Ghille Suits 101
The mission we had been given back at base had seemed easy enough. ”Take and Hold Bunker in sector 5-A for 30 minutes”. After the long hike through the dense forest, we had made it to our objective without incident. Rare, considering that there was over 500 players at this scenario game. The surreal quietness of the forest made me nervous. Anxious to get back to base, I checked my watch. We had been at the bunker for almost 20 minutes. “ How much longer till the missions over?” I asked. The team gathered near our squad leader as he unfolded the yellow mission card the he had been keeping in his BDU pocket. No one ever saw where the first shot came from. The only evidence of its existence was the solitary magenta splat located in on our Squad leader’s right shoulder. I quickly scanned the area while simultaneously diving for cover. A second shot seemed to materialize from somewhere deep in the brush, finding its final resting place upon our medic’s goggles. Feverishly, I try to locate the source of the incoming rounds. Frustration and confusion had taken control of the situation. Several of my teammates begin to fire blindly into the brush. A futile attempt indeed, for under the veil of our own fire we had allowed several more shots make their way through the foliage. All of them striking without remorse on their unsuspecting victims. I never saw the round that hit me. I only felt that all too familiar sting. Not just the impact of the paintball, but also the bitter sting of a mission lost. Ten yards away, like a creature born from some 50’s horror movie, the sniper rose from his hide. His Ghille suit made it difficult to track him even as he walked out of the woods. Another mission had been completed. “Snipe Bunker in sector 5-A”.
Ghille suits are one of those “ must have” items for anyone playing the sniper role. Unfortunately, with a price tag between $250 to $700, most would just as soon do without. Don’t fret my fellow bush bandits, you too can own your very own for a fraction of what it would cost to buy one. We are going to show you how to build your own for under $80.00. I would suggest reading this article in its entirety before starting to build. This will ensure that you don’t make any mistakes or miss a step that will cost you a lot of time to fix later So clear off the kitchen table and break out those craft scissors you had in third grade, its craft time.
What you need:
You can find these at Army surplus stores. Get a green one if you can find it. If you can’t find a flight suit, an old pair of BDU’s work just a well. FYI, if you want a two piece Ghille suit, use BDU’s
These are the wide brimmed hats that you find in most Army surplus stores. They make excellent headgear because they allow the burlap to fall away from the head. This helps break up your neckline.
What’s the point in covering everything else up, only to have your hands give you away? An old pair of gloves that you use in the garden will work just fine.
Caulking Gun with 2 tubes of silicone adhesive –
This is the same stuff that you use to seal windows and counter tops. They also sell it under the name Polyseam sealer. Make sure you get the clear kind. Liquid nails works also and is faster drying, but doesn’t tolerate damp weather as well.
Check your local sporting goods retailer. Most sell it in giant sheets that will cover a car. Some have camo patterns printed on them as well, which will save you time by not having to dye it. The tighter woven burlap will last a lot longer. How thick you want your suit will determine how much you need. Most suits will require about a 6x12 sheet.
This is entirely optional. I personally don’t dye my suites because I buy the printed burlap. But, if your burlap is a real bright tan color, you may want to take the extra step. Rit makes a wide variety of colors that are easy to use. Buy colors that match the area that you play in. For example, if you play in the woods, dark greens, browns, and black will work just fine.
Scissors, Old Hairbrush, Wax paper, hacksaw, ¾” wide masking tape
You want to think about what kind of suit you intend on building. There are a few things that you need to take into consideration before you start construction. Building a Ghille suit is much easier if you plan out all the items that you want to include ahead of time. Here are a few of the more popular options, but don’t limit yourself. Remember that there are hundreds of ways to build a Ghille suit. We have compiled these directions to be used a foundation. Each suit is a work of art that expresses the individual builder’s interpretation of nature. Plus they look really cool.
Heat stroke is not fun. Think about the conditions that you play in the most. If it is hot most of the year, build your suit over a pair of summer BDU’s. You can also use less burlap to help in the heat dissipation.
This is very important. You don’t want a leafy dark green suit if you play in the desert. Try to match your colors with your surroundings. If you play in tall pines, use medium to dark greens intertwined with brown. Plan out on paper the color scheme. Use angled streaks of color to help break up the human shape. The paper will be useful when you start laying out the different colored burlap. The idea here is to blend in with nature as best as possible.
This is the fun part. Because of the Ghille suits nature, you can sew just about anything in them. Neoprene makes great padding in the knees and elbows. You can add a ball harness inside as well. Just sew all the strapping to the suit prior to construction. Some people even include water systems such as Camelbacks to combat against dehydration on those long missions. You may want to add extra material in the front of the legs. This will make a stronger suit when crawling. Hoods can be sewn into the collar of the BDU or Flight suit so you don’t have to wear a hat. There is no limit to the options that you can include, so use your imagination.
If you bought your burlap in large sheets, roll it up lengthwise as tight as you can. In 3” intervals, wrap the burlap with masking tape to hold it tight. With the hacksaw, you should be able to cut through the burlap on the tapeline. The tape will help keep it from unraveling while you cut. When you’re done cutting, you should have a 3-inch wide roll with tape on both ends. Leave the rolls bound up with tape when you’re done.
Follow your Dye manufactures directions. You can dye the burlap as it is rolled up. This makes handling it a little easier. Be sure to unroll it after dyeing so it will dry out.
Precut your strips
Prepare your burlap after it has been rolled, dyed, & dried. Cut it in approximately 10” lengths. Do not cut all of it. You will need several long strips for your hat, mask & other areas.
If you are going to add on options such as pads, harness, hood, etc, you will want to attach them first before applying the burlap. It makes it a lot easier than trying to wrestle with all that extra material getting in the way.
1. Turn your Flight suit or BDU’s inside out. This will make your pockets accessible from the inside. Otherwise, crawling may cause you may lose items in your pockets. Lay your garment front side down. Try to flatten it out as much as possible. A good hard working surface will make this stage a lot easier.
2. We are going to start with the back at the legs. Run a bead of adhesive about 5 inches above the cuff of the left pant leg. Work on one section at a time.
3. Lay your strips of burlap side by side in the adhesive. Remember your color pattern that you had laid out before. Use a piece of wax paper to mash the adhesive until it seeps into the burlap. Butt the next strip up to the side of the other strip. If you are trying to build a cooler or lighter suit, you can add some space between the strips.
4. Now you can lay the next row on. Apply another bead of adhesive & burlap about 2 inches above the previous row. For thicker suits, apply the adhesive closer to the previous row.
5. Continue this until you have covered the entire leg. Do the same with the right leg. If you are using BDU pants, set them aside to allow the adhesive time to cure completely. The manufacturer should have the complete cure times listed on the container. Flight suit users can continue to apply material until the entire back is covered. Do not do the arms yet.
6. Once the adhesive had had time to cure, we can start on the arms & shoulders. You need to put the suit on a chair, or better yet, have a friend wear it while you apply the strips. This will help you when you with placement when applying the burlap.
7. Attach the burlap in the same manner as you did with the legs. Start at the cuff and work your way to the shoulders. You may want to add some longer strips as you get past the elbow. This will make your arms appear to blend with your body, thus hiding your human shape even more. If you built a hood into your suit, go ahead and continue to apply the strips on that as well. Once the arms and shoulders are done, let your suit cure before starting the other side.
8. Now we can move to the front of the suit. Unlike military snipers, paintball snipers are a lot more mobile. Because of this, you may want to cover your entire suit. This is a personal preference. I like my suits to completely cover me. This helps out if you want to stand in tall foliage without being seen. The downside is that the areas around your knees and waist will wear quickly and may require a lot of maintenance.
9. Now we move on to one of the most important areas, the headgear. This is for your hat only. If you built a hood into your suit, you can skip this section. This is the part of the suit that will require the longer strips of burlap. You will want the burlap to hang from the hat to about the middle of your back. Don’t worry, when the suit is completed they won’t be that long. Go ahead and cut a lot of them ahead of time. You will need enough to cover the entire hat. Start at the brim of the hat. Using the longer strips, attach them to the top edge. Cover the entire circumference of the brim. Continue to work your way up to the top of the hat until the entire hat is covered. At the top of the hat, attach a few short strips in the opposite direction. This will make the top appear a little more irregular. Put your mask & hat. Cut out window in the burlap that hangs in front of your lens. You can leave a little bit hanging around the brim. This is a personal preference, so cut enough that won’t interfere with your vision.
10. Almost done! We just have to tweak our mask and gloves. When you attach burlap to your mask, don’t use adhesive. The vents in most mask are large enough to allow you to tie the strips in. Make them long enough to hang down to about mid chest. This will help to conceal your neckline. Your gloves are simple. Just attach small segments to each finger.
11. Once your suit has been covered, put it on and look for “holes” in a mirror. Anywhere that don’t seem to blend in with the rest of the suit should be filled in.
12. Now comes decision time. You can leave the suit the way it is now, or you can fray the burlap. Frayed burlap has a much more natural look in grassy or small leafy areas. Raw burlap hides better in large leaf areas. To do this, take out the horizontal strands about ¾ the way up the length of the strip of burlap. Use your comb to fray the vertical strands until they resemble frizzy hair. Take the frizzy strands and twist them together. The strip will now resemble a matted “dreadlocks”. Continue this until the suit is complete.
13. Congratulations! You are now geared up for a good day of sniping on your local field.