Last Updated on June 18, 2023

Should you wear white in the desert? The answer is not that simple.

Common knowledge dictates that it is preferable to wear light colors in hot weather, because light-colored clothing reflects UV rays from the sun, whereas dark clothes tend to absorb them and generate heat.

This is why people often pick white clothes for the summer, but does it make that much of a difference?

Nomadic tribes in the desert have often been observed wearing black clothes, which may appear counterintuitive, but scientists have shown that what color you wear in hot weather does not actually matter all that much, as long as you choose the right fabric.

Wearing Black in the Desert
Black Bedouin Desert Robe.

Wearing black or white in the desert

In 1980, the results of a study titled Why Do Bedouins Wear Black Robes in Hot Deserts? were published.

Researchers tested the body temperature of volunteers wearing either black robes, white robes, an army uniform, or shorts (shirtless) in the Negev desert of Israel.

The outcome of the study showed that there was no significant difference in temperature, regardless of what color the participant was wearing.

Truth is, while the black clothes did indeed absorb more UV rays than the white clothing, the heat was dispersed before it would reach the participant’s skin.

This is because bedouins generally wear loose fitting wool clothes and long robes that do not enter in direct connect with skin.

As it turns out, the type of outfit and fabric of your clothes in the desert is more important than the color you pick.

In conclusion, there is not a best color to wear in the desert.

Light colors such as white and light beije are still favored by most people, and it is true that light colors tend to absorb less heat.

When picking clothes for the desert, the type of clothing and fabric is more important than whatever color you pick: make sure to choose clothing pieces that are long sleeve and cover as much as possible of your skin, preferably made of merino wool or linen.

Whether they are black or white will ultimately make very little difference.

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Read also: Packing List for Desert Travel

Colors to wear in the desert FAQs

What color should I wear in the desert?

The color of clothing you wear in the desert does not matter as much as the fabric and type of clothing.

Light colors such as white and light beige are still favored by most people, and it is true that light colors tend to absorb less heat.

However, as long as you choose loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics such as merino wool or linen, the color will ultimately make very little difference.

Does it matter what color you wear in the desert?

Yes and no. The color of your clothing does matter to some extent, but it is not as important as the type of fabric and the fit of your clothing.

Light-colored clothing will reflect the sun’s rays and help you stay cooler, while dark-colored clothing will absorb the sun’s rays and make you feel hotter.

However, if your clothing is loose-fitting and made of breathable fabric, it will help to keep you cool regardless of the color.

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

It does not matter if you wear black or white in the desert. What matters more is the type of fabric and the fit of the clothing.

Loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics will help you stay cool regardless of the color. If you are worried about absorbing heat, then you may want to choose a light-colored garment.

However, if you are more concerned about protecting your skin from the sun, then you may want to choose a dark-colored garment.

Why do nomads wear black in the desert?

Nomads wear black in the desert for a number of reasons, including tradition, protection from the sun, and insulation.

First, black clothing is traditional for many nomadic cultures.

Second, black clothing is very effective at blocking out sunlight. This is important in the desert, where the sun can be very strong.

Third, black clothing is also very good at insulating the body. This helps to keep nomads warm at night, when the desert can get very cold.

What are some other factors to consider when choosing clothing to wear in the desert? logo icon

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