Introduction: How to Tie a Shemagh

Picture of How to Tie a Shemagh

The Shemagh is a length of material that is wrapped around the head, commonly worn by Arabic or middle eastern desert dwellers to protect from the sun and sand.  Pronounced “Schmog”.  Also known as a Keffiyeh or Ghutrah - wikipedia.  It has been adopted by military forces all over the world as a standard issue garment because of its sheer functionality.  For an outdoors-man, survivalist or bushcrafter, the Shemagh can be a multi-use tool with literally 100′s of uses.  

I live in a desert that can dip below freezing at night and peak over 100 degrees the very next day.  I have found the Shemagh to be invaluable in both climates to regulate temperature and protect from both extreme exposures. Some of the pictures are from Willow Creek Outdoors, great survival site!  I've included a short list of other examples and uses on the last step.

Where to buy?

Step 1: Fold

Picture of Fold

Lay the shemagh out flat in front of you. Fold the shemagh in half corner to corner so that a large triangle is formed.

Step 2: Place on Head

Picture of Place on Head

Place the shemagh on top of your head with two of the points hanging over your shoulders, and the third between your shoulder blades. One side should be slightly longer than the other.

Step 3: Cover Face

Picture of Cover Face

Wrap the shorter point under your chin and up in front of the other point. Pull the long end across the face, over the nose and mouth, in front of the shorter end. Only the eyes should remain visible.

Step 4: Pull Corners Behind Head

Picture of Pull Corners Behind Head

Pull both points of the shemagh together behind the head. They should meet right behind the ear.

Step 5: Tie

Picture of Tie

Tie the two points together with an overhand knot. To do this, cross the points, wrap one over and around the other, and pull tight. The shemagh will now be secured tightly around your head.

Step 6: Other Ways

Picture of Other Ways

There are many other ways to tie and uses for a Shemagh.

A few examples:

  • Dust Protection. Cover your face on motorcycles, truck beds, and tops of chicken buses.
  • Sun Protection. Great for when you’re stranded in mid-day heat without shade nearby.
  • Towel. Small, lightweight, fast drying, but thick enough get the job done. Perfect for the beach.
  • Warmth. Wrap it around your neck as a scarf on the top of a mountain.
  • Bag. Lay it out, put stuff in middle, tie four corners together. Instant hobo sack.
  • Sarong. While shorter than a normal one, it can still be wrapped around your waist.
  • Sweat Rag. Great for hiking, running, or other sweat-inducing activities.
  • Arm Sling. Sprain a wrist or break an arm? Perfect for temporary immobilization.
  • Emergency Bandage. Help stop bleeding and protect the wound until you get to a hospital.
  • Pillow. Thick & soft enough to ball up and sleep with on bus rides or camping trips.
  • Weapon. Twist a big rock up in the middle, and you have an instant self-defense tool!
  • Concealment. Often used to hide my Canon 7D camera when in questionable neighborhoods.
  • Rope. Long enough to be rolled up to tie things together.
  • Water Filter. Fold up multiple times and filter debris out of water before boiling.
  • Keeping Cool. Soak in cold water and wrap around your neck.
  • Signal Flag. Large enough to wave and get someone’s attention.
  • Blanket. Good for covering your upper or lower body..
  • Pot Holder. Take that boiling water you just filtered off the fire.
  • Eye Mask. Sleep during the day or in a hostel when lights are on.


ShemaghS made it! (author)2017-02-12

Dear Reader,

My name is Wesley Gorton. I am an enthusiast hiker, prepper and survivalist.

I truly believe that the Shemagh is the ultimate everyday carrying survival tool and is a must have for any hiker, bushman, survivalist, pilot, armed forces personnel or police official.

“Shemagh: The Ultimate Survival Tool And Survival Techniques” By Wesley Gorton, was created to open your mind to the possibilities of thinking outside the box. It was written so that you may create, find or catch anything you need to survive any worst case scenarios solely with the knowledge from this book and a Shemagh.

The Shemagh can be used to keep you either warm or cold; to provide basic protection from all the elements. It is also instrumental in gathering, collecting and purifying water, for hunting, carrying and cooking food, creating traps, as well as for fashioning tools and weapons.

Additionally it can be used to start a fire and is potentially vital in medical emergencies: creating slings, arm and leg splints, sewing up wounds, as a tourniquet or pressure bandage and even for stretchers). It can be used in the creation of shelters, for self-defence and can be utilised as a signalling tool for rescue.

Unlike other survival tools, (such as a knife) one of the most appealing things about the Shemagh is that it is not illegal to carry it, in fact it can be worn anywhere at any time. For this reason, it is one of the most versatile survival tools you could ever have.

I have covered a virtually limitless number of uses for the Shemagh in survival situations by thinking outside the box and creating or finding whatever you may need in survival situation. I have also provided invaluable information that may be critical in surviving difficult and treacherous situations.

In regards to the Shemagh however, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy said it best: “The only thing you will ever need to survive anything the universe throws at you is a towel,” aka a Shemagh.

I hope you find this book useful in many ways, but above all remember you must have the will and conviction to do whatever it takes to survive.

Kind Regards

Wesley Gorton

LordH3lix (author)2016-07-14

Hell yeah! No face sunburns now!

llamafish (author)2016-06-19

very nice, i would also say to put on the added uses that it can be used for paintball, that's what i use it for. Thanks :)

ki4rbi (author)2015-10-16

Thanks for this post.

wilsonppc (author)2015-08-04

i like to play airsoft with my shemagh and i am pretty camoed

gabriel.eckers (author)2013-06-05

Unless you are Creek from Willow Haven Outdoors, you should give credit where credit is due.

DualPhase (author)gabriel.eckers2013-06-05

Good point, thanks. Updated

JoshuaD6 (author)DualPhase2014-11-28

I think you meant to give credit to Willow Haven Outdoor. And thank you for for the instructions. Very helpful.

DualPhase (author)JoshuaD62014-11-28

Thanks. i did: Introduction, second paragraph.

Takelababy (author)2012-02-23

What are the best dimensions?

DualPhase (author)Takelababy2012-02-23

The smaller ones are harder to tie, especially if you have a big head like me :)

zillah.katt (author)DualPhase2014-10-26

try folding a smaller one off-center, so that you have one big triangle and one smaller one. This gives you the fold plus the distance to the two corners, which is, of course, a little longer than a symmetrical fold.

ahmadamriamiruddin (author)2014-09-03


Laserkiller (author)2014-07-16

can you use it with a normal scarf?

ashi001312 (author)2014-05-05

yes i got it ..! thanks for share

Templeton1 (author)2014-01-10

Excellent tutorial, and thanks for the extra tips!

Cervantes (author)2013-11-12

I used it as a fly swatter.. Just like popping a towel in the gym shower.. but it has less friction and a real good n loud crack. Just remember which end got the fly guts on it.

Torgeirro (author)2013-05-22

Double doors...

Eacon (author)2012-06-26

The "keeping cool" actually works great with the fluffy gaze-like shemaghs. Fold and twist it into a saussage that sucks up water like a sponge and keeps your neck cool forever. Thanks for the tip!

(I hope nobody has tried out the "weapon" example yet!)

jbroadbeck (author)2012-06-18

Nice job! I usually just wear my shemagh around my neck and mouth in the winter. But, next time we have a snow storm I'm going to give this full head wrap style a try. Thanks!

skimmo (author)2012-02-22

if you keep them wet is stops heat stroke

OkieRoadhunter (author)2012-02-21

Not something I plan to go out and do any time soon, but you did a fantastic job, especially with the photos.

scoochmaroo (author)2012-01-13

This is great. I think the finished picture of you with it all tied on would make for an even more compelling intro image. I never knew how to do this!

About This Instructable




Bio: Electrical Engineer
More by DualPhase:Modified Vehicle EmblemCar Audio Speakers UpgradeLosi Remote Control Car Quick Charger Hack
Add instructable to: