How to Vanish: Part 1

The art of camouflage

For many years ability to disappear or blend in to one’s surrounding has become both necessary and popular, to the point that it has earned the right to be called an “art”.  In this series of posts we will look at this art and how it plays a roll for the Survivalist.

By F.C. Brake, a reader of SurvivalCache.com

From hunters in centuries past to present day military and law enforcement, one common trait indians hunting buffaloamong these groups is the use of camouflage for cover and concealment.  I’m sure we can all agree that all of the methods of camouflage and concealment are too numerous to mention them all.  With that being said, I will cover a few of the basics in Part 1 of this series.

We’ve all seen and heard quit a bit about the “ghillie suit“, but I think its safe to say that not Sniper Ghillie Suiteveryone is going to keep one of these on hand.  Perhaps because of the cost or the time and effort it takes to make one.  Not to mention if the situation were dire enough, there may not be enough response time to get into this type of gear.  Therefore, I’ll refrain from covering that particular system.

But if that’s what floats your boat, then by all means, feel free to suit up!  You can even buy a ghillie suit now on Amazon.

As common sense would tell us, the type of camouflage used would or should be determined by our surroundings. I think it goes without saying that you wouldn’t use an arctic camo pattern in a wooded or desert area and vice-versa.

When In Doubt, Black Out

Camouflage doesn’t have to be that involved or costly and whenever its possible I always say “When In Doubt, Black Out.” Simply put, “black” is a widely used color and easily obtained. Just look at the SWAT, special forces, burglars, and even the legend of the ninja.  The list is almost endless but remember, nothing in nature is black and while it is better than hunter orange for concealment, it can still stand out in some settings like a sore thumb.  The best time to use black is in low light or after dark.  Lets move on.

If you want to get a great insight on blending in, just look at the animal world.  The knowledge Hard to see deerfound there is almost endless.  It still amazes me when I see a deer at the edge of a tree line and with a few simple movements it completely disappears from sight.  You can be looking right at it and not see it.

Using Nature

When we are dealing with the art of concealment, not only should we consider colors, light, and shadow, but texture and terrain as well.  This is why whenever possible one should use some of the natural things around them, such as leaves, twigs, tree bark, grass, bushes, etc.  When looking to camouflage yourself, look for areas of shine or areas that could potentially reflect light.  Examples include a watch, your face, glasses, a rifle scope, jewelry, etc.  I know this is probably a no-brainer for most of us, but those who may be new at this I hope this small amount of information proves to be useful.

In future articles I plan to cover a vast variety of techniques, so bear with me, keep checking back tiger stripes and by all means feel free to put in your two cents worth.  Any and all knowledge is deeply appreciated, so start talking.  Education is everything, but knowledge without application carries little weight!

Stay tuned for Part 2

 

Photos by F.C. Brake

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Kerry May 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

While movies and the like love to portray them as such, the traditional ninja would have never worn black. Like you mentioned, it's not an overly 'natural' colour. More likely it would have been a brown, potentially stone/grey…

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CaptBart May 17, 2011 at 6:40 am

Very true. The key to camouflage is to not stand out. Pastels are actually better than black for aircraft like the F-117 but it is reported that an AF general said that real fighter pilots don't fly pastel airplanes! Still, ninja black is SO cool. I spent 12 years in Arizona. Black in the desert stands out like a sore thumb; I suspect it does in heavy snow country as well. In WW2 the allies discovered that anti-submarine aircraft were harder to see if they used a large light shining forward (during the day). It seems that the dark silhouette of the aircraft could be seen against the sky at over a mile. The light blended in with the brightness of the sky reducing the distance to under a quarter mile. The subs no longer had time to dive. Seems counter-intuitive but camouflage is where you find it. Not just leaves, twigs, and sticks but also light levels and colors.

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Richard September 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm

They used dark blues, and only at night. Most of the time, they dressed like normal people, because they were the masters at blending in, and what better way to blend in than to look like everyone else? How ninjas wearing black came about was in plays way back when, people dressed in black to move props around were ignored, so when a surprise kill by a ninja was needed in the play, they would wear black to blend in with the "non-actors", thus surprising the audience and giving birth the the legend. Pretty sweet though, if you ask me.

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Ole Sarge March 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Im afraid you are wrong.I spent three years in Japan in the early 60s and was involved in the martial arts for eight years.Ninja usually struck at night.However they utilized many guises depending on the situation. Ole Sarge

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Enron-Survivor May 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Agreed – black is the camo of last resort. I noticed a lot of guys are spray painting their black rifles now.

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Paul May 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Well.My best friend dad said something to me when ,I was younger don't dress like a ballerina when going to a bull riding contest.Well just think of this any time ,I'm out in the wilderness.I still smile when I think of it.

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James Erwin May 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Great Post!!!

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deleted5598229 May 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I had the privilege of being taught camouflage techniques by a Special Forces Sniper Veteran. We were taught never to wear black, and that a gillie suit will give you a heat injury if used on patrol; besides "they will just shoot the walking bush" there is such a thing as *too much camouflage*.
- Observe Light Discipline: (No lights or above ground fires at night; if you must, use red lens lights pointed to the ground and a dakota fire pit.)
- Observe Noise Discipline: (No shouting or rustling vegetation etc.)
- Observe Movement Discipline: (Move on covered and concealed routes, stay low in open areas, and avoid waving your hands around in the air.)
- Mind your Position: (don't rest, camp, or build a fighting position where one would be expected)
- Avoid Outlines and Shadows: (On your face, paint light areas dark and dark areas light)
- Avoid Shine: (too much paint and you will look like those little army men in the toy store)
- Distort your Shape: (I use a ripped helmet cover on my shoulder strap to make my left shoulder bulge)
- Avoid contrasting Color (with the background, i.e M81 Woodland in the desert)
- Disperse your group (it's safer anyway)
- Prepare by studying the environment you expect to move in: ( I put local vegetation in the loops on my "boonie" hat; just a glorified sun hat)

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CaptBart May 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

"they will just shoot the walking bush" – Your vet taught you well. One of the big problems with effective camouflage for folks (even some combat vets) is that you can mistake not being seen (concealment) with not being able to be shot (cover). If I'm behind a brick wall, you can't see me. Most pistol rounds and many carbine rounds can't touch me. I have cover – unless you have a .338 Lapua or a .50 BMG and the range is a mile or less. In that case, you'll simply shoot through the brick wall and I will discover the, perhaps fatal, mistake of confusing concealment for cover.

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JohnDoe1999 May 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm

We used airsoft guns as training tools from time to time, and it's amazing how even these toys can teach the difference between cover and concealment. My favorite example of cover was a story my Basic Cadet Training Captain told me about how his unit (he was an Airborne Pathfinder, so I believe this was a Pathfinder mission) hid in a small depression of several inches for days in the middle of an Iraqi Battalion (or company I don't recall exactly) during the Gulf War.

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CaptBart May 18, 2011 at 8:40 am

The Apache of the desert Southwest was known for the ability to hide in the open. Skin color and dust blended well with the sand. Couple that with the brightness of the landscape and a tendency for humans to look for threats 'out there' rather than at their feet and it is understandable. Movement is, perhaps, THE enemy of good concealment. If you move when you shouldn't or don't move when you should then you do stand out. Not necessarily what you are but that SOMETHING is wrong at your location.

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Swampy May 19, 2011 at 2:53 am

This is all the basics that are taught to every British squaddie.
SHAPE.
SHINE,
SHADOW,
SILHOUETTE ,
SOUND,
MOVEMENT.
If you address all these then you will have it licked.

lonewolff March 30, 2012 at 1:21 am

I was an army sniper and we were taught the fine art of disappearing to achieve your objective. Yes, we used ghuillie suits but in a smart way. The running theme was to not look like a person laying,standing or shooting. That's the whole reason behind the suit was to breakup the silhouette of a human body shape and to blend in. There are lots of ways to blend in and yes, even using black as long as that is what the color of the AO you are operating in. I.E. you are leaning against a tree for support in shooting, if you are being looked at from a distance, you should appear as part of the base or stump of the tree and not a human leaning against a tree. you get the idea. I mastered this art in passing the stalking portion of the course and took pride in the fact I was never found in ANY training exercise nor on any of my missions. I had lots of practice as I was one of those kids as a teen that regularly went out in the woods in high school and practiced this before even getting to the school! But I am happy to see all of the previous posts that most people even with little training at least knows or has info on how to get started.

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KansasScout October 15, 2012 at 2:39 pm

lonewolf, I found this out when I used to reenact WWII European Theater. I would notice that I could spot many of the ones playing GIs or Brits easy as they wouldn't stay in the concealment that worked best with the colors of their uniforms and gear. The ones doing the Germans would be hard to spot (unless they moved) when standing among trees. The German Field Gray would blend into the tree trunks and the smarter more experienced reactors would walk up to a stand of trees slowly and move only when they were sure they wouldn't be spotted.

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KansasScout October 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

In the case of the Allied reenactors especially the Americans in their OD#3 gear and mustard green uniforms were easy to spot if they didn't find cover that was closer to their colors. I always stayed low where the bushes and taller grasses were and on one piece of land with low rolling sand hills I would stay in the low areas and move my teams and squads that way from one location to another. I would let my clothing get soiled by nature so that I had more natural colors on me as we went through a tactical reenactment based on a specific European campaign.

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KansasScout October 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm

The object like this article says is to not be seen. When maneuvering form one site to another do a route recon to see what path would best conceal your movement. Don't just look at the obivious ambush sites look for those areas that would give your people a sense of safety, but would still give an enemy concealment and cover. Good ambushes are never where you expect them, but where you don't.

Back to German camouflage I found that the Luftwaffes and Heers splinter patterns were hard to see in terrain like here in Kansas, but the SS Oak A or Oak B patterns blended best in wood areas like along rivers or creeks. The American uniform colors work better in the more arrid regions like Central Kansas, but in places like the bluffs and hills along the Missouri River on the Iowa shore (where we did a commemorative tactical celebrating the Battle of the Buldge) the American uniforms stuck out. The terrain there was the closest to that of the Ardienes in Belgium/ Luxembourg near the NE corner of Kansas, the SE corner of Nebraska, NW corner of Missouri and SW Iowa.

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T.Rapier May 16, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Great article ! I have an eberlestock hunting pack in mossy oak brush . Its kind of a universal outdoor cammo . They also make packs for the military and one very interesting color they came up with is called ” dry earth ” . Apparently , its so neutral and non descript that it works in most places you will be , urban or outdoors , they had a picture of it on a sidewalk and a dirt road , and it almost went away . Very cool .

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Mike Uher May 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Camouflage isn't difficult. look at the terrain around you, and try to match it. If you read the survival for teens, becoming that "gray man", the one who is never remembered. That is all you need to know. Become like your environment. If there is alot of tan, be tan. If there is alot of green, be green. If you have wandered into a portion of the earth that has purple vegetation, with pink pokadots, well, you get the picture. Camouflage is not a one time thing. You may have a good base, but it constantly needs to be updated, and tailored to the terrain or situation. Just remember that black is NOWHERE in nature. At least not so much that black is needed very often. Remember that, and the light, noise, and movement discipline, and you will be fine.

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CaptBart May 17, 2011 at 6:54 am

Mike,
"light, noise, and movement discipline, and you will be fine. " Well said, sir. Movement may be the single most violated discipline out there. Swatting that fly will get you located. Most of us have seen movies about basic training where the recruit slaps a flea and then everyone has to give it a funeral or some such. Point was, the movement got everybody killed. You fall into an ant bed, stay there and get stung or move and get you AND your buddies dead. Hard lesson but combat is a hard time.

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T.Rapier May 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I duplicate nature for a living , the most universal color in nature is raw umber .

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T.Rapier May 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Also you are correct about black . Black is actually several colors combined and is either ” red black ” or “blue black ” . Just wash an old tshirt several times to see which is which , most cloths have the ” red black ” dye , because its cheapest , you want the ” blue black ” dye to compensate for fading . Easy way to tell the difference if the dye job isn’t so bad it has a reddish tint , is to put a drop of bleach on a spot and see how it separates out , if you see a dark grey outline ( like a sharpie fade out ) its blue black , but if its brownish or dark rust , its red black ( garbage dye ) . Something to keep in mind if you dye your own gear . Another quick way to make poor mans camo , is to use the batik art technique , ends up similar to mossy oak brush but in more circular pattern . It actually works pretty well outdoors .

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bob May 17, 2011 at 1:41 am

Joseph had a coat of many colors. my coat is brown , green tan and olive colored. . werks for me and mine. i dye my own with amazing results using a little ingenuity, i can blend in to just about every terrain there is..good hunting…

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badvoodoodaddy May 17, 2011 at 6:44 am

I made a ghillie suit many years ago while going through the Army Sniper school. They are really not that difficult to make and by far the best way to conceal. There are also many different ways of using nature as a natural ghillie. I defenatly agree on the "If in doubt, black out" method. In an escape and evasion scenario becoming invisible is paramount to your survival.

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GTO May 17, 2011 at 6:56 am

Actually, I have been told that dark blue is a much better color to wear for night camouflage because it blends in much easier with the surroundings. Very little in the natural world is true black, so black clothing or paint has a high contrast ratio to other colors.

For instance, if you have ever taken a really close look at a "black" cat or dog, their hair is actually a mixture of very dark browns and greys, generally not true black.

I would say they keys to effective camo are breaking up the silhouette and lines, non-contrasting colors, and minimizing reflective materials.

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JohnDoe1999 May 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I agree regarding blue, if you look at the Navy Working Uniform or some commercial "urban camouflage" it is often just blues and grays mixed with black.

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guest September 2, 2012 at 3:40 am

you are right about black. it actually can stand out at night. hard to believe but its because its "too dark". it actually makes a "hole" in the darkness that is darker than the rest. navy blue or dark gray are better because they "reflect" just enough light, instead of sucking it up. i can follow my sisters two black dogs around the yard at night because theyre the black spots that move around. sometimes i lose them if i take my eyes away or look too long at them but then they silhouete against the back neighbors light and im only off by 3 to 5 feet. also, if you want to see anything at night, keep your eyes moving or just off what you want to see. if you look at it more than 10seconds your eyes will wash it out into the blur of darkness. the human eye is lazy. the first things that will get its attention are movement, color, shape and shine.

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BamaMan May 17, 2011 at 7:36 am

Any camo works when you remain still. Like what was said earlier about shooting the moving bush and how ghllie suite is not always that great.

The ability to sit still is what makes the hunter effective and prey hard to detect. Camo helps…but will not help with motion.

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JohnDoe1999 May 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Supposedly digital camouflage patterns are supposed to help in motion. The logic being that the lack of clearly defined borders causes the colors to blend. I have seen ACU's blur when people sprint, so I guess that there is some merit to the concept. Personally I think that 90 degree angles can actually draw attention, and that past 300 meters the small color pixels just "blob" together, making it an almost blinking gray.

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lonewolff March 30, 2012 at 1:27 am

but bama man, there is a lot more to concealment than just sitting still. your orders or objective usually doesn't allow you to stay in one place unless you are waiting for a target for an undetermined amount of time. For those of us that are sniper qualified in any branch realize that you use the surrounding terrain and colors and take as long as it does to achieve your objective or shoot your hunt. sitting still only works if you are being hunted and need to wait till the enemy is clearly out of your AO first. of course I am biased to the US army sniper training so of course I will do what I was trained for.

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CaptBart May 17, 2011 at 8:03 am

My problem with the gillie suit is that it is a unique tool. Only if you are in an ambush or sniper mission does the gillie suit make sense. Before TSHTF it has no use (hunting while wearing one can get you shot entirely by accident; the shooter at the deer doesn't know you are down range. That is why the orange hunting vest, after all). It is of little use if you have to move very far or fast. If you do have to move far or fast it is an impediment to your movement. I just don't see much point to one besides 'looking cool'. Like the ninja clothes, cool but not the best for what needs to be done. If you really want to blend in, look at what the local natives wore when on the warpath. Mostly leather from various animals. In the west, the human skin was tanned by sun exposure to almost the color of the desert – add the dust and the individual became invisible to someone 10 yards off.

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BamaMan May 17, 2011 at 8:33 am

LOL on deer hunting in ghillie. Might be more dangerous than hanging antlers around you neck. Bubba might think he killed swamp man……

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JohnDoe1999 May 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I agree that it is too specialized for general use. Our Sniper Vet illustrated this by informing some of the sniper "wanna bes" that it once took him and his spotter two days to cross 100 yards. Then had them low crawl across a football field while the rest of us used fire and movement.

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T.Rapier May 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Not to mention , that snipers are universally DESPISED , and will most likely never make it to a POW camp if captured , and no , you dont always get away . Depending on the mission , some dont have the luxury of a spotter either .

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guest October 14, 2012 at 1:57 am

snipers are seldom "captured"(dead on sight most likely)

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Minarchist_1776 May 18, 2011 at 8:35 am

Personally I'm partial to haze grey, it can effectively hide some surprisingly large objects :-)

Seriously though, paying attention to the area that you're in is key. If there truly is any one color that's "best" or at least is more likely to fit a larger range of areas it would probably be some sort of light brown or khaki.

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KansasScout October 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm

In a reply above I mentioned that the German Field Gray works really well in wooded areas. In January 2005 I was at a reenactment along the bluffs across from Omaha. We were holding one to commemorate the Battle of the Bulge. Well the area was heavily wooded and except for the few evergreens (like cedars and pines) there was little in the way of colors other than white and shades of gray. The German uniform colors blended better in that area than the US colors.

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TINDERWOLF May 17, 2011 at 9:05 am

Interesting article. I definitly prefer cover over camo. As for the ghillie suit, I have never worn one and they seem to be one of the best camos out there…but they are for specific environments and specific scenarios. Growing up hunting I found that the best camo out there is what is in the environment you are in. I would wear a general leafy designed camo (during autumn) and then when I found my spot where I would be hunting at I would use the mateirals around my site to camo myself (mud, grass, leaves, twigs, logs, etc.) In the winter I would obviously change my clothing to white but again use my surroundings to finsih the camo. Urban environments are much harder…unless of course you are like that artist who paints himself into brick walls and bulldozers.

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lonewolff March 30, 2012 at 1:31 am

you can get ghuillie suits for all environments but to the civilian that never used one or survivalist that doesn't have access to all of them, that would be impractical. you can make a base suit with tans,blacks and greys and you can actually change that to fit any environment with creativity FROM that environment. it works and doesn't cost much nor hard to make. versatility is the key.

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Sneaky Beaky May 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

MultiCam. Simply Outstanding.
http://www.multicampattern.com/

If you are interested in making a Ghillie/Yeti try this lik:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fchxuYczK_o

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CaptBart May 19, 2011 at 11:26 am

thanks for the link to Multicam. Interesting looking stuff.

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ebonhawk745 September 21, 2011 at 10:33 am

my opinion is that multicam is the best camo out there

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guest September 2, 2012 at 3:58 am

for general purpose all around woodland camo, those that know and have a choice… its british dpm. similar to the u.s bdu but the color palette and "splotches" thereof work better. see movie "proof of life" for an example.

however i will say that this is based on pre to early release of digicam. things may have changed. personally i dont like digicams, but the marpat is pretty cool if a little dark.

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Rescue7 May 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

First thing to consider is what are you hiding from? If you’re hiding from thermal imaging scopes you need a heat source that is as warm or warmer than you are. Black rocks in the dessert work well when they are warmed by the sun. Feel them… If they are warm or hot you can hide amongst them. Hiding from dogs can be easier visually but they have an acute sense of small. Mess up their nose with hot pepper or pepper spray, send them down the wrong trail with a urine trail, get down wind of them and get them from behind.
Camouflage is continuous… You have to keep it up. The wilted or dead branches in you hat could be a dead give away. Same with paint… You rub your nose or have an itch next thing you know all you beautiful tiger stripe is on your sleeve.
Yes, black works well at night. Your eyes work by picking up reflected light. Black absorbs light. In the dark it’s really hard to look for the spot with no light. We aren’t wired that way.
Finally if you are hunting (post apocalypse) you may want to drop the target indicator orange vest. Just makes it easier for someone else to take home your food.

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Minarchist_1776 May 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I would argue that if you want to hide from a thermal imaging scope you need something between you and it that blocks thermal infrared light. The main caveat would be that you do not want to be so close to the object/item in question that your own body heat is causing it to warm up. Various items that have that this property are aluminum foil, standard window glass, mylar, most metals in general.

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CaptBart May 19, 2011 at 11:29 am

you have a point – my 'cold spot' in the middle of a hot field could be almost as telling as my 'hot spot' against a cooler background. The good news is that most folks don't have to worry about thermal imaging devices when they are preparing to survive.

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Rescue7 May 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm

You get behind the rocks. The sun warms them because they are dark. Helps to keep you warm at night too.

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cypher May 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I wish I could find a large backpack that was “reversible” (multicam on the outside, and neutral earthly civilian looking on the other side)!!!!

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T.Rapier May 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm that looks like the making of a new product line to me ;) , you may well be on to something . Pocket design would be the biggest challenge . But several ways to handle that such as a dual slot and groove mech . MOLLE is a pain in the ass and the sewn in strapping bands across it defeat the camo pattern . You would want it fast and simple . Do a little brainstorming and I bet Hunters as well as ourselves would be very interested in that , especially hunters that do so all year round and hunt in different areas .

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Regulator5 July 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm

They make several ruck covers to help with your dilemma. They are normally reversible and cheap.

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guest October 14, 2012 at 2:01 am

its called a rain cover.

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allen May 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I dont think black is a wrong answer, it is usefull especially in urban positional camo. However from a different direction of thought, i was always schooled that a green leaf at night is still green. Its best to stick to the natural shadows instead of trying to be one. A dark spot where a dark spot shouldnt be sticks out like a sore thumb. Id go with plain old woodland or something assuming looking militant was a risk i was willing to take. Ghillies are great once you get close to where you are going (objective rally point). Until then you will want to stow it. If you cache your cloths in a waterproof bag or something and change into your ghillie, be careful when you return. If someone finds it, there could be a suprise waiting for you. If you cant carry alot of cammo material, atleast do your head and shoulders. its by far the part of your body that screams person the most.

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allen May 17, 2011 at 7:06 pm

The two biggest target indicators are movement and inproper camo. As far as movement goes, always head strait twords where you are going. Lateral movement is easyer to detect. This is why recon units use patterns like cloverleaf or heart shaped movements for area recon. If you are coming strait in and decide your route is no good, go back the way you came and pick a different approach. The Army Sniper rules of movement are my favorate of all. 1) always assume you are under observation., 2) move slowly, count your progress in feet and inches. 3) careful of overhead movement of stuff you may hit like bushes. 4) Plan each movement in segments. this is what i was talking about earlyer. Look ahead plan it out, if u get up their and it does not look promising, go back, try again. 5) SLL's. Sop, look, listen often. 6) move during disterbances.

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allen May 17, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I will add one more. always move in a manner of one step lower than u think u can get away with. if u think u can safely walk, crouch. If you think you can safely crawl, low crawl.

oh and the best time to go through somewhere risky, is between about 230am and 500am. especially during an adverse weather change. If its been sunny and nice for a week, and a storm comes, people tend to not pay as much attention, and seek shelter/warmth. even guards are more likely to lose focus during this situation.
thats enough of my ranting, this is fun, havent talked about this sort of thing in a while.

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Pneuma May 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm

A few things I've picked up:

Multicam is great because it lacks black that older camos have and it also has a great blend pattern for non-specific environtments. Widely available.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MultiCam

Digital is more environment specific, but many patterns have black, or are very environment specific. A step down in my opinion from Multicam. Widely available.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARPAT

Lastly there is A-TACS, which seems to me to be the Multicam -type pattern put into Digital form, though leaning toward arid environments. I haven't seen this widely available.

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lonewolff March 30, 2012 at 1:37 am

this US military new camo they have been using for a while now (the old digital look) was designed mostly for urban warfare like in the streets of Iraq. Otherwise, it is determined to have been made useless in any other environment. fyi, thats why they changed to the new MARPAT camo.

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Autonomous May 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Camouflage is all well and good in a wilderness environment but in a urban area blending in with civilians will keep you safer. Think of it this way suppose your town gets hit by an natural disaster that cuts off services and prevents vehicles from bringing in supplies. If you try to leave the city on foot dressed in multicam with a 3 day assault pack and a tricked out ar15 then you don't blend in with the environment and you have made your self a more attractive target for anyone with malicious intent. An old friend of mine was trapped in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. He made it out of the city on foot with some thermal bottoms under jeans, a camel pack with some supplies hidden under a windbreaker and a .38 revolver holstered in the back of his pants. The point being camouflage is great once you are far enough from civilization that you shouldn't encounter large numbers of people but until that point you need to be the grey man. It's easier to survive by going unnoticed then by being the best equipped and armed.

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survivalcyclist February 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm

This.

To me, "vanishing" means to be overlooked, or seen and forgotten/ignored immediately. I want the bad guys (whoever they are) to dismiss me as a threat -or a profitable target-, if they notice me at all. We all prep for different things, and in my case, I'll likely be around a mix of hurricane survivors, looters/riffraff, and legitimate law enforcement types (who will probably NOT be locals). All three types will want/need my stuff for various reasons, and all three will have their own theory about why I should hand it over. Better for me if they are more interested in someone else, somewhere else.

To that end, all my gear is milspec or better, but I choose civilian coloring or equivalent gear whenever I can. My truck is old and beat up looking, but mechanically reliable. My guns are nothing special to look at, but they work exactly as designed, in my hands. I don't have bumper stickers proclaiming my martial arts training, my gun ownership, or my veteran status. I cultivate the 'Joe Average' look, and don't discuss my prepping much with anyone local. I don't want to be the guy everyone at work jokes about ("Yeah when the zombies come, I'm going to Mike's house, cause he's got all the guns and ammo we will ever need!").

To me, camouflage and concealment starts *way* before SHTF.

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KansasScout October 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I would say looking like Joe Average is the best way to go. Leave the Camouflage for when you've reached a Bug-Out-Location for security patrols. When evacuating an area looking like the other refugees or those preying on them would be a good idea. I would suggest though picking colors for your clothing that are neutral (tans, greens, grays, etc.) Leave the bright colors like Red, Yellow, or Orange for those times you want to be found like when the Coast Guard or National Guard helos are looking for survivors.

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lonewolff March 30, 2012 at 1:43 am

that is why you need at least one set of regular civilian clothes in case you need to go into town. Otherwise, keep your fatigues camo'd out of town and cache it for when your business is concluded in urban areas…. but keep your concealed sidearm on you so you are not defenseless while in town. Look up Delta force online and they will show you what it is to blend in. Also, that show called "The Unit" that is no longer on the air was a good example of what the delta force soldiers did since the adviser on that show was ex DF. They grew beards and did not always have sharp military haircuts and not always wore camo uniforms on all missions.

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KansasScout October 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Another option is to wear civies that are neutral in color. A plaid shirt in tans and greens over khaki trousers with brown boots or gray sneakers would be a suggestion. These colors are available in most clothing departments in most department and discount stores. Another thing would be to wear brown or green under tan or gray. Even altering the colors of your street clothing items will work as well as wearing the various camouflaged clothing out there.

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Steve West May 14, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Seriously?
Thermals under long blue jeans, and a pack under a windbreaker?!?
In one of the hottest Augusts on record… wading / walking around in, through, and out of New Orleans???
Riiiiiight… LOL

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RealAmericanPatriot May 23, 2011 at 1:51 am

Always give black several washings to get rid of any sheen the fabric may have. A hand full of dust can be used to earthy blotches. And a hard piece of local clay can be used for some tiger stripes. This makes VERY effective camo in the woods.

Cypher- you don’t need a reversible pack. Just by a standard frame pack available in many stores, load it and then make a pack cover for it. You can even use 2 different types of camo so it is reversible for multiple conditions and quick to change. Pack covers can also be used for water haulers, sinks, food caches in bear country, pillows, field umbrellas, extra warmth and extra weather protection. They are worth every ounce they add to your pack. Simply stow the cover in the pack while in urban areas.

Reversible camo clothing, however, makes a LOT of sense but that will require some sewing skills I’m afraid…

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survivalexpert May 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Really the way I think of it is think of your terrain and areas around your bug out location.

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MrAlpine May 31, 2011 at 6:23 am

This is a great post. Blending in is not something that is commonly brought up in survival books. When I think of the native hunters they never wore "cammo" but they did tie thongs along their arms and off of their legs. Breaking up your outline is one of the most important concepts in concealment. Great post; looking forward to number two.

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Kevinthenurse June 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm

MOVE WITH THE WIND (not like the wind). Although not always possible…. My grandfather always said "Move WITH the wind." Not meaning in the same direction as the wind, but more of when the wind is blowing. When out in nature the sound of wind through trees can conceal accidental noises. Motion of trees, bushes, and small grass can assist in ever more concealing movement. Its hard to single out a small wave in a storm. When everything is already moving from the wind, motion of a single object is less noticeable. If you heard a twig snap or leaves moving when it was windy would you be more likely to think it was a falling limb or leaves blowing than if it was windless?

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PleaseBeCREATIVE June 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I have a hint for all of you; and this applies to all of the debates surrounding the blanket topic of "survival" …

The gear, methods/tactics that you all have listed thus far is the least valuable thing you will gain. In many cases, it will cause you more stress than you need, drain you, and I'm sure that most of the enthusiasts have caused more self-harm and hindered their ability to survive in the world that exists now as opposed to "TEOTWAWKI". As a hobby, though, cool. LET ME GIVE YOU A SMALL HINT: HAVE ANY OF YOU CONSIDERED LEARNING A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE?… OK …sorry that wasn't mentioned yet.

The most valuable thing you will gain is that you are beginning to focus on survival itself. And that makes you think…thus, you are utilizing the most important "weapon" you will ever have. Your body is worth very little, while millions and millions of dollars are spent on things that have yet to do what that "grey matter'" inside of your cranium is still capable of. THINK. SAVE YOUR MONEY. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PLANNING FOR THE END OF THE WORLD SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME. PLAN FOR THE END OF YOUR LIFE. EITHER WAY, that is the ONE THING that WILL KILL YOU; NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO.

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KansasScout October 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Ich spreche bischen Deutche, aber diese sprache ist nicht so gut fuer dieses lande. I know a little bit of German and my skills with it are rusty, but German won't help in Kansas where the second most common language now is Spanish.

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squiddy1 October 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm

If there were one animal in nature that i would love to have a conversation with it would be the Deer.
I have hunted more times than I care to remember and I cannot tell you how many times I have been focused on one spot see nothing BLINK and there is the Deer. They know when hunting season starts and when it ends. I saw a Deer run about 700 or 800 yards jump over a road and stop even though there were 10 hunters standing within 30 ft, Why ? It had made it to an Army base and knew you could not shoot it.
God has given nature an intellegence that we could really learn from. All we have to do is watch learn and remember.

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LandcruiserCommando December 6, 2011 at 5:41 am

Gillie suites are for Sniper school students, hollywood and internet commandos…just break up your outline with a breathable sheat/hood/ god forbid a shamagh (don't wear those unless its the end of the world) paint it according to mission AO urban or desert…don't know anyone still sniping in the jungle…I guess a gillie works if you dont need to hump far and your just playing sniper in your backyard.
interesting site…just stumbled on it.

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Rosie December 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

Thanks, great info for we older newbie women! There is so much info on the www that it is sometimes difficult to make a choice in purchasing. Your (all of you) sharing of knowledge and experiences is very helpful and much appreciated!

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Woodsranger March 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm

You can wear 2 different solid colors or cammo patterns to break up your profile even more than trying to be in front of the right background all the time. So snowy woodland with fields you could use white pants and a cammo top to match the darker colors of winter. Or tan pants and a green top for summer fields. You get the idea. If you don't cover your face an hands it will give you away, no matter what you are wearing. Checkout my post on the "shemagh", using a tee shirt.

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HM2Stalker April 12, 2012 at 8:14 am

Smell is a big one that a lot of hunters forget…only one animal smokes tobacco, and that smell persists for days. I see guys that do all these camo preparations, spend all this money, and then light up a cigarette before they head into the woods…and wonder why they don't see any deer. Chewing tobacco is hardly better for that spectrum, it seems. But if my puny human senses can smell them from 50 yards away…I used that one downrange. I could tell the difference between American tobacco and foreign stuff pretty easy, and we did not get surprised by folks in the brush.

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carbine74 July 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm

When I was using a bow to hunt with I found that leather clothing was really a easy way to blend with the surroundings. Took some black and white photos(deer being color blind) while standing -kneeling -laying among the trees or brush. Of course people see color but I was amazed how perfectly the leather blended with the natural surroundings.Some face paint and I have approached within 10 feet of several deer.

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carbine74 July 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm

actually had a leather shirt and leggings. complete with the long fringe

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Hap July 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I was advised by military folks that color cammo, while effective during the day, provides little help at night, since vision color receptors aren't really that functional in the dark. They pointed out that trained snipers etc. are looking for two classic shapes at night – the typical distinctive human "stick figure" which is something that really stands out in the natural world; and humans laying down/crawling on the ground, because this is what they'd expect you to do. They said that the trick is to present an unexpected physical form, shaping your body so it cannot be easily identified as anything in particular. What was suggested was to simply bend over at the waist and hang there. Personally, I don't have a lot of faith in that idea; but hey, they were people who did know what they were talking about. I suppose in the dark that makes you look like a broken tree trunk or something. Anyway, I thought the overall concept made sense.

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Ajax August 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Black is colour that easily attracts the eyes attention as true black is rare in nature and stands out therefore it draws the eye. that is why it ha been deliberately left out of modern army camouflage and instead replaced with dark greens/browns/greys.

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christian prepper February 14, 2013 at 4:56 pm

great post. well now i am going to make my own ghile suit my, motto is why buy it when you can make.it all survivalists should know how to make their own gear .

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Jerry February 26, 2013 at 4:38 am

In the Army Infantry my buddies and I would practice with cammo as to not be seen from just a few feet away. At that time we still just had the old pickle suit, which believe it or not does just fine for cammo. We were in Germany out at a range and one guy had on BDUs and beside him was a pair of spit shined boots. after a moment I then noticed the leg in the grass from the pickle suit. Sometimes you just need to keep it simple. and you have to cammo up the face. The last thing you need is to be dressed regardless of what cammo you wear, but a bright face in the woodline will give you away.

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blind_redneck March 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I know cotton is the death fabric, so what fabric should I have in my bob?

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desertdog September 11, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Most of you guys have never been in a burn or forest fire? Plenty of black there, I’ve had deer come within 15ft of me. All I was wearing was brown carhart pants and jacket, just sitting still. Hunted elk wearing blue jeans and blue jean jacket, was bunkered below a juniper in the shad, killed him as he walked by 30 yards away. Your camp is only effective in the environment your in and how you utilize the landscape

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kurt Baier October 31, 2013 at 7:24 pm

WW2 US Army uniforms were two colors in Europe. Green Jacket/ brown pants to match dominant colors. In a rural setting hunting cammo is fashionable on the East coast. Paint is not needed for face. Use a dyed bandana for a mask, or lycra material sewed into a hollow tube. Wear gloves and a hat.

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