Camouflage Outdoor Gear

Camouflage began in nature, with white foxes against the snow and spotted deer in dappled forests. Sometime in the 20th century, it occurred to military experts that bright red uniforms made their men less safe from the new weapons being developed, and soldiers began to wear clothing designed to blend into the background.

The French did extensive research into camouflage (and gave us the word) during the first decades of the 20th century. They brought artists into the process of developing camouflage patterns, using influences from the Cubist movement as well as the Renaissance. Both Grant Wood and Jacques Villon were involved in the effort. According to Time Magazine, World War II brought floods of applications from artists to the military — everyone wanted to get in on the act.

Neuroscientists took over from artists toward the end of the 20th century, and various camouflage patterns were used in different settings.Patterns developed by military forces around the world had names like “Telo mimetico” and “Splittermuster.” Designs like “Frog spot” and “Tigerstripe” hark back to the natural animal-inspired patterns. The U.S. military might get the prize for the longest official pattern name with “Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern.” The Marines patented their pattern and won’t let the Navy use it even though they asked.

Vogue wrote an article explaining camouflage in 1943, but it took another forty years for the patterns to show up in civilian clothing.

Special patterns for hunters were developed in the 1980s. By that time, people were wearing camouflage patterns in ordinary clothing. Now, camo patterns in neon pink and others made up of myriad cat silhouettes are easy to find. Camouflage is a popular fashion statement.

Wear camo patterns in the woods only when you don’t want to be seen. Hunters can dress all in camouflage and top it with a bright orange cap or vest because deer aren’t good at distinguishing colors. But don’t forget Fred Bear’s comment on camouflage: “The best camouflage pattern is called, ‘Sit down and be quiet!’ Your grandpa hunted deer in a red plaid coat. Think about that for a second.”

Hikers don’t need to wear camouflage. If anything, you want to be conspicuous for your own safety. Still, if your personal fashion statement involves camouflage, you’ll be glad to know that Uncle Sam’s has plenty for you to choose from. We have a wide selection of military surplus gear and fashionable camo prints.

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