While camouflaging yourself when bugging out may seem a little bit extreme for some people, under certain conditions disguising yourself to make your detection more difficult may actually save your life. In order for camouflage to work you first have to understand what camouflage is supposed to disguise.
Before you start researching about camouflage techniques, you should learn about the main aspects of camouflage. You should understand how they apply in disguising or hiding an object or person. The main aspects we will cover in this article are: shape, shadow, shine, silhouette, surface, sound, smell and movement.
Camouflage basics – Shape
This is one of the fundamentals for identifying an object in the wild or in an urban environment. Even when you see a person at a distance you many not able to recognize him as a specific individual. However, the basic shape will signal it’s a human. The objects that surround us every day have a distinct shape and we usually don’t pay too much attention to them. When bugging out, we can take advantage of certain objects to conceal our presence and to travel unnoticed. Your body should be masked by the objects you are using as cover. Avoid altering the normal shape of the objects with parts from your body. It takes a keen eye to notice the certain shape differences in everyday objects. Most people will go by without spotting the anomalies.
Camouflage basics – Shadow
When it comes to shadow classification, it may be broken into two main categories: cast and deep. While deep shadows are harder to detect and they can be spotted mainly from the air, a cast shadow is a dead giveaway. Deep shadows are the darker areas created where a solid objects blocks the passage of light. For example, if you set up a shelter in an area of heavy brush, it may not cast a shadow. However, when viewed from a distance may result in a darker area or deeper shadows.
Cast shadows are the most familiar and you should pay attention to them. If a person is hiding behind a tree, you will be able to spot him easily when his shadow is cast by the sun off to the side of the tree. The same principle applies when bugging out. You need to pay attention to the light source from your environment and its casting direction. This is something you need to pay attention during the night as well. There can be many light sources in your environment (especially in an urban one) that can give away your position.
Recommended article: How to develop night vision for survival
Camouflage basics – Shine
This is an aspect that many people don’t pay attention to. They forget how easily it can be created, even accidentally. Shine is the reflection of light off any object and in the wilderness light reflected from a mirror is a common method of signaling for help in a survival situation. However, when bugging out in an evasion scenario you want to avoid shine. You need to remember that any reflective objects can cause shine. The lenses of binoculars, rifle scopes and bright pieces of metal (such as water canteen or knife blade) are just a few items that can cause shine. Even the clothes you are wearing can cause shine and it is a known fact that bright colors reflect more light than darker colors.
Camouflage basics – Silhouette
A silhouette is any dark shape or outline seen against a light background and it can be another sign that affects your camouflage. A person standing on a hilltop will silhouette himself against the sky and he can be spotted easily, even during the nighttime. The same effect can also occur against the background of a still body of water or on a snow field. When traveling in open areas, you should keep your body as low to the ground as possible in order to avoid silhouetting yourself.
Camouflage basics – Surface
Surface is an important factor when it comes to camouflage. You should think of the size and texture of an object when you need to hide it or blend it within the environment. Logic dictates that the surface of the object makes its detection easier or harder and you cannot physically reduce the size of an object. However, you can reduce the exposed surface of that object. When setting camp for example, do so under the canopy of trees to avoid being detected.
If you don’t have any objects above your head level that can conceal your presence use a tarp to improvise a shelter. Go even further and cover the tarp with leaves or grass specific to your environment. The same rule applies when traveling and you should avoid standing out when all other things are equal. As an example, when traveling in an open field try squatting to make yourself less visible.
Recommended reading: How to travel when SHTF
Camouflage basics – Sound
While this may seem like a logical aspect for many people, sound can give away even an invisible man if he is making noise. Sound carries and allows a tracker to detect your location long before he can possibly see you. Keep in mind that louder and sharper sounds are easier to detect than softer sounds. Conversations, radio noise, gear tapping against other gear when traveling, gunshots and even footsteps are all detectable sounds that can give away your position. When bugging out, it is important to remain quiet or at least make as few sounds as possible. This becomes critical if you attempt to avoid detection.
Camouflage basics – Smell
While smell is a sense that somehow gets underrated in our modern society, when bugging out into the wilderness it can be an important mean of detection. The smell of the food you’ve cooked and even the smell of the smoke from your campfire may be detected even when smoke is not present. Odors have the potential of being detected, especially if dogs are used to search for you.
Camouflage basics – Movement
This is another aspect that should be considered when planning your camouflage techniques and I’ve written about it in many of my articles. Regardless the environment you find yourself in, you need to understand that movement naturally attracts attention. If two people are standing at the edge of a wood and one begins moving while the other remains still, the moving person will be seen first. You should remain still if you think that someone may be looking at you. This is also a good tactic for when you are hunting as certain animals will mostly smell you before they manage to see you. Lack of movement will cause people and animals to look past you. If you need to move, it is recommended to make your movements slow and smooth. Deliberate and slow movements are less likely to attract attention compared to erratic movements.
A must read: How to bug out without leaving a trace
Now that you know the principles of camouflage and how they can act against you, you should consider how to employ them when assembling your gear and planning out your bugging route. If your bugging out plan includes an evasion scenario you should make sure that your overall appearance does not make you stand out.
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