Camouflage Comparison Results

by December 16, 2009 12/16/09
Camo Comparison Setting

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 Location Alpha 1

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

Location Bravo

Camo Comparison Location Bravo 1

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

Location Charlie

Camo Comparison Location Charlie 1

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

Location Delta

Camo Comparison Location Delta 11

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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Mathew
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.

Dustin
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.

Evan
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

ben pratt
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!

ERIC
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.

gunnerMk42
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

gunnerMk42
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

Jordan
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.

Jordan
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.

Erik
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.

Amos
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.

Kevin Carlile
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?

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

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

SHEEPLEDOG
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!

Bo Li
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

William Wick
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

tacboy23
tacboy23

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

Garrett
Garrett

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

Alex
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.

Alex
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.

lpdswat
lpdswat

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

Lawrence
Lawrence

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.... ;-)

CelticCoyote
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.

redcommander
redcommander

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.

Riaan Rossouw
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.

Riaan Rossouw
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.

dan couchey
dan couchey

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

Rus Currie
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

Rus Currie
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

Roach
Roach

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.

Roach
Roach

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.

Erik Burmeister
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.

Tankersteve
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

Tankersteve
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

Thorsten
Thorsten

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 www.camotest.de

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

CU

Thorsten

Thorsten
Thorsten

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 www.camotest.de I wish you and your family a nice x-mas time CU Thorsten

Ryan
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.

Ryan
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.

Paul
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.

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

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

Jeff
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.

Yakman
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.

TheNance
TheNance

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!

TheNance
TheNance

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!

VooDoo3
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.

Oborous
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!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

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

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

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

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Take a look yourselves, and cast your votes for which patterns work the best in the featured terrain.  ITS Tactical “Camouflage Comparison Results“.  [...]

  2. [...] Interesting bracket-style comparison of camouflage patterns at ITS Tactical.  Do yourself a favor; check them out and vote. My money’s on Mirage or [...]

  3. [...] some of the write ups on Strike-Hold:  up-close and in-the-field and  gear and uniforms and the camo comparison on ITS Tacital. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Hearing Protection [...]

  4. [...] Tactical, who did a terrific job photographing several different camouflage patterns in Oklahoma last year, have hit gold again with a repeat of the test, this time in Texas, and [...]

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