Camouflaging is one of the most important skills in the animal kingdom. All sorts of critters employ camo as a technique, from reptiles to moths.
They can blend in, totally disappear and avoid predators without having to be fast. Some predators use their own camo to take prey. These predators don’t have to be fast or strong; they just have to be a little bit smarter than their prey.
It’s a simple fact that the element of surprise is a huge force-multiplier. Ask a United States Marine Corps sniper how he can pick off an entire squad of enemy terrorists, and a major part of his success will be his ability to remain undetected. The same goes for pulling off an ambush. A small force can take down a larger and better armed force with the element of surprise.
Let’s not forget: You win every gunfight you can avoid. Simply fading away and remaining unseen can make your life a lot easier. One of the things drilled into me during my time in the military is a simple saying, “You are going to be smart, or you are going to be strong.” The meaning at that point is if you fail, be prepared to push, run, or put some form of physical pain in your body. The alternative meaning if you aren’t smart, you are going to learn the hard way.
Camouflaging isn’t just throwing on some BDUs and face paint, even though that’s one method. Applying camouflage to all environments and social situations can help guarantee success. Of course, being skilled in rural camouflage is nothing to laugh at. Urban camouflage is more of a mental game than a physical series of methods. I’ll start with rural and forest style camouflage, since most people have some form of experience or knowledge of it.
Camouflage is basically anything that makes you hard to see, from simply matching the basic colors of environments to a complete ghillie suit. Your basic three color BDUs are OK camo, but are a bit outdated. Now, digital camouflage is all the rage, and has been for the last decade. Every branch of the military is wearing some form of digital utility uniform.
If you choose to wear a version of a modern military force uniform I ask just a few things out of respect. First off, remove any name tapes and any branch tags. Secondly, do not wear these in public; they should be for prepping only. Wearing them in public is disrespectful; never claim or try to appear to be something you are not.
When selecting a particular camo, Marpat and Multicam are both excellent choices. They are some of the most modern and effective camouflage outfits out there. They can often be found online or in military surplus stores.
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Make sure your gear matches your camo in some way. Nothing throws off your attempt to hide more than an ACU pouch on Marpat utilities. These basic uniforms are a good base to build on and aren’t elaborate enough to risk your range of movement. When you begin building ghillie suit – that’s when you begin to limit your movement and your ability to fight if things get close.
Camouflaging your face is another good idea, especially if you have a lighter complexion. You want to focus on covering all exposed skin. I suggest wearing some form of glove because camo paint on your hands can make handling a weapon difficult. Focus the darker colors of camo paint at the height of your cheeks where you have the highest chance of reflecting sunlight. And make sure you cover your entire face, your ears and your neck. If camo paint isn’t available, mud and charcoal make a decent replacement. If your head is shaved, it needs to be camo. A shiny bald head is a pretty good giveaway. When it comes to having either bright blonde or red hair, you may have to consider something like a bandana to prevent the color of your hair giving you away. You could, of course, smear mud in your hair if you choose.
Different types of forestry require different painting techniques. Your area, or your bug-out area, is the only one you need to remember, but it’s always handy to know just a little more. This little chart should help and give you an idea of how to cammie up:
- Temperate deciduous forest ––Blotch method, oblong circles and oval
- Coniferous and jungle — Broad slashes in no particular pattern, but different colors
- Grass, open areas – Slash technique, both broad and thin, alternating to with a focus on greens and light browns.
When moving, don’t expect to be like the Predator, strolling around without a care in the world. Move deliberately; running and even fast walking is a giveaway. Tailor your speed to your threat situation. Avoid moving on the tops of hills; this will silhouette you and make you an easy target. The same goes for moving around obstacles; do not go over them if possible, but around them.
Keep an eye on the position of the sun, keeping it behind you means you are less likely to be seen. No successful attack was ever done with the sun in the offense’s eyes.
Outside of personal camouflage, one must also focus on the camouflaging of positions. It’s unfortunate that most camo on large buildings and vehicles will only work at great distances and against aircraft. You can’t simply make a house disappear. The best advice is to keep light usage at a minimum when the threat level is high, and to avoid drawing any unnecessary attention to your home or bug-out location. Keep fire smoke at a minimum and if possible away from your home. Avoid using the same path to your home over and over and keep it from becoming a well-beaten path.
In an urban setting even after a disaster or crisis I wouldn’t dress like some operator wanna-be. Tactical gear and military uniforms are going to draw attention in an urban or kind of populated area. Simply put attention puts a target on your back. The greatest special force operator in the world armed with the best equipment and a squad behind him can be taken down by some 13 year old that gets a lucky shot.
This gear can make others see you as a threat, and therefore something to fear, and fear leads to paranoia. Paranoia leads to violence. Sometimes people may decide they want what you have and come at your for it. Urban and societal camo is simply being able to disappear in a crowd or not to be considered a threat.
Do not be loud, boisterous or try to appear threatening. Try to be no one; the grey man concept applies here. Do not be remembered and do not give anyone an impression of you.
Disappearing is hard, no matter what situation you are facing. Stay low, and stay alive. The best weapon you have sits between your ears.
What are your camo tips? Tell us in the comments section below.