Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

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Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by User » Mon May 04, 2020 4:54 pm

I have been reading on the forum about the optimal clothing for night ops, and I may buy some ATACS LE-X gear in the future. I found a website that sells this and some other ATACS patterns, so I will share it (http://store.tactical-performance.com/c ... s-lex.html). However, I have stumbled into a problem. I am debating between which mask I should use, a balaclava, or keffiyeh(shemagh). I prefer how the keffiyeh looks and the multifunctional properties that it has, however, it does not have a secure fit. I do not think that it will come off but that the mouth part could slide down. It also can feel slightly uncomfortable sometimes, but that is not a major detail. The balaclava from the website link that I mentioned looks comfortable because it molds to your face, and it has a goggle retention strap as well as a quick opening for the mouth and ears. I feel very attached to the idea of a keffiyeh, however, so I am seeking outside input.

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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by SpringHeeledJack » Mon May 04, 2020 5:36 pm

Hello! I used to sell this kind of stuff and the kind of people who buyed balaclavas always looked more shady than people who bought keffiyehs, usually the second group were teenagers who did hiking or hunting, and that is also the perception that the general population has about those two items. I would say that must be an important factor to consider. Imagine you get caught in your op... A Keffiyeh is easier to explain than the balaclava as it can be used as a normal scarf or as a piece for survival or just for fashion, while the balaclava is only used for concealing the face. I know a balaclava gives you a more ninja like appearance and looks really cool but you have to remember it has an overall negative connotation. Also the keffiyeh is way more useful because it not only conceals your face (You can use hairpins to fix it in place!) but it actually can break the easily recognizable human head and shoulders silhouette, and as you said it has a lot of different uses limited only by your creativity. Personally I would never op with anything potentially incriminating such as balaclavas, lockpicks, jammers, guns, knives, etc.

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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by User » Mon May 04, 2020 8:33 pm

Thank you for your suggestion. I was already leaning towards the keffiyeh, I just wanted to hear others' opinions on it before I made any purchases.

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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by Psychlonic » Mon May 04, 2020 9:42 pm

It depends on your environment and what it or your skills allow for. I think a balaclava is the better option performance-wise, they don't snag as easily in tight spots is honestly my biggest pro for them. Plus usually they're easier to breathe in and I've always heard the world around me better in one. But, they do make much thinner shemagh than most people tend to get or maybe a thicker one would be nice if your climate is cooler. Style shouldn't be a factor here. Also, if you're in an area where strict nobody-sees-you operating is impossible than a shemagh might be more grayman. However if that's your concern, a thin t-shirt mask will do the exact same thing and provide you with no mask at all if you're stopped and questioned. Those cheap military under shirts are perfect - low cost, good elastic, and if you need to go grayman you just throw it onto your body.
One thing I'll give a shemagh is that it can break up your head and shoulders silhouette a little better. Humans have a tendency to just spot shapes nearly on instinct (like how you're reading this by quickly seeing the words, not the letters) so anything that breaks that up will only help.

Not a satisfying or definitive answer, I know, but if there were absolute bests in night ops that's what we'd all use bar none.
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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by Xanatos » Mon May 04, 2020 11:43 pm

It all boils down to personal preference. There are many ways of tying a shemagh as a mask or hood and I've never had a problem of one coming loose. The main drawback to shemaghs for me is that they can get pretty hot & sweaty, but I also have sniper veils made from a breathable mesh that are functionally identical to shemaghs but are more breathable and restrict your hearing less.

Balaclavas on the other hand are usually designed with warmth in mind so it's hard to find one suitable for warm weather ops. That being said, balaclavas are very quick & easy to put on or pull off compared to a shemagh, can be bundled in your pocket easily or worn on your head like a beanie if you need to go incognito. They do make balaclavas with more breathing & hearing ports, but I haven't found one as comfortable as a sniper veil/scrim net yet.

Failing either of those, you can always opt for a t-shirt mask as Psychlonic suggested. I've used one for years and it works just fine. You can also tie it into a hood if you wanna break up your outline a bit more, albeit at the expense of restricted FoV and having it fall off your head when moving quickly.

I've a whole collection of masks & other headgear that I wear for different ops, there's no one right answer for me. There's probably no one right answer for you either.
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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by Psychlonic » Tue May 05, 2020 12:32 am

Your sniper veil ideas were exactly what I was thinking of when I was thinking about a lighter "shemagh". Enough to cover the face but not interfere with breathing or sensory input as much.

I've done the balaclava beanie trick before and it works I guess, but it's hard to not get nervous up close to people where the act can easily fall apart on you. Bearing in mind this was back when I was broke as fuck and only had a thick cotton one. Given the choice today I opt for a much lighter poly one, basically Under Armour on your face. My climate is kind of a Goldilocks environment, though. Sweat wicking or not, that'd be some shit in a warmer and/or more humid area.
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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by User » Tue May 05, 2020 12:35 am

Thank you all for the feedback. I think that I am going to go with a keffiyeh because I prefer the look and it breaks up your human outline. One place to get a quality one is https://www.kufiya.org/. One downside is that they do not make them for tactical purposes, so finding good colors may be hard. I own one, and they seem fairly durable so I do not think that is an issue. They are also authentic, although that does not serve any purpose.

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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by Psychlonic » Tue May 05, 2020 1:04 am

I see they have a pure black one that would work, failing that there's nothing stopping you from applying dye which these would probably work wonderfully with. Though I personally wouldn't have it in me to dye these, even if they're fairly low cost.
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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by User » Tue May 05, 2020 2:18 am

Why would I have to apply dye? I currently own the black one, and I think it is too dark. It looks a lot lighter in the picture on the website than in person. If I buy A-TACS LE-X camo, I would buy the grey and black keffiyeh. I would consider dyeing the gray one a tint darker or with a little navy blue. I could see the black working, but it is very black.

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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by Xanatos » Tue May 05, 2020 7:12 am

You can get shemaghs in more 'tactical' colours on pretty much any website that sells tactical gear - even paintball & airsoft sites. You're also more likely to find one in a more breathable density of cotton or even have different patterns dyed in them.

Failing that, any square (or triangular) piece of fabric will do the job. Head down to your local textiles emporium, pick a fabric you like the look of and get one square meter of it (or 'yard' for you barbarians that still resist the metric system). Got myself a large 'veil' in a pattern not dissimilar to A-TACs LE. Still trying to figure out what to do with it though.
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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by User » Tue May 05, 2020 6:16 pm

That is a good idea, I cannot believe I never thought of that. I have no clue why Americans do not use the metric system. My parents are Polish but moved to America so I was born here.

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Re: Balaclava or Keffiyeh?

Post by Psychlonic » Tue May 05, 2020 9:26 pm

As for my post, I was browsing and noticing the dominance of white on the patterns that would otherwise work well. A good olive or brown dye would make them perfect, that's all I was thinking.
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