There are currently five versions of the MultiCam. All are based on an identical geometric design. However, each variant is designed for maximum effectiveness in a specific environment.
The five versions are:
- MultiCam Arid
- Multicam Tropic
- MultiCam Alpine
- MultiCam Black
Different versions, yes. But all are united around a common theme and that is to make the MultiCam family appealing as a total solution.
The original MultiCam pattern is known for its versatility. That’s why it’s also called the “80 percent solution” for most environments.
Of course, given how well it works, you’d expect the newer MultiCam versions to be just as versatile. And indeed they are – although they share the original MultiCam’s shortcoming of not effectively glaring at longer distances.
Multicams Variations Were Not Easily Developed
The geometric design of a pattern is like the foundation of a building. It’s the starting point for everything. In the case of camouflage, the geometric design serves to break the contours of the wearer at close range. MultiCam’s base geometry happens to do this pretty well.
So you might think that creating a new pattern variant is a “fire and forget” deal where you take the geometry, apply a new color scheme and – voila – a new MultiCam variant is born. Spoiler alert: you would be wrong if you think so. There is more to this series than meets the eye.
To prove it, let’s step back to 2002 and look at the effort to develop the US military’s Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP).
During that year and through 2004, the Americans studied possible replacement patterns for their then-active Woodland and Desert camouflage uniforms. A total of four camouflage patterns were selected, which were tested in the three scenarios of woodland, desert and urban, day and night.
The Americans came up with the idea that they would take the color scheme that performed best in each scenario and combine them into a single pattern. This, they hoped, would lead to an effective all-in-one pattern.
What came out was CADPAT/MARPAT, America’s UCP, which you may know as the 2004-19 U.S. Army Operational Camouflage Pattern. Army know.
However, UCP did not keep what it promised. Maybe that was a good thing, as it allowed the makers of modern camouflage to realize that cross-environment effectiveness was unattainable and that more specialized versions were needed instead to achieve better performance in vastly different landscapes.
(In fairness, the UCP was deployed without the benefit of proper testing. A better version was later developed and is known as the AOR-Universal camouflage pattern. So it’s possible that the UCP would have proved less disappointing given more time and resources would have been available for testing).
A good example of an environment-specific pattern family is CONCAMO. Fairly new in the tactical field, CONCAMO comes in three versions (green, brown and beige) and seems to be the solution for green European forests, brown-orange autumn landscapes and arid or alpine environments.
The same goes for other newcomers. For example, PhantomLeaf Camouflage offers seven variations: Z1A Hot Desert, Z1B Rock Desert, Z1C Snow Desert, Z2 Low-Growing Vegetation, Z3A High Vegetation (without snow cover), Z3B High Vegetation (with snow cover), and Z4 Construction.
However, developing a family of camouflage patterns requires much more than simply selecting a new color scheme and combining it with the base geometry of the original product.
Breakdown Of The Four Added Versions Of Multicam
In 2013, the MultiCam added four versions: Arid, Alpine, Tropic and Black. This should make the MultiCam suitable for extreme environments, such as in the deserts of the Middle East, but also in dense tropical forests and snow-covered fields.
As you would expect when talking about a product family, the common thread here is the pattern. What is different are the carefully chosen colors.
Pattern interchangeability was a US requirement as part of their Camouflage Improvement Effort. The idea was that the same basic pattern would allow troops to carry their gear with other versions – for example, pairing a MultiCam plate carrier with a Tropic BDU.
The MultiCam base pattern and everything related to it has already been dissected and discussed beyond recognition, so here’s a quick recap:
- Release date: 2002
- Color palette: cream, dark brown, brown, pale green, olive, light brown and dark green
- Best Suited For: Multiple environments
Considering that MultiCam has been adopted by the US military, Canadian SF units, NATO forces and many others, it is undoubtedly the most widely used and recognized pattern in today’s tactical field.
If you want more information about the basic pattern, read “The differences between Scorpion W2 and MultiCam” and “How effective is MultiCam in different environments?”.
If you’re looking for tactical gear in MultiCam, check out our Striker range here.
Arid is the answer to the US military’s requirement for desert effectiveness, which has been a key requirement for these forces since 2002. Here are the quick facts:
- Release date: 2013
- Color palette: olive, highland, light brown, urban tan and light coyote
- Best Suited For: Desert environments composed mostly of sand and rocks
Designed as a pattern for lush jungle environments, the MultiCam Tropic features a predominantly green color scheme that makes it a standout member of the MultiCam family. It is currently being considered by the British ground forces for adoption.
- Release Date: 2013V
- Color palette: olive, light green, green, dark brown and dark green
- Best Suited For: Dense jungle environments and locations with lush vegetation
Our MultiCam Tropic line for the Striker BDU has already been announced, but you can sign up here to be notified when it’s released.
The MultiCam Alpine is the solution to the missing piece in the MultiCam family – a pattern for snowy landscapes. With only three shades of gray and white, the MultiCam Alpine is also at the lower end of the color palette.
- Release date: 2013
- Color palette: medium grey, light gray and white
- Best Suited For: Snowy environments
The MultiCam Black is the black sheep of the bunch (pun intended). The MultiCam Black should attract attention, and it does so with flying colours. This pattern was designed to extend the line into law enforcement areas and to make military SF units clearly identifiable.
- Release date: 2013
- Color palette: grey, olive, and black
- Special Properties: Near infrared
- Best Suited For: High-risk environments
- Used by: SWAT teams and law enforcement agencies
Browse our MultiCam Black tactical gear here.
MultiCam gets dragged through the mud every time there’s a discussion about camouflage. Like it or not, MultiCam was one of the most significant changes in modern camouflage history. The basic version still dominates the market, a position that has only been reinforced with the introduction of a whole family of MultiCam products.
The various MultiCam patterns do what the basic version does best – disrupting the wearer’s outlines at close range while remaining reasonably effective at longer ranges. No wonder many armies and SF units are considering switching to MultiCam Tropic and others as everyday camouflage patterns.