Anyone who has dealt with either green tactics or wildlife photography knows that an appropriate camouflage provides significant advantages. Standard ghillie suits that break up the human silhouette usually take the form of quite bulky, heavy and warm jute garments that are based on military uniforms. As it turns out, however, the approach to the ghillie suit construction may be very different as recently proven by ProApto®, whose raphia Viper Hood we had the pleasure of testing.
ProApto® is a young brand whose products are becoming increasingly popular in, among others, Europe, Russia or the USA. That is partly because the Italians have introduced numerous innovations to the small world of camouflage clothing, including a multipurpose ghillie suit or a lightweight, waterproof and breathable three-dimensional leaf ghillie. Furthermore, they boast of their camouflage patterns that have been developed in line with the scientific research on neuropsychology of perception. It is also worth noting that all their eco-friendly garments are handmade in Italy and come with a lifetime guarantee.
CONSTRUCTION AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
ProApto® has standardized their products offering them in a variety of camouflage patterns adjusted to a specific environment and time of year (currently there are 10 patterns available). While designing, the patterns were being tested in the great outdoors to guarantee optimal concealement and blending in with the surroundings. For our purposes, we chose a quite universal pattern number 7, also known as Mountain TRANSITION, designed for the mountain environment and, as the name implies, for transition areas.
ProApto® offers not only a wide range of color/camouflage patterns, but also many types of garments, starting from simple cape shelters, through multipurpose constructions, to complete ghillie suits, also known as wookie suits (full list available here). We have decided to try out a classic Pro Apto® Viper Hood with raphia garnish.
What gives ProApto® a competitive edge, making their products different from other ghillie suit manufacturers, is their base garment. Instead of traditional fabric and mesh, the Italians have decided to use strong, hand-woven nylon net.
Fastened with the ITW buckle, the hood has been equipped with a regulation system with a number of cord lock stoppers that facilitate fitting the garment to the user’s body, including chest, shoulders and head circumference.
Additionally, the hood also features a paracord handle from the so called PVF Hood-System® – an original system developed by ProApto® which increases the visual field by pulling just one cord in the back.
Both sides of the chest part feature Velcros (loops) for patches, insignia, etc. The package with the ghillie suit also contains an esthetic PVC patch with the producer’s logo.
Garnish for our Viper Hood has been made of ecological materials: raphia with a small addition of sisal. Both are fully organic (raphia fibers are obtained from palm fronds, while sisal fibers – from a species of Agave), hence their texture is almost no different than natural vegetation that they are supposed to imitate.
Crucial for making ghillie suits effective is adding some natural vegetation to them. ProApto® makes it easier for us by lacing the raphia garnish with some elastic bands. What is more, the producer also provides us with some extra bands in case ours were destroyed or we simply wanted to garnish our garment with natural vegetation or more strands of raphia (if necessary), which are also included in the package. Extra raphia can also be used to camouflage or conceal our airsoft gun, lenses or other pieces of clothing, e.g. a hat.
The hood is exceptionally lightweight and compact. It weighs around 380g and, when packed correctly, it easily fits into a bigger pouch or a backpack.
We’ve been using the Viper Hood for about seven months. We were wearing it mainly during airsoft skirmishes, but also while photographing wildlife. The pattern that we’ve chosen is pretty universal and, after adding some natural grass, leaves, plants etc. to it, our ghillie suit proved itself very succesful, not only during spring and summertime, but also the fall.
Resigning from fabrics known from old designs and conventional ghillie suits offers many advantages, including much lower weight of the suit in comparison with classic constructions, as well as increased breathability and packability. Furthermore, we no longer have to worry about accidental rips or tears (net durability tests to watch here). Such a solution has one more asset, namely waterproofness – the net doesn’t absorb water when it’s raining.
Since raphia resembles dry grass, we initially had some concerns about its durability. We couldn’t be more wrong, though. It’s impossible to tear it apart with bare hands.
The hood is comfortable and it doesn’t constrain its user’s movements. The size is adjusted to an individual, hence the ghillie suit is well-fitted and stays in place. ProApto® Viper Hood covers our head, shoulders, upper arms, back and part of the chest. It is also possible to modify it by adding some extra elements, such as long sleeves or a longer back part.
Raphia garnish blends in very well, especially when complimented with natural vegetation. Of course, the final effect depends on the surroundings which we choose as our hideout. We hope that our photos show that the said effect can be phenomenal.
The ghillie suit was also very useful in our attempts of wildlife photography. Several times we managed to approach wild animals close enough to take satisfying photos. It was much easier when the ghillie suit was garnished with natural vegetation, which not only increased ghillie’s camouflaging properties, but also reduced human scent.
To sum up, ProApto® made a really excellent product, which we highly recommend. The truth is it earns nothing but superlatives. It’s not only perfect as a camouflage, but it’s also durable, lightweight and compressible, which made it a valuable, integral addition to our gear.
+ waterproof net base,
+ possibility to modify,
+ lifetime guarantee.
Translated by /Coral/