. Wrap around knees or feet.

13  Pot Holder. Fold several times to grab pot handle.

14  Signal. It is large, so wave it around.

15  Bag. When tied properly it will make a small gear or travel bag.

16  Sweat Rag. Use to keep sweat out of your eyes.

17  Toilet Paper. This might not the best use, but it can be cut into several pieces and it is better than grass and leaves.

18  Protective Gear. Sports like Airsoft, Paintball, Hunting, Backpacking, Biking, Hiking, Skiing, Snowboarding, four wheeling, etc.

19  Air Filter. Multiple layers in front of Mouth and Nose.

20  Water collection. Hang the Shemagh from all four corners. Place a rock in the middle and a cup, bowl or bottle below the rock. If it rains the water will run down the Shemagh and into your container.

21  Fire. The Shemagh is large and will cover a large area of your body.  Wet it and drape over head, shoulder and airways for protection from the smoke and heat.

These were just a few examples of how useful a Shemagh can be.

Hope they were useful.

M. Shane Sullivan, Owner/Manager of