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Desert Survival: What Colors And Materials You Should Wear

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When it comes to surviving, it is all about being able to adapt to your environment and surroundings, taking from the resources available to you, and making do so that you can outlive the danger and situation at hand. Of course, some environments are easier to survive in than others. 

The desert, for example, is one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet, and it can be extremely difficult to survive in one.

If you become stranded in the desert, not only will you face a lack of food and an extreme lack of water, you will also be exposed to harsh sun, extreme heat during the day and cold during the night, wind, sand, and more. 

One of the most important things for surviving in the desert is wearing appropriate clothing. These can make a big difference when protecting yourself from the heat and sun!

You need clothes that cover your entire body, to protect from the UV rays, while being lightweight and breathable to help against the heat. The colors and materials play a big part in this too, so let’s get right into talking all about it! 

The Best Items Of Clothing For Surviving The Desert

What Should You Wear for Desert Survival (Best Colors and Materials)2

The desert means harsh sun and extreme heat, so it might be tempting to think that the best option is to wear airy summer clothes or to strip down to the bare necessities, but this is entirely wrong.

You should actually cover your entire body when surviving the desert so that you are properly protected from the sun. 

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best items of clothing that would do a good job at helping you survive in the desert: 

A Wide-Brimmed Hat

It is absolutely essential that you keep the sun away from your head, your face, and your neck.

Not only because it will be extremely uncomfortable to have them exposed to the heat and sunlight, but also because these are the most vulnerable, and would quickly cause you to suffer from a heat stroke. A wide-brimmed hat protects all three at once, and it also keeps the sun out of your eyes! 

A Long-Sleeved Shirt

Even if it is hot, a long-sleeved shirt is better than a short-sleeved one. It will protect your arms from getting sunburned, and it will also protect them from the wind, which will contain particles of sand (and these can scrape against your skin and be very painful!) 

However, it is important that the shirt is lightweight, loose-fitting, and breathable. A collar is a plus, as it will protect your neck too. 

Long Pants

Long pants will protect your legs from the sun, the wind, the sand, and more. In fact,  in any survival situation, long pants are better than short pants, it’s a no-brainer. Make sure that the pants are breathable, lightweight, and comfortable. 

Ideally, we recommend having cargo pants that are slightly too big for you. This will allow for better airflow, they will be lightweight and tough at the same time, and they usually have plenty of pockets for convenience! 

Long Underwear

When people think of the desert, they think of extreme heat and harsh sunlight. However, when the sun sets and it’s nighttime, it actually becomes really cold!

So while your clothes need to be breathable and light, you also need to somewhat be prepared for the cold, and long underwear is excellent at keeping you warm when necessary.

A synthetic material, such as fleece, will be the best option, as it will keep you decently warm, and won’t be too heavy to carry around with you during the day!

(You would take the long underwear off during the day, and put it on during the night when it is cold). 

A Light Jacket

A light jacket will be easy enough to carry during the day, and it will be a life-saver during the night when it gets cold. Plus, it can become useful in many ways! 

A Light Raincoat

It might seem odd to mention a raincoat in the same sentence as desert survival, but hear us out. It does sometimes rain in the desert, and there is something known as flash floods, which are one of the biggest problems there.

But also, a raincoat is an extra layer of warmth for the night, and it can also protect against the wind and against the sand. 


Socks will protect your feet from many things, including sweat, especially if they are made from a moisture-wicking material. 

A Bandanna

A bandanna is an excellent piece of clothing accessory that is useful in almost any survival situation. In the desert, it can be used to cover your head, your face, your neck, or others. And it can also be used to tie things to you, and in many other ways! 

Hiking Boots

If you’re going to get out of the desert, it’s going to involve a lot of walking, so your feet need to be well protected and in good condition. It is vital that you have comfortable hiking boots that are also breathable and lightweight! 

Should you stay fully clothed in the desert?

It is very tempting to want to strip down to fewer items of clothing when out in the desert because it’s hot and sunny. But it is vital that you protect your entire body with clothing items! So yes, you should absolutely stay fully clothed, and we have a few reasons why: 

  • Full clothing will protect your body from the sun and those dangerous UV rays. If you do not cover your body, you will get sunburned really badly. 
  • Full clothing will protect you from the wind and the sand. The desert gets very windy, and there are particles of sand everywhere, that can be pretty rough and painful on your skin. 
  • Full clothing will protect you from the bugs and insects of the desert. 
  • Full clothing is necessary to keep warm during cold desert nights. 
  • Full clothing will trap your sweat, reducing the loss of water from your body, so that you do not suffer from dehydration as fast! 

The Best Colors To Wear In The Desert

What Should You Wear for Desert Survival (Best Colors and Materials)1

There is actually a bit of a debate when it comes to what colors are best for desert survival, but we can tell you that there is indeed one correct answer, which we will give to you. 

So, basically, some people say that black is best because it helps the body lose heat, and others say that white is best because it reflects the heat. 

While some desert cultures do indeed wear black, the absolute best color to wear for desert survival is white, or other light colors. 

White will reflect the light, protecting you from the heat more than other colors would. In fact, light-colored clothing is the best at keeping your skin temperature down, and it reduces the amount of sweating, helping you preserve your body water. 

The Best Materials To Wear In The Desert

The materials of the clothing that you wear out in the desert are incredibly important, as they play a big part in how the clothing serves you. For example, it will not be the same to wear something thick and heavy, to something light and breathable, right? 

The best material for desert survival is loose-fitting cotton materials that allow you to remain cooler, and that are breathable so that there is good airflow. For underwear and socks, moisture-wicking material that absorbs the sweat will be vital. 

But basically, just wear cotton. It absorbs moisture and sweat, and this will cool you down to keep you protected for as long as possible. Plus it is light, and will not cause you to overheat. 

Other Questions

Just in case you still have some doubts, or want to know more, here are a few of the most commonly asked questions, answered: 

Is it better to wear black or white in the desert?

There are desert cultures that wear black, and some that wear white. But as a general rule, it is better to wear white when surviving in the desert, as it will reflect the sun and lower your body temperature. 

Why do desert people wear robes?

Robes are an excellent way of providing full-body coverage and protection out in the desert while remaining comfortable, with air flowing through your body and nothing feeling restricted in any way. Robes protect the body from the sun’s UV rays, from the heat, the wind, and the sand. 

Why should you wear long sleeves in the desert?

Wearing long sleeves is vital in the desert, in order to protect your skin from becoming sunburned by the sun. Long sleeves will also prevent your sweat from evaporating, so you lose less water, keeping you alive for longer. They also protect from the wind, the sand, and bugs.

Does it ever get cold in the desert? 

Yes. During the night, once the sun has set, temperatures quickly drop and it becomes quite cold! 

Final Thoughts

If you want to survive in the desert, it is vital that you wear the right clothing. Clothes should cover your entire body, in order to protect you from the sun’s UV rays, from the wind and sand, from bugs, and more. 

Ideally, you should wear light clothing made out of cotton. Also, the best colors for the desert are white and other light colors, as they will reflect the sun, keeping you cooler, and reducing the amount of water that you lose from your body.