Over the past few decades, hunting apparel has gone from everyday duds to realistic camo mimicking sticks and leaves to high-tech digital patterns advertised to essentially vanish into their surroundings. But even with the advancements in camo technology, some hunters still stick to the classic plaid wool and blue jeans combo. Is pricey performance camo really better?

As the latest compounds eclipse the 350 fps mark and bowsights sport built-in rangefinders, hunting camo is making huge strides too. Abstract and digital patterns are designed to disrupt and distort deer (and elk and goat, etc.) vision with a combination of micro and macro patterns that break up the body’s silhouette.

This versatile style of camo is so effective, several branches of the military employ such pixelated patterns.  

But unlike mimicry camo which can blur you into an obvious blob, plaid patterns can break up solid silhouettes too — even if they’re not composed of traditional hunting colors.

While whitetails and lots of other quarry can spot the tiniest bit of movement, their eyes can’t make out the full spectrum of colors like ours. This is why gun hunters sporting blaze orange can still manage to fill tags. Deer are more sensitive to blue, but otherwise color itself isn’t overly important to concealment. 

So your best bet for hunting apparel truly depends on your pursuit. Your prey, location, and hunting style should all factor in.

If you’ll be firing a rifle at deer from your treestand 100 yards away, you can definitely get by without a $500 set of technical camo.

For elk spot and stalk with a bow or running and gunning after turkeys on the ground, a quality camo pattern could help you go undetected — especially as you close the gap.

But as long as the clothing you’re wearing manages to break up your body’s outline, making sure your face — basically a blob of solid color — isn’t uncovered or exposed might actually be more important than the particular pattern on your shirt.

Fred Bear once said, “The best camouflage pattern is called, ‘Sit down and be quiet!’ Your grandpa hunted deer in a red plaid coat, think about that for a second.”

So do you need the latest and greatest high-tech camo to be a successful hunter? No! It can certainly be beneficial in some scenarios, but you can still get the job done in old-school, hand-me-down wool plaid.