Military camouflage is the use of camouflage by a military force to protect personnel and equipment from observation by enemy forces. In practice, this means applying color and materials to military equipment of all kinds, including vehicles, ships, aircraft, gun positions and battledress, either to conceal it from observation (crypsis), or to make it appear as something else (mimicry).
The French slang word camouflage came into common English usage during World War I when the concept of visual deception developed into an essential part of modern military tactics. In that war, long-range artillery and observation from the air combined to expand the field of fire, and camouflage was widely used to decrease the danger of being targeted or to enable surprise. As such, military camouflage is a form of military deception.
Camouflage was first practiced in simple form in the mid 18th century by jäger- or rifle units. Their tasks required them to be inconspicuous, and they were issued green and later other drab color uniforms. With the advent of longer range and more accurate weapons, especially the repeating rifle, camouflage was adopted for the uniforms of all armies, spreading to most forms of military equipment including ships and aircraft. Many modern camouflage textiles address visibility not only to visible light but also near infrared, for concealment from night vision devices.
Camouflage is not only visual; heat, sound, magnetism and even smell can be used to target weapons, and may be intentionally concealed. Some forms of camouflage have elements of scale in-variance, designed to disrupt outlines at different distances, typically digital camouflage patterns made of pixels.
If you would like to see what items we carry in each camo pattern just click the links. Now let's get into some patterns!
Tigerstripe is the name of a group of camouflage patterns developed for close-range use in dense jungle during jungle warfare by the South Vietnamese Armed Forces and adopted by US Special Forces during the Vietnam War.
During and following the Vietnam war the pattern was adopted by several other Asian countries. It derives its name from its resemblance to a tiger's stripes and were simply called "tigers." It features narrow stripes that look like brush-strokes of green and brown, and broader brush-strokes of black printed over a lighter shade of olive or khaki. The brush-strokes interlock rather than overlap, as in French Lizard pattern (TAP47) from which it apparently derives.
There are many variations; R.D. Johnson counted at least 19 different versions in early drafts of Tiger Patterns, his definitive work on the subject, although it is unclear if these are all different print patterns, or if they include color variations of a few different print patterns
The Woodland Pattern was the default camouflage pattern issued to United States soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors from 1981, with the issue of the Battle Dress Uniform, until its replacement around 2006. It is a four color, high contrast disruptive pattern with irregular markings in sand, brown, green and black.
Woodland pattern is identical to ERDL, but is printed from an enlargement of the original. The ERDL pattern was enlarged and the borders of the splotches were re-drawn to make them less regular. Part of the earlier pattern was left off the later pattern because the enlargement made them no longer fit on the width of the bolt of cloth. The pattern does not repeat horizontally across the width of the bolt, but only vertically along its length.
The effect of enlarging the pattern was to make the pattern more visible at a distance, avoiding "blobbing", where smaller areas of color seem to blend into larger blobs. This also gave the pattern a higher contrast, making it stand out more sharply at close distances and defeating the camouflage effect at closer range. Digital and Flecktarn camouflage patterns resolve this problem by using a range of blob sizes to give a similar effect whatever the distance.
These changes reflected a shift in the tactical focus of the United States military from an extremely close-range war in Vietnam to a longer-range battlespace on the fields of Europe.
The Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU) is an American arid-environment camouflage uniform used by the United States Armed Forces. In terms of pattern and cut, it is nearly identical to the U.S. military's Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) uniform, but features a three-color desert camouflage pattern of dark brown, pale green, and beige, as opposed to the beige, pale green, two tones of brown, and black and white rock spots of the previous Desert Battle Dress Uniform (DBDU).
First issued in very limited quantity in 1990 as experimental test patterns, the DCU and its camouflage scheme, officially known as the Desert Camouflage Pattern, and also known as "coffee stain camouflage", was developed to replace the six-color desert camouflage "chocolate-chip camouflage" uniform, which was deemed unsuitable for most desert combat theaters. As opposed to the original six-color DBDU, which was meant for a rockier and elevated desert battlefield that was often not encountered, the DCU was created primarily for a lower, more open, and less rocky desert battlefield space which became a common sight throughout the Persian Gulf War.
As a replacement pattern, this meant a new arid region had to be utilized to test the effectiveness of the DCU. Desert soil samples from parts of the Middle East, namely Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, were used as testing locations to find the appropriate color palettes. All American personnel in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq wore the DBDU during the entire Gulf War campaign, with the exception of some select U.S. Army generals who were issued the DCU a month following the air campaign in Desert Storm. Norman Schwarzkopf, then CENTCOM commander, and leader of American forces during Desert Storm, was issued an M-65 field jacket as well as coat and trousers in the new DCU color pattern shortly before the war ended.
MARPAT (short for Marine pattern) is a digital camouflage pattern in use with the United States Marine Corps, designed by Timothy O'Neill and introduced with the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU), which replaced the Camouflage Utility Uniform. Its design and concept are based on the Canadian CADPAT pattern. The pattern is formed of small rectangular pixels of color. In theory, it is a far more effective camouflage than standard uniform patterns because it mimics the dappled textures and rough boundaries found in natural settings. It is also known as the "digital pattern" or "digi-cammies" because of its micropattern (pixels) rather than the old macropattern (big blobs).The United States government has patented MARPAT, including specifics of its manufacture. By regulation, the pattern and items incorporating it, such as the MCCUU and ILBE backpack, are to be supplied by authorized manufacturers only and are not for general commercial sale, although imitations are available such as "Digital Woodland Camo" or "Digital Desert Camo".
MARPAT was also chosen because it distinctively identifies its wearers as Marines to their adversaries, while simultaneously helping its wearers remain concealed. This was demonstrated by a Marine spokesman at the launch of MARPAT, who stated: "We want to be instantly recognized as a force to be reckoned with. We want them to see us coming a mile away in our new uniforms." As such, the US Marine Corps restricts use of the camouflage, preventing its use in most other divisions of the United States military.
The Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), also referred to as ACUPAT (Army Combat Uniform Pattern) or Digital Camouflage (digicam), is the military camouflage pattern used in the United States Army's Army Combat Uniform. The pattern was chosen after several laboratory and field tests that occurred from 2003 to 2004, although it has been established that UCP may well have been adopted without field testing against other patterns. Its pixelated pattern is a modification of the United States Marine Corps' MARPAT camouflage pattern which is similar to the Canadian CADPAT scheme.
The color scheme of the Army Combat Uniform is composed of tan (officially named Desert Sand 500), gray (Urban Gray 501), and sage green (Foliage Green 502). The pattern is notable for its elimination of the color black. Justification given for the omission of black was that black is a color not commonly found in nature. Pure black, when viewed through night vision goggles, can appear excessively dark and create an undesirable high-contrast image. This argument was not accepted by the Canadian forces or the Marine Corps when they adopted the preceding CADPAT and MARPAT patterns respectively.
The effectiveness of the pattern was questioned, leading to several research programs being conducted to modify or replace the current standard issue pattern. In July 2014, the Army announced that Scorpion W2 had been selected as the replacement pattern, and will completely replace the former pattern by the end of September 2019.
Based on the U.S. Marine Corps's MARPAT Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform, with multiple pockets on the shirt and trousers, it uses a multi-color digital print pattern similar to those introduced by other services. However, the NWU is made in three variants: Type I, predominantly blue with some gray for the majority of sailors, originally developed for shipboard use; Type II, a desert digital pattern currently restricted to SEALs and other Sailors assigned to Naval Special Warfare Units when in desert environments; and Type III, a woodland digital pattern for sailors in expeditionary units (not shipboard) such as Seabees and Riverine units. Both camouflage patterns are similar to MARPAT.
The overall blue color reflects the Navy's heritage and connection to seaborne operations. The pixelated pattern is also used to hide wear and stains, something unavoidable with the utilities and working khakis used previously. The colors were also chosen to match the most commonly used paint colors aboard ship, extending the lifetime of the uniform on long deployments where uniforms often come into contact with freshly painted surfaces. As of 2012, the uniform is authorized for wear outside of military installation.
The uniform is primarily composed of a 50/50 nylon and cotton blend, which eliminates the need for a "starch and press" appearance and reduces the possibility of snags and tears from sharp objects (thus making the garment last longer). However this blend combines high flammability with the strength to hold onto the sailor's body while burning. Accessories include a navy-blue cotton T-shirt, an eight-point utility cover (similar to that worn by Marines), and a web belt with closed buckle. All-weather garments include a unisex pullover sweater, a fleece jacket, and a parka, all of which are available in matching camouflage patterns. Beginning in 2016 the Navy had planned to also issue a lightweight version of the NWU more suitable to hot environments.
The MultiCam® pattern was developed to effectively limit the visual and near-IR signature of a person operating across a very wide range of physical environments and seasons. After many successful evaluations, after being proven in combat, and after becoming the officially issued pattern of the US Army for all Afghanistan operations in 2010, MultiCam® is the proven multi-environment concealment solution.
The MultiCam Arid™ pattern was developed to effectively reduce the visual and near-IR signature of a person operating in desert environments that predominantly consist of open sand and rock. The MultiCam Arid™ palette compliments and overlaps portions of the main MultiCam® pattern; so pairing MultiCam® gear with MultiCam Arid™ apparel results in a well-coordinated concealment system.
The MultiCam Tropic™ pattern was developed to effectively reduce the visual and near-IR signature of a person operating in dense jungle environments, areas that predominantly consist of lush vegetation that remains relatively unaffected by seasonal changes. The MultiCam Tropic™ palette compliments and overlaps portions of the main MultiCam® pattern; so pairing MultiCam® gear with MultiCam Tropic™ apparel results in a well-coordinated concealment system.
The MultiCam Alpine™ pattern was developed to effectively reduce the visual and near-IR signature of a person operating in snow-covered environments. It is intended to be used in every area of operation that receives significant snowfall. The MultiCam Alpine™ pattern can be paired with MultiCam® gear as needed to appropriately match the overall level of snow cover present.
The MultiCam Black™ pattern was developed to meet the unique requirements of law enforcement officers operating in high-risk environments. It projects a distinctly authoritative presence appropriate for domestic operations. MultiCam Black™ is designed to complement an officer’s existing equipment and present a sharp, professional image for top-tier law enforcement units.
MultiCam is a Crye Precision camouflage pattern designed for use in a wide range of conditions. Variants of it, some unlicensed, are in use with armed forces. The pattern is also sold for civilian usage.
First introduced in 2002, MultiCam was designed for the use of the U.S. Army in varied environments, seasons, elevations, and light conditions. It is a seven-color, multi-environment camouflage pattern developed by Crye Precision in conjunction with United States Army Soldier Systems Center.
The pattern was included in the U.S. Army's move to replace the 3-Color Desert and Woodland patterns, but in 2004 lost to the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) that came to be used in the Army Combat Uniform. However, it was re-commissioned by the U.S. Army in 2010, replacing UCP for units deploying to the War in Afghanistan, under the designation, Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OEFCP). It had already been used by some American special operations units and civilian law enforcement agencies.
A version of MultiCam has been adopted by the armed forces of the United Kingdom as the Multi-Terrain Pattern (MTP), replacing their previous DPM camouflage. MTP retains the color palette of Multicam but incorporates shapes similar to the previous DPM scheme. After using the Multicam scheme in Afghanistan, Australia has also adopted its own version, combining the pattern of Multicam with the color palette of its earlier DPCU / Auscam pattern.
MultiCam has background colors of a brown to light-tan gradient and lime green blending in between, the main part consists of green to yellowish green gradient and finally dark brown and light pinkish blotches spread throughout the pattern. This allows for the overall appearance to change from greenish to brownish in different areas of the fabric, while having smaller blotches to break up the bigger background areas.
This camo utilizes numerous shades of tan sampled directly from a variety of arid and urban environments combined with various shades of earth and small amounts of green, A-TACS AU Camo is designed to be effective in a wide range of arid environments. This pattern was the first to utilize a process where organic pixels in the micro patterns are grouped into larger, more defined “macro” shapes creating larger more defined patterns designed to be viewed from a distance.
This Camo utilizes numerous shades of green sampled directly from a variety of forested and transitional terrain elements combined with various shades of earth, A-TACS FG Camo was developed to be effective in a wide range of temperate environments.
The newest camouflage pattern in our line-up. As the name indicates, new A-TACS LE Camo was developed for Law Enforcement professionals. The pattern combines various shades of grey, blue and black and utilizes the trademark “organic pixel” look developed by DCS for its original A-TACS AU Camo pattern. A-TACS LE also incorporates variable angles and urban forms derived from photography and effectively utilizes an even blend of light and shadow to create unique pattern with a slight horizontal flow. Additionally, A-TACS LE Camo was developed to work with variable combinations of black or blue nylon gear and other equipment allowing municipalities and departments the option to easily upgrade their kit on an “as needed” basis, gradually phasing in new items while still maintaining a cohesive and uniform appearance.
As with the original A-TACS AU (Arid/Urban) Camo pattern, the organic pixels in the micro patterns are grouped into larger, more defined “macro” shapes creating larger more defined patterns. The larger organic shapes and strategically placed shadow elements within the macro pattern help to create a unique three-dimensional effect when viewed from a distance.
Specially designed for those geographical regions and elevations that are varied. Kryptek Highlander increases stealth when pursuing a wide range of quarry in mixed terrain.
Only the strong survive beneath the canopy where the shadows deepen and the surroundings are dense. Kryptek Mandrake is designed for those regions where success or survival depends on your ability to become one with your domain.
Big game hunters spoke and we listened. Customers love the game changing Kryptek camo patterns and cringed at the idea of covering it up with a blaze vest. Inferno is our answer to meeting the firearm hunting season requirements.
When conditions worsen and the temperatures fall, when days are short and the shadows are long. Kryptek Yeti provides concealment when cover is only found in subtle creases of the snow pack.
Your prey takes form as a mist shrouded shape on a distant ridge. Above the tree line where the air is thin and cover is sparse, you need a camouflage that allows you to close the gap and retake the high ground.
A color pallet created for those individuals with an obsession that is manifested by chasing rainbows in Montana or wrestling Marlin off the coast of Baja
A predator lurks just below the surface. He is a shadowy figure gliding silently through the depths or perhaps a hidden entity patiently waiting in vigil on the ocean floor. His advantage is stealth and his attacks are sudden. He is the ruler of his domain.
Darkness is the ally of the predator that prowls at night. Kryptek Typhon serves those who operate when and where others will not venture.
Created for those situations when the quarters are close and the jungle is urban. Kryptek Raid is the camo for finding that prey that lurks in the shadows of the streets.
A touch of frost has heightened your awareness and your heart steadily beats in anticipation. Your senses are suddenly alert to the movement on the forest floor and you realize that the moment of harvest is at hand. Strike with the confidence of a predator at one with their surroundings.
A theater of operations that is harsh and desolate requires deception of a certain type. Kryptek Nomad serves when the surroundings are barren and the environment is hostile.
Kryptek’s battlefield DNA is evident in everything they do. Kryptek took what they learned in the most hostile combat environments and combined that knowledge with proven tactical gear concepts, tested it with top military professionals and hunters, and then customized every aspect to perform in all potential backcountry scenarios.
Unlike traditional stick and leaf camouflage, Kryptek’s design incorporates micro and macro layering inspired by artillery camouflage netting. This creates a 3D appearance on a 2D surface and near-invisibility. In fact, the Department of Defense used laser-retinal-tracking to prove it took subjects longer to locate people wearing Kryptek camouflage than any other, proving that Kryptek camo is the most effective camouflage available.
If you do not see your favorite camo pattern just shoot us an email and we can see if there is a way to get some in for you.
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