The shemagh is a cotton scarf of Arab descent (known as a keffiyeh/kufiya) that grew to popularity with the armed forces around the world. The British are responsible for the name, referring to it exclusively as the shemagh, and largely for its proliferation. Due to its unprecedented practicality, particularly when used with goggles, it was adopted by the US Military for use in the likes of Afghanistan and Iraq. As you would expect, once the US started using them they were adopted by the mainstream airsofters soon after.
The scarf has been in the public eye for much longer, as early as the 70’s with the punk movement, and again when military clothing once again became fashionable in the early 2000’s.
Manufactured by MilTec out of 100% cotton this scarf is Olive Drab with black design, and is the main colourscheme used by the US Army. The scarf can be used as a layer of protection in airsoft, though it is primarily worn for additional insulation and to complete a load out. Even so many people prefer the scarf to a mesh mask, as it looks more authentic and is more comfortable – the trade off is of course that it offers less protection. The BB’s will lose their energy in the fabric effectively taking the sting out of being shot in the face…which is always nice.
Typically the scarf is folded into a triangle and wrapped around the neck & face, with the halfway point around the mouth & nose. This provides the most protection, but that’s not why it’s worn like that – it better replicates how the armed forces wear theirs to keep sand out of their faces.