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The Stick


StickSubmitted by Eric Daniel

It really does seem like camouflaging yourself and equipment has gone out of style.  It was one thing to get stared at while wearing my cabbage patch hat (CPH) but I was really shocked when I brought up the concept of personal camouflage at a squad level training session and got nothing but blank stares.

You mean to tell me none of you have ever applied camouflage to your skin?

No Sergeant.

But you guys are all infantrymen, yes?  What did you do in Basic? 

We did a lot of glass house stuff, and convoy operations.


Yes, call me old fashioned, but I still think that camouflaging your person still has a place in the infantryman's repertoire.  No, you don't need to cover yourself in shrubs if you're going to be standing on a street corner or doing a mounted presence patrol on the MSR, but you should know the principles behind camouflage and know how to actually apply it.

That having been said, my personal favorite to this day is still the old issue two tone camo sticks.  Yes they are thick.  Yes they will clog your pores and make you break out.  Yes they are difficult to apply and a royal pain in the ass to get off, but, in terms of battlefield durability and effectiveness (and those are really the only criteria that matter) nothing, in my opinion, beats "The Stick."

Through trial and error I have found that the easiest way to apply the camouflage is to heat the stick up (use a candle, a Zippo lighter (I carry one for just that reason) or put it in your pocket) and rub a goodly portion into the palm of your hand and then use your fingers to transfer it from your palm to your face (while you can apply it directly from the stick, I've found that if you push too much stick out of the tube, it snaps off, and if you don't push it out far enough, you carve your face up with the metal edge of the tube.)  This method also makes it easy to do your ears, since you can just rub a paint covered palm over the ear to coat it.)  Removing the paint is best accomplished with baby wipes (if you have them) or soap and water over a period of days.

I know there are a lot of more modern products out there, that are significantly easier to apply and remove, but they just don't have the durability of those old issue sticks.  With the old stuff you could low crawl through dirt, brush and salt water and it wouldn't rub off, nor would it run with sweat like makeup does - that stuff was on for life.

Check out the GI camo sticks here.

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