The material, the method, the revolution. Haloscreen was developed in 2018 but has its roots in work stretching way back to 2005, and has steadily been gaining traction in the last couple of years, although some of the older and simpler methods are still commonplace. After a few years myself of being overwhelmingly disappointed with leaf suits, I’d transferred over to Haloscreen back in 2018 with a few material samples that were sent out to play with, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.
To me, Haloscreen is a material that is part of a much bigger methodology encapsulating other materials. It’s a huge leap forward not only in building effective camouflage systems, but in understanding camouflage and how it interacts with the environment. I remember several years ago, on a group video chat, Kicking Mustang saying that the colours were excellent, and asking how difficult it would be to copy. Try as I might, I failed completely in trying to copy the materials or colours myself. Although it has taken a few years, even the mainstream video makers are now scrambling to make their own versions, some with more success than others (sorry Nov, but I’ve seen your tulle up close and it’s the most horrific ghillie crafting material since sneaky leaves).
*Just to add a bit of clarification in from the original blog, after one of the manufacturers messaged me – I apologise for some misinformation on product pricing too and have corrected it. There are many meshes now one the market, some good and some bad, most of which I’ve forgotten so my apologies for using the more well known brands, I can remove that advertising if you wish. They did suggest I mention ZeroAlpha though who also makes a mesh material. Le Covert, who originally developed Haloscreen from Organic Look, which also used mosquito mesh, did not actually invent mosquito mesh as a fabric of course, and so it is an existing product rebranded, however the colours that it has been finished in owe as much to the finished article as the form. The originality in the idea is the amount of research and field testing that went into linking this material to use in the world of camouflage, and that is where the genius comes in. In the same way plastic leaves, raffia, cotton and jute weren’t originally intended as instant camouflage products. If it is a rebrand of mosquito mesh (sort of), then the materials released since by other brands then become a rebrand of a rebrand. Originality and testing though is where the new ideas come in and this is what drives us forward to even better solutions. I like as well the educational and informative content on his Facebook page.
How and why it works, and how to use it correctly, is rarely covered in much detail online, other than to say that it just does (though here’s a link to a Live show with myself, Point6 and Haloscreen creator Le Covert Sartorialist. It’s a lengthy watch, so apologies to the kids with the attention span of a tiktok video, but what you learn from it is absolute gold if you want to develop your camouflage knowledge). Nobody is born with that innate knowledge, we learn by doing and by learning from the experiences of others. Now, I must mention that this is a biased article. It’s biased because this is what I use, what I like, and what I’d recommend to people because it works for me. It’s not a paid review, and there’s no adverts for personal revenue here. Like the other 7 billion people on the planet, I have my opinions based on my experiences, and of course I share them here in my own little space.
Ghillie suits in Airsoft in 2022 generally sit in three camps.
- The old string bag ghillies – Piles of jute can still be effective, especially in grassy areas at longer distances. ZeroAlpha in the UK makes some excellent jute ghillies for real steel snipers, but their requirements are markedly different to airsoft. Those with previous military experience, or those that think they have, remain adamant that the “battle proven” old style suits are used by the real military for a reason, but in terms of airsoft their day is long gone. Adding natural veg helps, but catches the eye and needs constantly updated through the day, usually requiring the suit to come off and be rebuilt as you transition between different vegetation.
- Leaf suits – I’ve had four, two cheap and two expensive, and none have been satisfactory. Leaf suits covered in artificial leaves are simple and easy to glue together, but the repeat micro patterns along with uniform, factory cut leaves (I don’t care if they’re “not in straight lines”, although they are) suffer horrifically with blobbing at longer distances, and always seem to stand out more than they should. The russian factory produced stuff, like Sniper Sochi suits, are a decent quality and they’re ok for starting out if you have money to burn, and are a popular shop item. Skirmshop have had the best attempt at producing a range of patterns and colours.
- Haloscreen, which I’m about to expand on…
Building a Haloscreen based camouflage system
Right, let’s talk about building from the ground up. You can add Haloscreen to anything, including leaf suits. But don’t waste your money on a leaf suit – build onto BDU’s or something flat with a decent macro pattern.
- MACRO – Big camo pattern that breaks up the human shape into separate shapes. US Woodland is a great example. Always be thinking of how your shape is broken up at 50m, not the 2m you take photos at.
Now, the BDU’s have several other advantages here too. They’re a lot more robust than mesh leaf suits – and before you complain about “yEaH bUt MeSh Is MoRe BrEaThAbLe”, look around you at all the AEG users. They’re all in BDU’s to play airsoft and not complaining about a sweaty ass crack. And half of them have plate carriers and helmets on. Suck it up.
BDU’s are much better for crawling around in, and have the benefit of pockets too so you can cut down on your load bearing. And one thing the mesh leafys don’t do very well, is take colour from spray paints. BDU’s are very easy to customise with dyes, inks and sprays so you can adjust the colour. Being available in multiple patterns and colourways means you can get something very close to your environment, and then modify or adjust it. With my desert DPM base, I’ve gone one step further by pretty much disguising the whole pattern, so it’s even less recognisable to the eye because it’s a one off, more random pattern.
Getting the base right is crucial, and one of the reasons why you shouldn’t expect a store bought solution to automatically work – every environment is different. I’ve got guides for getting colours right, and you can see my base suit development here as well.
In terms of materials, Haloscreen is the key but as an element is only half of the build. Cotton leaves can add a lot of dead leaf matter to the base as we see on most forest floors most of the year, and coconut rope is an old solution for twigs and sticks. Raffia remains God’s gift to snipers, and is a great material to use in any environment. All of these materials are very cheap to buy and dye to whatever colour you need, and you can get by in some environments without needing to add any Haloscreen at all. It’s all about technique, which requires learning a bit about how camouflage works and that’s certainly not a bad thing for any sniper; indeed, that knowledge should be in every sniper’s arsenal before they even look at a rifle.
How does Haloscreen work then? I’ve read an article in Airsoft International (Aug 2022) about a clone mesh which touches on one feature, but doesn’t quite explain the full effect. When I’ve read countless pieces on Haloscreen itself, there’s a lot mentioned about light but when I’ve been testing, I’ve made my own notes on it too that I’m yet to see covered elsewhere, although I’m limited to English and French forums on the subject so it might be present elsewhere. So…
- Light refraction – Being a mesh, Haloscreen allows light through and refracts it and so it behaves differently to a flat material like leaf suit polyester crap, which has an awful sheen to it. When you look at leaves in sunlight vs in the shade, you can see that the light causes it to become much brighter in colour, which doesn’t happen as effectively on normal materials. This is also because the leaves are semi-translucent too. Reflectance and diffusion of light is very important to be able to adapt to different conditions.
- Negative space material – The easiest way to explain positive and negative space is that positive can be thought of as solid, distinct shapes and colours such as leaves or branches. Negative space is the kind of blurry, less distinct stuff in between, like individual blades of grass at a distance. Most ghillie materials are positive space, and this change with Haloscreen allows us to mix negative space materials into our camouflage systems to add depth.
- “Attempting to produce brown negative space materials is equal to thinking earth, dead leaves and branches are translucent” – Le Covert Sartorialist
- Colours – The original stuff is available in so many (30+?) good colours, so you can match up to the exact needs of your environment. On top of that, you can dual layer it to “mix” colours too.
- Versatility – As an example, if you stick plastic ivy leaves on your suit, it’ll work fine in a patch of ivy, but stand out elsewhere where ivy is not present. What I like about Haloscreen “leaves” is that they’re much more vague, less descript and so will blend in with a wider range of plants, or at least be difficult to differentiate as anything different. Of course, you can cut your Haloscreen fabric to any shape or size too, whereas the plastic leaves lack that flexibility.
- Lightweight – Umm…because it just is. Lots of volume for very little weight.
- Easy to use – Zip ties ftw. Just bunch it up and zip tie it on. Here’s a good video on how.
- Cheap – Ok, some people are going to argue that it’s expensive for what it is, compared to buying a sheet of cotton. However, if people are willing to spend £200 on a leaf suit, which isn’t anywhere near as good, then Haloscreen is a much cheaper option. There’s a starter pack (link here) available from Skirmshop for £42 at the time of writing, and there’s enough in there to do a full suit if you don’t go stupid heavy with it. Top tip – don’t go stupid heavy with it, you want some base layer to be visible to add depth and variation to your suit. Compare that to £20 for a pack of laser cut, uniform, shiny polyester leaves from Novritsch and it’s very good value.
- CORRECTION – One of the alternative brands does offer a similar starter pack, which although a couple of pounds more expensive does actually have more in the pack (45000cm2/1.07m2 per £, to 56000cm2/1.2m2 per £, six colours of Haloscreen to 3 of the other brand, but it’ll depend on your environment which one suits best), and I apologise for an earlier edition of this blog where I compared them as similar product sizes. They are different by volume and I’d like to apologise to X for getting that wrong, although its difficult to see as none of the retailers stocking that product actually mention anything about how much you get for what you’re paying. From the customers point of view, I’d be buying one of either pack to add to my suit. Regardless, it’s nowhere near the extortionate amount that people think it is, and is very easily available.
- Softer edges – Rather than present hard edges that are easily distinguishable, the mesh helps soften and blur your outlines. Mixed with positive space elements, it then makes it much harder to see clear shapes.
- Macro patterns – The ability to block colours together to create shapes and patterns on a flat BDU base is what sets the whole methodology apart. Breakup is all too often ignored in favour of just creating a random mess. That’s where you end up having it all blob together into one big mass.
- And one thing I’ve not noticed mentioned by anyone, is the ability to blend into surrounding colours. Obviously, the holes in the mesh allow light through and they all talk about that. But these same holes also allow background colours through. So whatever your backdrop is, some of that colour is going to be visible through the mesh, allowing your suit to blend in better to whatever is around it, whereas a leaf suit or something of solid fabric blocks that, so you only see the foreground of the ghillie materials.
The more you look at it, the less sense it makes to use anything else. For the record, I did spend many months back in 2018 buying all sorts of mesh fabrics and dyes to try and make my own version, costing far more than buying the real thing, only to find nothing worked and the couple of things that were close in terms of the weave, strength and reflectance just didn’t colour as well. Honestly, I know everyone is trying to copy but just save yourself an enormous amount of time and money and get Haloscreen. I wish I had. One thing I will suggest is to buy the sheet stuff – recently they’ve added laser cut pre-made Haloscreen elements, which I received a pack of. Although very quick and easy to apply, I did feel like they were then a little uniform.
You can also buy Haloscreen based suits from Sprinter Custom Ghillie if making suits isn’t your thing. GSG has a couple and at every site we’ve been to, it works in any terrain. Personally, I prefer the homemade approach but that’s time dependant.
All in all, of all the many techniques and materials I’ve seen down the years, Haloscreen and the associated methodology is well ahead of the field. With the addition of nanoscreen as well as the impending arrival of the next generation of camouflage, it will remain ahead for some time to come. Even as it is though, it fixes the faults of other methods and allows for a fully customisable and effective camouflage system whatever you decide to do with it. Le Covert Sartorialist is an essential follow on Facebook and reading back through his posts is enlightening to say the least. Skirmshop is an easy place to get hold of those all important starter packs. Sheets of the stuff are usually sourced directly from Theyma HP on Facebook, who is also worth a follow, as is Laurent Coq who does a lot of work showcasing his Haloscreen builds on most of the sniper groups.
To finish off, here’s a few pics to show how effective it is courtesy of Le Covert himself. I’ll keep them full size so you can see them better.