Why You Shouldn't Wear Camouflage

You shouldn’t wear camouflage patterns because they make you stand out.

“What?” You say. “Has this guy lost his mind? The whole idea of camouflage is to blend in.”

Yes, that is in fact the idea of camouflage. And in certain situations, you should attempt to camouflage yourself. However, camouflage is more than brown and green and tan. The true meaning of camouflage is to disguise something in its environment. For a tree frog, that might mean looking like part of a tree. For a person interacting with other people, that means looking like the other people.

Would Multicam help you blend in where you live? If not, maybe you should spend your money on something else.

For those in the military, camouflage uniforms do intend to hide the wearer in a field environment. But uniforms also serve to identify the wearer as a combatant on one particular side of a conflict. When not in a field environment, wearing a camouflage uniform doesn’t hide you, it identifies you as something. Whether others would see you as a combatant in a military force depends on the pattern worn, but they would definitely pay more attention to you.

Of course, the gear you carry also makes a difference. If you sling an AR and walk into a bank, people are going to notice you even if you’re wearing entirely nondescript clothing. But why draw more attention to yourself than necessary? And who are you hiding from – and in what environment – that you need to wear (or even own) a camouflage patterned uniform or gear?

No matter how you try to disguise it, some gear is going to be pretty obvious.
Side note – I don’t know the source of this photograph as it was emailed to me by a third party – if I need to give credit to someone in particular, please let me know.

I do not suggest that this is the case for everyone, but there is a definite attraction towards the newest and coolest camouflage pattern that is not justifiable. Playing tactical dress up at the range is quite pointless. Even some instructors get all dressed up for a range class – why? There is no need to hide at the range, and unless they are a member of some military or government unit, it is highly unlikely that they will be given the occasion to wear that uniform in a “combat” situation.

If you are “just a guy” like me – or “just a girl” – then camouflage has a different meaning than woodland, ATACS, or Multicam. I’ll admit, I think ATACS looks cool and effective. So does Multicam.

However, I don’t own anything in either pattern, because I have no need for ultra-effective camouflage. Solid grays and browns appear nondescript in a casual urban environment and are quite effective at the purely visual aspects of concealment, especially when you learn how to move effectively, whether that means low-crawling or adopting the mannerisms of a local populace.

At the individual level, successfully evading detection has far more to do with the manner in which you move from point A to point B than what you wear while doing it.

62 comments

  • when you first brought up people at the range wearing camo, I instantly thought “well, you should train with the gear you’re going to be using”, so it makes sense to wear camo at the range, at least until you think why they’ve picked camouflaged gear as their go to gear. Which is the point of this article

    my mind got stuck in a recursive loop for a moment

  • It is all scenario based. In some conflicts it won’t matter what you wear. For example, if they are targeting all military aged males your clothing is irrelevant.

  • At last, more common sense. Keep it coming Andrew.

  • I used to wear surplus BDUs because they were durable and cheap. A few times, I got mistaken for a serviceman. How they made that mistake (I had long hair and wasn’t exactly at a combat fitness level), I will never know, but after about the third time I stopped.

    More than just respecting actual servicemen (which was a big part of it), I simply didn’t want to be mistaken for something I’m not.

    • I had the same problem. I had gotten great deal on some 511 tac pants in desert camo($5 a pair!) So I logically thought they were great work pants, oh how right and wrong I was… I never were them out any more for the the same reasons you gave.

  • I would say that often this argument extends to the latest tacticool clothing (such as TAD and Arc’teryx) as well. Tan pants and OD “technical” jacket do stand out (as anyone who showed up for SHOT can attest to).

  • I think that pictures comes from SOE’s Facebook page, maybe a custom request they had some time ago?

    As for camouflage or not… you nailed it, the word is “blend”, if you are in Northern Mali chasing AQIM scumbag, go with Kryptek Nomad or AOR1, if you are in the outskirts of Kandahar, Multicam is an obvious choice. If you’re worst situation scenario is rushing to your house in the middle of big Western city… jeans and a grey jacket beats the most high-speed camo pattern in the world.

  • Listen, if you’re in the American south and wearing camouflage, you blend in just fine. Camo pants and a flannel and you’re invisible.

    • OMG. And here I thought multicam was actually the equivalent of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. My day is ruined.

      • Hmmm, my comment appears to be showing up as a reply to John. Sorry John, it was supposed to be under the article in general and not a specific reply to your comment.

  • I actually have a pair of BDUs that I wear occasionally (yes, even to the range) simply because I like the way they fit, they have plenty of large pockets and are a nice cotton/nylon blend…even so, wearing camo or any other obviously looking tactical clothing (5.10) just identifies me when I would rather go incognito.

  • Down here in the south, a great many people wear camo. It’s a good choice if the goal is to blend in with the locals.

  • Great topic.

  • Wearing camoflauge will help to breakup your outline. But contrary to what is commonly seen, it will not help you appear any thinner, or allow you to suddenly look large and intimidating. It simply pays to be unnoticed and neutral, and this applies to both ends of the spectrum. As an example, if you go off-roading in a camouflaged humvee, or pull up to the range in a mini Cooper wearing a pink polo shirt, you will get noticed and chances are that the wierdos will want to hear your life story. And ain’t nobody got time for that!

  • My self i only use camos when I was U.S.M.C 2 FORCE RECON COMP. After a spend 15 years as Mercenary South America and Africa in almost every place of this continent I never use uniforms I only use Blue Jeans a good pair of combat boots my AK47 and at least 40 Magasines full of amo…. When work with difrent inteligence services with difrent countrys Blue Jeans was my uniform…..So camos ball of crab anything I so uniform I would depose of it …………

    • So you carried 76 pounds worth of ak magazines wearing Blue jeans and boots? You must have 15 shoulder slung bags to tote it in eh? OR are you just a Video game Keyboard warrior?

    • You might of been everywhere, except a classroom. Seriously man, get a dictionary (or realize a red underline means you need to edit).

  • You mean wearing mossy oak in walmart from August to March doesn’t actually perform a function?

  • What you call moderation because this is the real world , I can have moderation I write what i feel and my personal experience thats the real world…………this not a DOG AND PONY SHOW “

  • Tell me what is moderation for you?

  • There will be no moderation , until you tell me what? is your moderation,answer the question

  • Well looks I will not get responce only (Your comment is awaiting MODERATION)…..So you have apleasent night……..Im finish…

  • Obi-Wan Kenobody

    There’s a reason why meat eating alpha males wear those spray-on jeans at the range and while playing mall cop overseas… I’m not sure what it is, but there has to be a reason, right? Perhaps the inability to crouch or the totally useless pockets. Perhaps it’s the straight-up sex appeal of tactical jeggings.

  • There’s nothing like the phrase ‘tactical jeggings’ to make me spray my drink all over my monitor. I do have to admit something though. I’m not military (current or former), I’m more of the backcountry hiker/ winter camper type. I really like the TAD stuff for when I only want to bring one set of clothes with me. I also wear a shemagh because it’s just so damn useful. I didn’t really think twice about it until I saw a news story about Steven Seagal training idiots to “protect” a school in Arizona and he had BDUs and a shemagh on. If ever there was someone I didn’t want to look like… But I’ll get over it and keep wearing what’s useful.

  • Thank you somebody did reply thats freedom of speach thas DEMOCRACY VERY GOOD NOW WE HAVE A CONVERSATION, positive or negative this is whats all about GOOD…….

    • Thats all I got and happy now .

      • OBI-WAN KENOBODY and Adam you shoud take a hike to Tibet there you would be happy and Adam dont take your computer its already mess up, you sound strange to me like does who got spray out from thy ARMED FORCES OF ARE GREAT COUNTRY AMERICA ???????? GOD,COUNTRY,CORPS; military people are not made of BDU or blue jeans they are made of PRIDE to defend DEMOCRACY and Civil LIBERTY, Thats whats all about read the CONTITUTION and take some weapons and look at the real word POLITICS AND MONEY thats the reason for WARS……And you have a good day both of you, GOD BLESS AMERICA.And remenber China makes the BDU’S NOW IF YOU DID NOT NOW READ THE BACK TIKETS OF YOUR BDU’S…

    • Since when was America was a Democracy? We are a Constitutional Republic, idiot.

  • I wrote someting wrong now Im happy now…… thank you.

    • OBI-what ever you are you sound to me strange I dont now if you are a MALE OR FEMALE specialy when you write meat eating alpha male strange very strange think about it ??????

  • How do you feel about non-cammie BDUs? My son loves em cuz they’re comfortable and lots a pockets. He works outdoors, seems to make sense.

    • well, he should wear whatever he likes. If what he wears something that works well for what he does, that’s even better.

  • Obi-Wan Kenobody

    Hmmmm, I think the real key to success with wearing anything is being physical fit underneath it all.

    You know who can get away with wearing a PC and multicam at the range? The dude with the 20″ neck.

    You know who can get away with the tactical jeggings and a extra-medium Elmo t-shirt? Same dude.

    If you’re in good shape and look like you know what you’re doing you can get away with anything.

  • This really doesn’t say much in a productive way, but makes the strong implication that the only people who own camo/chest rigs/etc are those reenacting Seal Team Six in their living room after a long day at the office. More counterproductive than helpful if you ask me.

    • Well, you’re entitled to your opinion.

      Of course, I specifically said, “I do not suggest that this is the case for everyone…”

      But hey.

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  • Multicam is my go-to pattern for coyote hunting because it functions well year round. Deer season means fall/winter so realtree it is. For the mall and everyday public? vans, skinny jeans, and a v-neck. As long as it conceals my gun and badge I’m fine with looking like a hooligan. I look like the last person in the room to be a cop…..

  • Sounds like uncommon sense to me. Great little article. But, lets hear some more. Go into depth about how your tactical Oakley boots stick out like a sore thumb. You’re not one to tip toe, so let us know how you really feel.

  • Perfectly stated. Why I use the ‘redneck reload’ in IDPA. Redneck reload is putting the magazine upside down in your back pocket of the jeans. Works great for ARs, AKs, and even pistols. It indexes similarly to a mag pouch on a belt, except that I am always wearing a pair of pants with back pockets, so no matter what goes down, I know I can throw some mags in my back pockets and be effective with them.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobody

      Curious: Do you use and encourage Mexican carry for your pistol as well?

      Camo is tacticool. CCW mag carriers have a very important function.

  • Arc’teryx LEAF screams “operator” just as loudly, if more fashionably, to anyone who you have to worry about.

  • I actually try to wear bright colors at the range – especially at competitions – to minimize the chance that some careless idiot will start shooting while I’m pasting targets. YMMV but it seems like cheap insurance to me.

  • Louis Vuitton chest rig; LMAO, OMG, so so funny, can’t stop laughing.

  • Your LV carrier came from the Narcos down in Mexico, the love that kind of $h!t, pretty surreal

  • Is anyone else bothered that the Louis Vuitton pattern is in a different direction on every panel?

  • GREYMAN ROCKS. Nobody wants to be seen as an operator in the airports or crowded areas. You are most likely the target of aggression/terrorism.

    Being grey makes you a lot at ease and be able to mold into the surroundings; Who CATCHING who?

  • Wearing camo or even a photographer’s vest can make a wary criminal think that you are armed and motivate him not to attempt his robbery or whatever. I work at a prison and some of the inmates convicted of bank robbery told me that they would carefully look at the customers in the bank before they robbed it and if a Charles Bronson type was in their they would go some place else or come back later when the target looked softer.

  • This article speaks the whole truth… unless you live in North Central WI. Walk into any store wearing your RealTree or your surplus digicam ACUs or your fake-o camo BDUs, whatever- you’re just another average Joe. Heck, throw some plaid, jean fabric or an old Jeff Dunham tee on top of that- congratulations- you’re a wizard (…of disguise!), Harry.

    Seriously, if some type of scruffy, weird-looking serial killer from NY were to flee into this state and throw on some multicam- you could stick him in a police line-up with a pastor, a doctor, a farmer, and a plainclothes police officer and you’d probably pick the cop as the sketchy looking one.

    Seriously, take a vacation up here. I’ll bet you a zillion bucks (and does!) that 3 out of every 5 people you see are wearing some type of camo.

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