Wearing camouflage is a fashion statement of sorts in Alaska and elsewhere. It can mean many things: an enthusiasm for hunting, service in, affinity for, or conscious imitation of the military, rebellion, machismo—like most vanity license plates, its true meaning is known only to the wearer, yet stands open to interpretation by the observer.
I have only recently become reconciled to wearing camouflage when I’m not hunting. I’m still shy about wearing it in public, although many people do here. Recently, a pretty lady in the grocery store teased me for wearing a pair of camo trousers, saying that she couldn’t see me in the aisle. I didn’t have the wit to reply, “at least not from the waist down.”
My favorite, most comfortable pair of pants right now is an Army surplus pair of fatigue trousers in standard, old fashioned jungle camo. I bought them years ago for less than $7.00. They’re cotton, which limits their usefulness, but in the summer and early autumn I can get away with wearing them, and do so as often as I can, including to the grocery store that day.
The problem with wearing my favorite pants as often as possible is that I end up pairing them with my most used coats, currently three distinct weights of jacket sent to us by Wild Things Tactical to test. Since we’ve agreed to do our worst to this gear, I wear them as often as possible. All of them are camouflaged in the distinct, Wild Things pattern. This leads to the fashion faux pas I call “camo clash,” wearing two different patterns of camouflage at the same time.
On days when I actually need camouflage, camo clash is not really an issue. The true function of camouflage, to break up my outline, works whether or not the outfit is coordinated. It’s unlikely a moose or deer will discern the difference between two patterns, nor suspect shenanigans as a result. Its when people see me that I might wander from pragmatism to predicament.
Luckily, we don’t see other people very often, and I’m far less worried about my appearance than I used to be as a young man. It’s not a problem to be caught showing poor sartorial taste, it’s just amusing. But, unless I’m discovered in the grocery store aisle with mismatched camo, if it does begin to bother me, I should theoretically be able to disappear into the background and escape notice.