How MultiCam® Was Developed
The MultiCam® pattern was developed as an experiment to determine whether a single camouflage pattern could be effective in limiting the visual and near-IR signature of a person across a wider range of environments and seasons.
Soon after American forces first deployed to Afghanistan, a problem with the camouflage patterns used by the US Armed Forces became immediately apparent. Watching the daily footage of US Forces in the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq wearing Desert BDUs and Woodland gear and remembering that the same problem had shown up 10 years earlier in the first gulf war, we decided good camouflage for where you are might be better than perfect camouflage for somewhere else.
We spent a lot of time looking at how camouflage works in nature. We considered where it is hardest to hide and studied which terrain/environmental elements were common to as many environments as possible. We studied how light affects environmental elements. We also tracked the seasonal and elevation changes that affect any one region and tried to factor all this together to make a highly adaptive and effective pattern. We then started putting our findings to the test by creating a digital composite of our observations. We spent a lot of time talking with users, going over our approach with them, factoring in their observations and concerns about everything from getting rid of black to launderability. We then went back to the computer and created a composite digital image with over 100 layers, trying to match our basic idea for how we thought it could work. Once we had something we liked, we started prototyping it and testing it. We tested it for over a year and a half with the US Army and found it to be more effective than we had originally thought possible. After two consecutive tests by the US Army, where it came in top out of all candidates, we tuned it for production and have what is now called MultiCam®.
Click 'How it Works' below to read more information about how MultiCam® performs.
How it Works
Takes on the shades of the surrounding environment
The pattern is designed to reflect some of the surrounding colors of the environment. It takes on an overall green appearance when under a green forest canopy and an overall tan look when in the open desert. By adapting to varying local lighting conditions, the pattern blends well in many environments, elevations, seasons, weather conditions, and times of the day.
Disguises volume and shape
The design takes advantage of the way the human eye and brain perceives shape, volume, and color. Since only a very small portion of the human eye perceives color, the brain does a lot of “filling-in” for the eye. The unique design of MultiCam® takes advantage of this principle and helps the observer to “see” the pattern as part of the background. This helps the wearer's profile begin to lose its edge and fade into whatever color or shape surrounds him. It works on the principle that an observer can see something but still not recognize it as anything to be interested in.
Balances scale and contrast
The scale and contrast of the pattern elements are designed to work well when observed from both distant and close ranges. We all know the idea is to break-up or disguise the human form, but without a ghillie suit or a rock to get behind, this is typically done with heavy contrast between large elements of a pattern. However, high contrast, large element patterns stop working in open terrain (e.g. "chocolate chip" in open desert). They also tend to stop working as the observer gets closer to the camouflage, since the large pattern elements end up being out of scale with the highly detailed surroundings of the observer. MultiCam® relies more on a blending effect than a contrast effect to disguise the wearer. This effect allows it to perform in a wide range of environments, and keeps the pattern effective even at close distances where pixelated or “blocky” patterns often stand out against natural, non-blocky environments.