How to Camouflage Yourself – A Complete Guide

You can find almost anything in a camo color scheme these days. We can attribute this popularity to the growing hunting industry.

Camouflage is not a new practice. Ancient communities used it to disguise themselves while hunting animals and when avoiding enemies. And the basic techniques involved have not changed much at all, we are still using many of the same principles and practices today.

It’s even possible you could find yourself in a situation where you may need to use camouflage. You could find yourself in a survival situation, or you might even be hunting for fun. This article will teach you how to camouflage yourself in any of these situations.

Why Do You Need Camouflage?

How to camouflage yourself will depend on why you need to be inconspicuous. For instance, you will need a different type of cover for hunting in the woods versus only for avoiding other humans.

How Does Your Target See You?

This is important to understand the psychology of who you are hiding from. When hunting, you will need to know how the quarry sees you. Animals have varying visual capacities, some even more astute than humans.

A bird is a good example, as it has tetra-chromatic vision, meaning it can see many colors than humans. Wearing camo fabrics may do more harm than good. A deer can see within a 310-degree angle without having to move. So you may think you are hidden, but you are not.

Unlike humans, animals like deer have no UV filter. You are missing the mark if you are wearing camo wear made with UV radiant dye. Most commercial camo fabrics come pre-brightened with UV brightness. This beats your entire reason for stealth.

Aside from hunting, you could also be hiding in a typical environment with people. Here, work on not sticking out.

How to Camouflage Yourself

Camouflaging yourself involves blending into your surroundings. There are two ways to do this. Wearing the most suitable camo clothing or not wearing anything except materials you find in the woods.

Clothing

winter camouflage

Clothing is the first consideration you must make when starting the camouflage process. If you are trying to remain unseen in an urban area, then military patterns will not work. Bright colors will not work in the snow either.

Your clothing needs to blend in with the environment you are in. You may need to dress like the people in your surroundings. Try blending in with the vegetation when hunting or hiding in the woods. This does not mean you can simply wear any green outfit and be ready to go.

You must first scout the area and figure out the most dominant colors. Are there any trees? The best way to judge is to squint until the area is blurry and then mimic what colors you see. In this scenario, it is always safer to go with earth tones fabrics.

You will notice a difference between military camo clothing and commercial camo fabrics. In the past, the military used a single color in an earth tone for their uniforms. But this had to change to the patterned fabric we see to date.

The military conceals their outfits and weapons based on the concept of mimicry. Most cars have camo patterns or camouflage paint in an earth tone.

Choosing the Right Camouflage Clothing

Camouflage clothing comes in all kinds of different patterns. Some patterns try to mimic specific terrains and habitats. The fabric’s colors will tell you the appropriate place to wear a particular camo outfit. 

The most common colours in nature will nature from shades of greys, greens, tan, and white in case it’s winter, and this explains why most camo fabrics come in these shades.

Mimicry Camo Outfits

Some of these camo outfits have patterns that will mimic twigs and green leaves. Others can match a plain covered in snow. Buying the right mimicry outfit will help you blend with the environment.

Sometimes the patterns in these camouflage outfits are not enough to conceal you in any situation. You will need to buy different outfits for each specific weather and location change.

3D Camouflage Patterns

3d camouflage

A 3D pattern camouflage outfit will blend in even better with your environment. Some of these outfits can make you look like a pile of dried leaves. You can blend perfectly during the dry seasons in the woods.

3D patterns can also have hanging fabrics to make them look more authentic. But be careful because these can get caught in thickets. Regardless, they make an excellent choice of hunting gear.

Disguise

Some camouflage clothing uses the science of disguise using break up patterns. These patterns will help disguise you to blend in with the terrain around you. If you are going somewhere rocky, you can buy outfits with a pattern that matches the rocky area.

You should also learn the difference between micro patterns and macro patterns. If you are hunting for prey closer to you, then micro patterns are an excellent choice. Macro patterns will work better for long distances.

Clothing Accessories

These include things like helmets, hats, toques and backpacks. These should match your outfit as closely as possible; you can’t go wrong with earthy tones. Worn helmets are more likely to have shiny surfaces and smoother textures, and you can hide this by covering them with foliage from the surrounding area. You can use strings, rubber bands, camouflage bands or burlap strips to hold the foliage in place. You can do the same for your bag and hat.

Expensive Gear

The world of camouflage has become a multi-billion industry. This can be confusing because so many companies offer different textures and patterns. Remember that these speciality outfits can be expensive and are not meant for daily use.

A brand-name camo outfit may not be helpful if you still have not mastered the techniques to keep hidden. We discuss these techniques below.

Positioning

a sniper hidden on the grass

So now that you have the right outfit, next on the checklist is your positioning. You need to find something larger than you to break your outline, known as dead space.

Dead space is an area where your predator or prey will not be expecting you to hide. This would be a place where people are less likely to look. This could be a large hill, a building, tall trees, and the like.

Dead space should be able to break down your shape, cover you and create shadows to conceal you. But dead space is not only found in the woods. If you are somewhere in public, like a mall, dead space is somewhere people are not looking.

Your dead space should have a barrier that separates you from your prey or predator. This could be a tree, a boulder, or a wall, which will give you an edge when you need to surprise your target.

Movement

Movement is your biggest enemy when trying to camouflage yourself. A moving target is easy to spot no matter what you are wearing. Even if you camouflage yourself, movement is easy for the eye to catch. The best thing to do is lie low and use hand or arm signals to communicate.

You may also want to avoid moving when it is windy because wind carries scents. Hunters forget that their hunt begins as soon as they start. Considering the wind’s direction beforehand will help you plan your movement. You do not want to give yourself away before the hunt begins.

Planning begins with researching the location of your game. This research helps plan entry and exit points. This will help figure out the camo you need, the wind, the best weapons to use, and the best places to set up.

Sometimes hunting starts with a hike before reaching your intended hunting location. You will work up a sweat, which we try to avoid because sweat has a distinct odor. To avoid this problem, travel in light clothes and then change on site.

Outlines and Shadows

Someone or an animal viewing you from afar will only see your outline or shape unless they are using a sniper. Your shadow also moves as you move, sometimes giving you away. For instance, a bag pack or a helmet creates a recognisable outline.

Use bigger existing shadows to hide your own. You can also break up your shape by blending it with your surroundings. If you are hiding from an enemy, something as big as the vehicle you travel in is easy to see from afar. The best way to prevent drawing attention is to leave your car and walk further.

An excellent way to conceal your outline is to wear earth-tone clothes. Trees, shrubbery, and bushes are not perfectly symmetrical or neat. This helps hide you and your camouflaged outfit.

Shine

Polished devices produce a particular shine that could reveal where you are hidden. Jewelry, car mirrors, items with glossy paint, helmets, oily skin, and shiny equipment all reflect light.

Do not bring flashy or reflective items if you need to conceal yourself. You should also refrain from smoking or using a flashlight, especially when it is dark outside.

Scent

Smells will cling to you. As you move, you will leave a trail of strong scents such as perfume, sweat, or smoke. This creates an easy pathway for animals to locate you.

The wind carries scents, and animals generally can identify strange smells. You can use wind currents to your advantage by keeping in mind “upwind” and “downwind.”

Being “downwind” means moving while facing the wind. This would mean that the wind is blowing your scent backwards. This technique will work if your target is in front of you.

Hunting requires a bit of discretion, and you may want to leave anything with a strong scent. You may need to forgo scented deodorant, soaps, and sweaty clothes.

You could also avoid showering on hunting days and use unscented detergent. There’s scent-proof camo clothing these days. Although expensive, you can try it if you can fit it into your budget.

You can also buy cover scents like acorn scent, pine, and fox urine. Look for an odor that is familiar to the hunting area.

Take Cover

Taking cover is important if you are protecting yourself from weapons. Trees, stumps, and logs are among the natural objects you can cover yourself with. You can also look for hollow ground or make your trenches.

Hilly areas, for instance, contain natural hollows you can hide in to wait out any gunfire. Wooded areas are also a perfect hiding location.

You should avoid open areas, hilltops, and ridges. You can even cover yourself by leaning on a wall. If you find it hard to find somewhere to take cover, try using a sniper veil or shemagh to blend in.

Instead of buying these fabrics, you can use any debris on the forest floor. Dead leaves, branches, and grass can serve this purpose.

Apply Patterns

To apply patterns, you can use mud, ground charcoal, clay, or white ash to cover your skin. The more you exert yourself, the shinier your skin will get. When painting your skin, be careful not to apply only one color throughout your body. You must combine these materials and colors to make a camouflage pattern.

If you do not want sharp, symmetrical edges, make irregular patterns to match your surroundings. Be sure to match the colors as best you can. For instance, you cannot use red mud in an area with brown mud.

Using charcoal is an excellent choice because it has unscented properties. Do not use lots of it, though, because black absorbs even more heat. People often forget the area behind their ears and under their chins. Ensure that you cover everywhere with exposed skin.

Scatter Equipment

You can scatter equipment either as an individual or if you are working in groups. Placing all your equipment in one space will get you noticed. But if you disperse your equipment and troops, it reduces your exposure. Do not be too scattered that you cannot communicate with the team. Remember that hand and leg signals work better than having a conversation.

Using Camouflage to Stalk

Every battle has a defence and offense strategy. So far, we have covered how to use camouflage to hide. Whether hunting, playing paintball, or in battle, hiding is not enough. You may need to find out about your opponent’s position and strategy.

You will need to perform some stealthy stalking in this case. For this strategy, pick a route covered with thick vegetation so you can move undetected. Hollowed out areas like trenches let you observe your enemy undetected.

Camouflage also involves movement. You may want to avoid moving sideways while stalking your prey or enemy. The best way to approach your enemy is to approach them straight on. Here are some common stalking techniques:

Stalking Game Animals

We have already covered choosing the best routes to enter and leave a hunting den. This helps you map your movement so that you move faster. The best course has enough natural obstacles, so you are concealed at every step.

The best way to stalk game animals is to approach them head-on. In this way, you can notice subtle movements such as eye movement and ears twitching. Animal stalking requires keenness.

Your eyes reflect light. Squint your eyes the closer you get because of how good animals’ eyesight is.

You will also need to contain any excitement, especially if you are an amateur hunter. You need to prevent yourself from making unnecessary noises. Close your mouth too because your teeth can reflect the light as well.

Crawling

Crawling involves moving your hands and knees. You can also crawl in trenches. If you are crawling somewhere with dead leaves, know that they will make noise, and dead twigs will snap. The best way to move in this position undetected is to move one limb at a time and be sure to keep it quiet.

Upright Stalking

Upright stalking is walking stealthily to observe your target undetected. With stealth walking, you need balance to hold your position.

Remember to emphasise walking with the balls of your feet so that your steps are light. Use your feet to feel for any twigs or dead leaves that may cause a noise before placing your entire feet on the floor.

Your arms are another thing to worry about. We tend to spread our arms when finding balance. You may hit a lateral obstacle such as a low-hanging tree branch. As you move your feet, remind yourself to keep your arms close to your body.

Prone Stalking

Prone stalking looks more like a push-up by focusing on your hands and toes to move forward. This technique risks dragging the vegetation, making a noise, and leaving markings.

How to Prevent Yourself From Being Traced

What is the use of using all these camouflage techniques if your opponent can trace you? You not only need to camouflage your body and movement but also get rid of anything that may trace back to you. There are several ways to do this, including:

Have Several Start Points

Having several starting points involves setting up decoy footprints at different entry points. This technique is essential, so your opponent does not recognise the exact path you chose. This will delay them at the very least and give you a big head start.

Hunt on Rough Terrain

It is hard to be tracked in rough, rocky terrain unless you drop hints. This is tricky to track because your footsteps will not be imprinted on the ground.

Restore Vegetation

After messing up the vegetation, putting it back to hide the disruption may not benefit you. It will slow you down. Although, it may confuse your opponent about the direction you took. So this could be very helpful. You can also use something like a tree branch to hide your footsteps.

Take Care of Your Feet

The first thing you can do is invest in foot coverings. You can get commercial ones or make yours using old socks, sandbags, or rags. Another method would be changing your shoes every few miles, making it harder to trace you. Another way to ensure that you are untraceable is to use shoes with common tread marks.

Change Your Direction Often

Using only one path to travel is easy to trace. So changing your direction and using popular paths will help to confuse your opponent. A common path will have more traffic to overpower your scent. But only use this technique if you have been in the area long enough to know the walking patterns. 

You can also confuse your opponent by walking backwards. But be careful because this may be a dangerous choice if your path is full of obstacles.

Walk along Water Bodies

Water is good at obscuring your footprints and scent. You can easily escape and hide by travelling through a body of water. Although, a problem arises when your footprints become wet and more noticeable. These pronounced steps may draw more attention to you outside the water body.

Place Obstacles on Your Tracks

This is a clever way of covering your tracks and placing a tree branch on the pathway to derail a pursuing opponent. You can also use a tree branch to make the path look unused, especially if multiple tracks are along the way.

Avoid Fires

The light from a fire travels far, and its smoke can be identified from even further. Avoid using them if there’s even the slightest chance that your opponent will smell or see any of these indicators. Avoid the use of bright flashlights and smoking at night.

Final Thoughts

We have covered how to camouflage yourself in different situations. You must map the journey beforehand to understand the terrain and routes. Aside from disguising yourself, you must also hide your tracks and track your enemy.

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