The shemagh (pronounced: she-mog) is a piece of cloth often used as a scarf or a head wrap in Middle Eastern countries. While shemaghs have recently become more popular in the US as a fashion fad, it is often overlooked that the wrap has been issued to various military units around the world, such as the British in WW2, or the Australians during the Vietnam War. Shemaghs are also currently used by US Special Forces in Iraq, and Afghanistan. Why? Because the shemagh is an excellent multi-purpose survival tool.
Similar to a bandanna, the value of the shemagh as a survival tool is due largely in part to its ability to be manipulated into different physical forms. Lightweight, durable and easily stored, the shemagh can be used for any number of things, and in many different survival scenarios.
Improvised Backpack: Rolled and tied properly, in numerous variations, the shemagh is capable of creating a small bug-out pack. The pack can be slug over the shoulder, or tied around the waist.
First Aid Sling: A broken limb is no small matter if you are far from medical facilities. A shemagh can be tied at both ends, behind the neck or over the shoulder, to rest a broken arm.
Sun shade: There’s a reason that the shemagh has been issued to servicemen deployed in desert environments. It functions as a solid, lightweight protective barrier to block out sunlight.
Shooting rest: shooting a rifle in the prone position is the best way to assure precise long-range shots downrange. A shemagh is an effective rifle rest, easily transportable and incredibly malleable.
Signal flag: Attached to a long stick or simply waved in hand from a high-elevation point, the shemagh is large enough to attract attention and efficiently signal passing air or watercraft from significant distance.
Water filter: A shemagh isn’t going to purify a water source, but it can act as a filter to keep out debris, mud, and grit if need be.
Fire Tinder: No one wants to think about burning a valuable resource, but if you really needed to start a fire, a shemagh is effective tinder.
Pot holder: camping pots (if you are thoughtful enough to have packed one) are excellent tools to have in a survival situation. But cooking over open fires can be tricky. A shemagh can be a great asset in such situations.