Reverse urban camouflage is an anti-disruptive coloration / pattern method of concealing oneself within a city landscape or among a crowd of people.

Urban camouflage is blending in with the people and culture. Wilderness camouflage is blending into the nature and physical surroundings.

As with any form of crypsis and social camouflage – urban and wilderness, human and animal – the sole purpose is to blend in within a given area of space or within a mass of a populace. This is the exception.

Instead of directly avoiding detection by hiding in plain site by looking like everyone else, reverse urban camouflage relies on the opposite tradecraft.

It’s to aggressively stick out in contrast to other people and your surroundings to be so noticeable that you’re subconsciously or systematically dismissed by the person or group that is seeking you.

When engaged in these types of scenarios, the person or group is often looking for a needle in a haystack, not a lit up lighthouse on a coastline. They are looking for someone trying to blend in, not someone intentionally trying to stick out.

The most practical example of using this strategy is being disguised as a utility or construction worker.

If you’re being pursued, engaging in an operation or under surveillance, wearing (or later putting on at a strategic moment) something as simple as a hi-vis vest and optionally a hardhat could be effective.

Reverse Urban Camouflage

In almost any urban setting, a man wearing such highly visible attire is ironically a perfect example of blending in. This is because it’s essentially an urban uniform.

As highly visible as they may be, they belong. And that’s the key, to belong in a space or within a group of people. Which is the objective or urban camouflage.

This is why these vests are widely a part of operatives’ loadout. They’re extremely packable, cheap, weighs almost nothing and can be worn or taken off in an instant with dynamic effect.

Additionally, it can grant access to or passage across otherwise restricted areas without arousing suspicion not possible with regular street clothes.

As with any tactic, this will only work in certain scenarios and is dependent on implementation.

Other examples include; acting as a street performer, photographer, homeless person, YouTuber, skateboarder, activist, protester and sign spinner.

All of these types of people incidentally or intentionally demand public attention – yet are quickly forgotten.

The idea is to be noticed so that you can be dismissed.