A Brief History of Camouflage

Today’s camouflage is a technological marvel. Hyper-realistic images of leaves, branches and grass are layered over and under various shades of earth to create a three-dimensional mosaic which allows outdoorsmen to blend into the specific landscape they are hunting or fishing. In a way, modern camouflage patterns have more in common with the camouflage of 500 years ago than they do with more recent patterns utilized by hunters and the military.

But before we get further into today’s camouflage, let’s take a look back at the history of camouflage and how it has been used to fool mother nature.

At its most basic, camouflage is a tool used to help hunters mask their outline. If an animal can’t see a hunter, the hunter’s job becomes much easier. Animals’ ability to hide from predators, either through adaptation (ducks’ feather patterns, for instance) or artificial means (think of a crab that adds various pieces to its shell), was the inspiration for man’s earliest attempts at blending in.

Many believe that ghillie suits (an over suit made of netting and cloth which makes the wearer look an awful lot like a swamp creature) were the first widespread use of camouflage by hunters. This is not the case. In fact, the first recorded usage of camouflage by humans can be attributed to ships in ancient Greece, which used a blue-gray shade of paint to blend into the water and sky, and appear smaller at a distance.

For land-based camouflage, there are various recorded accounts of camouflage being used to aid both hunters and militaries for disguise dating back to the 1600s. As weapons improved and military skirmishes become less proper and more guerilla-like, the use of camouflage became even more important in order to turn the tides of war.

Two British Army units fighting in the Napoleonic War became the first groups to incorporate a sort of camouflage into their uniforms. These units used green jackets rather than the red coats which had become a trademark for infantry units in the British Army. Fast forward a few decades and camouflage became standard for military units. After all, if they can’t see you, how can they shoot you? The same holds true for hunters, though hunters are less concerned with prey shooting back at them.

The number of camouflage options available to hunters today is enormous, but absolutely positive. Brands, like Real Tree, have developed patterns for everything from snowy fields, mountainous terrain, flooded timber and swampy marshland. Regardless of where you’re planning to hunt, there is a pattern that will help you blend in like never before. The only headache for hunters is being able to afford hunting gear in all of the shades and patterns one might need.

What’s also different today than in years past is the technology for putting this incredible camouflage patterns on non-clothing gear. If you’ve ever wondered how companies get an intricate camouflage pattern on a firearm, check out this video. It’s almost like magic.

Even though a lot of outdoorsmen use hunting, fishing, and other outdoors activities, to get closer to nature and remove themselves from many of today’s headaches, there’s no denying how important technological advances are for enjoying the outdoors. Camouflage technology has certainly come a long way, and will continue to evolve and improve in the coming years. Regardless of how advanced our technology becomes, it’s worth remembering that this tech is designed to do one thing: fool millions of years of evolution. Oh, and to make your truck look really cool as well.

Speaking of camouflage, Wader Sox are now available in our old school camo pattern. You can grab a pair here.

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