Thoughts on Camouflage Clothing

Student Review: Texas CTT / Mobility 5 Day: Vagabond
March 8, 2016
***Last Minute CTT Spots this Weekend***
March 9, 2016

I’m going to throw this brief post up before heading up to the VTC  for class. I intend to expand on it as necessary later.

Camouflage Clothing: The Nuances:

  • I am a big fan of camouflage clothing and I have used my MTP/Multicam clothing as a ‘uniform’ of sorts for running my training classes.
  • I encourage camo clothing as appropriate, specifically for patrol classes and where the clothing is appropriate ‘in the woods,’ and let’s not forget that often it can be worn simply because it is hard wearing and suitable for the abuse of a training environment.
  • In a real ‘collapse’ scenario, I don’t actually intend on wearing camouflage clothing except as specifically appropriate, where I am going to operate exclusively in a rural environment and where having clothing that is suited to that is a factor.
  • Arguments about the effectiveness of types of camo are often very subjective, but do have merit where a pattern is entirely unsuited to the environment, mainly due to the overall color scheme of the pattern, rather then any pattern itself. You can have just as good a result with ‘earth tone’ clothing, some dirt and good fieldcraft, in reality.
  • In some situations, wearing camouflage clothing, perhaps with the exception of hunting patterns, will make ‘downdressing’ from a tactical posture, to return to a low profile, harder. Earth tones will serve you better, even simply work pants etc.
  • The demonification of ‘the militia’ (sadly in many cases justified, in other cases not) also put camo patterns such as woodland BDU in a bad light. I see that in many photos of ‘standoffs’ that have been going on, multicam ‘is the new’ woodland BDU. That is an issue for those of us running tactical/combat training schools.
  • Regarding my previous post on ‘Gear: Patrol Packs & Sustainment Loads‘ I make the point that it is not the training environment that matters, you are learning SUT for application in the real world. Thus, wear camo if you wish because it is great for training, but don’t lose sleep over the best pattern, because although you may be training in the woods of WV, or the ranges of Texas, you will be operating wherever you end up operating.
  • In many cases, if you as a tactical team end up operating in plain view in some sort of collapse situation, it may be a good idea to:
    • not wear camo because of the associations of camo in many peoples minds.
    • wear some sort of ‘uniform’ that makes you look a little professional, along with squared away gear that is in some way similar.
    • In other cases, any sort of ‘uniform’ approach my be inappropriate, but suitable earth tone clothing can have the uniformity broken up by leaving on the pants and wearing different color/styles of top.
  • The above also applies to anyone in the public eye in some sort of ‘standoff’ situation, although I will reiterate my strongly held opinion that any ‘standoff’ is not, or should not, be a tactical operation. It should be nothing more than a protest, which then makes the wearing of camo and open display of weapons and equipment even more inappropriate.

Because of this, and due to ‘PR’ and a desire for people to understand that MVT is not some ‘crazy militia backwoods training camp’ but instead is real professional tactical training, I am going to make a personal example. I am going to give up my MTP and replace it with coyote brown. Coyote brown is my choice of the best overall single color camouflage, and also has the benefit of being sufficiently smart to act as a ‘uniform.’ I will pull out the MTP for specific circumstances, where it is more appropriate for the training.

I will reiterate that I am NOT saying that you can’t show up to class in camo. Do so by all means. It is great clothing for running around training in. But also note that it is not required either. Make note that on the Texas class, there was a rash of guys who tore the crotches out of their camo pants. Maybe because they bought them 20 years ago? Or maybe it was the freedom boners they had? We will never know….;-)

Texas Class Student:

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SMART GEAR – MVT VERSA RIG

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37 Comments

  1. trailman says:

    Excellent points especially on the “standoffs”. Optics matter. When we do the statehouse events I cringe at the camo hats, message TShirts and the like.

  2. Ak / ar versa rig required says:

    Can you post a pic of some ak mags in the ar versa rig?

    Know you want to partition the rigs, but can one make the ar rig function as an ak rig with slight compromise, i.e. Perfect for ar, not perfect for ak, but still functional?

    • Diz says:

      I don’t want to do that because there’s just too much difference in the two mags, IMHO. We have a separate single caliber AK rig coming out later.

      • Ak / ar rig required says:

        Last question, how about going the other way, i.e. the ak specific rig that can accomodate ar mags?

        Or prob could just use some tacos in the pouch… Get one with some molle inside? May get bulky though.

        • Diz says:

          I could write an entire treatise on my year of R&D with the Kalash. Bottom line is you need dedicated rigs for AR, and AK, IMHO.

          Yes, you can make a “universal” rig, that takes them all, but, my experience has been, when you really get down into serious training with your weapon, you need a rig optimize for that particular weapon’s mags. After so many missed drawstrokes you begin to realize why a mag pouch needs to be tailored for a specific mag. The gold standard is about 2″ of “freeboard” exposed for a good grip. Any less and you have problems getting a consistent grip. Any more and you have retention issues.

          And yes, I realize there are many other ideas out there, and guys doing many other designs. And yes, I realize in a pinch, ANYTHING will do, if you will do. BUT, if you have any choice in the matter, my idea is to make the best chest rig for that particular weapons system.

          • Ak / ar rig required says:

            Thanks diz for explanation. No more wishing. Back to f’ it and handle it. Have to wait and see one of these rigs in person.

            May have to go with whatever nd t haley is doing… Shudder shudder.,, jk.

            With regards to camo. Use to wear a bit because of spending so much time in the woods out west it ended up being part of regular clothing by default. Then spent a significant time in the rural eastern usa for work. Stopped wearing camo based on principle alone. For a logical fellow, Walmart is truth serum for realization of society alone. Total f@ckin recall. Not funny.

  3. Rodger Young says:

    I wear all Earth tone clothing with a tendency toward greens as I live in Western Washington. I don’t wear one single colour as that’s less effective than multiple colours as the US Army found with green pants and white snow smocks in winter European terrain. Around here I wear what the loggers and woodsmen wear and it’s durable, warm and economical.

    • Diz says:

      Yeah I first saw the Norwegians doing this on Northern NATO exercises, and it was extremely effective, with snow-covered ground, and evergreen trees.

      I do the same thing in transition areas, with hard-pack earth, and scattered scrub brush (no overhead woodland cover). Tan trou with green top.

      Wearing what’s common in your AO is such a common sense T,T,P, that it hardly bares mentioning(?) but yeah.

      Funny thing is, every class I’ve been in around Fayetteville area, with SF guys, the civvys wear cammies, the SF bubbas wear earth tones. Civvys wear zombie stomper boots, SF wear light weight hikers. Go figure.

      • StarvinLarry says:

        I’ve worn earth tone pants and jacket when in the woods hunting,and had guys walk up to within ten yards of me who never saw me-you can tell because they always jump a little when they first see you.
        Same with wearing white painter’s pants and green jacket when hunting in the pines in winter when there’s snow on the ground-people just don’t see you until they’re almost on top of you.
        I never wear heavy boots in the woods,even my winter insulated boots aren’t all that heavy,Danner Pronghorns,and a pair for really cold weather that’s a Cabelea’s brand but judging by the construction were made by Danner or Irish Setter/Redwing.
        Best lighweight hikers I’ve ever had are made by Karrimor. I just looked,can’t find any model/style or anything other than Karrimor,Vibram,and made in Italy on them.
        Just a 6″ uninsulated,waterproof hiker with Vibram soles.

        • Max says:

          It interesting, because when some commenters get going,it is soon apparent that they don’t have the right frame of reference for tactical operations – and I include OOS such as static OPs in cold weather. They start mentioning gear that is only ever good for a specific static hunting hide purpose, and is no good for periods of mobility.

          • StarvinLarry says:

            “They start mentioning gear that is only ever good for a specific static hunting hide purpose, and is no good for periods of mobility.”

            Really? We hunt a lot of public land,where we hike several miles in to hunt,the Danner Pronghorn boots I mentioned are good for the hike,and for standing in place-it’s a compromise-you can’t have boots that are going to keep your feet warm in both situations-that’s why different boots for different weather/terrain.
            Hunting deer in the W.Va. mountains in bitter cold for example-are you going to wear heavily insulated boots? polar weight base layer? No-because the hike from the “holler” to a spot on a saddle,flat or ridge where the deer travel would leave soaked with sweat-and that’s never good in cold weather.
            Elk hunting in the northern Rockies in cold weather-you can’t be all layered up in sub-zero “professional stand/blind hunter” gear when you are going to hike to a hunting spot that’s 3,000 feet in elevation from camp. You dress so you are a little cold when getting ready to leave-as you’ll soon be sweating your ass off,taking off some of the layers you do have on.
            Those of us who have done this a whole lot of times know what to wear.
            Clothing is a compromise just like the boots you wear-and is specific to what and where you are hunting.
            So it does equate to certain,if not most “tactical” situations-it’s the same thing as far as choosing boots and clothing-you have you match your gear to what you are doing.
            As for the earth tone clothing-yes,it helps to NOT be seen wearing camo around town unless it’s hunting season,and you’re wearing hunting camo-but those earth tones will work as camo if need be.

  4. Diz says:

    I’m with Max on this one. Anything can be taken to extreme. What you wear in your deer stand or hide is totally different from what you would be sporting for a hard TAB through the bush. Although for static sentry duty, you’d be GTG.

    Last time I cross-country skied with a ruck, I was down to 1st layer gear under my parka and trou. Zero insulation layers, right around freezing, and blowing steam out my hoop. You would die in all that insulated hunting kit.

    So to Max’s point, you need kit for every occasion, whether you’re sitting on yer ass, or blowing it out yer ass.

  5. Diz says:

    Also, here’s the deal. 7 comments on gear, and one on Max’s training post.

    • Ak / ar rig required says:

      Perhaps comments are not required on max’s training posts? That is, they are good to go. Unless he wants a sporty butt slap with a “good write up buddy” just because…? Matter of fact, there just is not too much to say these days on training as there is sufficient quality knowledge, information, and personal experience. Same for gear. More or less get to the doing, get local, and strengthen community. The real biz.

      Some organization and structure could help though with the information though, among other…

      • Diz says:

        Yes and no. There certainly is much chatter about training and kit on line. You could say there’s not much to add. Or, you could say there’s so much more to add. I look at it as continuous process improvement. The fundamentals remain the same, yet our execution of them can always be improved.

        What can you say about training? How about sustainment training plans that help you plan out a year’s training schedule. How about concrete team SOP that captures and codifies what you learn. How about drills tailored to time available, to keep skill sets sharp.

        On gear. How about gear set up for how we will employ it. How about mag pouches that balance quick access with good retention. How about lighter, stronger materials, better sewing techniques.

        There’s always room for improvement. My comment is that threads about gear always generate more excitement than threads about training.

        But yeah, I here ya, get off yer ass, go local, etc. Of course that’s more important than yer gear, and that’s precisely my point.

    • Max says:

      Great video Bergmann: my only comment is that camo and concelament is not the drive of this post. It’s more about suitable clothing that may not necessarily be the best camouflage available, but may be the more sensible thing to wear in many if not most circumstances. If you have to creep like shown in your videos, them there is no doubting what you are doing, so the wearing of camo is a non issue.

      • Bergmann says:

        I know and I knew it.. just tossed it up before i headed out this morning..

        and thanks..

        Bergmann

  6. Mike H says:

    I would just add that I changed to earth tone everyday wear years ago…wife knows it has to be green, brown, or tan if I’m going to wear it. Agree with trailman…the “come and take them” and “cold dead hands…” themed clothing just draws attention to onesself.

  7. Diz says:

    Back to the OP, for most folk’s terrain and siuation, as armed citizens, I think going with earth-toned clothing makes a lot of sense.

    Perhaps this is something that needs to be covered in your local SOP. There are times and places for earth tone. And times and places for cammies.

    In some places, dressing up in cammie pants (at least), with boots, t-shirt, ball cap, will blend you right in with the crowd at Walmart. Other times, you need to sport solid browns n greens, to blend in with the urban/outdoor crowd. Terrain and situation.

    The social/political dimension is valid as well. When attending the odd protest rally, don’t be the poster child for SPLC.

    At the end of the day, I think camo has become more a fashion statement for the individual armed services, rather than a real need. Same for civilians. Max’s comment is so valid. Anyone that has spent several weeks in the bush will understand why camo patterns become nearly irrelevant. Sweat and mud-stained, smelly dudes look the same in profile, from 100m, regardless of what they have on.

  8. gunnerbob says:

    I agree with the earth-tone as a go-to. I’ve been wearing mostly earth-tone clothing for years, lots of coyote browns and greens. My pants of choice are the Wrangler Rip-Stop cargos (from Wally World), and my shirts (usually button-ups or Polos) are some blend of brown, tan, and/or green. I’ve got plenty of cammies, lots of woodland BDUs, ABUs, and DPMs that I wear on occasion to train in. I dyed my ABUs with Rit, by the way… made ’em more green-ish.

  9. Hammer_Bite says:

    I live in a city. My camouflage pattern shall be pants sitting below the buttocks, hoodie and 9mm tucked in the waistband lol. Having said that, I’m not going to be walking around in a SHTF scenario wearing camo and carrying an AR-15, but who knows. I need to figure out how to avoid attracting attention to myself from whatever authority figures remain and from people who will like to steal your stuff.

    • Max says:

      I think some may also be missing the aspect of the post that this is not really about specific camo, but also about the profile of MVT, and what we wear.

      “Team Coyote:” you heard it here first. Patch to follow….

  10. […] Multicam may not be the way to go. […]

  11. D Close says:

    How did “freedom boners” not get a comment yet? So yes, get coyote or other earth tone, “freedom boner” proof trou! Maybe wise when traveling to MVT or stopping with half the class at McDs for breakfast, tone it down a bit too. No need to walk in all kitted out and order “Egg Mcruffin, hashbrown, with large militia style coffee please!”

    • pdxr13 says:

      No hashbrowns. Freedom fries okay? 16 Militia Coffees is four 1-gallon take-out boxes. Cream & sugar on the back bar.

      Portland has legal street camping, so “freedom boner” is like concealed carry: it’s all about behavior, not possession. No worries.

      Camo is what blends you in, wherever you are. Gear + location + behavior = ignorable/no-threat. MultiCam means you have money to burn, RealTree is wanna-be hunting, while I-See-You Gore-Tex means surplus shopping at Andy&Bax, and Woodland is thrift store nearly-free worn by hobos who want to be left along. Much of it is class-signalling. To blend in pdx public places, get some Columbia Sportswear puffy nylon wind-rain suits (any color/pattern) and behave in some sporty/leisure manner while holding take-out Mega-Venti coffee cup. -deep undercover 😉

  12. Bret says:

    FWIW, I’ve been wearing Carrharts rip-stop cargo pants for several years now and they’re tougher than hell. They come in three earth tones and black. Pockets are well organized and the gusseted crotch doesn’t bind yer dangling participles when you need mobility. They dress up or down and you can blend in every where you need to be. Roll up smock and a button down Oxford and you can be anyone you need to be. 😉

  13. George True says:

    i was in Army ROTC while in college during the Vietnam era. Among the ROTC cadre was a USMC Gunnery Sgt, who we all called Sgt Mac (his last name was MacDonald). He had already done several tours in Nam as a LURP (At the time it was called long range forest reconnaissance.). I asked him once what he thought was the best camouflage pattern. I have always remembered his reply. He said it doesn’t really matter too much what color or pattern your BDU’s are, because after a few days or a week in the field they will be the color of your environment.

    Like others here, years ago I went to non-cammie earth tones for my outdoor clothing and gear. This article and thread have given me some food for thought on what to wear to blend in while in a more urban/suburban environment. (Although I do not think I will go with pants down past the butt crack look.)

    • SemperFi, 0321 says:

      Your GySgt was in either 1st or 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company in VN, not forest or LURPs (no such thing exists in the USMC).
      From another VN era Recon Marine.

  14. Diz says:

    There’s a wise man for ya. I know some dudes that rocked out in Carrharts all over SW Asia.

    Very common in REAL rural areas, not your suburban fashion stuff.

    For real working clothes, pretty much can’t be beat.

    For Tabbing, I like light-weight nylon hiking trou, like REI brand, and all the usual suspects. Get wet and dry back out in a flash.

    • pdxr13 says:

      Cabella’s, Columbia Sportswear, and web-search for “Nylon Guide Pants”.
      +1 on sturdy, compact, lightweight, wash/dry fast.
      They are good everywhere except around a popping campfire. Add some size to fit medium thermal underwear for good damp-barely-above-freezing action clothing.

  15. […] recently posted about ‘Thoughts on Camouflage Clothing.‘ I know I am getting a lot of comments on that post about how people like to wear their […]

  16. YB Normal says:

    I’m shocked… nobody mentioned wool! Wool is naturally silent AND non-reflective, i.e. no shine. Synthetics are naturally reflective and noisy. Especially nylon.

  17. Diz says:

    Yeah wool works good, but hard to find in a lot of places. Expensive when you do. Love the Smartwool line but it’s pricey. If you have a line on a inexpensive source of wool clothing, let us know.

    The newer solution dyed nylons are actually very flat and non-reflective, even in NIR. We’re talking about “soft shell” garments here, not “hard shell” waterproof stuff.

    Light weight nylon hiking pants aren’t reflective or noisy in the bush. And they dry out in a heartbeat.

  18. MIchael/ TQS says:

    Check out Duluth Traders

    I can break a ball bearing but the fire hose gear is desert thorn and pucker brush proof

    I wish it had been available when I was working a dairy farm in my youth

  19. […] are: get in shape and get some real training. You may want to also check out my recent posts ‘Thoughts on Camouflage Clothing‘ and ‘‘Team Coyote’ – Gear‘ to get some perspective on looking professional […]