Concealment can be a crucial factor as a prepper when SHTF. If there is a major disaster in your area (or country) and you need to bug out, you’ll want to remain concealed while you do so.
Zombies (the unprepared) are a major threat to you and your family’s safety as you bug out, because they will more than likely be desperate for supplies. You can’t afford to engage in a firefight when your primary goal is to leave the area, so your best bet is to do it unseen.
Every type of terrain has its own unique challenges when it comes to concealment. A common mistake that preppers make, is practicing concealment only in the area surrounding their property.
Given the fact that there are five major, three minor, and two supplementary terrain features, you’ll need to practice on as many as you can if you wish to remain successfully concealed when it matters most.
For example, if there is a series of deadly terrorist attacks in your area, your primary goal is to get out of there, and to a safe location.
How do you plan on doing this, if you’ve spent most of your time as a prepper buying cool gear without putting real practice into concealment?
For those of you who read my articles, you’ll always hear me say that practice makes permanent, not perfect. Make sure you receive advice from a trusted source before you practice religiously.
In my time in service for this great country (America), I’ve learned various techniques to help you remain safely concealed as you go from point A to point B. While no method is 100% foolproof, the tips I’m about to share with you will greatly improve your chances (if you practice).
Table of Contents
Camouflage is absolutely a critical factor in remaining concealed, as camouflaging is half the battle. If you properly camouflage yourself and your gear, you’ll have a greater chance succeeding at remaining concealed.
Make sure that none of your metal objects are shiny, as they reflect light very easily. Reflecting light is one of the biggest mistakes preppers make when they try to remain concealed. A simple solution to this is either matte-black spray paint, or dull-black tape.
Either way, you need to conceal the shininess of every single metal object that you have with you. This includes your zipper, every inch of your rifle, buckles, everything. If you have any type of jewelry, either don’t bring it, or pack it away where it will remain concealed.
Noise camouflage is just as important as visual camouflage, as any type of noise can give you away at distances that are further away than you might think.
On a quiet day/night, noise can travel very far. Any alert adversary will be attentive to strange noises, so make sure you conceal every footstep, every breath, and by no means talk any louder than a light whisper.
You also need to camouflage the noise that your equipment makes. If you have keys on you, tape them together very tight. This way, they wont jingle around.
The same concept goes for any metal, or hard plastic object on you or in your gear. Tape works wonders for keeping things close together, so they don’t hit each other as you move and make unnecessary noise.
Your silhouette can give away your position faster than you may think. By silhouette, I don’t mean your shadow that the sun casts down onto the earth, I mean the natural outline of your body.
Before we get into specifics, know that your silhouette isn’t very easily concealed. This concept will take hours/days/months to even get the basic concepts down, so start practicing the following tips ASAP.
Silhouettes are detected easier when they move from side to side. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that you avoid any side to side movement in reference with your enemy’s visual path.
For example, if your enemy is at your 12 o’clock, you must move directly at him until you can find another terrain feature to conceal your movement elsewhere. Preferably, you’ll do this movement in the prone, as it will help conceal you much better than standing will.
If you do move in the prone, use the “skull-drag” method if at all possible. This method is called skull-dragging because you are literally dragging one side of your face across the earth because you’re so low. Stay down and use your arms and legs to slowly propel yourself forward.
The only time I won’t recommend this movement technique is when time is of the essence, because it takes painstakingly long to move even short distances when executed properly.
Face paint will assist you immensely in concealing the natural contour of your face. While I don’t recommend going all “commando” and using face paint in the city, I strongly recommend doing it in a rural environment.
In my camouflaging article, I go over how to apply face paint properly, so you don’t look like a three-year-old girl who got into her mom’s (or dad’s, I guess it’s a new world) makeup collection.
If you have a weapon, keep it at the low-ready position if you’re not in the prone position, meaning don’t have it diagonally positioned across your body.
The low-ready position has your weapon directly in front of you and line with your shoulder (but the muzzle is lowered) should you need to raise the muzzle and engage a target.
If you have the weapon diagonally across your body, your weapon is now an extension of your silhouette, giving you an unnatural appearance at a distance.
This is a dead giveaway to an alert enemy, so instead of your weapon being an extension of your silhouette, it should become your silhouette. Get my point?
Now that we’ve gone over the bare-minimum basics of concealment, let’s dive into the different types of terrain and their unique challenges that present themselves with them.
Don’t stress too much, the learning process is very frustrating when it comes to concealment. That’s why you practice religiously, eventually you’ll get it down enough to use in a practical scenario.
Like I stated before, there are multiple different types of terrain in a rural environment. Use these terrain features to your advantage, don’t let them use you.
Odds are, your enemy (or people you’re avoiding in general) won’t be expecting you to have this knowledge base. This gives you an immense advantage for concealment, should you do it properly.
Hills come in various shapes and sizes, but for the sake of learning we’ll cover the broad aspect of them. While hills can play to your advantage, they can also be your downfall.
You can use a hill as concealment from your enemy by remaining on the opposite side, as nobody can see through a hill. However, if you silhouette yourself over the top, you will stick out like a sore thumb.
Make sure that if you encounter a hill on your journey of concealment and you need to cross it, you do so by staying as low to the earth as possible.
By no means should you ever be in a position higher than the prone position while you’re on the high ground of a hill. If you need to quickly escape the high ground of a hill, simply roll down it until you have enough cover to get up and run.
In a firefight, the high ground has the advantage. Because of this, you’ll want to remain near the top of the hill (without silhouetting yourself over the top) if your enemy is on the other side at the bottom of the hill.
This way, if you need to engage them, you’ll start the firefight with the advantage right away.
This type of terrain has major advantages, as well as major disadvantages. If you find yourself in a valley, make sure you use any type of foliage around you as concealment.
Never walk casually through a valley, if you’re seen, you’re in a very bad position. In a firefight, you never want to be in a valley, as your enemy will most likely have the high ground over you.
One of the major advantages of a valley, however, is if your enemy is on the other side of the high ground from the valley. This puts a major terrain feature between you, and whoever you’re trying to hide yourself from.
Like I said before, make sure if you do wish to navigate through a valley, you use foliage as concealment as you move from one concealment to the next.
A ridge is a continuous elevated crest, usually formed by mountains or hills. The only time you should ever navigate your way to a ridge, is to obtain a quick field of view for your recon, or to gain the high ground in a firefight.
While you’re on a ridge, you must maintain the lowest silhouette as possible, otherwise you will be easily spotted by any alert enemy. Since you must avoid ridges unless you’re performing the above actions, I won’t discuss them much more.
A saddle is the low point between two high terrain features (like hills). Saddles aren’t necessarily valleys, as they are simply a quick break between the high ground. They very closely resemble a saddle that you would sit on when you ride a horse, hence why they’re called saddles.
Should you have to navigate a saddle will depend very heavily on where the known enemy is. If the enemy is on the other side of the saddle, do not use the saddle, as you will essentially be placing yourself in the worst position in a firefight with little cover/concealment. In this case, you must navigate around it at all costs.
If the enemy is positioned in the low ground on the side of the saddle, simply use the other side of the saddle to navigate around it.
Remember, never silhouette yourself on the high ground. Maintain the lowest position that you can, to ensure you remain concealed to the best of your ability. Don’t get too eager when you’re trying to remain concealed. Most people are spotted making mistakes when they become impatient.
This terrain feature is best identified as the opposite of a hill. Think of it as a natural hole in the earth, dipping down anywhere from a few feet, to hundreds of feet. It’s recommended that you steer clear of depressions, for many reasons.
First, you’re making yourself put in more work than necessary by having to walk down into the depression and eventually climb out. Second, you’re giving the enemy the advantage of the high ground should you get into a firefight.
The only exception to this rule, is if you’re in a desperate rush to escape an enemy. If you see a depression with dense foliage, by all means use it.
Most depressions are filled with dense foliage in North America (in heavily wooded areas), so if you need a quick concealment opportunity, depressions are a great way to utilize it.
Foliage is your best friend when it comes to rural concealment. When you’re navigating through foliage, remain low to the ground.
While you don’t always have to be in the prone everywhere you go, I recommend that you do if there is a chance of enemy presence in the area. Otherwise, simply crouching while moving through foliage will work just fine.
Make sure that you’re not moving around the foliage too much as you cross through it. If you’re deer hunting, and you see bushes and small trees moving, your first instinct is to look in that direction for a deer.
The same concept applies to anyone looking for you (or people in general). Because of this, keep moving foliage to a minimum.
If you must move a branch or a vine out of your path, do so very slowly. The slow movement in the foliage will cause minimum stir from a distance.
Remember, foliage is concealment, not cover. If you’re getting shot at, don’t dive into a bush and expect not to get hit by the lead shower heading your way. Concealment should only be used as a last resort in a firefight. Instead, use a hard object like a boulder, or a tree in a firefight.
For the sake of learning, I’m classifying foliage as any type of natural concealment such as high grass, bushes, branches with thick leaves, etc. Although there are many types of foliage that are at your disposal for concealment, nothing beats the combination of tall grass with bushes.
When combined with the prone position, you’re practically invisible (granted, you’re not moving wildly through it). If at all possible, use these types of foliage to your advantage to remain concealed.
Use trees to your advantage in multiple different ways, such as cover and concealment. Larger trees are excellent cover in a firefight, but they serve a dual purpose for concealment.
If you place yourself between a large tree and an enemy while you move in a straight line at night, your enemy will only detect the tree.
This concept works until you either get too close, or sway in your movement. This is why you must practice these techniques, so when SHTF you don’t have to worry about the fact that it’s your first time trying it.
Urban Terrain (Day)
Urban terrain can be just as unforgiving as its rural counterpart. Urban areas often have more people in them, making it much more difficult to remain concealed from everybody.
Large crowds can be a nuisance, but they can also be a blessing. Situational camouflage is just as effective in large crowds as trying to remain unseen completely.
This type of camouflage is an unorthodox way to remain unseen by whoever you’re trying to conceal yourself from. If you’re trying to conceal yourself from every person in general, however, this isn’t the method for you.
The entire concept of situational camouflage is to blend in with the crowd. Research the types of clothes that the populous in that area wear, and have one of those outfits on standby (along with a spare change of clothes if you have a backpack).
If you’re spotted, cause a distraction by playing the role of a bystander who witnessed a catastrophic event to cause a panic. Blend in with the escaping crowd until you can access a private area to change your clothes.
It’s a very cliché concept, but going underground in an urban area is much more effective than you may think. Don’t just think that you can lift a manhole cover and climb down a ladder to the sewers, however.
Manhole covers are often corroded shut and require tools to lift them from the asphalt/concrete. This concept is reserved mainly for cities with a subway system integrated into them.
Take Taxis vs. Driving
If you’re trying to avoid somebody, a taxi is a surefire way to blend in with traffic. Most taxis look the same in an urban environment, versus your personal vehicle which can be more easily spotted.
For added concealment, take multiple taxis on the way to your final location. This way, if whoever is looking for you acquired the taxi number, they will have a much harder time finding you.
Catching a Tail
If in your expedition to remain concealed you become compromised, you will more than likely pick up a tail (or a follower). Tails come in two types: aggressive, and passive. Aggressive tails can be violent or chase after you, while passive tails observe you from a distance.
If you feel like you’ve picked up a tail, simply make unorthodox turns (like three right turns in a row). Make sure, however, that you remain in a public area where there are plenty of witnesses.
Passive tails can quickly become aggressive if you’re in a low-populated area, as they aren’t afraid of people seeing them.
Never confront a passive tail unless absolutely necessary. It’s much easier to lose a passive tail than it is to lose an aggressive one. To lose a passive tail, simply seek out a large crowd and use the bystander method I spoke about earlier.
If that doesn’t work, fake a seizure (or another medical event) in front of a crowd. This will draw other bystander’s attention to you, making your passive tail less likely to draw any closer and cause you harm.
If you don’t want to use these methods, simply take shortcuts through public buildings. Most businesses have front, and rear doors. Keep passing through buildings, and eventually you might lose the tail.
At no point should you begin to run unless your tail runs toward you. If your tail doesn’t know that you know about them, you have a much higher chance of them remaining a passive tail.
All of the same rules apply at night as they do during the daytime, unless you wish to remain completely concealed from the public view. If that’s the case, you must avoid any lit areas at all costs. This includes light permeating through windows, street lights, and headlights on vehicles.
Stick to alleyways, or buildings without the lights turned on. Avoid crossing streets unless absolutely necessary.
Make sure you wear dull black or grey clothing, however don’t look too suspicious (in case you’re spotted by somebody).
If your goal is complete concealment, learn how to paint your face for urban environments. Pair face paint with dull clothing, and you’re almost complete in your concealment basics.
Like rural environments, you’ll want to conceal your silhouette, and the noise you and your equipment make. Make sure you also cover any shiny material, so you don’t reflect any light.
Keeping the high ground at night is a big advantage, if your environment allows you to do so. Make sure, however, that you don’t silhouette yourself over building ledges. Otherwise you’ll be easily spotted by people on the lower levels.
The art of concealment is a difficult, and tedious process. To ensure your success, you need to make sure you practice these techniques when you can. Make sure you don’t become impatient, otherwise you risk making critical mistakes and potentially being spotted.
There are many other factors with concealment that can come into play, like infrared technology or night vision. If these factors present themselves, your best bet is to use any type of concealment to your advantage and staying as low as possible.
Sadly, there really are no foolproof ways to escape infrared technology if you’re in the open (although many preppers think they can). Avoid anyone with this known technology at all costs.
Recognizing key terrain features and how to navigate through them is crucial to the concealment process as well.
If you’re able to identify them on a topographical map, you’ll be able to plan your route accordingly. This way, you’re not blindsided by multiple hills when you’re on the move to your BOL. Always have alternate routes you can take in case one becomes compromised.
Hopefully this article helps you in your concealment adventures. Remember, perfecting concealment is a painstakingly long process.
If you remain patient and determined when you practice, however, you should have no problems navigating various terrain while remaining concealed when it matters most.
I’m an active-duty infantryman with the U.S. Army, and I’ve served a combined-service of over 5 years. Throughout my career, I’ve learned various survival techniques, as well as self-defense techniques. I specialize in weapons, long-range reconnaissance, distance shooting, and long-term isolation survival. I’m a very conservative, very “to the point” kind of person.
2 thoughts on “How to Remain Concealed in Various Types of Terrain”
Excellent article, and I support your statement that avoiding detection requires a lot of thought and practice.
Three suggestions that supplement the points you have already made:
1. Watch crystals are highly reflective in sunlight. Cover your watch with a wrist sweatband.
2. Using camouflage plus foliage is great for concealment, whether on the move or stationary; but whenever possible, select the shady side of the hill/valley to augment the benefits of camo and foliage. Unless there is an urgent requirement to do otherwise, move slowly.
3. Avoiding ridge lines to prevent silhouetting is vital. If you are moving on high ground, make use of the military crest, instead.
The number one consideration is not being seen to be moving or having caused motion of something in the environment to occur. Humans are hunters. And all hunting animals instinctively see movement versus the lack of same. A person must learn when to move safely, how to move with as little visible presence as possible and only then can all the excellent 25 points above become worthwhile. Associated with this factor is to leave as little trace of your passage as is possible.