Would students in this Special Operations Mountaineering Course photo benefit from camo that reacts to ambient temperature? (Picture from Army.mil)

I am a Southern boy who grew up in the woods with a gun in my hand hunting all types of game. From day one, camouflage was paramount to any successful hunt. The right camouflage can sometimes determine whether you bring home a trophy buck and bragging rights or  you’re heading back home empty handed.

Unfortunately, camouflage can get pretty expensive and, if you hunt multiple types of game in different seasons of the year, your wallet will quickly feel the effects of your obsession with the outdoors. Cabela’s has a plan to remedy your need for multiple articles of camouflage and help your budget with one quick dose – and I wonder how this might impact things from a tactical perspective.

Cabela‘s has launched their line of camouflage, ColorPhase, which is a rapid-change, temperature activated dye that alters the appearance of the fabric as the temperature rises or falls. The camouflage is currently available in Cabela’s Zonz Woodlands Warm and Cold Phase and Western Warm and Cold Phase patterns (seen below).

Cabelas2

The magic happens once the temperature of the fabric reaches 65°F. As temperatures fall below 65°F, the camouflage will transition, and the green colors will morph into late-season shades of brown. The leaves, shrubbery and green hues within the fabric will transition to tans and dark browns to simulate a colder climate’s foliage. Temperatures in excess of 65°F will conversely react in the opposite manner.

What could this mean to someone with a tactical mindset or modern-day military mission? Would the students in the Special Operations Mountaineering Course photo above benefit from a camouflage that reacts to ambient temperature?

Well, it could open up quite a few possibilities within the camouflage spectrum for the military in terms of a team or unit being pigeonholed into deploying with only one distinct camouflage pattern. As one of the first iterations of a camouflage technology, it also promises some interesting developments in the future if properly utilized.

A scenario that comes to mind would be to take this technology and embed it into a more military or operational-based pattern. This would allow a specialized unit who is working in a foliage-rich environment and conducting movement to a higher, colder altitude. The greens would darken to break up the pattern and the background becomes lighter to evenly match the surroundings and give the team the ability to blend in as the temperature changes around them.

The one obvious question I have to wonder about is, what happens when your body heat begins to push through the clothing and take effect on the pattern? Would it impact how it reacts to “ambient temperature.” In a conventional military situation, a soldier may participate in patrols lasting various lengths of time up to 24-plus hours. Within a very short time, the body heat created by the soldier could easily change the pattern to something possibly unwanted in certain circumstances. This is all hypothetical, mind you, but you see where I’m going.

Either way you look at it, this technology is pretty cool. It is obviously tailored to the hunting and outdoor community at the moment, but it has the potential to be a great tool in certain situations and missions for military personnel.

- By “Mad Duo Brad” Brad Walker

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

JCitizen August 9, 2013 at 11:34 am

Holy shit! This is totally unexpected! Just imagine if the new sewn in nano diode camera/lamp technology comes on board with this combination as well! It will surpass Hollywood's Predator and make it look tame by comparison! Congress will never have to appropriate a uniform change again!

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charliebravo August 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Seems like your body temperature would affect it.

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straps August 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Potential game changer all right.

Curious to know how it stands up to repeated washings and the like. If this stuff can continue to do what it promises after a hundred washes with whatever detergent joe finds in the barracks laundry room, then game on.

Also, a commercial entity pushing this stuff doesn't always close the loop on EVERY desirable attribute. Might behave all sexy in the visible light spectrum, but under NVG (or even light processed by prey lol) it might actually flouresce. Cabela's is a pretty solid organization, but they're still here to make money, and they're not above occasional gimmickry…

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Russ August 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Because nobody ever hunted successfully until camo outfits were available? Wow, like the 1980s? Full retard.

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steveb August 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Interesting, and may be effective in certain temperate, continental climates. But this technique will not work in environments that are cool and green (oceanic climates like the pacific northwest) nor in areas that are warm and brown (lower latitude arid and semi-arid climates).

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stefan s August 9, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Cammo makes a worthless hunter better. Dad and Granddad hunted in Buffalo plaid and blaze orange and have a garage full of racks!

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Douglas M. Waggoner August 10, 2013 at 3:15 am

Hey. If it works!

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2d Recon August 10, 2013 at 3:16 am

This will likely be of great utility to someone who hunts/operates in the same geographical area. However, military applications will be limited due to the necessity to move thousands of miles in a few hours. At the end of the day, the military needs woodland and desert patterns with arctic camo coming in the form of special equipment issued for that environment. Every thing else is overkill. One pattern will never meet all environments, as was proven in spades by ACU. The Marines got it right, Canadians too. Just go ahead and adopt those patterns for the ground forces, and those who operate on the ground, and move on. The Navy and Air Force need clothing suited to their operational function, not the environment unless they are fighting among the dirt and trees.

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wannabearegularguy August 10, 2013 at 7:22 am

I know this is a gear and kit site…but the obsession with camoflauge on this site is disturbing.

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straps August 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Then leave. Now. Please. After pondering this analogy:

"I know this is a car and tuner site… but the obsession with speed-rated tires on this site is disturbing."

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Larry August 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Sorry to be a nay sayer, but this is a technology looking for a problem to solve.

Brad already mentioned in his article the main weakness/flaw with this technology and that is that it is temperature dependent. You spend any time walking with a pack in a tactical or hunting situation and you will easily generate enough heat to move past the 65* threshold to change the colors. Also, all of us have seen hot days in the fall and winter and bitter cold days in the spring after green up. It just isn't a practical technology for use in its current implementation.

Also, what about gear vs. clothing, your clothes turn green while your level two gear stays brown?

It will be better to carry two colors of camo if you are deploying somewhere with a mixed environment or if you will need to operate in different climatic zones.

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Scott August 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm

What about when you have temps drop below 65 degrees in the summer and you don't want it to change colors?

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MattF August 12, 2013 at 9:42 am

The other question to ask is how do the patterns perform under NIR viewing conditions? They may work well in the visible spectrum, but unless they perform equally well in the NIR spectrum their usefulness for military applications would be negated.

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JEFF August 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

I've turkey hunted many spring days whent he temp starts out around 50 and heats up over 75. This happens a lot in the early season before the woods really green out. I don't want my camo turning green if the environment I'm hunting isn't green. I don't think temp is a good method to determine color in your camo. Now if they could make some sort of manual switch that'd be awesome.

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