Choose Your Battle Dress Uniform (BDUs)
Military clothing known as Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs) will be used for the inner base of our ghillie suit. BDUs were the stardard combat uniform for the U.S. military until 2005. Since then, each military branch has replaced the BDUs with their own combat uniform. The U.S. Army now wears the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), and the U.S. Marine Corps issues the Marne Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU). Any of these newer combat uniforms can be used to make a ghillie suit. Here is the pair of BDUs we will be using for this tutorial:
We recommend you try to hunt down a pair of used ACUs or BDUs. A used pair is a fraction of the cost of new ones, plus they are usually in great shape. The closer you are to a city with a military base, the better. Cities with military bases should have a military surplus store that sells used military clothing, but you can find the best deals at Goodwill. Goodwill only has so much shelf space and will "red tag" items to sell quickly to make room for more merchandise. At Goodwill, we found a Large-Regular BDU jacket and pants in woodland camouflage. The jacket was only $6.99, and the pants cost only $1 since they had a red sticker on them. That's a great deal and beats paying $60-$80 for a brand new set.
You can find a Goodwill store near you at Goodwill.org.
A note about the two side cargo pockets on used BDU pants. Some soldiers do not use the side pockets and sew them shut for convenience. If you are planning to use these pockets, be sure to check for this when you are shopping. For the pants we bought for this tutorial, the two cargo pockets were sewn shut with their buttons removed.
BDUs are being phased out of the military but are still worn by law enforcement agencies to conduct tactical operations. New ACUs and BDUs can be bought online at BDU.com or stores that sell tactical gear. They will cost more than used ones, but you will have a wider selection of color patterns.
When shopping for a jacket and pants, try to find a set that best matches the color pattern of your ghillie suit kit. It doesn't have to be an exact match, but don't stray too far from your base color. For example, you normally wouldn't use a desert BDU for a leafy green ghillie suit. Here are some common color patterns of military clothing:
|Standard Woodland||Digital Woodland||3 Color Desert|
|Digital Desert||Multicam||All Terrain Digital|
If you plan to wear your ghillie suit in the winter, considering getting a BDU jacket in a larger size than normal to make room for extra clothing. The pants are baggy so you might have room for additional clothing without having to go up a size.
Most BDUs and other combat uniforms are made using a combination of cotton with nylon or polyester. Cotton will be twill or ripstop. Twill fabric has a diagonal thread pattern. BDUs with twill cotton are generally heavier but more comfortable to wear. Ripstop fabric is woven in a crosshatch pattern that looks like a checkerboard. The ripstop pattern is more resistant to tears and weighs less.
Alternatives to BDUs
An alternative to BDUs are military flight suits. However, we prefer to use BDUs over flight suits for the inner base since BDU fabric is far more durable.