The MultiCam Woodland/Jungle Debate

During my short trip to Norfolk over the past two days, I had the chance to talk to an industry official about the upcoming camo competition the Army has launched.

Firstly, I heard both perspectives about MultiCam’s performance in jungle and woodland environments. One industry person with a spec ops background affirmed what the Army’s Tim O’Neil has reiterated many times — that MC doesn’t do well in those environments at all. The industry person also warned me not to equate jungle and woodland as one environment, but two distinct camouflage challenges. The industry official also wondered how other patterns could beat the baseline camos, including AOR-1 and Marpat Woodland, which perform very well in the green space.

Then I spoke with an operator from a unit who recently was authorized to wear MultiCam uniforms and he raved about its performance in a woodland environment (he had not tested it in a jungle climate).

The thing is, in the 2009 Natick camo study, MC came in second best to the Marpat in woodland tests. Admittedly, the AOR-1 pattern was not part of those tests, but still, MC didn’t do as poorly as, say, Desert Marpat, in a green environment. It’s maybe an “apples to pears” comparison, but it’s all we’ve got that’s publicly released.

So there’s a divergence of opinion on MultiCam’s effectiveness in at least a woodland environment and at least as far as the Army’s own tests are concerned, it didn’t fail miserably. Which raises the point once again that my friend over at Soldier Systems Daily raises: if the Army already has an “80 percent” pattern in MultiCam, does it make budgetary sense to go through with tests and possible procurement of three differently patterned uniforms? My gut tells me it’s a science project worth completing, but one has to wonder if The Hill will ultimately fund it.

PS: I recently saw the video of Hyperstealth’s “SmartCamo” in action (though with no sound) and all I can say is there’s definitely something to it.

  • And how will A-TACS fit into the mix? It obviously serves a different purpose than MultiCam, but it should be interesting to see what happens.

    • alex

      atacs isnt all that good dude in my opinion it only has one good area of expertise….. a dusty urban area in the middle east (aghan,irag,leb etc) and multicam or even aor1 would kick its ass

  • Doc

    I just don’t get it, if Multicam is 80 percent there for overall coverage but isn’t that great in Woodland or Desert environments why doesn’t the Army just use Multicam for the Transitional pattern and use the Woodland and Desert variants that are available when needed? You don’t need a test, you don’t need to waste time, you already have the answer and yet our broke government has decided to spend money to find an answer they already have.

  • aaron lee

    Why is the Big Army trying to re-invent the wheel on this. I truly believe the Marine Corps is ahead of the pack with uniforms and camo as they laugh at us. Who are these so called individuals in these Hierarchy that determine what works and what doesn’t. When was the last time they were out in sector etc Desert Storm? My father is a retired Infantry Colonel that served in the 70’s thru 90’s. He was in the era of the OG 107s (Green and ERDL’s). It’s amazing that those era of Soldiers could effectively camouflage themselves with OG 107s. Stop wasting damn money, go to Multi Cam and use similar Marpat variants for Desert/Jungle…. the real men/women up in the higher levels that know what the hell is going on.

  • Iwright

    What is that big shiny black thing the soldier in the photo is holding? Stands out like a sore thumb…..

    • Bill

      what soldier?



    • DTWB

      Its levitating! But seriously, why are we ignoring the fact that the most easily identifiable object in the kit is still the black bang-stick that is only kinda-sorta-sometimes allowed to be painted. Even if just the stock and hand-guards were made FDE it would be a break up the general outline more than it is now.

  • FormerDirtDart

    Saying Multicam was second to Marpat woodland isn’t really true. Yes, when compared to ONLY Marpat, Multicam was rankes 2nd. But, in Natick’s 2009 testing, in overall woodland testing Marpat was actually ranked 2nd, and Multicam was 6th. The more green based “China” pattern (which has a more similar colorway to AOR2) was superior to all patterns tested in the woodland environments.

  • Neal

    Why do pictures of Multicam give me an even bigger desire for MARPAT?

  • Brian

    Why not just come up with a Jungle/Woodland and desert version of MC and use the current MC patterns as the universal/transitional gear pattern. I mean wouldn’t it be as simple as tweaking the color scheme to make multi cam work better in a specific environment?

    • FormerDirtDart

      Nothing is preventing Crye Precision from submitting variants of Multicam to be evaluated. But, just changing the color scheme doesn’t assure a specific pattern will work in another environment, nor make it the most effective.
      But, the fact remains, that in order for an US government entity to offer a commercial contract, federal regulations and laws require they allow competition. Plus, considering the amount of money likely to be spent, there is a certain need to make sure whatever camouflage is selected, meets the military’s needs. Especially after the complete UCP fiasco.

    • Doc

      I dont know if you noticed my initial post but Crye makes a woodland and desert variant of multicam and they have already been tested and tested very well compared to both of the marpats. So multicam for transitional and the other variants for needed environments problem solved.

  • CSARmedic

    Here we have Woodland (proven effective after 30 years of actual use), 3 color DCU (proven pretty good after two wars and the time between them in the desert), Multicam (proving itself in a mixed environment), our rediculous ABU (proving itself in air conditioned offices the world over), MARPAT (proving itself with the Marines), ACU (not proving much at all with the color but a pretty good design of functionality), and that crazy Navy design (with a great color camoing sailors on ships but again with a pretty good functional configuration) ALL in the DOD inventory. YET, our great and unrelenting leadership in the Pentagon INSIST on wasting milions more developing the another PERFECT camo in a time a real, dire fiscal crisis (shakes head).

    • Neal

      That new Navy design is camo in reverse, better at hiding grease and oil stains than the sailor, or so I’ve read.
      Why is a pattern, digital or not, even necessary on a big grey floating bullseye?

      • Riceball

        The camo is designed for exactly what you stated, hiding grease, dirt, and other stains on the uniform and not for hiding the wearer. The idea is to give sailors something that looks like a prison uniform (dungarees) and doesn’t have to be washed/replaced the first time it gets grease or paint on it.

  • Stormcharger

    OK, I’ve lost count. How many camo patterns are we up to now? At least in ’42 the rifle was camoflaged to look like a tree…

    Maybe if we started using skirts and Keffiyeh instead of the cammo of the week, the enemy wouldn’t be able to spot us. It apperently works for them.

  • FormerEmbassyMarine

    Vanguard was the industry official?

    Let me guess…they want their own camoflage….

  • Stefan S.

    Mirage is another option. Bulldog’s Mirage works better in a woodland environment than Multicam. I know, I’ve deployed with it. Used it in the stan as well.

  • LOL

    olive green vietnam era ftw?

  • strikehold

    As FormerDirtDart pointed out, there are definitely patterns that are much better than MC in “woodland” and “jungle” environments. But then you also have to be careful about those terms, because there are green woodland environments and brown woodland environments. Just as there are wet tropical areas and dry tropical areas.

    In my opinion, simply dividing up the world into “woodland”, “desert” and “transitional” terrains is too simplistic and misleading. An equally simplistic, but more appropriate classification would be “green”, “brown”, “tan” and “mixed”.

    As for HyperStealth’s “active camouflage” – come on, it’ll be year’s and take millions before that’s practical enough for everyday use.

    • FormerDirtDart

      I think a very likely early application of HyperStealths “active camouflage” will be something along the lines of SAAB Barracuda’s Mobile Camouflage System (MCS).

  • strikehold

    P.S. As for woodland and desert variations of Multicam – Slovenia already has the former, and Macedonia the latter.

  • MarineNCO

    Having just got back from deployment from the ‘Stan a couple of days ago, me and my buddies saw all of the Hooahs coming in with their new MC cammo. First off, we all agree that MC is a HUGE improvement over the ridiculous ACU, however, it still isnt as good in a pure desert environment such as Helmand province as most of the desert cammies out there. Heck, even the Navy Seabees with the old school desert tri colors blended in better. Also, me and my Marines couldn’t stop talking about how much money has been dumped into MC already by the army. Us Marines get issued brand new gear once in a blue moon and it was amazing for us to see hundreds of soldiers with brand new flak jackets, packs, warming layers, etc. all in MC. In the wake of huge budget cuts, I sure hope that the MC thing isnt just fad that gets thrown away later on. Congrats to the average Joe though on getting out of those ACU’s.

  • Bruce

    Why bother with another test, now that DADT is gone, somebody is going to hire a fasion designer to make everybody look spiffy with lots of pretty braid, piping, some big shiny buttons and don’t forget the plumed hat.

  • Jonnie

    Curious if the industry person had ever actually used multi-cam and if industry person was an employee of a company that was hoping to replace multi-cam with a new pattern?

  • mike

    just give me good old fashioned od green and tan. sturdy well made and loose fitting.//// i gave up trying to be invisible when i was 7.

  • mr.martin

    man you are on to something. lol

  • PDSS

    With all that S#*t on that he is wearing, he would not last 2 hours in the jungle before heat stroke. The old LBE and the pickle suit worked just fine Oh and tiger stripe. The acu really sucks in the woods

  • cjkosh

    Oh, for Pete’s sake. Why a multi-cam anyway? Trying to be all things to all environments means less than ideal for all. Issue cam for the places the units are stationed in or projected to serve in. Optimized desert/urban, woodland. Old school KISS.

  • RA Wasserman

    The Marines have the patent on their uniforms and don’t want to share!

    • Anthony

      Then maybe someone, such as the SecDef says they will share?

  • Adam

    multicam is the best camo the army can go with i have some myself and it rocks!

  • Justin

    Hey americans, Too bad you cant use cadpat:P seems to work jsut about ANYWHERE.oo and your beloved marine corps marpat is a copy of our cadpat after we declined to sell them the pattern. Multicam works in arid enviro, it does not do so well in the forests up here in canada. Just thought id add my two cents. Multicam is not good for heavy foilage or dense forest. I think Multicam is best for areas such as afghanistan. Other then that it is useless, stick out like a sore thumb in the forest.

  • Will

    I feel the same way you do Doc. Though I play airsoft in all types of biomes, I would have to agree with you.