Photo by Roger Gupta

I think we can all agree that the essential accessory to the modern festival-goer is the pashmina. Whether or not you’re adorned with a genuine pash or a just a fancy scarf, this particular weapon in your preparedness arsenal is not only a fashion statement but a multitool akin to a swiss army knife.

What is a pashmina? Pashmina is actually the fiber that the scarf or wrap is made from. Pashmina is a specific type of cashmere wool that refers to the finer fibers ranging from 12-16 microns, whereas generic cashmere ranges from 12-21 microns, and this fine wool is generally mixed 70/30 with silk to achieve that iconic texture and durability that makes these particular scarves so versatile. Not all scarves are created equally but finding a quality one on lot or at the thrift store is certainly a rite of passage among modern festival-goers.

So, besides the fact that they’re super soft and look really cool, why have these scarves (or scarves in general) become an essential accessory at outdoor summertime events? Well, there are a few obvious reasons most have already participated in or seen, the simplest of which just being used as a scarf on cold mountain nights. 

Scarves and pashminas also make for good face masks at the dustier festivals where golf carts kick up plumes all day (and most attendees are already abusing their lungs so they might as well take some extra precaution). Then there’s the headcover move, draping your scarf, over what I’ll assume is probably a pin covered flat brim hat, allows you to maintain a little shady microclimate at those big festivals with very little shade cover. But this stuff is basic, and you and your crew have probably been pulling these maneuvers for a while now.

Those may seem obvious and mundane, but there are quite a few other things you can do with that old scarf of yours. A couple of easy ones that come to mind. One is using it as a sleeping mask to catch some sleep after trying to stay up for that late-night set the day before or as a blindfold for a rousing game of pin a dread on the wook or smashing a pinata.

Maybe you’re conserving your paper towels by drying your hands after you wash them (unless that type of wookish behavior is not your style). Use your scarf to tie up your hair if you forgot your hair ties and bandanas (because you obviously have long hair or dreads) or commit to the full pash turban look.

Did the handle break off of your wagon or cooler? Fashion a new one with your pash and drag that bad boy uphill to your camp. If you’re getting hot and you only managed to bring pants, kick them off and wrap your scarf around your waist making a sarong. (That one takes a little more confidence for the boys but believe me you won’t regret it when you feel that breeze.) 

This one works pretty well in the winter indoor season: tie your scarf off at both ends of your jacket or a poster tube and throw it over your back to avoid those coat check lines. Tie it up between your friend’s camp chairs and make yourself a footrest; the possibilities are endless when you think outside the box.

There are a few that come to mind when dealing with the hazards of festival life. If you find yourself in a situation where you or someone is hurt and you have to do something quickly before first aid arrives or maybe just something to hold you over until you get to their tent in less urgent cases, your pashmina can be an amazing tool at your disposal. Firstly, if you encounter an injury of the upper arm and need to hold it steady, you can easily tie up your scarf and make a sling. Keep that arm immobile and seek help at first aid. In cases of breaks and sprains, you can wrap the affected area like an ace bandage or, with a straight support, you can make a brace to stabilize the affected area until help arrives or you can make it to the first aid tent. 

The last thing that comes to mind, and I truly hope none of you ever deal with something like this, but, if you’re dealing with excessive bleeding from a limb, using a scarf and a stick, you can make a tourniquet. If you find yourself in this situation, try to avoid this measure if the bleeding can be contained with simple pressure; however, if you must, tie your scarf up and wrap it above the bleed. Place the stick inside the looped scarf and twist until it tightens around the limb, restricting blood flow. Again, after doing so, immediately seek the help of first aid.

Onto my last suggestion, still, within the lines of health yet more light-hearted, the pashmina can be used by someone suffering the wook flu. It’s a thing. We all know it happens. You’re outside for days at a time, indulging in your various vices, and usually not taking the best care of yourself. When these self-inflicted cold and allergies arise, use your scarf to cover those coughs and sneezes, and use it to blow your nose. Usually, at the point of contraction of the wook flu, the festival will probably be over tomorrow and everyone else is probably dirty and dingy anyway. Lean into it, everything is going to need to be washed when you get home anyway.

If you don’t already have one, make sure you have a scarf in your gear for the next festival. Score that heady pash on lot and never leave for a show without it; you never know it just might save your life.