Mitznefet Helmet Cover

A soldier wearing a Mitznefet in the field.
January 17, 2024  
Categories: Gear Curious

The question I get asked most is, “Why do Israeli troops wear those chef hat things on their heads,” so I thought it was time to shed some light on the most distinctive piece of combat headgear since the Spartan helmet: the Mitznefet.

Mitznefet: Holy Priests with Tavors and M4s

A line of soldiers wearing Mitznefet hidden behind a hill.

Contrary to popular belief, the IDF doesn’t have the highest chef-to-grunt ratio, nor does Israel have a large Smurf population. The Mitznefet is about disguising a precision-cut ballistic helmet in the asymmetry of nature.

The Mitznefet breaks up the shape of a helmet and makes it considerably more difficult to spot from a distance. In a natural landscape, an IDF or MICH helmet’s perfectly round dome sticks out like a sore thumb and the less lines an enemy marksman has to attach crosshairs to, the better.

The word Mitznefet actually comes from the name of the headgear that was worn by the Jewish High Priest in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Soldier in the grass wearing Mitznefet.

It’s a piece of kit that is as authentically Israeli as you get and comes from the country that brought us inexplicably hot female weapons instructors, guns that shoot round corners and human backpacks for injured soldiers.

I can tell you that another great function the Mitznefet performs is that it acts as a great sun shade in the scorching Negev Desert heat. It’s like a boonie on steroids but much better as you simply move the bulk of the Mitznefet to whichever side the sun is facing. As it is made of mil-spec mesh, it also allows air to flow through it and heat out of it, which is why you’ll often see IDF troops wearing them, even if they aren’t wearing a helmet underneath.

While the exact origins of the Mitznefet are unknown, they have been in use in the IDF since the early 90’s and units often even make their own in-house.

The modern-day Mitznefets are made by Agiliate and are reversible with a woodland mesh on one side and desert on the other. The reversible mesh is unheard of outside Israel as it requires a special printing process developed by the Israeli kings of camouflage, Fibrotex.

Agilite Shape Breaker Mitznefet. The original Israeli Mitznefet. Breaks up the shape of a military helmet. Provides shade from the scorching sun. Now available for export in multicam.

The Mitznefet has begun to be adopted by non-Israeli forces, which I think was just a matter of time. Ironically, some of those adopting the classic IDF helmet cover are the very people who want to fight Israelis.

Agilite Tactical Gear makes a mitznefet:

While the US Military was wasting $5 Billion on Universal camouflage patterns that actually blended with nothing, Israel decided to stick with old-school OD Green and spend its cash on heat-cloaking, radar-cloaking, IR-cloaking camouflage badassery developed by Fibrotex.

When you are under mesh that gives you two different terrain options and that hides you from NVG’s, thermal night vision cameras, radar and more, trust me, no one knows or cares if you’re wearing an OD uniform or a bright pink one.

Soldiers in a urban setting wearing Mitznefet.

To Israelis, the endless debate over which combination of earth-tone patterned uniforms should be adopted by US Troops sounds like an argument over the ideal shade of lipstick.

The Mitznefet is another example of the IDF using their (Not so easy to spot) heads to create a simple but highly effective piece of gear.

I have no doubt that our very own Mad Duo will Mitznefetize their domes following their upcoming trip to The Holy Land.

Dan Barak

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