Good camouflage is of utmost importance to the sniper or hunter, who must remain undetected to be successful.
A ghillie suit, often called a leaf suit, is the trademark of any traditional sniper whether in paintball, airsoft, hunting or on a real battlefield. Though buying your ghillie suit is an option, they are often expensive and not perfectly tailored to your field of battle. The advantages to making your own suit include perfect fit, camouflage that works with your surroundings and the personal satisfaction obtained from completing such a project. To make your suit, you first need to have the right materials.
To fashion a ghillie suit, you will need several small, generally inexpensive items to help with cutting, dying, fastening and so on. You will need the following: scissors (to cut netting and jute), fabric dye (colors including tan, olive, forest green, dark green, brown, gray and black), sewing needles (to attach netting), waxed dental floss (to sew with in lieu of thread, which is too weak) and polyurethane-based adhesive (such as Shoe Goo, to secure sewn netting). These are all available at any local superstore.
The modern ghillie suit has a relatively simple design. There are three layers: BDU’s, netting and camouflage material. The two parts that create the base of the ghillie suit are necessary, but are flexible in the materials that you can use. You will need a set of BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform), which are the typical camouflage fatigues worn by Army personnel. These can be purchased at Army surplus stores, or you can order them online. Choose woodland camouflage if you have the option. BDU’s are best because they provide a camouflage base, so if your twine moves on the ghillie suit, only the camo underneath is visible. They are also sturdier than most hunting clothing. Secondly, you will need some heavy-duty, dark-colored netting. A black volleyball net will serve this purpose well. You need enough to cover both front and back of your body.
One of the most important and time-consuming aspects of creating your own ghillie suit is choosing the right kind of camouflage. Before executing this step, go to the area where you feel you will be using the suit most and examine the colors. For example, jungle-type settings will use lighter greens, thick forest will use dark green and brown and desert settings will use tan. You will be using jute twine, which can be purchased at most arts and crafts stores. You will need a couple of pounds of it. Exact amounts will vary from suit to suit. You will need storage bins (equal to the number of colors you are using) to dye the jute in, metal clothing hangers to hang them on to dry, plastic gloves to handle them while they are wet and a stirring utensil to move them around.
In addition to all of the above materials, you may find the addition of several other tools helpful. For example, spray paint can be used to give new dimensions of color to your suit or help modify it later if you change environments. You can also purchase a boonie hat and use leftover materials to create ghillie-style head-gear. Alternately, if you are playing airsoft or paintball, you can use the materials from above and make a ghillie paintball mask. Additionally, the use of a hairdryer can speed both the drying of the jute and the Shoe Goo. Finally, you can take small branches and leaves from the area in which you will use your suit and weave them into the design to further enhance the camouflage.