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Military Camouflage: Types of Camo for Different Regions

Military Camouflage: Types of Camo for Different Regions



Infantrymen and special-operations forces use military camouflage to avoid hostile detection and deceive enemy forces. 

Through the use of camouflage, a soldier can mask his approach, observing or acting without being seen or identified. It can also provide protective concealment for service members, preventing exposure to hostile fire.  

To effectively camouflage personnel and equipment, it’s necessary to understand the principles of camouflage and the factors of recognition. 

Principles of Camouflage

Certain factors are prominent when trying to camouflage, and missing any can compromise your level of stealth. These are known as factors of recognition and consist of the following elements:


Position refers to the relationship between a person or object and its environment. 


Shape is the visible outline, form, or silhouette of a person or object. It is possible to identify an object by shape before the texture, color, or other characteristics become apparent. Hiding or breaking up shape is an important factor in camouflaging personnel and equipment. 

Sniper wearing a ghillie suit

Sniper wearing a ghillie suite

Military snipers often wear ghillie suits (net-like garments with fabric strips attached to resemble foliage). This allows the camouflage wearer to blend into the environment seamlessly. 


The shadow that an object casts can be revealing. As a result, it’s essential to change the shadow or break it up. You can also use shadows of other objects to your advantage, using them to conceal your position.


Highly textured surfaces appear darker and are less reflective because the surface absorbs or diffuses more light. The imperfections on the object’s surface cast dozens or hundreds of shadows on itself. 

A smooth surface is more reflective. When light strikes a pair of sunglasses, for example, the polished metal surface of a gun barrel, or a windshield, it can allow an observer to detect or identify that object immediately.


Color plays a vital role in identification when there’s a contrast between the color of an object and its background.


Tone refers to how dark or light a color is. Generally speaking, lighter shades or tones are more identifiable than darker ones, making them less effective in concealing the wearer. Depending on the region you’re stationed in, and what time of day you require, concealment also plays into what tone is best for your camouflage. 

During daylight in a desert setting, lighter tones help you blend in with the surrounding environment. At dusk or in a heavily forested region, it’s more challenging for the human eye to make out darker shades of clothing. 


While movement may not reveal the identity of an object, it can disclose its existence because a person can detect movement in their peripheral vision. Any effective camouflage strategy must take movement into account. 

Camouflage Pattern Types

The United States military has employed various camo patterns types over the years, depending on the environment and its relative effectiveness at providing concealment. Evaluating the environment for these elements helps you choose the correct kind of camouflage. Note the shapes, colors, terrain, and other factors to ensure your camo is appropriate. 

Camouflage colors 

The color schemes that military personnel use as part of their camo depends on the region and environment, typically falling into the woodland, desert, and urban categories.


Woodland is designed to allow the soldier to blend into environments where trees, herbaceous plants, grasses, and shrubs are commonplace. This pattern usually consists of greens, browns, tans, and blacks.

Woodland Camo

Soldiers with woodland camo

Traditionally, the US would use woodland camouflage patterns in European, South American, and Southeast Asian forests and jungles, where lush greenery is abundant. 


Desert camouflage is designed for arid environments where sand, clay, rock, and stone are typical features. Desert camo colors include brown and tan gradients. During the Persian Gulf War, the US Army used the Desert Battle Dress Uniform (DBDU), sometimes called “chocolate chip.” Consisting of a light tan background with dark brown patches, this camo also featured white shapes with black outlines to resemble rocks or pebbles and their shadows. 


DBDU Camo from the Persian Gulf War

While the DBDU has been phased out, there is continued demand for desert camouflage among US military personnel. The US forces benefit from desert camouflage in the Middle East and Northern Africa.


Urban camouflage typically consists of a gray and white color scheme designed to be worn in cities and suburban environments where concrete buildings, dividers, asphalt roads, and parking lots are common. If soldiers need to invade or occupy a city, urban camouflage provides a tactical advantage compared with other patterns.

Camouflage Types

There are various types of camo patterns available to military personnel across the globe. Each pattern offers unique benefits, assisting armed forces in blending in with their surroundings. 

M81 Woodland

M81 Woodland Camo

M81 Woodland Camo

In the history of camouflage, M81 Woodland is one of the most well-known and widely used kinds of camouflage. Introduced in 1981, M81 Woodland is a four-color disruptive camouflage pattern that uses green, sand, brown, and black shapes. M81 Woodland was phased out in the 21st century for newer designs.

Universal Camouflage Pattern

Adopted by the United States Army, the Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, is designed to maximize concealment in various environments. The color scheme of the UCP consists of tan, gray, and sage green, combining desert, urban, and woodland colors into a versatile pattern suitable for multiple regions. 

UPC Camo (Universal Camouflage Pattern)

UCP Camo (Universal Camouflage Pattern)

UCP is a pixelated camouflage pattern. While UCP remains in service, the US Army is replacing it with Operational Camouflage Pattern.


Developed jointly by Crye Precision and the United States Soldier Systems Center, MultiCam uses several color gradients: Brown to light tan, dark green, olive green, lime green, and dark brown and cream-colored shapes.

MutiCam Camo

MultiCam Camouflage

As a result, MultiCam is a versatile camouflage pattern that can provide effective concealment in various environments, from woodland to desert. MultiCam is currently used by Special Operations Command (SOCOM). 


MARPAT, or Marine pattern, is a multi-scale camouflage pattern used by the United States Marine Corps.


Woodland MARPAT Camo

Introduced in 2001, it consists of miniature rectangular color pixels. The USMC adopted MARPAT in two patterns: Woodland and Desert. 


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Camouflage Your Concealed Weapon

When carrying a concealed firearm, it’s important to remember that concealment and camouflage are related. When selecting a suitable holster, you need to ensure you hide its position and shape, as both can create a visible outline through clothing called printing. If you want to retain the element of surprise, you need to minimize this effect. 

We the People Holsters offers several highly concealable holster designs for IWB or OWB carry made in the USA.