As a kid, i always liked playing hide-and-seek. This allowed me to try different tricks with which i cold make myself less visible to others in different environments. It wasn’t long, until i got my first Yugoslav military basha from my grandfather and started to carry it around everywhere i went.
There’s something special about that feeling, when you’ve made a perfect hiding spot and the person looking for you is starring directly at your position at close range and has no idea you’re there. This is where my admiration for camouflage systems began. This brings me to our latest in-depth review of the Ultralight Ghillie in Natural Blind 3D pattern by BEGADI.
The idea behind this type of ghillie suit is not a new one. Companies like Realtree, Cabela’s and Mossy Oak yield great success with their 3D camo prints. This is a new 3D print in the leafy camouflage system family. The colour scheme is new but the principles are the same.
Almost from the very start of ghillie suit use by Scottish gamekeepers, coloured strips of materials were used in combination with foliage to build these suits. The point is to break up the shape of the object you’re trying to hide, ideally not sacrificing manoeuvrability.
From hand made military spec ghillie suits to commercially available sets, they all have one thing in common. They all try to replicate the shape, colour and movement of surrounding foliage. Over the past years there were several discussions on which material is to me used for best results.
Burlap was the favourite in military and police circles. But hunters and sport users usually tend not to spend days or weeks on tedious burlap weaving and padding, not to mention that a burlap suit on it’s own is rarely effective, which makes adding foliage from the environment crucial.
This is probably because of the fact that their lives do not depend on the build of their suits. Also as great as burlap is, it has some down sides. Not being rot proof, it takes more effort to care for it. And the biggest issues of course are weight, warmth and packability. Luckily there are several great commercially available items which take care of these issues. And the item in this review is one of them. With the use of fabric printing, they can replicate the texture of the surroundings identically and provide effective camouflage systems to the masses. Light and breathable, these systems are more user friendly than their military counterparts. It is not unusual for military units to adopt this kind of camouflage however. French forces introduced their first 3D camo system as early as 1994 and are widely used amongst specialised units all over the world.
As mentioned before, this is a 3D print leafy camo system. The base layer is made of light-weight ultra breathable 100% Polyester mesh and printed with Natural Blind camouflage pattern.
The other one is more on the green side of the spectrum with less brown details. It is unfortunate, that the print is applied only to one side of the mesh, as the mesh colour is light grey and a bit on the shiny side. Luckily the print on the front is thick and there is no colour leakage from the mesh.
The leafy part sewn over this mesh is several vertical strips of light-weight 100% Polyester fabric, cut in shape to mimic oak leaves and printed with the same Natural Blind pattern. The stitching is single line, but it doesn’t need more as the materials are tough enough to withstand crawling and dragging. The print on the leafy material is double sided as it needs to be. The material is smooth so it tends not to get stuck on all thorns and pointy objects.
The package includes the jacket with a draw string hood and pants. To be honest, upon receiving this suit, i looked at the package and thought to myself “is there really a ghillie suit in here?” It turns out, that this suit is super packable. I mean you can stuff it in a BDU leg pocket if you need to. Sure, you have a full pocket with a big bulge but hey, there’s a complete ghillie suit in there.
Also the weight is next to none. I don’t even have a scale, that would pick up on the weight difference between wearing and not wearing the suit. That was just a matter of speaking as the suit weighs in at around 260 grams. This is the lightest, most breathable and most packable ghillie I’ve ever seen.
The jacket is closed together with five snap buttons, which allow you to put it on or take it off very fast. Operation with gloves is also a breeze. On the lower end of the jacket and on the sleeve cuffs, they’ve sewn in some elastic to prevent the suit from sliding up your back and arms when manouvering around in the bushes.
On the top end, the jacket features a hood, which is covered in same leafy material as the rest of the suit. It’s long enough, to be pulled over the brim of a baseball hat and includes a draw string without a stopper.
In our tests, we encountered some failures of these elastic bands when moving around in thick foliage. The whole boot was exposed, so this issue needs to be addressed. A quick and simple way to fix this, is by sewing at least two (one on each leg) loops of gutted 550 cord at the lower ends.
Pants are made of the same material as the jacket so the are equally breathable and comfortable to wear. They can be put on without taking off your boots, as they are intentionally oversized to fit over other clothing you might be wearing. Maybe they could be just a few centimetres longer, so you don’t need to “slack” them. You need to do this if you don’t want them sliding up your boot (without mods).
On the sides, there are access holes, so you can get into your leg pockets. with some practise, you can even reach in and down and get to the cargo pockets, but it’s a tight fit. Unfortunately the stitching around these holes is mediocre and can tear quite easily if you are careless. This is especially annoying if you get a branch stuck in there and decide to move quickly.
The materials used are all synthetic, so they can be produced as light as possible. They are also quick drying and do not change colours that much when wet since they don’t soak up a lot of water. The suit is rot-proof, unless you pack it wet and dirty in a plastic bag for several weeks. Then something is bound to grow on it. Being all made of synthetic material has some down sides however. When it comes to being fire retardant the materials perform accordingly. When exposed directly to the flame, it ignites and keeps burning. It does not want to ignite quickly, it shrinks/melts first, but if you keep the fire going it will start to burn
While it’s burning it melts and drips, which can lead to some nasty burns if wearing. It’s like with all Polyester materials, keep away from fire. If wet, just let it hang and it’ will dry out on its own quickly. When exposed to sparks, the materials withstands a normal amount.
The material does not ignite when exposed, but a constant steady stream of sparks could burn a nice big hole. Fortunately, this is not the suit to be wearing when using an angle grinder so there’s no worries.
This particular colour scheme is a bit tricky, as it features brown leaves and colours of pine forest. It’s perfect for autumn or thick pines, but needs to be used carefully when in a leafy environment in spring or summer.
The contrast between the bright green leaves and grass and the brownish suit really pops out when observed from a moderate distance. This calls for finding spots with a similar colour, which narrows your possibilities greatly.
I would love to see the green version in action. There are whispers that BEGADI will be producing another version of this suit, with reversible sides. Brown tone on one and green tone on the other. This will really make this item universal.
The leafy material “waves” in the wind and mimics the movement of foliage perfectly. This is also where you get to appreciate the base layer mesh, as the wind passes through it with no resistance thus cooling your body. One thing to take care of is the shoes and hands. Those are not covered by the suit and must be concealed differently. In our tests, the boots were clearly visible, when crawling or kneeling.
It’s not obvious at first, but then you visually inspect an odd brown patch amongst all the green, the boots are the first thing you see. I would love to see the green version in action. There are whispers that BEGADI will be producing another version of this suit, with reversible sides. Brown tone on one and green tone on the other. This will really make this item universal.
There is only one thing missing. I would love to see some attachment points for extra foliage. This would be beneficial in situations where you simply can not afford to pick a more suited position (colour wise) and the position you need to be at is drastically different that the suit. With little effort you can do this yourself. Just sew some gutted paracord to the mesh to create loops and there you go. Maybe, as a suggestion, the leafy bit of the suit could even be sewn in gaps, so you can stick some foliage in there.
But to be fair, this is not that kind of suit. It’s primarily meant for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, who don’t want to pick foliage for half an hour before doing what they came to do. So if you take into consideration the words above, you can be almost invisible either way.
In this particular photo, i purposely sat down in a green environment. As you can see, the suit can be spotted immediately. This does not mean it does not work however. The effectiveness is dictated by the object you are stalking/observing. In many cases, if you crawl into the bush deep enough and stay still, the observed will walk right past you.
When observed through a NOD, this suit provides excellent concealment. It behaves like the rest of the foliage and lights up, when an IR illuminator is used.
In its current state, this is a semi specific piece of gear. It can be used in environments it was not intended for with some know-how but it’s the correct surroundings where it really works it’s magic. You just need some distance and a momentary break in the line of sight and the observed will not know you’re there. It’s ability to be packed in a tiny bag is amazing an allows you to carry it anywhere and the weight is just perfect. This is a great item for hunters, airsoft players and bird watchers alike. It also deserves a spot in any serious bug out bag since it’s weight and size is negligible, but can prove to be a vital tool in many situations. Appropriate for novice as well as advanced users who want an ultralight solution for their camouflage needs. And for the price of around 50 EUR, it really is a serious contender in this line of ghillie suits. You can get yours at the BEGADI official online shop.