What sets snipers apart from other infantry units is their ability to stalk, observe, and engage targets while remaining nearly invisible using natural concealment or a Ghillie Suit. Marine Snipers are renowned as some of the best in their world, and their ability to cheat death is almost mythic.
They have the title “Hunter of Gunmen” and wear a 7.62x51mm NATO round around their neck called a Hog’s tooth because according to military superstition, each person has a bullet with their name on it, and by wearing theirs around their neck they cannot be killed.
Their ability to remain invisible, even while engaging targets, largely comes from years of refining their camouflage and fieldcraft skills. These skills are a Marine Snipers most important assets, even more important than the rifle itself. Contrary to a lot of Hollywood scriptures, a sniper’s primary role is usually to gather intel, plot enemy encampments, and confirm key target locations as opposed to taking long-range kill shots, although they do that too!
In this guide, I’ll be discussing a Marine Snipers invisibility cloak, the Ghillie Suit! Chances are, you aren’t a Marine Sniper, but you may still be able to utilize a Ghillie suit in recreational activities, like paintball, airsoft, hunting, bird watching, etc.
- What is a Ghillie Suit?
- Here Are the Best Ghillie Suits for Sale
Blending in with your environment is a skill set that needs to be practiced and studied for many hours on end to master. Some of the greatest military feats ever conducted were successful due to the element of surprise, but keeping this element, especially in a world where your adversaries can carry a 50x magnifier in their pocket, is incredibly difficult.
The human brain is a very fascinating thing that can perform amazing feats without us even knowing or thinking about it. Specifically, the human brain can identify patterns better than any species alive and with that, we gather important information on a daily basis.
When looking for someone in the woods, we train our eyes to recognize a pattern that doesn’t belong. Humans typically have something on their bodies, like clothes, backpacks and other gear. These items have long straight edges that do not naturally occur in the wild. These straight edges often give us away against a backdrop of zagged randomness.
A ghillie suit breaks up these straight and flat edges making an onlooker unable to focus on the patterns they would expect to find when looking for the shape of a human and their gear. A ghillie suit not only attempts to color match the environment but it makes the outline of you and all of your stuff appear similar to that of the background.
Humans love to focus on patterns but we have trouble identifying the contents of an area that appears random to us. Ghillie suits provide the user with the highest level of camouflage possible and when used correctly, are terribly difficult for an untrained eye to spot.
What is a Ghillie Suit?
A Ghillie Suit is an advanced camouflage garment that helps the wearer conceal their presence. These suits and accessories are designed specifically for the environment of operation. They create a blend of contour by breaking up straight lines and appearing more random like nature.
Taking a trip way back to the 19 century, the original “ghillie suit” was derived from a group of Scottish hunters looking to advance their techniques and gain an extra edge over their game. They realized that adding foliage from the environment they were hunting to their clothing made it less likely that their appearance and proximity to their game would notice them and flee.
After royalty took note of these tactics, they began outfitting their estate managers with ghillie suits so that they could track down animals, trap them, and return them to the castle for royalty to kill themselves in a type of showing for the public. These people became known as “Ghillies”, which basically just signifies that a game warden is special because he brings the royalty animals to slaughter.
In the Second Boer War, Scottish soldiers in Britain’s military began using the Ghillie tactics on the battlefield by modifying their soldier uniforms and adding foliage, netting, string, and even padding to make lying down for long periods more comfortable. These soldiers used anything they could to break up the human silhouette and by doing so, gained a considerable advantage on the battlefield, including being able to sneak behind enemy lines and gather valuable information.
Snipers Ghillie Explained
Although the market for Ghillie Suits isn’t exactly refined or well defined into categories, there are some basic upfront things you should know before making a purchase.
A regular Ghillie Suit is designed to provide general all-encompassing concealment. This is ideal for people who know they will be on the move more than they will be laying around waiting. Most hunters will use this type of suit.
A Snipers Ghillie Suit is different than a traditional Ghillie Suit in that it has less foliage and Ghillie material in the front section, around the chest and belly area. Instead, these usually have some type of padding that is used more for stability and comfort of the user than it is to conceal. The reasoning behind this is that a sniper will likely never show his front midsection to an enemy because he is crawling through the brush and lying down.
A Snipers Ghillie has less concealment when upright and moving, however, a Snipers Ghillie is lighter and makes less noise when crawling. In a traditional Ghillie Suit, if you crawl, you’ll be making a lot of noise because you’re dragging foliage and hard material across the ground.
Built or Bought?
What about both? The truth is, both have their sets of advantages and disadvantages and the truth is, the real snipers typically uses a combination of both.
Wearing a ghillie is a grueling activity. For most people, a ghillie means they get to lay in the woods and shoot their untrained friends with their paintball guns. For a sniper, their technique has to fool professional military personnel actively looking to hunt down snipers.
In a real situation, most snipers will bring along what is called a “Ghillie base”. This is essentially either a full Ghillie Suit that mimics the basic idea of the environment the sniper plans to be in or just a garment that has netting for the attachment of foliage and such. In both scenarios, the sniper will then modify his suit once out on the field.
What I recommend for someone looking to buy a Ghillie suit is to choose a color and style that fits your environment and test it out. Ghillie Suits are typically easy to modify since you can literally just tie things to it to change its appearance. Maybe the suit you bought has too much light green for the woods you paintball in during the fall. In that case, you can still use it but adding mud to some of the section, attaching brown leaves, sticks, etc.
Just be careful of attaching dead foliage to your suit. Dry leaves crinkle and twigs snap. That sound will be emitted each and every time you move!
As a final note, it’s important to keep in mind that although many manufactured Ghillie suits are fire-resistant, you’ll likely need to add to it to perfectly match your location, which means it now becomes a fire hazard instead of fire-resistant. Be extra careful when wearing a Ghillie Suit and remember, muzzle flash can start fires and those fires can extend to your suit very quickly. Also, don’t smoke and Ghillie or you’ll regret it!
Using Ghillie to Up Your Game
Ghillie Suits are used in a very wide range of outdoor activities. From combat to bird watching Ghillie Suits have a rightful place in an outdoorsman’s arsenal of gear but not everyone has several months to hone their skills and practice using a Ghillie the right way. I’ll give you a few beginner tips to use once you buy your new Ghillie Suit.
All straight lines have to go. Anything you have on you, like a firearm, sheath, beer can, whatever, has to be arranged or dressed in a manner that obscures its straight edges. You can easily tie grass and leaves to things in a hurry but you can also buy special Ghillie accessories like gun wraps and Ghillie yarn.
The shape of a human head and shoulders is a very noticeable pattern in the wild for people to recognize. Your upper 30% is by far the easiest section of the body to identify and even under a Ghillie Suit can give you away. To negate this, you can add padding to one or both shoulders and to the sides of your head, arms, chest, etc.
Never attempt to use your Ghillie Suit to conceal yourself against the skyline. It’s far easier for onlookers to see the shape of your body and sitting in the skyline basically multiplies holes and sections that aren’t so great in your suit. This also puts you in the most light possible, which may highlight color discrepancies.
If you know where the enemy is coming from or where they might travel through, you can try to plan your position on a different elevation. Most people naturally look at what is right in front of them or slightly down from them. It is less likely someone will spot you if they have to look up or down drastically.
Plan for water. Whatever water you would take normally, double it. A Ghillie Suit is hot and will lower your hydration significantly faster than you’d think.
Eliminate hard surfaces, even none-visible ones. Hard surfaces make noise. Tie some grass around your magazines or the gear in your pack and they won’t clang together when you’re rolling through the jungle.
No matter the precaution, you will make some noise when you move, which brings in a whole lot of strategy and trial and error. When you move, try to move under the cover of ambient noise such as the wind or fauna activity.
Avoiding perfectly time-based incremental moves is also crucial. Move at different time intervals, otherwise, the people looking for you may pick up on the pattern of sound you’re making.
Recognize where your Ghillie set-up actually makes sense. Do you look like a giant bush? If so, you wouldn’t hide near a tree stump because people know that large bushes don’t grow next to tree stumps. Are you sitting on a rock? Shrubs grow in the soil, not on rocks. You have to be careful and think about how your position logically appears to an onlooker.
When you first unbox a new Ghillie Suit, take it right outside and throw it in a mud puddle. You aren’t taking it to a beauty pageant, you’re using it to blend into nature, and nothing looks more like nature than mud and, well, actual nature. Some Ghillie Suits coming with material that, when hit with light in a specific way, can actually appear shiny. That’s okay as long as you rough them up a bit and get them nice and “broken in”.
Always carry a knife capable of shredding the netting and material in your Ghillie Suit. In an intense high-pressure situation, you may end up with something tangled and untangling would be a massive shortcoming in your concealment and self-defense ability.
Do not attempt to swim with a Ghillie Suit on. If you’re wearing a Ghillie, you’re probably carrying a firearm and other gear as well. It is incredibly difficult and dangerous even for highly advanced swimmers to swim with gear and a Ghillie.
A good blend of natural foliage and manufactured Ghillie material is 60/40% respectively. Like mentioned many times in this guide, buying a Ghillie Suit is fine but you will likely need to add real local foliage to truly have convincing concealment.
Warning: Ghillies Are Not Compatible In All Situations
If wearing a Ghillie Suit practically makes you invisible, why don’t all military units and hunters wear them all the time?
Ghillie suits aren’t exactly great clothing nor are they optimal clothing for activities requiring athletic performance. Ghillie suits are heavy and awkward, making sprinting, swimming, climbing, etc much more difficult to do.
Speaking of swimming, if a Ghillie Suit gets wet, it’ll weigh 5-10x more and if it’s a natural ghillie suit, it may take days to dry and the foliage may change color, wilt, degrade, etc. If your Ghillie Suit is synthetic, the water may make the materials extra shiny or reflect color in a different manner than what the surrounding foliage is reflecting.
Ghillie suits are thick and cumbersome, making them great insulators that can actually make a big difference in comfort during cold weather. On the flip side of this, though, is the fact that ghillie suits are unbearably hot in the summer for most people. If you’re out in combat in hot weather, sweating even more because you have a Ghillie suit on, you’ll need more food and water to survive, adding to the weight you have to carry and items you have to conceal.
Ghillie suits are only effective when they match their environment, which sounds easy on paper but is actually very difficult to constantly achieve when moving. To the untrained eye, a general pattern that does a decent job of matching colors to the environment would fool them.
To trained militants, though, you’ll have to be nearly perfect to fool anyone, which means your Ghillie Suit has to be convincing. Moving just a couple feet left or right may render your Ghillie Suit entirely useless, perhaps even hurting your concealment due to the backdrop not supporting your Ghillie’s color scheme or contour.
In the real world, a real sniper would constantly be adding and modifying his Ghillie Suit in the field according to each movement he makes. This makes actually moving very slow and requires a lot of time and movement that may actually give away the snipers position.
Ghillie Suits have a fun way of destroying people when they feel like it. One moment you’re trudging through the woods looking for a good vantage point and the next your foot is caught in the netting and you’re falling over an embankment into a creek, unable to swim due to the weight of the suit and your limbs being tangled up in the netting, string, etc.
Yeah, that may be a tad dramatic, but once you wear a Ghillie Suit, you’ll be able to understand how easy it can be to get tangled up in it or have something get snagged. Do you know those earbuds that always come out of your pocket in a ball of tangled up agony? Yeah, imagine that but you’re inside of that ball and the ball is the size of 10,000 wired earbuds.
Getting a large number of troops to move quickly and precisely, all while wearing a Ghille Suit, is often a disaster more than not, making Ghillies not very suitable for entire military units.
Another reason why not every military unit wears a Ghillie Suit is that it actually takes a ridiculous commitment of energy and time to master. Using a Ghillie Suit isn’t as easy as just throwing it on and lying down. There is a lot of math and science involved that are crucial to the success of your mission.
A good example of how an untrained person misuses a Ghillie is in how they move. Someone looking at the field you’re in is most certainly going to take notice of a shrub that’s moving and seemingly crawling around. Marine Snipers train to move with the wind, in a manner that a shrub or bush would actually move. These guys are moving in a matter of inches at the will of the wind. This could take days just to maneuver through a few acres of land.
Your spotter also needs a Ghillie Suit and the skills to conceal themselves and yes, most snipers do use a spotter. Wearing a Ghillie Suit is extremely difficult to shoot accurately with. The Ghillie Suit has to conceal every part of your body and as a result, you’ll have stuff covering your line of sight and blocking your peripheral view almost completely.
Turning your head side to side can easily give away your position, so in the field, you have to rely on your spotter holding an angle and relaying information to you, without looking where he is looking. Your spotter may also need to relay information on possible target movements, setting you up to move incrementally slow in anticipation of a specific angle. This all takes a lot of training and practice.
Ghillie Suit Reviews
Ready to truly become one with nature and go invisible to your enemies? Alright, let’s get started! This is a list of Ghillie Suits I recommend across both expensive and cheap price ranges. Of course, there are tons of options and I can’t possibly review every Ghillie on the market, but these are suits that are tried and true and are great places to start.
If you have a killer Ghillie Suit that’s gotten the job done for you that I missed, let us know in the comments section and I’ll give it a look! At the end of the list, I will add a few extra goodies that I think will help with your concealment goals.
Here Are the Best Ghillie Suits for Sale
1. Arcturus Ghost Ghillie
My review: This suite is perfect recreational shooting sports, like airsoft and paintball. Of course, it’ll do you good for hunting as well, but it’s probably heavier and a tad overkill for most hunts.
Arcturus really went for the Call of Duty looking Ghillie Suit, even the name matches a popular character in the game who wore a Ghillie Suit.
Aside from that, the suite is actually pretty great as it is constructed from specific materials that help improve the density and pattern disruption while also being mold-resistant. These thick suits do suffer from mold so I think the mold-resistant approach is a great step in the right direction.
This package is full service, including 6lbs of thread, spread out in the zip-up top, bottom, and headpiece. The color package is a 3D 7 color blend and each piece is double stitched to perfection. The suit is built to hold up over long periods of time and although it would be rather easy to add to it, I’ve found that these suits work quite well on their own in many situations. You can grab the woodland color blend and the dry grass color blend and be set for pretty much any none-arctic situation.
These suits are built on a base of BDU mesh, which, as I mentioned before, makes customization and deployed configurations pretty easy, however, real-estate is limited due to the insane density of the suit as is.
As a bonus, you’ll get a handy little rifle wrap that is color-matched to the suit you choose.
2. Red Rock Outdoor Gear Ghillie Suit
My review: This is one of the most popular Ghillie Suits right out there right now. It’s available in four color patterns including desert, woodland, ACU, and snow. It’s a great Ghillie for the money, but don’t expect spectacular durability at this price point.
This Ghillie setup gets you an all-encompassing 5-piece set inclusive of a gun wrap, elastic and drawstring equipped pants, a drawstring hood that can be locked back for enhanced field of view, and the top piece that all gets smashed into a handy drawstring bag.
The pants are actually really nice, I especially like them because they have little snap locks on the bottom that allow the pant legs to open, making slipping them on and off over boots really easy.
The gun wrap is kind of novelty on its own I guess. Without your own DIY modification, this wrap will hardly add much to a full-size rifle. It offers little room for additions too, so it’s not very friendly to field modification.
One common complaint about these Ghillies is that they sometimes come as a tangled mess, but after some love and untangling most people are pretty happy them.
3. ASAT Vanish Pro 3D
My review: This set is definitely one of my top favorites and is probably the most intelligent way of manufacturing a Ghillie Suit I’ve seen thus far. First, they start out with an ASAT camo colored mesh wrap and then they chain-stitch a polyester set of leaves to that mesh.
When you get the Ghillie Suite in the mail, it’s nearly perfect to use right out of the box so long as the colors match. If you need you to add a little, it’s incredibly easy to do because of the mesh base layer. This is a great suite for actively configuring your suite and would fare very well for those of you that need to move over a long distance as its lightweight and very comfortable.
The cuffs and waistband are all elastic, which is a great touch in my opinion and makes the sizes fit a very large range of body types. The headpiece consists of nylon netting and VisorPro, which is basically a cable lock for the headpiece that allows you to quickly tie back the mesh for a wide and uninterrupted field of vision.
If you’re looking for the best Ghillie Suit for hunting this is a solid option. It’s the quality I expect from this company with a lot of finishing touches that set this package above the rest.
4. Arcturus 3D Leafy
My review: I couldn’t review the Arcturus Ghost without also reviewing the Leafy series! One isn’t better than the other, it just really depends on how you’ll be using your suit. Like I mentioned in the review, the Ghost is primarily designed to be used recreationally in airsoft or paintball.
The Leafy series is a lighter platform that I would say is better for hunting and maybe not as good as the Ghost in paintball, but of course, it depends on how you use them and what the environment looks like.
This Ghillie Suit consists of a drawstring carry bag, two-piece jacket, full-length pants, and a hood. The cuffs and waistband are elastic, making sizes fit a very wide range of people. It’s manufactured on a mesh base, meaning you can easily configure the suit to your needs, but the suit does come out of the box with over 1000 leaves attached!
The leaves on this Ghillie are kind of revolutionary in the world of Ghillies. These leaves are specially crafted to be stiff so that they poke out from the suit instead of lying flat, but they are still light enough to be blown and moved around by the wind. The focus on this suit was “active camouflage”, meaning they wanted the suit to look like its reacting to the environment as it would if it were an actual tree with real leaves.
I’m not going to say I’m completely sold on the active camouflage but it is a neat idea that I think might make a subtle difference. I forgot to mention that while the Ghost Ghillie weighs a whopping 6lbs, the Leafy Suit comes in much lighter at only 2lbs.
5. North Mountain Gear Ghillie 3D Woodland Brown
My review: This suit is kind of similar to the Arcturus Leafy, but instead of the idea of the leaves being “active” because they’re light and blow around with the wind, North Mountain Gear decided to just double the material the leaves are made out of. Does double the leaf size double the concealment?
Maybe. It’s hard to say which suits leaves do a better job and I’d argue that they both probably work dependent on how you use them. These are designed specifically for hunters and the sizing is generous for all-weather gear concealment. The idea here is to be able to use the same size easily no matter if you’re wearing summer clothing or winter clothing.
The kit comes with a hooded zip-up jacket that actually has two very deep and useful pockets, a nice touch considering most Ghillie Suits I’ve had don’t have any pockets. The waistband consists of both an elastic element and drawstrings, ensuring an easy slip-on but tight and consistent fit. The legs have knee-length zippers, allowing you to open the ends of the legs so you can slip them on and off over boots.
6. Vivo 4-Piece Camo Woodland Ghillie Suit
My review: I had never heard of the Vivo brand before I learned about their Ghillie Suit and at first, I kind of felt like it would be one of those cheap Chinese product vendors and I wasn’t really too excited for it.
After reviewing it and forcing myself to stay open-minded, the suit actually looks pretty good and is priced lower than most suits that I’d compare it to.
It’s a four-piece suit that includes a mesh-based full face hood, button-up pants, button-up jacket, and gun wrap. It’s all constructed from polyester which is a good material to use for lightweight and breathable platforms. The suit weighs 4lbs which I’d say is about average and the suits Ghillie material seems to be convincing but not as thick as the Arcturus Ghost.
You get what you pay for. It’s not “cheap”, but it’s priced under the top performers and that’s due to a bit less material and that’s the main difference here. If you’re trying to save some money but you want a convincing Ghillie Suit, this is a pretty great place to start and since there is a lot of mesh areas, you can easily add to the suit yourself with yarn or foliage.
7. Auscamotek Hunting Ghillie Suit
My review: This string-based hunting Ghillie set is actually pretty incredible the price and I do highly recommend taking a good look at this particular suit. It’s a five-piece set that includes the jacket that has two hidden pockets, pants, hood, rifle wrap, and camo mesh bag.
This Ghillie Suit is super thick! Okay, not as thick as the Arcturus Ghost, but it is over 4lbs of extra puffy threads and that’s quite a bit! The threads come in a seven-color blend that can resemble either Dry Grass or Green Grass color configurations. It’s a shame I couldn’t find a Snow themed suit from them and I don’t know if they plan on releasing one anytime soon.
The rifle wrap included in this package is actually one of my favorite rifle wraps I’ve found in these Ghillie kits. I just really like how it breaks up the rifle and it’s just really easy to use with my specific setups.
8. Jumppeak Ghillie Suit
My review: This all polyester set is really resemblant of the Auscamotek except they have a snow version! Okay, there are a few differences and I do believe the sizing charts vary, so make sure to check them both out. This set has the traditional four components that consist of rifle wrap, button-up top, elastic pants, and drawstring storage bag.
This suit is available in Snow, Desert, and Woodland color schemes and does offer over 4lbs of heavy-duty thread.
9. Pinty 3D Ghillie Suit
My review: A fairly traditional four-piece polyester and polypropylene construction that simply put, gets the job done!
It’s not the greatest suit on the list, but it is one of the cheapest that uses dense fibers as camo so if you’re on a budget, I highly recommend this suit. The package includes the hood that has a button locking system, a rifle wrap, pants with drawstrings and button closures, and a jacket style top.
This cheap option is a great entry-level platform that also allows for easy customization. You can buy printed leaves and attach them or go DIY and just fix it up with natural foliage, which you should probably do to any Ghillie Suit anyways.
10. Isafish Sniper Cloak
My review: This is a very economically friendly way to hunt on the down-low. No, this suit is not really suitable for concealment against people. It may work in some cases but sneaking around people isn’t the main idea behind this product.
It’s a “Maple Leaf” 3D leaf design that is hardly convincing to a human but seems to do a fantastic job for hunting applications and since its about the same price as a box of beer, it’s a good buy if hunting is all you need it for.
The whole suit is constructed of polyester which makes it light and comfortable. The hood and the waistband both have elastic bands in them and the whole suit is actually a single piece! It weighs roughly 3lbs which is rather light and the sizes are a tad on the bigger size to compensate for gear and clothing.
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines that like to talk tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or to join the team, check out the “About Us” tab.