What is a Shemagh and How Do You Tie One? [Informational Guide]

| Last Updated: October 23, 2022

"Really, you're going to wrap a rag around your head and call it useful?"

Said the first person who ever saw me wear my shemgah on a hunt in Montana.

First of all I think we should clarify that the shemgah really is a useful item to have in your tool belt. And even though it's become a bit of a trendy item in the last few years, that doesn't defeat it's usefulness as a multifunctional item.

The correct pronunciation of it is schmog, and we'd like to shed some light on the utility of this piece of clothing, where it came from, how it could help, and most of all HOW TO TIE THE DARN THING! That gave us all fits more than anything in the beginning.

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Our top pick for a disaster preparedness shemgah

Where Did the Shemgah Come From?

It might be fairly obvious that this headwear came from the middle east, as most of the people who are seen wearing it are there. And due to their desert climate this thing really comes in handy over there to keep your head safe from the sun. They typically use it like a bandana to shield the tops of their heads and the rest of their face from the harsh effects of the sun, leaving their eyes just enough room to see straight ahead.

Since they first encountered it, many other nations militaries have adopted the useful headwrap. Like Britain, Australia, and the United States to name a few.

What are the Shemgah's Uses?

Usually multiple countries militaries don't adopt the same garb just because it looked cool on their troops. Nope, the shemgah's functionality as a tool and piece of clothing is almost limitless!


Face Protection/Insulation

Most of all this garment is worn as a head dress to guard the wearer from harsh winds, the sun, temperatures, and as camouflage. In the middle east sand storms are a common problem, and if you don't have anything to protect your exposed skin when you're caught in one of these it can feel like you're having broken glass thrown at you at tremendous speeds!

Which is where the shemgah was used by the locals and adopted by the militaries that came through as time passed.

Effective Camouflage

As it was mentioned earlier, the added benefit of camouflage comes with this handy piece of cloth. Mostly in that it breaks up the natural shape of a human head on shoulders. Even though we like to think of ourselves as smart creatures, humans are pretty basic. We recognize shapes, colors, sounds, and the like.

If you confuse the shape at a distance it becomes almost unrecognizable. For instance we learned with Bear Grylls that if you're able to distort the outline of just your shoulders and up, you might as well be invisible walking through the jungle. 

If you don't believe then try for yourselves. Have someone stick branches and leaves down the back of their shirt, wear cloth to cover most of the head, and have that person walk towards you from an unknown time and direction. Odds are you will hear them before you see them.

That's because when you look for people you're looking for shape, and if the shape you see doesn't match what your brain knows to be a persons shape, then you won't recognize it.

Extra Cordage or a Filter

If using the shemgah to stop bleeding becomes more important than camouflage or comfort then it makes for a great tourniquet! Especially if you get one that's made of quality materials.

Also if you reach a pool of water but need something to filter out the large bits then just unwrap the shemagh and go to work! As you can see there's an almost unlimited number of uses for this thing, and having one around wouldn't be a bad idea at all.

How to Tie a Shemgah

This can get pretty confusing to explain with just text, so we're going to pass this one to Creek Stewart, who is a fantastic bushman and just happened to write a guest post for art of manliness on this topic!

Clearly it doesn't take too much work to figure out how to make one of these things work. I mean if it came down to it, you could probably just wrap it around your head and call it a day.

Hopefully we've done an alright job of informing you of this "new" article of clothing known as a shemagh, and explained how it could fit into your must-haves as a disaster preparedness individual. Because whether you're prepping for a flood, volcano, EMP, or whatever, eye protection, camouflage, and warmth are all going to be needed when the shtf!

You can pick one up at amazon if you like. And we've done the heavy lifting of finding the best value for your money so...

Looking for the Best Shemagh for the Money?

This one has the survive the wild seal of approval. Whether that means a lot to you is dependent on your experience with us, and hopefully your experience with this article was a good one.

Have a great day!

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