Being able to hide yourself when you need to gives you a huge advantage in a survival situation. You may have seen ghillie suits or a camo suit being used in games, movies or even in real-life if you’re a hunter. A ghillie suit is considered to be one of the most effective cheap, DIY camouflage strategies out there. Whether it is used for hunting or hiding, ghillie suits are very useful with the right camouflage pattern. Basic ghillie suits can even use simple jute twine, a burlap bag, and some natural vegetation and organic material to create super quick camo. But remember that a ghillie suit is designed for staying still and hiding. Movement can be tough since the goals is to layer on fabrics and create a perfect texture to create a camouflage pattern.
In this post, I will talk a bit about what a ghillie suit is, and why it’s so useful. I’ll break down some simple steps about how to make a ghillie suit and ghillie hood yourself, on a budget. You don’t need much more than jute strands, mesh netting or burlap material, some shoe glue, and a few other odds and ends for your very own ghillie suit.
What is a Ghillie Suit?
A ghillie suit can be made from nearly anything- military flight suits, billowy material, camo netting, jute material, and more. The goal is to obscure the human silhouette and blend in with the natural terrain. Organic materials are often used for these suits, but so is fresh vegetation, artificial vegetation, ground debris… practically anything short of poison ivy can be part of a ghillie suit. The goal is so always blend with the natural landscape. Usually the involves moving very slowly, so mobility is not a strong point for ghillie suits. specially designed to let the wearer blend in with his/her surroundings. Different styles, colors, and types of ghillie suits are used for different environments, like forest, desert or even snow. Typically, a ghillie suit is composed of a mesh net and cloth garment, entirely covered with real or fake plants and plant matter, like vines, twigs, leaves, strands of burlaps and much more.
Its name ‘ghillie’ is a Scots Gaelic term which stands for ‘boy’, and the name refers to boy servants who would stay hidden at the rear of the hunt and give assistance during hunting or fishing excursions.
Why is a Ghillie Suit Useful?
The ghillie suit has only one purpose, and that is to grant its wearer an effective disguise while stationary or slowly moving. That is why it is particularly used in hunting and in military operations since it allows the wearer to blend into the environment by breaking their outline from the targets’ plain sight, making the wearer difficult to get detected.
How to make a DIY Ghillie Suit
A ghillie suit (including the base clothing and the accessories) can be actually made out of anything, depending on what kind of environment you need to fit in. The best is a military surplus uniform, a jumpsuit, or really anything else that you can get your hands on. Craft stores are a great spot to get some supplies like burlap fibers, spray painting supplies, and synthetic jute to make longer strands and shorter strands of jute threads. Hobby stores will have this stuff too, get creative and try to avoid getting price-gouged by fancy “Army & Navy” stores. And side note: Fire retardant is always a plus! You can even make your own netting and drape it around yourself poncho-style. Most supply stores that carry military surplus gear will have what you need, but it might cost you. We suggest getting some solid color BDU’s and saving the money you’d spend on an expensive suit. Even then, if you can save money and use a dependable old jacket and find burlap to cover it with, you’re ahead of the game. Hit the bait shop and see if you can grab some replacement fishing net, that will come in handy.
Here’s a pretty easy way to make your own ghillie suit:
- Battle dress uniform or BDU (military uniform), or other clothing of your choice
- Burlap sack or natural jute cloth
- Fabric dyes
- Mesh or fishing net
- Dental floss or fishing line
- Sewing needles
- Hot glue / shoe glue
- Select an effective clothing to begin with your ghillie suit—BDU is an excellent option for camouflage clothing. If you are not able to get a BDU or just any camouflage clothing, you can make a regular one to be camouflaged by using spray paint and/or fabric patches to blend into your environment.
- Proceed with cutting the mesh net into strips at roughly two squares wide. Afterwards, sew these mesh net strips with dental floss on the front of the BDU and down its sleeves. You want to sew these with something as transparent as possible. Fishing line would work in a pinch too.
- After sewing these mesh net strips on your BDU, stick the stitches down with hot glue to ensure that they will not get detached easily. This is highly recommended since you don’t want these detaching.
- You can either select between strands of burlap or jute string/twine. Once you’ve decided which of them you are going to use, cut a large rectangle by the upper or the lower seam. Loosen them by anchoring the sides and pulling strands or fibers running horizontally. Pull out these horizontal fabrics until the vertical strands are the same length as the horizontal strands you’ve pulled out. Cut the strands from the sack using scissors, sizing them at about 7 to 14 inches in length.
- Dye it with a color that completely matches the background setting. It is necessary to learn about the colors of the environment you’ll be dwelling in, so that your ghillie suit will be much more effective as a disguise. Follow the directions on your dye bottle. Afterwards, you can hang it outside to dry under the sun. This whole step can be optional if your strands or fibers already match the colors of the environment. It is worth mentioning upon doing this step, always randomize your colors in 3 to 4 shades in relevance to the background setting, so that you can avoid over saturation of one color.
- Tie the burlap strands or fibers to the sewed mesh nets on the BDU by making simple knots. Begin with 10 or more strands/fibers of jute, clump them all together and then you can tie them on the sewed mesh nets with overhand knots.
- Once you’ve finished up most of the jute tying, spread out these tied strands or fibers on the BDU. Make sure that you leave no bald spots or insufficient coverage on certain areas. If there isn’t enough coverage, the suit will be much less realistic which will make you easy to detect.
- This step is completely optional but it is definitely worth the effort. You may want to stain your suit with dust or soak it in mud, or simply anything that will get rid of human scent. This is particularly effective when applied in hunting in which wild animals won’t be able to detect you quickly by their sense of smell.
- Lastly, integrate natural or scrap resources on your ghillie suit. Add more jute as you see fit. You can start gathering these materials after you learn what your background setting is all about. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary materials, you can now attach them on the ghillie suit. Place more on the back than the front since any type of movement in a ghillie suit involves crawling. Additionally, attach wider materials around the head and neck, so that you are less likely to get detected by disguising common identifiable body parts.
Now, your DIY ghillie suit is all finished!
Making a DIY ghillie suit will take significant time and effort, but it’s worth it to make a ghillie suit by yourself. You can tailor-make it to your own surroundings. A ghillie suit is pointless to begin with if your design does not blend well enough into the surrounding environment. So make sure that you should study the settings you’ll be in first before making a DIY ghillie suit on your own. Other than that, have fun! Don’t think of this as work, it’s a fun weekend project.