Camouflage Comparison Results - ITS Tactical
 

Camouflage Comparison Results

By The ITS Crew

We know you guys have been patiently waiting for the results of our comparison, but before we get right into the photos, we’d like to explain how we’ve set things up.

As we were reading through the comments in the post announcing the comparison, we really liked the idea presented by Riaan Rossouw.

He suggested first using a dummy, which we already had decided on doing and had with us, and second using a statistics technique called AHP (Analytical Hierarchy Process).

We weren’t familiar with AHP at the time and did some research from an iPhone to learn more. Basically the decision makers (our readers) systematically evaluate various elements by comparing them to one another two at a time.

There are a lot of other nuances of AHP that we’ve decided not to get into, or place into our comparison, but we thought that holding polls for the patterns would be a better way to narrow them down into stronger candidates.

Here’s how we’re going to do that…

Comparison Specifics

The comparison took place in various locations within the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton, Oklahoma Friday December 11th thru Saturday December 12th.

We shot 10 different Camouflage patterns at four different terrain locations, with each location having a different distance (as notated below).

Each of the Camouflage patterns was placed on a torso mannequin and each location was completed in a matter of just 15-20 minutes. This was to ensure that the lighting was realitively the same for each image.

Camouflage patterns used:

Our photos were shot on a tripod with a Canon EOS 40d using a Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM.  We tried to shoot as close to f16 as possible, which we’ve found to be the sweet spot for focus and depth of field on this particular lens.

The white balance for the photos was custom set using an 18% Grey Card in each location. The photos have not been altered in any way by Photoshop or any other editing program and do not even include our watermark.

Master images are available on our Flickr Account but are copyrighted and not free to use without permission. For more specifics on our images you can view the properties on each individual image on Flickr.

What’s also great about Flickr is that you can view our sets as a slideshow, which you may find easier when comparing the images below.

Lighting varied somewhat between Friday and Saturday, with Friday being mostly overcast and Saturday being partially foggy due to a front that moved in Friday night.

Location

One last thing before we get into the comparison images. We know that the Wichita Mountains are not the most ideal conditions for a comparison to Afghanistan, but it’s the closest location we had to us that resembled the terrain.

The region has open prairies, sparse and isolated granite mountains and red rock canyons.

We plan on doing this entire test again (with more patterns) in the Spring down in Big Bend National Park. We had wanted to get down there originally, but couldn’t commit to the 14-hour drive from the D/FW area right now.

Reader Evaluation

Here’s where we’d like your input. Using a bastardization of the AHP, we’ll be showing patterns compared in two’s for each of the four terrain locations we shot in.

For instance, you’ll see Multicam vs. Mirage each in four different images and then vote in a poll underneath that on which pattern out of those two you think blends in the best.

We’ll repeat that pattern five times, so there will be five different polls to vote in, each time choosing the pattern you think blends in the best out of the two.

The first thing you’ll see below are our control shots of each terrain location, they show what the mannequin looks like in each location so you can get a feel of where and what you’re looking for.

Location Alpha

camo-comparison-results-02

Date: 12.11.09
Time: 15:24 – 15:45
Bearing: 060
Distance: 15 Yards
Condition: Overcast

Location Bravo

camo-comparison-results-03

Date: 12.11.09
Time: 16:45 – 17:00
Bearing: 304
Distance: 15 Yards
Condition: Overcast

Location Charlie

camo-comparison-results-04

Date: 12.12.09
Time: 08:58 – 09:15
Bearing: 010
Distance: 75 Yards
Condition: Foggy

Location Delta

camo-comparison-results-05

Date: 12.12.09
Time: 11:50 – 12:08
Bearing: 292
Distance: 15 Yards
Condition: Foggy

Multicam vs. Mirage

Click the first image in the series below to open up the slideshow viewer here, or use Flickr’s slideshow viewer to view larger images for this set here.

Click here to vote.

Sand vs. Woodland

Click the first image in the series below to open up the slideshow viewer here, or use Flickr’s slideshow viewer to view larger images for this set  here.

Click here to vote.

Desert MARPAT vs. 3-Color Desert (DCU)

Click the first image in the series below to open up the slideshow viewer here, or use Flickr’s slideshow viewer to view larger images for this set  here.

Click here to vote.

UCP (ACU) vs. PenCott

Click the first image in the series below to open up the slideshow viewer here, or use Flickr’s slideshow viewer to view larger images for this set here.

Click here to vote.

Tan Flight Suit vs. OD Flight Suit

Click the first image in the series below to open up the slideshow viewer here, or use Flickr’s slideshow viewer to view larger images for this set  here.

Click here to vote.

Here are some direct links to our Flickr Slideshows to view images by location rather than by pattern as above:

Now that we have your votes on these five polls, we’ll run another article comparing the most popular patterns selected. We’ll then narrow the choice down to two and eventually one pattern.

Stay tuned for the results, and let us know your critiques so we can take those ideas on board for the next comparison in the Spring!

We’d like to thank Bulldog Tactical for providing Mirage Camo, Hyde Definition for providing PenCott Camo, and Omaha’s Surplus in Ft. Worth, TX for allowing us the use of UCP, 3-Color Desert, and the Tan / OD Flight Suits!

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Discussion

  • dmshaw

    When comparing all images by location, I think Desert MARPAT is the best overall at these locations. I will be interested in seeing what others think. Great test.

    • Dirk,

      Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed the test. I’m looking forward to the medical refresher stuff this weekend with Rocki!

      Bryan

  • I’m really lovin’ that Mirage. Just gotta say. Also, I think you guys chose a nice place for a test. Never been to Afghanistan but you guys still picked a great sample of “environments.”

    I lived in Oklahoma for 5 years (4 as a student then 1 when I got a job) and worked for OklaTravelNet (which is now http://www.OklaVision.com). We showcased how diverse Oklahoma is and I think I remember hearing that Oklahoma has more distinct ecological regions that any other state.

    Thanks for the test. I was happy to see that my poll picks lined up with everyone elses. Some sucked but were still better than nothing.

    • Mike,

      Glad you thought we chose a good area and picked a good sample. Check out some photos from Big Bend and compare them to Afghanistan pics, it’s a pretty good match, but then again everything is relative.

      Thanks for the comment,
      Bryan

  • Lawrence Holsworth

    Great test guys. Very interesting to see how much better Mirage is vs. Multicam, and Desert MARPAT vs. 3-colour DCU.

    As expected, the “green” patterns (Woodland, PenCott, and OD) didn’t do well in this terrain. So, rather than pitting them against a pattern which would clearly beat them, it would have been better to see the three of them pitted against each other – or at least Woodland vs. PenCott.

    I assume you’re planning a follow-up “green zone” comparison?

    • Hey Lawrence,

      The progression in which we pitted a pattern against another was fairly random, but I agree on comparing the “green” patterns together. Perhaps we’ll run a post on just those at a later date.
      We are planning a follow up comparison in the Spring which will give the “green” patterns a fair shake.

      Thanks for the comment, and glad you enjoyed the test!
      Bryan

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  • gingerbreadman3

    Very good test, I’d say that Mirage, Marpat and Multicam are the top three. Do you think you could run a similar test in a woodland environment?

  • Loving it.

  • fastmover

    you know, regular old “sand” did not do bad. of course the other patterns were better, but you can walk around in a “sand” shirt and pants very discreetly.

  • Cdt Gillies

    Nice work guys. You’ve inspired me to run some tests of my own using some different aussie camo patterns. Also, I second Lawrence’s idea of a green-off; it would be useful to see those patterns in the areas they were intended for.

  • spenceman

    Great test, very objective. I agree on the point of a woodland area test, but still using all of the patterns (to see how “universal” the various “universal” patterns are).

  • J Sarkody

    Excellent test. I too am hoping for a green zone test. That Mirage was amazing.

  • TuGunFu

    I participated in a similar test a few years ago near Ft Bragg. We were surprised to find that even in the pine forest environment the “desert” color patterns worked the best. Once we stopped to really look, it was obvious that the predominant colors at ground level were shades of brown (pine needles and such.)

    • Kevin Carlile

      During the Ft. Bragg testing a few years ago, do you remember testing a pattern called TimberGhost? If so, what did you think of it?

  • John T

    Great pics and thanks for all your efforts ITS! You guys are awesome. If you guys ever come to the east coast to do a photo shoot I request to tag along!

    I strongly agree with Lawrence and the others, I think it was a bit unfair for the “greens” to be in the terrain you guys chose.

    Man its like Mirage was born in this terrain. Were these pics taken in the PenCott factory backyard?

  • Spartan

    Great work guys!!

  • I think this is very cool. To be honest, I’ll like to see where the popular camo in our current military tapers off. We already know they’re not quite up to par. Very cool stuff guys, and I agree with spartan, great work.

  • Moray

    Great test guys. Some interesting results. Look forward to the next round.

  • Anachronist

    Excellent initiative! I’ll be waiting for that green zone followup.

    If I were to make a wish, that’d been to add slate grey (“feldgrau” if you will) to the list of things to compare. I have a feeling it might have been interesting both in this test and in the planned followup.

    Keep up the good work!

  • r1p_c0rd

    Nicely done guys!, I can’t wait to see how these patterns stack up to eachother in other environments…

  • Lars

    whoow, Mirage is a great camo for this environment….

  • Oborous

    Interesting test, I’m surprised at how well the aird marpat actually performed (I assumed good, not great). I also feel that the PenCott looks ‘forced’, I realize it’s a green, but the mixing of size of pixels just is more disjointed for my brain and I pick it out pretty fast.

    I like seeing the Mirage in the field. Thanks the great testing!

  • VooDoo3

    Good job with the test guys. I’m surprised at with the mirage pattern. It seems to work better than I thought it would.

  • So if you guys are looking to get rid of that mannequin when you’re done I’ll take it off your hands…

    This type of article is fantastic subject matter for a site like ITS.

    You see photo comparisons out there on forums and whatever here and there but few have really been standardized like this. You guys did a lot of great work to make it as objective as possible. The mannequin, the attention to detail with the camera settings, time of day/weather, etc.

    Mirage is looking good!

  • Yakman

    The Multicam and Mirage were rather close to effectiveness, especially in locations Bravo and Charlie. Marpat also blended in quite well. IMHO, I think the patterns will be down between Multicam, Mirage, and Marpat. If this was a test for Afgan use only, the Marpat I think blends in the best and I am a Multicam fan. I would love to see a multi enviroment test with Multicam and Mirage.

  • Jeff

    I like the comparisons but i think other camo choices would have been better for you choices of surroundings. It’s kind of pointless to use woodland and DCU. I would have liked to seen examples in location that where not so wide open. There where no light contrasts. Over all a good report but a little basic for my taste.

    • Jeff,

      We appreciate your comments and criticism and will take that on board for the next test, but brother this test was far from basic.

      Regards,
      Bryan

  • Paul

    Great illustration, guys. It goes a long way to proving that there is no one pattern that will provide excellent concealment in all environments. The best you can do is have an adequate pattern for the most prevalent zone you plan to be operating in and follow the other principles for concealment including shape disruption, reflection avoidance, shadow reduction, etc.

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  • Ryan

    I’m a huge Multicam fanboy, but that Mirage pattern is pretty impressive. Not to mention, it looks cool! (As all grunts know, the 6th and most sacred rule of patrolling is “look cool”) I would like to see this get a little play with the powers-that-be in their quest for an improved pattern for Afghanistan. It looks somewhat similar to the upcoming-abortion that is UCP-D, but more effective.

    Can anyone honestly say that UCP is at all effective in any environment other than gravel pits and urban environments? It has two effective uses: 1, it admittedly washes out well at night under night vision and 2, it blends in amazingly with piles of cinderblocks, behind which I’ve taken cover.

    ITS, how about showing some shots from different angles at distance? Maybe a “Where’s Waldo?” approach.

  • Hello from germany.

    I like your pattern comparison, i knew how much work it is to do this.

    Please have a look on my test on http://www.camotest.de

    I wish you and your family a nice x-mas time

    CU

    Thorsten

  • Tankersteve

    Hey, just saw this test/comparison. I think something to consider is how the camo works at a distance. No one really expects camo to work at 10 paces in the real world. How well it works at 100 and 200 meters is much more important IMO. That said, it was an interesting look at some patterns I hadnt seen much of before (Mirage).

    Tankersteve

  • Erik Burmeister

    Great Test. I had never seen the “Mirage” camo before, and being a huge fan, and big pusher for Multi-Cam, it really made me re-consider. I look forward to your next test in the spring.

  • The biggest weakness of ACU is in sandy and wooded environments. It does OK in rocky and scrubby environments, and thus often looks OK in Afghanistan. Marpat (Desert), Multicam, and Mirage all do as well or better than ACU in the rocky and scrubby environments, but Multicam does better than all of them in a more wooded or green environment. That’s it’s big advantage over ACU and even this Mirage one, though Mirage is not bad and is close.

    Incidentally, Natick tested Mirage and it didn’t do as well as I would have expected. Natick mind you did all the testing that said ACU (then called Urban Track) was not so great, but Gen. Schoomaker ignored this and adopted it army-wide anyway for no apparent reason.

  • Rus Currie

    Gents,
    this work is simply top shelf! I have become a HUGE fan of Mirage Pattern as of late. I am a Soldier in the US Army and LOATHE UCP/ACU. Knowing that the Army won’t adopt a logical 2 uniform approach (USMC be praised!), I think that Mirage and Multi Cam are simply the two best contenders. Stevie Wonder can see that the UCP doesn’t work. Thanks again for the awesome site, and this test. I am sharing it with everyone I know in uniform.

    Cheers
    Rus

  • if you moved the maniquines a foot or two to the side the results would (or could( be different.

  • Riaan Rossouw

    Which is why in a complete evaluation the targets are photographed hundreds of times in varying backgrounds.
    This compensates for coincidental match up or discontinuity.

  • I’m impressed with your test/survey you have conducted here. I can’t wait to see more. I hope the Army ends up choosing Mirage as it seems to be the best camo for this environment that portrays similarities to Afghanistan’s terrain. Maybe this study will help push the envolope.

  • CelticCoyote

    Great test guys. I’d like a see a test between the mirage and desert marpat which I think were the best of all six patterns, although the sand and tan flight suits, once they are dirty from the local area would work just as good. Thanks for the test and happy new year to all.

  • PDXOIFVET

    Marpat desert FTW

  • I’m also a Multicam-to-Mirage convert as well. But what’s also interesting about this test is the inclusion of PenCott. Now, the green-temperate colouration of PenCott didn’t do well in these environments (no surprise), but if you convert the images to grey-scale and look again you’ll see that the PenCott PATTERN actually works extremely well. So, with the right colours…. 😉

  • lpdswat

    Curious how this one will shake out in the end… We are currently evaluating camo for our snipers so this is good timing!

  • Alex

    I am a bit disappointed in Multi-Cam. I thought it would have a better showing, but it was definitely pitted against a tough competitor in Mirage. Against any other competitor besides Desert MARPAT I think it would have been no contest, multi-cam being the winner.

    I hated ACU when I was in Iraq. The only place I could hide was on a pea-rock roof of an 8 story hotel and the only thing I was completely concealed from was helos, OUR HELOS.

  • Garrett

    good info. but, the crye multicam was stuck in reddish environmets which obviously makes it lose.

  • tacboy23

    In the amazing environments you guys used I thought that the Marpat did the best. But the Mirage was a close second.

  • William Wick

    On my last tour we were in northern iraq and we found desert tigerstripes effective especially for low light and night time operations because of there base darker color led to less reflection of moonlight. any one know of there use in Afg or there effectiveness because thats our next stop

  • Bo Li

    Remember that the new uniform choosing is for afghanistan and not the redness that was shown here. It is true that multicam vs mirage, the mirage wins when there is more grey and red, but most often than not in afghanistan, yellow prevails. They both are good in their own ways, and need to replace ACU and UCP-D, but for middle-east, MC would be better

  • SHEEPLEDOG

    Wow this took a lot of work….Thanks for the effort! I thought it was a great comparison. I’m also on the Multicam bandwagon but I may just have to procure some Mirage! Personally I always thought that ACU stood for Anyone-C’s-U!

    • LOL! Hadn’t heard that one for ACU’s yet. Thanks for the kind words, and glad you liked the comparison! Look for more coming soon!

      Thanks for the comment,
      ~ Bryan

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  • Amos

    I really liked the Mirage stuff. Our team is currently using multicam and its pretty good. The ACU looks good in the sunlight but at night it almost eerie how it glows bright. We were doing recon on a house during a trianing and I wore the “old school” woodlands (still rock for certain mission) and I had to crawl in front of my team mate who was using the ACU pattern. Good comparison.

  • Erik

    I believe the General, as flawed as the decision might have been, chose the “Urban Track” pattern because of modern warfare itself. Specifically, there is a mindset/belief that most combat will take place in urban environments during future conflicts. Granted, I don't believe this to be the case (i.e. Afghanistan), but that might have been his reasoning for adopting the current ACU pattern. I think UCP blows as much as the next soldier, having worn it during my hooah days. I'd personally go with multi-cam after having personally seen it in many environments. The Brits, if I'm not mistaken, are adopting a version of multi-cam.

  • Jordan

    Very cool test!

    I do have a suggestion for improving the comparison: don’t name the patterns, just call one A or B, 1 or 2, X or Y, whatever. That way the preconceived notions you may have about a particular pattern become less of a factor in the when observing the pattern.

    Although you guys are probably so familiar with the patterns, it doesn’t matter.

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  • gunnerMk42

    I would like to see you do a comparison here in the rockies (Colorado). I agree with doing the test without brand names (list them later).
    gunner

  • ERIC

    THESE PHOTOS SHOW THAT ONE NEEDS TO GET THE CAMO SUITED FOR THE ENVIROMENT. I THINK IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THERE WILL NEVER BE AN “ALL PURPOSE” CAMO THAT WORKS IN EVERY ENVIROMENT. COOL PHOTO COMPARISON, IT SHOWED EACH PATERNS PURPOSE AND OBVIOUS IMPROVEMENTS TO OLDER PATERNS. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  • ben pratt

    great test! I think that the multicam and marapat are the best but and most unfortunatly i dont make the dissions and neather do most! as evident with the ACU! sadly some one bought a bill of sail on that one and we will pay for that mistake, some more than others!

  • Evan

    I liked the MARPAT in different environments, I wore it in the Marines and always thought it was a perfectly good pattern. I also really liked that Mirage though, I think overall the Mirage was probably best. I’d like to see Mirage and MARPAT go head to head. I also gotta agree with the general feeling that a contest designed for woodland patterns would be useful. The one-scheme-fits-all idea was a soup sandwich, I’d like to see which patterns work best in a woodland environment

  • Dustin

    I think it’d be helpful to see a comparison of the patterns in both a heavily woodland environment as well as a 1st world urban environment.

  • Mathew

    these are biased when you have forest type camo because you only test in dessert like places. There are no forests or woods in these comparisons.

    • skyking812

      @Mathew 
      “Dessert-like places”?  You mean like tapioca pudding?
      Seriously, it looks like the test was rigged by the obvious omission of A-TACS, particularly the AU pattern which, in my opinion, is the most versatile pattern ever offered to date.
      I can’t help wondering why this was omitted. Could it be due to personal bias? Seems likely, because I can’t think of a single good reason it should be neglected. It would have shut out any of the patterns you compared in that Oklahoma semi-arid environment! It’s not much different from much of the vast, arid Southwest.
      I have been pleasantly surprised at how well A-TACS AU works in even most green foliage environments…

    • skyking812 Check out the date of this comparison, before you make accusations. A-TACS didn’t come out “officially” until January of 2010 at SHOT Show, so there wasn’t the opportunity to include it.

    • @Mathew It’s not a bias, it’s including what’s available.

  • Jitsu222

    I would have liked to see A-Tacs in the comparison but for my money I’d go with Multicam.

  • skyking812

    @Evan 
    USMC MARPAT is surprisingly good in a wide variety of environments. I’d like to have seen it also.
    This test seems like a stacked deck.

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