Camo is more than a cool, militaristic look—it’s a tool that uses the science behind how animals see to help you blend into your environment on high-stakes chases. The technology used to create camo patterns continues to advance, providing hunters with new possibilities for tracking big and small game.
This is our guide to some of the hottest and most effective new hunting camo patterns on the market.
But first, let’s review what makes camo such a powerful hunting tool.
The Science Behind Camo
To choose which camo will work best for your hunt, consider these three elements of camo design and how they can best serve what type of hunting you’ll be doing:
The only way to know which camo is right for you is to get out into your potential hunting spots and check out the terrain, which will change throughout the seasons. If you plan to hunt the same spot from early fall through winter, take note of how the land looks through wet, dry, and snow seasons.
Many elements found in nature—from flora to fauna to everything in between—are a blend of colors. Almost nothing in nature is one solid color.
Wood is not only a blend of browns and blacks but also yellows, reds, and oranges. Marsh grass is tan, composed of a blend of brown and green.
By taking a picture of your local terrain, you can compare the colors to the different camo patterns found on the market. Whether you need more shades of green and black, or white and grey or tan and brown will completely depend on what your objective is, as well as what you plan on applying the camouflage to.
Throughout history, hunters tried their best to blend in with nature, but camouflage patterns are a more recent development.
Camo was originally a military concept. Units painted their buildings and vehicles in camo to break up the industrialized shapes. When hunters tried to use them back home, they realized these large blotchy patterns and bright colors stood out against the different terrain.
To blend in, hunters began wearing plaid and smudging dirt on their clothes. This led to the use of stripes to blend in with bark and grass.
The camo that followed this bark-style camo added more textures over time, including leaves, grasses, barks, and more.
Modern patterns are designed to help you blend in seamlessly with your environment. Nature rarely uses one texture, with the bases of trees being surrounded by grass and bushes. Today, patterns include all sorts of different textures and techniques to help you blend into your surroundings.
Photo-realistic artwork, pixelated designs, and organic shapes are all new ways to create the illusion of invisibility. Granted, the classic military patterns are still used today as well, because you can’t fix what isn’t broken.
Depending on where you’re hunting, you’ll need more grass camo, more woods camo, or more snow camo. Some patterns will provide a general amount of camouflage for a wider variety of environments while others will be specialized for specific locations.
Depending on what time of day it is, light creates shadows that bounce off a human figure, creating a silhouette that can make a hunter stick out like a sore thumb. Effective camouflage creates an illusion of depth that makes the wearer appear to be broken up into smaller objects at different distances.
Imagine that you look out at an ocean horizon during a sailing race—obviously, some boats will be closer to shore than other boats. Your eye will try to naturally distinguish which ones are further out to sea and which ones are closer to you. Camouflage works in the same way.
The Best Camo on the Market
Now that you have an idea of how camo works, you can peruse some of the hottest camo patterns on the market.
1. RealTree Xtra
The Realtree Xtra is a popular woods camo being used across the U.S.
RealTree has a history of developing next-level camo patterns that blend in with wooded habitats by utilizing a photorealistic appearance. This pattern can be found in everyday wardrobes–it’s on shirts, hats, sweaters, gloves, pants, boots, and much more.
RealTree Xtra starts with a matte background blended with tones of tan and brown. Large and small branches cover the design, primarily up and down to represent standing trees, with some branches being horizontal to represent branches and fallen trees. The pattern also utilizes brown leaves to match fallen trees and trees during color change. Patches of pine needles add a bit of green to the pattern.
The 12 distinct natural colors in this pattern make it ideal for use any time of the year.
2. King’s Camo Desert Shadow
If you’ve ever found yourself wandering the deserts of the U.S., then you know that traditional woods camo will likely fall short.
King’s Camo Desert Shadow camo wasn’t created to blend in with sand dunes but rather the transitional dry brush regions at the border of deserts. These regions are primarily sand-covered ground with dry, tan sand. Within this dried grass are small, dark green shrubs.
King’s Camo Desert Shadow achieves this look with a tan and grey background, covered in a leaf pattern to create the appearance of dead plants. Small branches and twigs create the appearance of small trees or bushes, and small patches of green create the natural appearance of small shrubs.
These shrub-filled desert lands are found through California, Texas, Nevada, Eastern Colorado, and through parts of Michigan. With such a universal pattern, it’s no surprise that the King’s Camo Desert Shadow has become such a popular choice for hunters.
3. RealTree Max-5
If you’re hunting in marsh and wetlands, you’ll need a very specific camo.
Marshlands are covered in grasses, lilies, trees, cattails, water, and a wide range of nature, so how do you create a camo that works in these environments?
RealTree Max-5 camo features a background of scratchy browns and greys complemented by “moss growth” to help blend with fallen trees. RealTree then stacks a wide range of grasses atop each other, creating a universal camo.
This camo has been successfully used along the shores of rivers, within marshes and swamps, within wetlands, and in nearby cornfields–all great spots for a proper waterfowl hunt.
The secret to RealTree Max-5 success is the multiple layers of green shades. As the camo becomes wet during rain or the morning dew, the green tints begin to darken and become more vivid, giving the camo a more life-like or early spring look. As the camo dries, these green accents are less noticeable, giving a dry grass appearance.
4. King’s Camo Snow Shadow
As the snow begins to fall, some terrain becomes nearly unrecognizable. Snow completely covers trees, grass, and low foliage.
Depending on the amount of snowfall, outdoor temperature, and style of snowfall, the terrain could look very different. So how do you create a camo to match this range of appearances?
King’s Camo Snow Shadow starts with a white background covered in various shading to create depth. Branches are used to blend in with small trees and fallen branches, stripped of their bark. Leaves are less defined, using shades of tan and white to create a snow-covered appearance.
This camo finds success in a wide range of northern regions, from snow-covered woods to fields and desert regions.
5. RealTree Timber
The RealTree Timber bark camo is one of the most successful camo patterns on the market. RealTree uses its high-definition pattern technology to create 3D bark camo that works in a variety of habitats.
From the great redwood forests of California to the swamps of the South West, many hunters find their comfort in the woods leaned against a tree. The best way to blend into a tree is to look like its bark.
RealTree Timber uses darker patterns to create a shadowed tree effect. The background is a horizontal blend of dark browns, blacks, and greys. Small twigs and layers of bark create a woodsy look. Lastly, drop shadows add depth, making the design look like it's popping off your body.
6. Prym1 Multi-Purpose
Prym1 Multi-Purpose Camouflage is the next generation when it comes to patterns. Instead of using the classic shapes or realistic artwork, Prym1 takes its influence from nature itself in an abstract replication of a jaguar's inherent patterns.
Using organic break-up patterns, the Multi-Purpose is just that: Optimal for the woods, rocks, and even urban locations. The greens, browns, and tans swell and swirl in a way that disappears to the eye and allows its user to blend in wherever they are.
Take advantage of the same patterns that the most feared, apex predators do and disguise yourself as nature intended. Prym1 also comes in a wide variety of other functional color palettes such as Woodlands and Sand Storm, as well as a few purely for style such as Pink Out.
7. TrueTimber HTC Green
When hunting in the woods, you have to deal with a lot of changing colors. The leaves begin to turn and suddenly there are more browns than there are greens to match.
The TrueTimber HTC Green pattern offers a design that will provide camouflage during the early and midseason by blending incredibly realistic leaves and interlocking branches, able to match the forest at any time during its transition.
An excellent combination of oak limbs, leaves, and twigs blend right in with the woods and brush, providing you and your weapon the ability to disappear into your surroundings. Whether it’s Spring or Fall, TrueTimber has your back.
8. PenCott Greenzone
People have different opinions on pixelated camouflage, and we agree that there are poor executions of it out there. This isn’t one of them.
The PenCott Greenzone pattern was created using mathematical theories that use just four colors in such a way that it creates the illusion of more tones than are actually there. This illusion works best at a distance and is intended for tropical, heavy-wooded environments; however, it works excellently for hunting and other general tactical situations.
The design is excellent at blending in and tricking the eye when outdoors by breaking up expectations, and also comes in BadLands and SnowDrift. Whether you’re out in a rainforest, crawling through the sand, or making your way through the snow, PenCott’s digital design takes the intricate pixel technology we’ve become so attached to and uses it out in the real world.
9. GS Military OCP
While the US military has the exclusive rights to the specific camo that they use, the GS Military OCP, or Operational Camouflage Pattern, takes inspiration from the design and creates a pattern that civilians can use.
We developed this pattern as a tribute to veterans and individuals in active service, dedicated to protecting the peace and displaying their experience as a soldier proudly. Granted, this pattern isn’t just for show.
The blend of colors used in the GS Military OCP is flexible under different lights, allowing for coverage in a variety of environments. The matte finish changes tones depending on the light source, providing coverage wherever you might find yourself.
10. StalkLand Void
Hunting in snowy conditions can be tricky. Your footsteps are significantly more obvious, and you have to decide whether you blend in with the white snow or the exposed brush around you. Professional hunters will know the secret—it’s a blend.
The StalkLand Void pattern is perfect camouflage for your weapon or gear in the snow as it seamlessly wisps from crisp white to a smoky grey, allowing you to blend into a complex background of snow and trees.
The key to StalkLands design is the deceivingly simple patterns the inlay within the Void. From a distance, the camo appears to be like a snowy mirage, a blur of light colors. But this is achieved by a combination of feathering, clouds, and a snake-skin-like pattern that all come together to create the perfect illusion.
The Right Camo
Choosing the right camo can make or break your hunt, whether you’re woodland deer hunters or duck hunters in the mucky terrain. While camo helps you disappear into the natural elements, the incorrect camo could cause you to stand out and become more noticeable.
Once you’ve chosen the best camo for your hunt, you’ll want to take your gear one step further. It’s time to move away from black gun barrels and off-colored calls by wrapping your gear with GunSkins.
GunSkins has partnered with the top camo manufacturers to bring you a wide range of equipment wraps to match your needs. With the ability to adhere to any solid surface, you can now match your guns, bows, calls, boxes, binoculars, and other important gear with a one-of-a-kind look.
It’s time to take your hunt to the next level and blend in with GunSkins.