Give Now

A Moment of Science

Packing For The Desert

If you are packing for a trip to the desert, would it be better to pack light or dark clothes?

suitcases made of ivory

Photo: Tom Godber (Flickr)

Do you have any good packing tips?

If you are packing for a trip to the desert, would it be better to pack light or dark clothes? The answer is not a simple as you might think.

Dark vs Light

Most people know that white reflects heat and black absorbs it. If you’re out in the sun, you’re better off wearing white. However, this is not always true. Bedouins, the nomadic people who spend their entire lives in the desert, wear black robes.

While the air underneath black fabric warms up faster than the air underneath white fabric, at the same time,  black fabric provides more shade than white fabric, and this decreases the amount of light that directly reaches the skin. Plus, a lot depends on the type of clothing you’re wearing. You see, warm air rises. And when it does, it’s replaced by cool air. If you happen to be wearing a robe, all that movement of the warm air creates a breeze that sucks up cooler air from the bottom of the robe and pushes it out the top.

Build In Fan

In other words, wearing a black robe is like having a suit with a built in fan. But again, the key is that the robe is loose-fitting. Otherwise, there isn’t enough room for the air to circulate.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science