Real-world Camo comparisons

A few weeks ago, I and two friends went out to a wooded section of our AO. We took with us several patterns of camouflage. These were, US Wooland, ACU, Desert Digital, plain OD-Green, Ranger Green, ERDL (pre-woodland), an ACU pieces which had been dyed with a dark green dye, and an old hunter’s treebark pattern.

Each of the three of us took turns hiding the various pieces across a 40 yard by 40 yard area.  We viewed the field from the distances of 50 yards, 25 yards, 10 yards, and then walking through to find the pieces.  We were pleasantly surprised.  The area in question was forested, with lots of shadow and shade.  The ground was mostly last year’s leaves (various shades of tan, brown, etc.).  There were small and large trees of differing bark colors and patterns, small green plants up to plants that came past the waist.  Logs and fallen tree limbs were plentiful.

First, the treebark pattern was worse than worthless.  It didn’t really blend in, and actually stood out.  The best place we could find for it was at the roots of a large oak tree, but it was still often the first one picked up at any distance.

ACU did surprisingly well, often taking more than 3 or 4 minutes to be picked, and never in the first 3 or 4 patterns picked up at any distance.  Dyed ACU did as well, but did better in areas of heavy shade or near fallen trees and logs.

The ones that were most surprising to us were OD and Ranger green, which did amazingly well.  What we most often picked up was the shape of the cloth used, but when sticks and other debris were used to cover the hard edges, these did very well.  You could do a lot worse in this environment than OD Green.

Woodland did very well, but had some weak points in areas of high light (the black stands out a sore thumb), and also in areas of bright green, like is found in new-growth in the spring.  The ERDL did less well than the woodland generally, but did well where woodland did not, i.e. in new-growth and light.

A surprising turn was the desert digital, which did very well almost everywhere we used it, from just being on the forest floor, to stumps, etc.  It did poorly in new-growth, so we avoided it.

Excepting the treebark, all of the patterns did well at 50 yards.  Basically, as long as you weren’t wearing some non-earth toned color, you are difficult to see.  The pattern doesn’t seem to matter at this distance, but SHAPE definitely does.  We most often found the camo clothes by looking for shoulders, sleeves, square cuts, etc.  Keeping in mind that we knew what we were looking for.  We thought about stopping a random passer-by but couldn’t come up with a good enough question.  “Look for something over there.”  we didn’t think would work.

At 25 yards the ACU, Dyed ACU, Woodland, and OD/Ranger Greens did very well.

By the time we got to 10 yards everything was again fairly equal, except the greens which did particularly well in areas of high shadow.  By the time we were walking through the field, we found everything quickly.

The moral of the story being, from 50-yards and out, if you are still, wearing at least earth-tones,  can break up your shape, and an observer doesn’t know specifically where to look for you: then you stand a good chance of remaining unseen.  However, if shape and shine become and issue, then your chances drop.  At 25-yards the same holds true, although some patterns do seem to work better in certain environments.  Your mileage may very.  By 10 -yards and closer, you’re probably screwed, assuming you can’t flee or fight your way out.

Best way to avoid being seen, don’t get pinned down in an area with out a concealed avenue of escape, wear earth-tones, and move slowly and quietly.  When under direct observation, I’ve read that movement of up to 2moa per second can be detected quickly, and 1moa per second can still be detected.  Which when you think about it, 1moa/second is pretty darned slow.  So it’s best to avoid direct observation.

Long live the Republic,
– Cato, the American.

6 Responses to “Real-world Camo comparisons”
  1. J says:

    Well, as my dear old Welsh nanny always told me –

    “A sucking chest wound is God’s way of telling you your camo ain’t workin’.”

  2. gardenserf says:

    Yes, green does well on green.

    Would it be possible to see some pictures of your camo patterns as tested in your actual environment like I did in Fall and Winter:

  3. Matt Bracken says:

    I would add to your comments about OD green and earth tones the utility of a wardrobe that is not made of camo fatigues per se, but just “ordinary civilian clothes” that happen to range through earth tones. This allows you to also be “camouflaged” as you blend back into the suburban landscape and exfiltrate as ordinary folks. When blending back into the populated areas, actual BDUs in any pattern will be the worst possible clothing to wear. Give thought to clothes that will work both in the woods and on the street without attracting attention. Browns, tans and ODs do this very well.

  4. Dee Jay says:

    OD that has been through the washing machine many times starts to resemble ranger green. I learned this at a young age when “playing army” was a good time. Also, the popular Carhart (sp?) brown also through the washer starts to resemble desert camo. Very good through tall grass from practical experience.

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