Nine Rules to Remember When Buying a Ghillie Suit

  1. Understand the terms. Webster's says that to camoflauge is to "make something hard to see or interpret". Conceal means "to hide or make secret". Camoflauge does not conceal, any more than a sniper suit is a sniper suit if a sniper would not actually wear one in a potentially agressive situation. Question the use of any such terms you run across; a reputable manufacturer or distributor will provide product development history and a list of either tactical (law enforcement) or military units currently using his products. An answer such as "we sent (or sold) them one, but can't say whether or not they are using it" doesn't count.

  2. Any ghillie suit will probably provide concealment superior to "flat" cloth camoflauge. The first purpose of a ghillie suit is to add a sense of depth to the otherwise two-dimensional human outline. To understand what this means, first look closely at a telephone pole that is 100 yards from you. It looks flat -- it has to since your eyes are simply not far enough apart to distinguish the pole's third dimension -- and so do people. Now look at the shadow that is cast by that pole. No printed cloth in the world can duplicate the darkness of that shadow. Now look at a bush the same distance from you. Pay particular attention to the sense of depth and shadowing that makes the bush appear to have three dimensions.

  3. The physical construction of the ghillie's outer layers must look as natural as possible. The second essential purpose of a ghillie suit is to make the resulting three-dimensional form blend as undetectably as possible into its immediate surroundings, whether that happens to be near ground characteristics or vegetation or both. There are two questions you need to ask when choosing ghillie apparel: Does the texture of the outer material look flat or block-cut? (This will not fit into the natural environment where nothing is made of plastic and few things have clean-cut edges.) Is the color patterning a mix of natural tones that blend into one another? (If not, it will not accurately mimic a background that has gradual mixing of colors and only shaded highlighting.)

  4. Detail is important. As general civilian and domestic law enforcement use of ghillies gains popularity, you will begin to hear about a concept called the "resolving power of the human eye." This is a re-hash of the obvious physical limitations of humans having only two eyes - people have a hard time distinguishing between two small dots one inch apart more than 100 yards away (defined as "one degree"), two inches apart at more than 200 yards, and so on. What does this tell us? It tells us that the further from something you are, the more difficult it is to see. (No kidding. If you're far enough away from your target, you can wear your pajamas and not be seen.) But not all potential targets are limited to the detection power of the unaided human eye. Game animals are naturally equipped with (and humans can purchase) visual detection equipment that allows for a much better survival rate than an unaided human could achieve. While it is unlikely that a wearer of a ghillie suit will have to remain concealed from a police commissioner who is three feet away for any extended period of time, if the result of the discovery of surveillance or sniper activity is not absolutely certain (or even potentially hostile), wouldn't it be comforting to know that he could?

  5. It is important to be able to see at least color photographs of your intended purchase. A wide variety of color schemes and toning emphases should be available, which should match as wide a variety of environmental conditions as exist in your given territory. A distributor should be familiar with your requirements and able to aid your selection by showing you color photographs of ghillies he has sold to your neighbors. A distributor who sends you black-and-white photographs is not selling concealment.

  6. The manufacturer's hands-on experience must be extensive. Those who have had bad experiences with ghillie suits have typically either made their own from BDU's or flight suits, which were never intended for this modification, or have paid too much for a ghillie suit which was not constructed to stay together through years of tough use. Therefore, select a manufacturer who a) makes ONLY ghillie suits (not one who offers ghillie apparatus as a single page in a camoflauge section of his catalog) and b) offers a wide enough selection of styles and options to allow you to choose what is best for your needs. A well-planned ghillie suit takes on personal characteristics which, much like a trusted hand gun, compliment the user's needs - NOT the other way around! Options should include: vegetation tie strings, thumb loops, arm/chest/knee pads (look for cordura, not canvas) neck/wrist/ankle/waist draw strings, wrist ballistic or cartridge holders, crawl covers and/or crawl flaps, additional pockets or loops, and anything else you might want! Options should be available in any combination, and you should get what you want and pay only for what you get. Also available should be matching covers for your particular rifle and scope or tactical and surveillance equipment, a back pack or camelbak cover, stuff sack, drag bag, and so on.

  7. Your application should determine the weight of the suit. Ghillie suits need not be hot, heavy, or bulky. A good ghillie suit is designed to be cool and comfortable, with a light but solid enough foundation to discourage insect penetration yet allow for air circulation. The extent of coverage should be chosen based on YOUR objectives. Therefore, you need to ask yourself these things:

    Explain what you want to your distributor and get (and pay for) only the concealment you will actually need for your applications. Think hard before buying a suit which weighs more than nine pounds (eleven pounds with extensive padding).

  8. Look at the basic construction of the suit. Is it durable? (Look for rot-resistant materials and at least double-stitching.) Is it fire-retardant? (DFR and KII are two good, military-spec chemical applications.) Is it water-repellant? (Even dew gets very heavy.) Do the basic features cover the basics? (Face shield or veil, snag-free design, quiet snaps protected from fouling while crawling, loose-fitting enough to accommodate tactical vests and/or belt equipment, etc.?) Is it guaranteed to last through two years of abnormal use?

  9. Pricing matters. You may not have expected to think about so many things in selecting a ghillie. But there are no surprises here for an experienced manufacturer, and these factors should already have been considered in a competitively-priced production scenario. A competent producer can certainly build a quality parka more cheaply than he can buy BDU's. Components purchased in bulk are far less expensive than those purchased one at a time in retail outlets. An experienced seamstress using an industrial sewing machine can certainly move a lot faster than a Marine with a big needle and a pair of pliers. Ghillies you can bet your life on can't be cheap, but they need not be prohibitively expensive.

You get what you pay for, of course, but don't pay for what you don't need or don't want. If you can't walk away with your purchase feeling like you'd buy another with no hesitation, you haven't gotten a "deal". If you don't feel that you are getting what you want and paying for only what you are getting, simply walk away.

An Overview of ProductsQuestions Asked and AnsweredOrder Form
Civilian ProductsTactical (Law Enforcement) ProductsMilitary Products
Other Stuff to KnowGallery of PhotosWhat Makes Us Special?
Nine Rules for Buying a Ghillie SuitLinks to OthersHome
Sign Our Guest BookOptions Available on Our SuitsPrice Listings
mail1.gif - 0.7 K
e-mail us

These pages © 2000 Custom Concealment, Inc.