Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Taking Care of Your Camouflage Clothing - Camo Week

The purchase of camouflage clothing and gear represents a significant investment on the part of the consumer. One can easily drop several hundred dollars on a complete set-up, and many will own more than one set-up. Those that invest in this kind of gear range from: those needing it in a professional capacity, paintballers, airsofters, hunters (a big one) and military enthusiasts. So if all those groups are investing so much every year in camouflage gear, why not take proper care of it?

In talking with Steve from A-TACS/DCS the other day, he posited that the reason for many people not taking care of their camouflage gear properly was that they don't know how to, and I agree. If you google "caring for camouflage clothing" or something of the sort, you turn up a whole lot of promotional material, but not a lot of actual help. This post will try to rectify that to some extent, and as time goes on I'd like to continually update it to provide a comprehensive resource for taking care of your camouflage. It will focus on actual garments as opposed to other miscellaneous gear, because there are often specific instructions depending upon the item/material involved, and the garments themselves really are the basis for your camouflage set-up.

Caring for your camouflage garments (categorically):
  1. Washing
  2. Drying
  3. Storage
  4. General use guidelines
1. Washing
  • When to wash: Like any other clothing item, washing camouflage will inevitably lead to fading and weakening of the material. If you've got dried dirt/debris on your clothing, do your best to just brush it off before considering washing. If it smells nasty, do everybody a favour and clean it. If it smells bad when you're not exerting yourself in it, imagine how it smells when you are. If you are a paintballer, wash the garment as soon as possible after a game. Even paint that markets itself as non-staining will stain given time.
  • How to wash (machine wash instructions): 
    1. Gently remove any excess dirt from the garment.
    2. Close as many velcro (hook and loop) attachment points as possible. However, do not leave patches on the garment if possible, as many won't stand up well to machine washing (try hand washing them in a sink).
    3. Turn the garment inside out. By minimizing the pattern's contact with moving parts, you'll prevent abrasion of the material, and removal of the inks used.
    4. Wash on the machine's gentle/delicate cycle using cold water. I've had garments nearly saturated with paint and this has been enough for them, you shouldn't need anything more if you've removed excess dry debris before washing. The delicate cycle will prevent the abrasion talked about above, and cold water will be less likely to wash away any inks used on the fabric.
    5. Use a mild detergent and never bleach your camouflage, unless it's pure white arctic camouflage. In which case, knock yourself out.
    6. If you're a hunter and want to make sure you avoid unnatural scents on your clothing, there are specific cleaning products you can use for your garments (just ask at your local pro-shop).
    7. Avoid washing new black gloves with anything other than dark garments. New black gloves tend to bleed in the wash, and can easily stain an entire garment.
  • After washing: Follow the drying instructions below.
2. Drying
  • Hang the garment to dry (as opposed to machine washing) to prevent the same problems talked about in the Washing section.
  • Do not hang the garment in direct sunlight dry if possible. UV (ultraviolet, light more energetic than that in the visible spectrum) light will cause patterns to fade and some coatings become gradually more ineffective.
  • If drying inside, make sure a fan is present and that there is a method of dehumidification in the room. Nobody likes mold or funky smelling washed garments.
  • Hunters should try to dry their camouflage garments outside. If you're putting them in a room that people frequent, you're saturating them with human smells.
3. Storage
  • Store in a dry environment.
  • Store out of direct sunlight (UV light problems again).
  • Store with velcro closures closed.
  • Hunters can seal their garments in large ziplock bags to prevent smells accumulating on them.
4. General use guidelines
  • You get what you pay for. If you buy your garments from a reputable manufacturer, then chances are they'll last longer and maintain their patterns better.
  • Don't be afraid to get your garments dirty. If you are, maybe you should rethink how you're going about having fun outdoors.
  • If you're planning on hunting in your garments, keep them away from anything that has a noticeable unnatural odour to it. If you can smell it, your prey will smell it.
  • Most camouflage garments come with instructional labels and/or booklets. Read them if you want to get the most out of your purchase and ensure the longevity of your investment.

You'll notice that I left out my usual spattering of images throughout this post, that's because it's meant to be something that can be easily disseminated, given the following conditions:
  • Full credit must be given to Grey Ops for this post, and a clear and visible link must precede the posting of these guidelines.
  • Posting a paraphrased version of these guidelines is not permitted (you might think that's silly to have to say, but it's happened before with other Grey Ops posts like these).
  • I have and will continue to actively monitor and enforce Grey Ops' copyright.
  • Don't be a jerk.
Thanks for reading and if you have anything you'd like to add to the article, post up!

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