Traditional gas masks are designed to seal to your face and neck, protecting you from breathing harmful chemical or biological agents. But they won’t work with full beards, which is a problem if you’re a Sikh warrior like Harjit Sajjan. His solution?

Sikhs are rare in western militaries. The US, for example, has 1.4-million active duty personnel, only three of which are Sikh. And, religious exemptions and current special forces practice aside, the military generally prohibits both bushy facial hair and religious headwear. So, most gas masks are designed for clean-shaven faces and either bare heads or ones fitted with standard helmets.

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This is all obviously a problem if, like Harjit Sajjan, you find yourself commanding a Canadian Army regiment in Afghanistan. So, he designed and patented his own gas mask.

The patent abstract reads:

A protective hood is provided for wearers of gas masks in emergency situations. The hood is formed to provide a “synthetic skin” for the wearer’s head, with openings for the eyes, nose and mouth, and neck. A smooth surface around such openings provides for a sealing contact with the gas mask which is donned over the hood. Various means are provided for constricting the hood about the neck to ensure a gas-tight contact. Circulation means within the hood, and a pouched ice gel pack on the exterior of the hood, is provided to cool the wearer’s head.

The idea is to enclose the beard within the protective hood, making the seal around the lower neck and with the protective eyewear instead of against the face and upper neck.

Traditional gas masks like this US Army M50 seal around the face’s perimeter, contacting silicone to skin. That seal would not be feasible with a beard and turban.

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But what of the turban?

The hood of any one of claims 1, to 7 , wherein said head portion is profiled in a turban-like shape.

The patent was originally filed in 1996 and issued in October, 2006. It’s not clear if Sajjan ever produced or used the mask.

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