Part 4: On Aristotle. Stealth Hiking through his Tripartite Method (or Appendix 3 of the New Pensees)

"I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking..."

--Henry David Thoreau

The following paper I dedicate to the members of R.O.T.C. everywhere and to the U.S. Army.


The Ranger Handbook speaks of Danger Areas that soldiers must avoid or safely cross when hiking in the woods. But there has been no scientific classification of Danger Areas in the Ranger Handbook or in any other printed text--until now that is.

In the Ranger Handbook, there is talk about Large Danger Areas, Small/Open Danger Areas and Linear (and Double Linear) Danger Areas, but these various terms are for illustrative-tactical suggestion only and are not part of any analytical and systematical field classification method concerning Stealth Hiking.

For the former method (mentioned inside the Ranger Handbook) is best used during a tactical operation. And the latter method (based on Stealth Hiking) is best used in escape-and-evasion, or when it is better not to engage the enemy in the field or be spotted by anyone else.

So while you are out in the woods: slow down, be careful, and always remember: safety and obedience to the law are first!!!

The Art of Stealth Hiking

I. There are three major field areas based on the philosopher Aristotle's tripartite classification system: DANGER AREAS, ADJACENT DANGER AREAS and NON-DANGER AREAS.

1. The first field area is called a DANGER AREA. A danger area is any open space in which you can be detected from several directions anywhere from a medium to a long distance away. E.g. highways, roads, paths, trails, oceans, seas, beaches, rivers, plains, deserts, lakes, ponds, streams, flat areas, meadows, and all other open spaces where detection is possible from a medium to a long distance away.

2. The second field area is called an ADJACENT DANGER AREA. An adjacent danger area is any non-open space next to a danger area. You can be spotted inside an adjacent danger area, from a nearby danger area, or another nearby adjacent danger area, if you do not have proper camouflage and stealth. Adjacent danger areas are tree lines (e.g. the edge of forests), rock lines, scrub lines, or grass lines that have some decent cover and concealment; an adjacent danger area can either be a small, medium, or large area.

[In adjacent danger areas you usually have to hide behind something to remain undetected.]

3. The third field area is called a NON-DANGER AREA. A non-danger area is neither a danger area nor an adjacent danger area. This area is a place where it is almost impossible for others to detect you from any danger area or adjacent danger area in your vicinity. However, it is still possible for someone to detect you if they are in the same non-danger area as yourself. E.g. being in the middle of a large swamp, forest, rain-forest, tall-grassland, plentiful bush-land, or even being underwater.

[Proper camouflage, noise discipline and a suitable hiding place are needed to stop being detected by a person in the same NON-DANGER AREA that one is located in. Hence, the sniper's trusted Gillie Suit.]


a) If you are out in the open, with nothing in nature concealing your person from being observed from a medium to long distance, you are most likely in a danger area.

b) If you are surrounded by natural vegetation, and are somewhat concealed, but nearby is a danger area, you are most likely in an adjacent danger area.

c) If you are concealed by nature, but you can't see a danger area anywhere around you, or it's very far off in the distance, you are most likely in a non-danger area.

II. Eight Notes for the three major field areas.

1. If you want to move speedily to an objective, you need to either travel safely on a Danger Area or at times cross such areas safely when needed.

2. When utilizing Danger Areas try to lessen the chance of detection by safely moving in and out of Adjacent Danger Areas. E.g. every time there is a bend in the road. [However, when doing this you need to be careful and watch out for snakes and other deadly animals, terrain, traps and things.]

3. For any stealthy approach to an objective, traversing in and out of Adjacent Danger Areas (from Non-Danger Areas) will also help you to recognize the Danger Areas that will help you navigate or detect other people while you are still being stealthy.

4. If you contour your movements between a Danger Area and Adjacent Danger Area, you must still keep your distance from the Danger Area so you cannot be detected.

5. Again, one trick for speedy navigation is to keep a Danger Area (e.g. a road) in sight just as long as you are not too close to that Danger Area where you can be detected.

6. Because of the large population of the Earth, Danger Areas are places where it is practically impossible for you not to be spotted in, even if you think you haven’t been spotted yet. [That being said, Danger Areas make great environments for rescue.]

7. When you are not in a Danger Area, and you can no longer see a single pathway between your position and any distant Danger Area, you are no longer inside an Adjacent Danger Area but are inside a Non-Danger Area. E.g. being on a thick-forested jungle hill but only seeing (through the heavy bush) tree canopies down to the ocean.

8. In the 1992 hit movie The Last of the Mohicans, there are several scenes depicting the differences between Danger Areas and Adjacent Danger Areas. Usually the Native American Indians would attack from Adjacent Danger Areas, while the British fought back from Danger Areas they were traveling through. In fact, the entire art of stealthy hiking is centered around how and when to exploit Adjacent Danger Areas.

III. All of the above promotes a question to be asked: Is the high ground or the low ground to be favored when hiking stealthily in the three major field areas?

To answer this question, just remember the following rhyme of mine:

"Morning till early afternoon:
Quietly hike and camp on high,
So those below won't catch you by ear or by eye.
Later afternoon and all night:
Hike on the lower portions of earth,
So those above won't hear your boots on dirt."

The above rhyme is not made up of fixed rules, however, so a hiker should try to find out the real truths about stealth hiking on high and low ground. Plus, the above rhyme usually fools a prey animal’s sense of smell more than the sight and hearing of a man or especially a dog’s nose or hearing--which can be very keen.

Note: When using your senses to detect people in the bush: firstly, look for movement; secondly, look for contrast; thirdly, listen for noise; and, fourthly, smell for smells. Then repeat this process over and over again. And try not to be detected by such means either.

IV. Inside an urban or suburban setting there must be the following distinctions.

1. When you are on an outside road, street or pathway: you are inside of a danger area, and everything indoors (meaning everything inside of a building or sewer) is to be considered inside of an adjacent danger area.

2. When you are inside a building or sewer, everything outside, in an urban and suburban setting (that is not inside a building or sewer), is considered to be inside a danger area, and everything inside (that is inside another building or sewer), is considered to be inside an adjacent danger area. For it is pointless to categorize non-danger areas inside an urban or suburban setting, since such non-danger areas are based on perspective and not terrain. E.g. a tall building may give you stealth one minute but not the next, while an adjacent danger area and a non-danger area, in the outdoors, will most likely stay that way for quite a while. In a nutshell, a non-danger area (and an adjacent danger area) will more likely stay that way in the woods than in an urban like setting.

E.g. it makes sense that there aren't many enemy soldiers hopping from tree branch to tree branch in the high, upward jungle canopy. But practically all enemy soldiers can quickly move from the first floor to any higher floors in an urban environment.

3. Everything inside the same building (or sewer) you are inside is considered to be inside either a danger area or an adjacent danger area: depending on where those things are in the building, and how much cover or concealment those things have in the present. The same goes for yourself as well.

Note: In the art of stealthy hiking, to maintain one's stealth, urban and suburban areas are to be avoided at all costs. However, to successfully recon an urban or suburban area, one should conceal oneself within a non-danger area or within an adjacent danger area located on the perimeter of an urban or suburban setting. Entering an urban or suburban area will most likely compromise your stealth, so it must be done with the utmost caution and wisdom. Plus, sewers have dangerous waste water, deadly chemicals, dangerous things, animals and people (and flooding), so should be avoided at all costs.

V. Camping advice in the three major field areas.

1. In the woods, a great amount of movement and noise is generally made when you and your teammates camp. The idea is to limit the amount of noise and movement you and your fellow teammates make. Your camp will never be totally undiscoverable, but your purpose should be to limit noise, movement and location so as to make it less discoverable.

2. E.g. you don't need noise and movement to be easily detected inside a danger area. You will still be easily detected inside a danger area just by standing inside of one. And, by contrast, some movement and noise is needed to be detected easily inside an adjacent danger area. However, it is important to note that a lot of movement and noise is needed to be easily detected inside a non-danger area from any area located around its outer periphery.

3. Therefore, it is my belief that the best place to stealthily camp is inside a safe and secure non-danger area.

4. But be careful not to camp near trees that can fall and injure or even kill you. Plus, when camping try to avoid dens where wild animals may live.

Note: If you are worried about being spied on by drones while hiking or camping, the best advice I can give is to have one's movements and campsite covered by an above tree canopy. Most commercial drones use propellers, so it would be rare for a drone to penetrate underneath a tree canopy or to fly inside the perimeter of a tree line.

VI. A Leader's Determination of Stealth Patrol Formations

1. Now 'Major Robert Rogers' wrote 19 Rules (found today inside the first few pages of every Ranger Handbook) which explains 18th century American small unit tactics in a nutshell; but he never categorized the importance of patrol formations. So I have decided to categorize small unit stealth formations with the following of Major Robert Rogers' Rules.

2. Fundamentally, a leader must realize the capabilities of the unit they are leading (above all) and make the right formation for their unit. Remember, if there is no order in the field your unit will not be stealthy--creating a disorganized rabble.

3. If your unit is composed of an inexperienced field group, try to focus on the training and use of Rogers' 6th Rule. "#6. When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through two men. (U.S. Army Ranger Handbook: Public Domain)"

4. If your unit is composed of an experienced field group, add Rogers' 3rd and 7th Rules to your training and use. "#3. When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first. (U.S. Army Ranger Handbook: Public Domain)" "#7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us. (U.S. Army Ranger Handbook: Public Domain)"

5. And finally, if your unit is composed of an extremely expert field group, add Rogers' 12th Rule to your training and use. "#12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, 20 yards on each flank, and 20 yards in the rear so the main body can't be surprised and wiped out. (U.S. Army Ranger Handbook: Public Domain)" Of course, although the main body must be as quiet as possible, only the extremely expert troops should be used for the scouts positioned on all four sides. However, rules 6, 3 and 7 are more important to train and use than Rule 12.

6. If you obey all this advice on Stealth Patrol Formations, you will most likely have a more efficient and more stealthy unit operating in the field no matter what their experience level is.

VII. Major Robert Roger’s Rules for a Favorable Combat Engagement

1. In any battlefield terrain one may have a greater tactical advantage in engagement if one has superior: cover, concealment, weaponry, numbers, visibility, quickness-of-foot and elevation. For this is called a ‘Non-Tripartite Area’ considered tactical advantage.

2. But terrain also plays a part in tactical advantage.

a) But one will have no tactical advantage if one is inside the same Danger Area as the enemy.

b) Plus, one will have no tactical advantage if one is inside the same Adjacent Danger Area as the enemy.

c) And, finally, one will have no tactical advantage if one is inside the same Non-Danger Area as the enemy.

d) For a, b, and c one will only have a tactical advantage if one has a superior ‘Non-Tripartite Area’ considered tactical advantage in: cover, concealment, weaponry, numbers, visibility, quickness-of-foot and elevation.

3. For there exists just two superior terrain tactical advantages.

a) If the enemy is in a Danger Area then one will have a superior terrain tactical advantage if one is inside an Adjacent Danger Area or a Non-Danger Area.

b) If the enemy is in an Adjacent Danger Area then one will have a superior terrain tactical advantage if one is inside a Non-Danger Area.

c) However, if the enemy is located inside a Non-Danger Area, then one will not have a superior terrain tactical advantage in any of the three mentioned types of Danger Areas. Greater advantage in battle will only come from being in the same Non-Danger Area and having a superior ‘Non-Tripartite Area’ considered tactical advantage of: cover, concealment, weaponry, numbers, visibility, quickness-of-foot and elevation.


For the key element in all this guess work is that one engages the enemy only when one has multiple tactical advantages and especially a terrain tactical advantage. For this reasoning is backed up by Major Robert Rogers’ 18th rule in the Ranger Handbook. "#18. Don’t stand up when the enemy’s coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, hide behind a tree.” (U.S. Army Ranger Handbook: Public Domain)"


It is best to engage the enemy when the enemy is inside a Danger Area, and you are inside an Adjacent Danger Area or a Non-Danger Area. And you must try to avoid starting a fire-fight when you are inside a Danger Area and the enemy is inside an Adjacent Danger Area or Non-Danger Area.

[Of course, I am just generalizing with all of the above advice. A hiker should really use their own knowledge of the woods and common sense first when applying any of the above advice to the outdoors.]

Postscript: For the rest of the art of Stealth Hiking see training circular TC 31-34-4 "Special Forces Tracking and Counter Tracking."


The End.

Copyright Michael Llenos 2016