Choosing the right camo pattern can ultimately be the deciding factor in whether a hunter finds success on any given day. The main reason hunters wear camo is to blend into the hunting environment and avoid alerting — and scaring away — game.
When you blend into the environment, you’re effectively buying yourself more time to find the perfect shot. And, once you understand the specific environment you’re trying to blend into, then you can quickly narrow down what the best pattern is for any situation. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about choosing the right camo, including:
In a word, they don’t. The right camouflage ensures that a hunter isn’t seen by animals, but it doesn’t always require the most high-tech approach. Most game animals are highly sensitive to their environment as a protective mechanism, but they don’t see the same information that we do.
If you’ve even glanced at a hunting gear section, you’ve no doubt noticed that there are lots of different kinds of camo patterns. Each one is specifically designed based on where you hunt, what you’re hunting, and from what position you’re hunting it. While individual camo patterns are usually trademarked by the brands that make them, you can think of most camo types as belonging to one of three categories.
As the name suggests, this type of camo uses technology to render photorealistic images of leaves, tree limbs, brush, and other foliage to mimic an environment.
These types of camo patterns use specially-designed abstract patterns, rather than realistic images of foliage, to break up your outline against your environment. These particular patterns are great if:
Heritage camo is a term used to refer to any vintage camo pattern, often some of the first or most popular patterns that a brand has made.
Camo patterns are specifically designed and licensed by their brands, and each have their own uses and applications. If you’re just getting started — or are just looking for a quick and easy shopping guide for tried-and-true camo patterns — check out our top types of camo.
Designed specifically for open-range environments like foothills and agricultural environments, Mossy Oak Brush blends grasses, dirt, natural brush elements, and subtle shadows to provide cover out in the open.
Named for the iconic Rio Grande River, Mossy Oak Rio was designed to blend into the natural surroundings found in both woody terrain and open country. Though it’s named for the Texas wilds, you can use this pattern when you’re hunting deer and dove in any state’s brush.
Get the shot whether you’re at close range or far away with this camo pattern. Realtree Edge boasts itself as the first camo pattern designed specifically to hide your outline as well as it does up close as it does at a distance.
Mossy Oak Country DNA is the latest version of their most popular pattern, the Break-Up Country. It’s enhanced to further conceal you against any wooded backdrop, whether you’re up in a stand or hidden in the shadows.
Mossy Oak Elements Hybrid Droptine combines natural elements in an abstract mix of lights and shadows to create a uniquely high-contrast hybrid pattern that will effectively break up your outline at any range.
This camo pattern features digitally accurate images of the natural elements that make up a waterfowl habitat. Shadow Grass Habitat is based on the learnings the Mossy Oak team gathered from their first waterfowl-specific camo pattern, the original Shadow Grass, and is updated for modern hunting.
Realtree Max-7 provides an extra edge while hunting keen-eyed waterfowl, blending your outline among the many different types of foliage found in a marsh. It uses a combination of high-definition, realistic foliage images, arranged in a high-contrast light and dark pattern for concealment up close and far away.
Mossy Oak Bottomland seamlessly blends into dark hardwoods, timber, and more — and helps you get closer to just about any game. This is based on the original pattern, created almost two decades ago, with very slight digital enhancements to give it a modern edge.
As the name suggests, this camo pattern is designed to help you blend in with timber. With its photorealistic tree bark images, this camo helps you make like a tree and leave your game none the wiser.
Created in the 90s, this time-tested pattern was the first of its kind to layer realistic grasses over bold, dark shadows to simulate a wetland landscape.
Legend has it that Toexy Haas, the founder of Mossy Oak, based this heritage pattern off a single handful of dirt, sticks, and leaves. While it was originally created twenty years ago for hunting turkey, Mossy Oak Original Bottomland works great for hunting deer and waterfowl as well.
Another heritage staple, Realtree Original is a fan-favorite for its versatility in stands, blinds, and against a wooded background.
This heritage camo pattern, with its telltale splotches, might be the pattern that comes to mind when you think of the word “camo.” But just because it has “duck” in the name doesn’t mean you can’t use it to hunt deer! Its unique pattern and color helps it blend into a variety of wooded backgrounds.
Drake Old School is a heritage camo pattern iterated from the original duck camo, with more pointed shapes to help it blend just as well into the grasses and cattails of the marsh as it does into the sticks and twigs of the woodlands.
Taking inspiration from the best camouflage designer — Mother Nature herself — Mossy Oak created this abstract camo pattern, inspired by the earth. It features pops of green to help mimic moss, leaves, and other foliage.
This camo pattern was the first in Veil’s lineup, inspired by the desire to understand and control the chaos of the natural world. Its abstract design is mathematically engineered and informed by the science of how both your and your game’s eyes perceive the world.
Since this pattern can only be found on Under Armour clothing, this pattern is great if you want hunting camo with the same high-performance technology as your favorite workout gear. It uses a unique, brush-stroke inspired set of abstract shapes to help melt your outline into the treeline.
This abstract pattern is very similar to the Under Armour Forest 2.0 — and utilizes the same brush-stroke technology — but with a tan colorway more suited to brush environments. It’s also exclusive to Under Armour products, so you can expect the same quality and performance.
The Realtree Advantage Classic® camo matches an incredible variety of terrains. At a distance, the pattern breaks up the hunter’s outline. Up close, it will blend in with almost any natural setting — whether worn in a stand or on the ground. The pattern is an excellent choice in any hunting season and situation.
This heritage camo pattern color design helps you blend into a variety of wooded backgrounds in a stand or a blind. Hunt deer in the woods with ease!
The Veil Flagship X camo pattern was inspired by the desire to understand and control the chaos of the natural world. Its abstract design is mathematically engineered and informed by the science of how both your and your game’s eyes perceive the world.
Kryptek’s unique combination of micro and macro patterns has been rigorously tested by the United States government. Obskura Transitional provides unmatched concealment in a wide range of environments across 70% of the Earth’s surface.
Wearing blaze orange can make hunters more visible and reduce the chance of being mistaken for game. While it's not always needed for turkey hunting, always check local rules. Wear an orange vest when moving to your hunting spot.
Hunting environments vary across the country and the world, especially throughout the year with changing foliage quantity and colors. The following variables should be considered when selecting the right camouflage pattern for your next adventure.
The seasonality of the foliage directly affects which patterns perform best in a given environment at a given time. The green foliage of spring and summer lends itself well to greener camo patterns while the changing leaves of fall lend themselves to brown-phases patterns.
The amount of leaves in any given forest can dictate whether a hunter should wear a pattern with leaves embedded in it, or if the hunter should consider a pattern that resembles tree bark. Pay attention to the amount of leaves in the area you’re hunting and select your camo accordingly.
Whether it’s in a tree, a hunting blind, or on the ground, a hunter’s specific setup can dictate which pattern to wear on any given hunt. Darker patterns will help hunters be absorbed into the interior darkness of a ground blind, while a hunter elevated in a tree stand may want to blend in with the forest canopy being hunted in.
If you’re a turkey hunter on the run, you may want a pattern that can melt you against a variety of tree types at any moment’s notice. On the other hand, dove hunters may need to blend into sunflowers on one day and into cut corn on another day. Identify your intended setup before you begin each day’s hunt and select your camo accordingly.
At this point in the life of the sport, there are types of camo clothing available for pretty much every part of your body. Most hunters tend to wear, at the very least, a camo hunting jacket or vest, since it covers the largest area of your body and can help keep you warm and comfortable during the hunt.
If your hair or skin are particularly light, and the game you’re hunting is particularly visually perceptive, you might want to consider a hat or a mask to help further break up your outline.
Depending on range regulations, you may also need to pair your camo with a blaze orange vest and/or hat — or not. Whether or not it’s required by your range or state, we always recommend adding blaze orange to your hunting wardrobe, since it helps make you visible to other hunters. You might even be able to find hunting clothing that has both blaze orange and camo already incorporated together.
Hunting equipment with camo patterns on them can help further blend your entire outline and position into the environment, giving you an easy advantage and more time to line up that shot. Hunting blinds and stands are obviously printed with different types of camo, but you can also find equipment bags, rifles, and bows too.
Camouflage nets can help you create an environment to blend into, if you’re in a tricky spot in which you can’t set up a stand or blind. It also can help disguise non-camo parts of camouflage equipment, like the legs of your stand, or hide the equipment you’re not currently using.
Now that you’re armed with knowledge about hunting camo patterns, you’re all set to put it to the test by heading to your local Academy Sports + Outdoors location, or shopping our wide selection online for the best camo clothing and hunting gear.
It’s up to you whether you want to wear the same camo pattern head-to-toe, or mix it up with different patterns. Some hunters like to have multiple types of patterns for the different seasons, game, and environment they hunt in, and others prefer to go for all-purpose, super-versatile patterns. The best way to find out what you prefer is to get out in the field and see how it performs.