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Winter Camouflage: How to Stay Invisible in Snow

It may be tempting not to pay much attention to winter camouflage for hunting. After all, the outdoors is largely just white and gray. Why not just dig out a gray sweatshirt and some white canvas pants?

Well, the truth is that winter camouflage also will need to blend into the brown of dead vegetation and maybe even some evergreen. Also, the patterns of winter camouflage likely need to blend into the twistiness of bare trees.

Read on to learn how to choose the best winter camouflage for hunting. You’ll also find tips on augmenting your camouflage with other ways of concealing your presence in the outdoors.

winter camouflage

Choosing the Best Winter Camouflage

Any good hunter knows that it’s important to scout the area where he or she is planning to hunt before setting foot in the woods with a rifle. In winter, finding tracks in the snow or noting the location of matted vegetation where an animal might have slept offer great clues for successful hunting.

But to ensure success, it’s also important to scout an area for clues as to which winter camouflage will be best.

Choices in winter camouflage include irregular shapes of white and gray in various shades and patterns featuring irregular dark lines designed to mimic bare winter trees. There are even photorealistic patterns incorporating tree branches with browning leaves.

Once you’ve taken a look at the terrain where you’ll be hunting, you’ll be better equipped to choose the most effective winter camouflage.

Pay Attention to Layering

Of course, one of the things you’ll need to consider for winter hunting is the need to layer your clothing so that you get neither too hot nor too cold. You should start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add a fleece mid layer for warmth, and top it off with a windproof and waterproof outer layer.

Be aware, though, that not all layers are likely to be available in the same camouflage pattern. That’s perfectly OK, as long as your outer layer is chosen for its high-quality concealment

In fact, having different camouflage layers will allow you to experiment with different patterns. In turn, that may provide you with some surprising insight into the best patterns for your hunting area.

Winter Camouflage Topwear

If you’re hunting in cold weather, start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add a fleece mid-layer for warmth, and top it off with a windproof and waterproof outer layer.

You should be able to find winter camouflage, or something close to it, for each of these layers. Keep in mind, though, that you may not be able to find the same camouflage pattern for every layer.

As a few examples, the Rocky thermal top is a great base layer, and while it’s not available in camouflage, it does come in a suitable white. The SITKA Gear Men’s Heavyweight Shirt is an excellent mid-layer fleece, and the Kevoom jacket will work well as an outer layer.

Winter Camouflage Legwear

Wearing winter camouflage pants and bottom layers can be a bit simpler than layering shirts and jackets. For instance, don’t worry whether your first layer, thermal underwear, is camouflaged since it likely will never be exposed.

A good choice for thermal underwear, which includes both tops and bottoms and can serve as a base layer for both parts of the body, is the Ultra Dry set. It comes in white and also in a gray camouflage pattern that could work well for some winter hunting.

Atop your thermal underwear, you’ll wear your hunting pants. Arctix Men’s Snow Sports Cargo Pants are an excellent choice. One great thing about the Arctix hunting pants is that they give you a choice of camouflage patterns for staying invisible in snow.

When selecting winter hunting pants, always choose a pair rated either waterproof or water resistant. If you can’t find waterproof or water-resistant pants you like, you should add a pair of camouflaged pull-on rain paints to your layering.

Winter Camouflage Accessories

Obviously, covering your torso and legs is only part of addressing winter camouflage needs. You’ll also need to conceal your head and feet. Read on for help in camouflaging those areas and for information on other camouflage accessories.

1. Headwear

Winter hunting headgear includes the classic beanie to keep the top and sides of the head warm. There are also earflap-equipped hats that extend protection to the ears. But if you’re hunting in a winter environment where you need to be camouflaged, there’s only one choice: the balaclava.

A balaclava covers the full head and, when camouflaged for winter hunting, is invaluable for blending hunters into the background.

One of the best choices for a camouflaged balaclava for winter hunting is the set of balaclavas offered by Satinioir. The set includes three camouflage patterns, from stark black and white to grayish brown to brown mixed with green, so you can expertly match your surroundings.

2. Footwear

There are plenty of effective camouflage patterns on winter hunting boots. Just be sure to choose boots with plenty of insulation, along with an aggressive tread pattern to keep you from slipping on frozen ground.

It’s also important for your boots to be constructed of tough material. Oxford fabric is a good choice for a camouflaged winter hunting boot, as is rubber, which will trap human scent. Among the great choices for camouflaged winter hunting boots are TIDEWE rubber hunting boots and Rocky Retraction boots.

3. Gloves

When assembling winter camouflage, don’t forget your hands will need protection from the cold. When choosing camouflage gloves for winter hunting, don’t worry too much about whether the camouflage pattern includes snowy whites or grays.

You’ll likely be standing when you fire your weapon, which means your background likely will be vegetation rather than snow. As a result, a brown or gray camouflage pattern will work.

winter camouflage

Other Tips for Winter Camouflage

Now that you’ve learned the basics of winter camouflage, let’s look at making that camouflage as effective as possible. Read on for some advice for keeping yourself and your gear as inconspicuous as possible.

Blend Real Nature Into Your Winter Camouflage

An important aspect of effective winter camouflage is merging your shape and the shape of your weapon and gear into the natural background. To do that, you’ll want to take advantage of the vegetation, dead and alive, in the landscape.

Bring some twine, safety pins, or some non-glossy and dark-colored adhesive tape with you to the woods. When you’re there, cut some branches, leaves, and other natural items and attach them to your camouflage.

Of course, that’s not advisable to do with your weapon. But camouflaging your weapon is a simple matter of using a snow-imitating camouflage wrap. Don’t worry about covering your entire weapon or entire pieces of gear with camouflage wrap. It’s OK to leave some spaces uncovered.

In fact, irregularly spacing your camouflage wrap may actually help it to disappear against a winter woodland background.

As another tip, if you’re carrying a backpack or attaching gear to your clothing, consider adding strips of white fabric to them. The strips will help sustain the irregular outlines that are key to effective camouflage.

Avoiding Silhouettes and Shadows

No matter how well your winter camouflage conceals you, it can’t overcome your shadow or silhouette. To avoid casting shadows that could betray your presence, look for other shadows — from trees, boulders, cliffs, or other landscape features — in which to stand or move.

To keep your silhouette hidden, pay careful attention to your surroundings. Don’t stand or move anywhere that the sky, a lake, a cliff face, or any other large, flat, monochromatic surface is your only background.

Maintaining Silence

Camouflage is designed to keep you hidden. But even the best winter camouflage won’t be effective if you’re making a lot of noise.

To animals, the sound of a human moving at a steady pace through the woods is unnaturally regular. To make it difficult for animals to detect you by sound, vary your pace and try to avoid leaves, fallen branches, and other vegetation that crackles underfoot.

Disguising Smells

It’s well known that animals have a much keener sense of smell than humans. In addition to your own body odor, you’ll likely be carrying the scent of hygiene products, detergents, and other items into the woods. To minimize those smells, try rubbing your camouflage clothing with plants and other vegetation in the immediate environment.

To conceal bad breath, chewing on strongly scented vegetation like pine needles can help. You might be tempted to try standing in campfire smoke to conceal odors, but if you’re in a remote area where campfires aren’t common, that strategy might instead alert animals.

winter camouflage

Wrapping Up Winter Camouflage

Now that you know choosing winter camouflage can be tricky, you’re prepared to make informed choices. Survival World also offers other help with cold-weather outdoor skills, from how to start a fire with wet wood to building a survival shelter.

Take time to explore Survival World for guidance in mastering bushcraft skills.