Why Do Israeli Soldiers Wear "Chef Hats"?
One of the questions we get asked most is “Why do Israeli troops wear those chef hat things on their heads?”. We thought it was time to shed some light on the most distinctive piece of combat headgear since the Spartan helmet.
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.
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 an air 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 Agilite 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.
The Mitznefet has not been adopted by non-Israeli forces which I think is a matter of time, especially as Agilite have a non export-restricted Mitznefet in mil-spec Multicam.
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 tactical gear.