A ghillie (the “h” is silent) suit is a type of camouflage often worn by snipers and reconnaissance troops. As seen above they conceal the wearer very well when deployed properly. Making your own ghillie suit does take a lot of time, but it is not difficult and yields a much more effective product than store bought systems – I promise!
“So what kind of ghillie suit should i make?” There are quiet a few types of ghillie suits and each serves a different purpose. I chose to build what is called a stalker suit which covers my head, shoulders and back. This fits well with my style of airsoft play and accomplishes exactly what I had intended it to, although it has evolved quite a bit since I began building it. Below are some excellent sets of videos on ghillie suit philosophy and construction. I would consider these a must watch for anyone attempting a ghillie suit build. I admit watching them is time consuming, but the knowledge you will gain is definitely worth it.
Now, these videos came out after I built my stalker suit so there are some differences between their suits and mine. Below are my explanation and my recommendations:
I used the neck and shoulder portion of
a BDU jacket to help my stalker suit to conform to my body. In the future I will most likely forego this and make the entire garment out of netting. Note that this can be built with or without a hood.
Also Note: A full ghillie or “crawler suit” (explained in the above videos) requires a garment underneath the netting in order to protect you from the ground. A flight suit is your best bet here.
I used a 3/4 inch netting just like the videos show and it works very well. The squares are just the right size to shove in grass and small branches and twigs. If you want to add clumps of leaves or larger limbs to your suit, sew in some elastic loops or tie them in with para cord.
The arms of my stalker suit are elbow length and are open on the bottom. I did this so that I could don and doff the suit easily. As you can see in the photo, I tried Velcro, magnets (in the camouflage pouch) and a simple para cord loop to provide a closure. The para cord loop worked best. Although a closed sleeve is going to be more stable, I would keep the bottom of it open again as it aids in heat dissipation That said, if you are making full length sleeves I would recommend sticking with a traditional fully enclosed format and possibly cutting out the armpits for breathability.
My stalker suit is very short in the chest. I did this on purpose so that I would have full access to a vest or chest rig worn underneath. However, this puts almost all of the weight of the suit in the rear and pulls on my throat with the button fastened. To remedy this, I ended up adding the buckles seen on either side of the button in the top photo and two more low on either side, (seen at right) clipping the garment into my plate carrier/chest rig almost like a super cool invisibility cape
I built a separate ghillie hat to go with my stalker suit. I did this so that I could wear just the hat if I only needed minimal concealment. As you can see, all I did was zip tie a piece of netting to a boonie hat and added material. Voila! Simple and effective.
I also built a separate pair of pants to go with my stalker suit. I never fielded them and have since gotten rid of them because I’ve found I don’t hardly ever stay in one place long enough to find them necessary- and in my area the natural foliage is thick enough that it is easy to hide. If you desire full body coverage though I would highly recommend you build a full ghillie “crawler” suit.
I used jute (burlap) on my stalker suit and hat. I’ve also seen recommendations using “leaves” to break up the monotony of a full jute suit. However, in my part of the country, there are medium brown leaves on the ground everywhere year round. In the spring and summer, varying shades of green foliage grow from it and in the fall the grass dries and a new bed of leaves falls. All of these can be added to my ghillie to conceal it as seen in the first photo.
Most of the time when you build a ghillie suit out of jute (burlap) you’ll want to dye the jute before applying it to the suit. I constructed my entire suit without dying anything and then buried it for about 6 months in the fall so that the rains and snows would get it good and wet and hopefully leech plenty of dirt into the fibers. As you can see, this worked quite well! However, I do not consider my suit finished because it’s mostly one color. I intend to take some of the jute off and replace it with a lighter color in order to break up the shape of the suit like I have with my hat.
My stalker suit took many (many!) hours to research, design and build. That said, it is now a one of a kind garment that conceals me very well and meshes with my style of play perfectly, so it was worth it. If you are looking to build any type of ghillie, the bottom line I can give you is to do your research and pay attention to the colors in your area of operations.