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Shemagh, scarf, neck gaiter or buff?

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by MilliePop, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. MilliePop


    Aug 21, 2008
    I'm willing to sacrifice a little warmth and protection for breathability - in which I mean I can breath through. I just need something to break the wind.

    I don't own a buff or a neck gaiter so I'm not sure how "breathable" they are but if the shemagh is anything like a bandana then it certainly won't meet my requirements - I suffocate in them.
  2. j williams

    j williams Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 14, 2005
    Buff. Hands down one of the best purchases Ive ever made. A shemagh is breathable, more so then a bandanna, and are a great item, but IMO a buff is alot more usable. I have mine in my pocket all the time(which you cant do with the shemagh). Dries quick, doesnt get too rank, and wicks moisture better. They do make an arctic one as well for colder enviroments, and one with insect reppelant. I just have the plain ol Buff.
  3. 762 shooter

    762 shooter

    Apr 21, 2006
    Shemaghs tend to be a very light weave. I love those that I own. In cold weather they are great for extra insulation. In warm weather, they will wick water away and keep you cooler. In hot weather, I add a bit of extra water for the evaporative cooling. Shemaghs are an essential piece of kit in my O.
  4. Shotgun


    Feb 3, 2006
    How are shemaghs for cold AND wet weather. Being made of cotton do they lose heat?
  5. fixer

    fixer Banned BANNED

    Mar 9, 2000
    i have no clue. we don't have weather like that on my planet! :D

    i really like the Buff and it stretches enough that when i'm on the motorcycle i can put it on without removing my helmet. i keep a buff and a fleece neck gaiter in my tankbag.

    in my Camelback i keep a watchcap, Buff and Shemagh. sometimes take my Tilley T3 too.

    if i had to guess, i'd expect that the Shemagh won't do too well in cold and wet.

    the Buff is microfiber, so it's cool when it's warm and warm when it's cool. no seams, available in many colors and patterns... so it's "breathable".

    REI hasn't had any patterns i've liked recently... i probably need to hunt for something i like on ebay. i could use another one or two.
  6. Merost


    May 16, 2009
    I have cool max buff, Merino wool buff, and regular....they are all awesome.
    I wear the coolmax (tan color) in AZ summer all time.
  7. MilliePop


    Aug 21, 2008

    How are the merino buffs? If you cover the nose and mouth will you be able to breathe through it?
  8. rroundy


    Aug 11, 2007
    only if it has skulls on it FGOD.

  9. quick kill

    quick kill

    Jul 23, 2010
    I would go with the Shemagh I have several and they are grate all year long. in the summer they keep you cool and in the winter they keep you worm, and its big enough to be used for other purposes. In the winter I always use one to cover my neck mouth/nose area, it's very breathable.
  10. Marion David Poff

    Marion David Poff

    Oct 8, 1998
    A great deal depends on why you want one...

    I have a buff, and it is good for keeping my hair out of my face, but I cannot find much other use for it, except goofy images...

    I have a few t-shirt material scarves, that I love. But then again, I sweat a good bit, and I use them primarily in that role, but also to dry my hands when I can't find a clean towel, keep my hair off the roof of the car, protect my neck from the sun, clean my sunglasses, or swat mosquitoes away.

    I have a shemagh, which will do all of the above, but it is bulkier, and I don't use it as often.

    A big issue for me, is comfort, cotton may kill, but after you have wiped your forehead with a synthetic cloth for the 100th time that day, you may be wishing it was cotton. Those viscous rayon towels tear my skin up...

    My two cents,
  11. Merost


    May 16, 2009
    Yes, you can easily breath through it. Not as thick as a face mask (even when it is doubled over), but very warm.

    I actually like the merino the best because it is longer. The standard version is great, but it is a little short to make a good beanie. The merino wool version is a lot longer so you can easily double wrap it into a great beanie.

    I use the coolmax one all year round. In the summer I wear it at the range (since I'm out there for 8 to 12 hours at a time) because it keeps the son off neck, face, ears and if it's dusty out just pull it over your mouth. I recently just got the coolmax version with the InsectShield, which works awesome to keep the monsoon bugs out.

    In the winter, I use it under my bike helmet because it wicks away sweat, which ultimately keeps me warmer. The merino one works for that purpose just as good.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  12. beckerbrain


    Nov 18, 2014
    I know this is an old thread, but I just found it while trying to do some research on this subject. I've used shemaghs in cold (not freezing, only down to 30°-40° F) weather for years and became quite familiar and accustomed to them. Once I moved down to southeastern FL however, I find the shemagh to retain too much heat in the hot temperatures and humidity here. I came across the "coolmax" buff locally and thought it would be a perfect substitution, but I find it too to be too warm when worn around the neck as a scarf. I've tried dunking it in cold water and ringing it out, but it still warms up quickly in the direct sun and humidity. I'm basically looking for something that will keep me cool in the insane heat, preferably without having to re-drench it in water every 30 mins. Does anyone have any recommendations? Am I just using it wrong? I foolishly machine washed and dried it when I first got it, so I don't know if that has affected it or not.
  13. Herlock

    Herlock Gold Member Gold Member

    May 13, 2015
    Hi. Can only comment for winter gear, I don’t wear anything more than a baseball cap during summers. I am a fan of fleece neck gaiters. I like them because they’re warm, light, comfortable, they dry out easily, are snag free, adjustable and wear discretely (so that I don’t look like a Bedouin when going around). To cover my bald head I wear a well-fitting watch cap. For all the possible “emergencies” in a urban/working environment, I always carry a few disposable N95 masks. These are very lightweight and surely offer a more specific respiratory protections, when/if this becomes a concern.


    Buffs can be good, I have still to wear one but, the ones I have checked out in the store, seems to me a bit too light, lacking on the protection from cold side. I'll buy one and wear it to see how it goes. They look "cool" and not very expensive.
  14. beckerbrain


    Nov 18, 2014
    That's a beautiful blade you've got there!

    I hear ya, my experience is primarily with cooler weather too, never had to worry about anything more than a cap or a boonie in the summer when I lived a little more north. I normally don't wear anything around my neck or face here in the hot south either, unless I'll be exposed to the heat for long periods of time (like mowing our 23 acres). My goal is to find something that keeps my neck cool while in direct sunlight and humidity. I know guys wear shemaghs in the desert and sniper veils in the jungle, but I haven't been able to figure out the rhyme or reason when guys say "keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer". I definitely get the warm in winter part, but damn, it gets unbearably hot here sometimes, and I've found nothing short of an ice pack that serves the purpose I'm looking for. Any advice would be greatly appreciated for dealing with humidity. A buddy of mine recently told me that my buff is simply too tight around my neck, and to stretch it out an inch or so in diameter. He also recommended trying to "pop it like a towel in the locker room" after soaking it in cool water, which sounds like BS to me, but he swears by it. Anyone heard of this? I don't want to ruin my buff, but even stretching it out by hand seems to already help a little
  15. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    buffs work best soaked, you get a bit more of an initial cool feeling if you wave it around a bit after wetting, that will cool it some, but really, just soak it. sweat is the only thing that cools you, adding water is like adding sweat, so just soak it. Dry, it will add a bit of warmth as your neck is a bit more sensitive to temp generally. Benefit of a wet buff on the neck is also burn protection.

    The key is layers, you add and subtract. Treat anything that holds water as a cooling layer, anything that blocks sunlight as a cooling layer, but you also need to allow wind through. There is not magic to it, you just need to adjust your patterns to the heat. Plus there is shedding internal heat, vs- blocking IR from the sun.
  16. Buff. Only problem with them is that I lose some of them. :)
  17. beckerbrain


    Nov 18, 2014

    Just in case anyone else has the same issue I was having, stretching it out a little bit worked wonders. I soaked it and then let it dry while stretched out over a huge diameter bottle of protein powder. Also, I think I did cause the issue myself by machine drying it, my wife bought one and I noticed it fit much more loosely than mine did. They are both the "original buff with coolmax extreme". I'm very happy with how it functions now, I simply soak it, wring it out, put it on like a neck gaiter, then give it a small stretch downwards to give my neck a little room. This works great especially while doing yard work, I'm able to quickly and easily pull it up over my nose and mouth when I hit a dirt mound with the mower, to avoid a mouth full of dust, which is awesome. Thanks for the input dudes, I'm sold on the buff now but I plan to still pack a shemagh when camping for it's obvious plethora of uses that the buff can't cover (small towel, emergency arm sling, etc)
  18. LMT66

    LMT66 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 18, 2008
    I like the Buff but a shemagh wins out most of the time. Keeps mosquitos and biting flies off the upper body in summer, can be added insulation when needed and of course it cant be beat to ward off the hot sun. Drawback is when it gets wet.
  19. Pàdruig

    Pàdruig Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 1, 2016
    I do not have any experience with buffs, but I do use a shemagh every day in some respect or another. It is such a versatile and inexpensive garment. In the cold, it serves as a terrific scarf and I wear it as such every day (you can get colors like red and blue so as not to look overly "tacticool"). When hiking/camping, it serves in a myriad of capacities: Scarf, sling, bug screen, towel, sweatband, etc. I guess the one drawback is that it is indeed bulky so not easy to stuff in pocket if you need to get it out of the way. I also am not a fan of having things too constrictive around my neck so the shemagh can be as loose or as tight as I want it to be.
    Overall, I think it would be awfully hard to beat in most cases. I am not opposed to trying different things though and will certainly look into the other options.
  20. I found a nice scarf on sale for a couple bucks several weeks ago. No where as warm as my shemagh, and my shemagh can be used for cooling in the summer.

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