Whether you’re a hunter or doomsday prepper, you may be familiar with the ever-useful ghillie suit. Ghillie suits are among the most vital things to have when you’re out in the wilderness and want to blend in completely with the environment.
When SHTF, you may be put in a position wherein you’ll have to conceal yourself, hunt game, and avoid detection from others that may be out to get you. Ghillie suits provide you with camouflage that hides you from animals and hostile humans alike.
Although there are many ghillie suits available in the market today, making a homemade ghillie suit is more affordable. Also, it allows for customization, giving you full control over its appearance. This is crucial because the wrong suit may leave you sticking out like a sore thumb.
If you’re looking to make a ghillie suit from scratch, here’s a fast DIY guide for you.
Determining The Environment Your Ghillie Suit Is Meant For
Before you gather your materials and make your home-made ghillie suit, you will have to survey your surroundings. A ghillie suit will only be effective when it can seamlessly blend into the terrain. You’ll need different colors and textures for various biomes, such as grasslands, deserts, forests, or wetlands.
Determine the environment wherein you’ll be spending your time. Take in the colors, plants, and other textures on the terrain. Take pictures of various areas at different times of the day to completely orient yourself to the place.
Incorporating the right colors and textures will help you make a ghillie suit that’s nearly undetectable to both animals and humans. It can mean life or death if enemies easily see through your disguise.
By monitoring the places you want to hide in, you’ll also hone your observational skills, which can mean life or death when SHTF. You’ll know all the best places to hide, create tactics for hunting and battle, and learn what resources you can use for food and shelter.
Gather Your Items: Things You Will Need
After taking multiple snapshots and understanding your chosen environment, you’ll need to gather your supplies for making the ghillie suit. For the basics, you will need the following items:
- A Base Camo Suit: This will serve as the first layer of your ghillie suit. If your budget permits, you can buy a uniform with a camo pattern for this. Alternatively, you can just use a spare jacket and pants that you can dye to make the colors more subdued and suited for hiding.
- A Spare Hat: You will need this for a ghillie hood, which will protect your head.
- Netting: Netting is another crucial layer because it will serve as an anchor to the other layers you’ll be attaching to your ghillie suit. It will also help break your silhouette, making it harder for animals or other survivalists to distinguish you from the terrain. You can buy a replacement fishing net for this.
- Sewing Kit: You’ll be using a needle and thread to attach the netting to your base suit.
- Jute Or Burlap: Jute or burlap will form the bulk of the ghillie suit’s outer layer. These fabrics will blend in with the surrounding foliage and help you blend in completely.
- Spray Paint: You need to get spray paint that matches the color of your chosen environment. You’ll use this to dye the jute or burlap layer of your homemade ghillie suit.
- Shoe Glue: This will reinforce the stitches you will make in the first step.
Another thing you’ll need is a lot of patience and determination, as this will be a time-consuming endeavor—but the end result will be worth it. Your survival may depend on it, after all.
Once you’ve gathered the supplies you’ll need, you are now ready to make your DIY ghillie suit. Below, we will discuss the steps you should follow.
Step 1: Apply The Netting To Your Base Uniform
As previously mentioned, your base uniform could be a camo suit or an old jacket and spare pants. If you’re using the latter, make sure to paint or dye them a dark brown or tan color to subdue their tone and help you hide in your chosen environment. You can also make a camo pattern to improve your stealth.
Also, another thing to consider is if your base uniform is comfortable. It should not be too tight on you, and it should not be made of itchy material. You’ll likely be wearing this outfit for a full day—or multiple days, even. You wouldn’t want to adjust your clothes or scratch an itch every now and then—you’ll blow your cover and be prone to enemy attacks this way.
Once you ready your base camo uniform, the next course of action is to attach the netting to it. Get some replacement fishing nets, cut them to strips two or more squares wide, then attach them to the jacket with your sewing kit. Leave a gap of around six to eight inches between the strips. To reinforce the stitches, you can apply shoe glue on them.
Alternatively, you can use strong glue to attach the mesh to your outfit. Use a mesh net around the same size as your base suit, then glue its edges every few inches to attach it to your uniform. Then, allow the glue to dry.
Cut the netting close to the shape of your base camo jacket, but make sure to do so carefully, as you do not want to cut the base. The netting should not end more than a couple of inches off the uniform.
After attaching the netting, you’re ready for the next step, which is preparing the outermost layer of the homemade ghillie suit.
Step 2: Prepare Some Jute Or Burlap
Traditionally, ghillie suits come with burlap strips or jute threads that hang off the jacket and pants. These fabrics are sturdy, and they mimic the brush that exists in various terrains. They make up the bulk of your homemade ghillie suit’s outer layer.
You can buy burlap strips, jute strings, or even old coffee bags in bulk. These can be found online or in arts and crafts stores. You’ll need to purchase around 8 lbs or more of this material to cover the whole ghillie suit.
Most of the time, the burlap or jute strings will come in a tan color. However, if you think that this color will not blend in well with the surrounding foliage, you can always use spray paint to dye them later.
Step 3: Unravel The Jute Or Burlap And Paint The Strands
This is the most time-intensive step in the whole process of making a ghillie suit from scratch. You’ll have to cut strips of jute or burlap, then unravel the fibers into individual strands. Jute strings and burlap strips should not be too hard to unravel, but the procedure will eat up a lot of time because of how much material you have to use.
Ideally, the strands should be of equal length, but a little variety won’t hurt, either. The strands should be around 7 to 14 inches long. If you make them longer, the outline of the suit may look unnatural and easier to detect. You also risk getting caught in the surrounding brush when the strands are too long.
Once you have unraveled the strands, pile them together. Then, you can begin to paint them to match the foliage in your chosen environment.
Get spray paint (or another type of paint that will not wash away quickly) that is as close as possible to the color of the foliage in your area. Use at least three environmental hues to be as realistic as possible. Then, cover the jute or burlap strands completely. Don’t worry if the colors are uneven—in fact, variety will make the camouflage more realistic.
Wait for the paint to dry. Afterward, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Tie The Jute To The Netting
After the most time-consuming part, you’re now ready to make the outermost layer of your homemade ghillie suit. All you will need to do here is take a bunch of strands, bundle them together, then fasten the bundle under each vertical square of the ghillie suit’s netting. You do not have to sew anything on; you only have to tie the strands on the netting.
Knotting the jute or burlap strands on the netting does not have to be complicated, either. You do not need to learn fancy knots—a simple overhand knot will do the trick. However, you have to ensure that your knots are tight and secured so that nothing comes off easily.
Make sure to start from the bottom of the suit and work your way upward. Doing the reverse will be harder because the top layers will have to overlap with the lower rows.
Once you have attached jute or burlap strands to each area of your homemade ghillie suit, make sure to examine it carefully. Fluff up the strands and look for areas that are not covered well. Attach more strands as necessary to ensure that the ghillie suit looks even. You can also look at it from afar for a change of perspective.
Step 5: Make A Ghillie Hood
Most other guides say that this step is optional, but we believe that this is crucial to completing your full ghillie outfit. Just a jacket and pants will not do—your head will be bare and visible, which can make you an easy target for attacks. The head is one of the most recognizable and vital parts of your body, so it’s best not to skip out on this.
Get a spare hat, then attach an oval piece of netting onto it using shoe glue, similar to how you attached the mesh to your suit. Then, knot burlap or jute strands onto the netting as well. The color and texture of your ghillie hood should blend in well with the main suit to make the form look nearly indistinguishable.
Now, your homemade ghillie suit is complete.
Additional Tips For Your Homemade Ghillie Suit
- You can attach leaves, branches, grass, and other small materials from the area to your ghillie suit to break your silhouette and make you appear as natural as possible.
- Place more items on the back part of your suit. This is because when you crawl with the suit on, the things on the front may make noise or get caught on the terrain.
- Cover the neck area with more jute and other items to also break your silhouette.
- You can drag your suit through the mud or sand for a more natural appearance. This can also cover your scent.
Ghillie suits are crucial items for survivalists because they help hide the individual from game and potential threats. Buying one from stores may be a good idea, but it’s better to tailor your own to match your environment. Follow the guide above to make one that’ll help you survive the harsh wilderness when SHTF.