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Powerful winter storms are currently sweeping across much of the United States, and this freezing weather serves as a reminder that many Americans aren't adequately prepared for the cold. This is somewhat understandable, since many of us only have to deal with it occasionally, and some of us never experience it in our home states. If you want to learn about how to survive in the bitter cold and deep snow, it's wise to learn from those who operate in it frequently. Our friends at Varusteleka, a Finnish company that manufactures and sells military and outdoor gear, certainly qualify — they're perfectly comfortable hiking and shooting in what many Americans would consider extreme cold. So, read on as we share some of the snow camouflage tips they've compiled.
These tips are from an article originally published on Varusteleka's blog. We have shared them with permission.
When there is some snow on the ground but the trees, bushes, and other scenery are bare, a good combination is the M05 snow camo pants and the M05 winter camo or M05 woodland camo jacket. This will camouflage you quite well against the horizon, for example in the forest or at the edge of a clearing. The pants blend in the snowy ground and the upper body in the dark forest background.
When using this kind of a mixed outfit, the presumption is that the forest/other background is darker than the snowy ground. In such a case, the upper body gear (vest, PC, helmet, backpack, etc.), gun, and face camouflage should blend in the dark background. Green or M05 woodland camo combat gear is a good start. If necessary, you can also further camouflage your gear with e.g. spruce twigs. It is also good to mask your face with either a black or green balaclava or camo face paints.
When the season is a bit indecisive, many soldiers have trouble figuring out what kind of clothes to bring. It isn’t completely unusual that out of nowhere snow just invades the landscape, and you don’t have any snow camo with you. Or you pack all your cool snow camo with you and then the forest turns green again when the snow melts. You can ease this pain by taking along just a light snow camouflage layer, for example, Särmä TST L7 camouflage pants and anorak because they are super light and easily packable. When things turn snowy, you just put on the light camo outfit on top of everything else. Easy Peasy.
When there is craploads of snow all over the place, a solid and simple choice is an M05 snow camo outfit. It is usually more problematic to camouflage the rest of the gear because they are usually green or in a woodland camo pattern. Very few troops have snow camo gear as an option. But worry not, with a little DIY action you can fix this in no time.
You can camouflage your gear with strips of white fabric that you attach to the PALS webbing or other suitable points. When done right, the white camouflage material on a dark background emulates the M05 snow camo very well and makes you disappear in the snowy forest very efficiently. You should select a material that doesn’t suck… in moisture and freeze into stiff sticks in cold weather. Furthermore, you should test the new stuff thoroughly in advance so that the added thingamajiggies don’t prevent access to the pockets, cling on to the gun, or do something else potentially hazardous.
The easiest way to make your face disappear is a white balaclava. Another option is to use a white and black face paint stick that you use to create a snow camo pattern on your face. Paint your face white and add black details to cover up the highlighted landmarks of the face, such as your nose. Very familiar for corpse paint aficionados in heavy metal circles.
The Finnish army uses face paints even in the wintertime. High-quality face paints don't really increase the risk of being frostbitten during normal (Finnish) winters as long as you make sure that there isn't any moisture between your skin and the paint layer. You need to be aware of all the possible risks especially during very cold days since detecting possible frostbites is very difficult when you have paint on your face. In extreme situations, you need to estimate what is the bigger problem, being detected by the enemy or being frostbitten.
A completely black gun is easy to spot on a snowy background and on a snow camo-covered combatant, so it is good to camouflage the gun as well. The easiest solution is a white or snow camo wrap or snow camo tape. If you want to play it safe, you can create a snow camo pattern using a can of white and dark grey spray paint. (NOTE! Don’t do this with army-issued guns or you will end up breaking rocks at some penal colony in a remote hellhole you’ve never even heard of before.) When you camouflage your gun, it is vital that it stays operational. No camo material should ever make the gun unusable or difficult to use, and you should always be able to see what you want to shoot.