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Using a piece of clothing for many applications, such as a survival scarf, is an old concept. Soldiers and huntsmen have been using strips of their own shirts as impromptu bandages, pants can be used as an emergency flotation device, and socks make a convient cozy for water bottles and thermoses. Finding multiple uses for a single piece of gear is one of the best ways to adapt to ever changing situations, headgear is no different. One interesting way to diversify your survival portfolio, is with the use of a modernized scarf like the one by outdoor company Tuff Possum.
Above: The multipurpose survival scarf can be worn, compressed, has numerous uses, and weighs a mere 5oz.
Survival scarves are used for many applications, probably most notably in arid regions where they can be used to protect the head from overheating, and the lungs from dust inhalation. In cold regions they are used to reduce heat loss around the neck and keep sensitive facial skin tissue from freezing solid. Although scarves have been around for centuries as protection from the elements, the use of a modern survival scarf became popularized with outdoor legend Mors Kochanski. As an avid outdoorsman, Mors was always looking for creative ways to do more with less, and never took anything into the field unless it was capable of performing several tasks. Since Mors specialized in boreal survival, he found that a scarf could have many more uses than just preventing heat loss, including shelter building and gathering supplies. He even recommended it as a piece of kit in his book, Survival Kit Ideas. As textiles improved, the survival scarf was eventually made out of the more high-tech, light-weight materials that we have around today. Tuff Possum took this several steps further by incorporating several useful features.
Above: These Jordanian nomads are wearing a shemagh, a type of survival scarf, to protect their heads faces from extreme heat and harmful dust particles..
Exposure is the leading cause of fatalities when people find themselves in the outdoors, which makes keeping your body temperature properly regulated a critical survival effort. Tuff Possum's Multipurpose Survival Scarf is sewn into a tube out of rip-stop nylon, making it strong enough to be used as a partial shelter or ground cloth, and can be stuffed with leaf litter and debris to create an insulated pillow or sleeping mat. Although it is not water proof, its permeability makes it possible to strain most large particulates from water before properly sanitizing it for drinking. There is plenty of space inside the survival scarf for foraging, and with a little cordage, can be converted into a sling pouch. The survival scarf is reversible, one side being olive drab for concealment, and the other blaze orange for signaling.
Several trail blazers in the outdoor skills community also advocate for the use of Tuff Possum's survival scarf, including Craig Caudill of Nature Reliance:
And Jason Salyer of Survival Dispatch: