Sunday, April 29, 2012

MARPAT: G.I. vs Civilian Variant

This started off as a simple comparison between the dyes used in Military Issue and Civilian variant camouflage that is commonly referred to as "MARPAT".  I've talked about this kind of camouflage before, it's essentially the type of digital camouflage that the United States Marine Corps utilize.  There is a woodland and a desert variant of MARPAT.  The company with the contract to produce this camouflage is called "Propper International" and they also sell camouflage for sale to the general public.  Of course, since MARPAT is trademarked by the USMC, they can't sell you the "real deal", so they've changed enough with their civilian issue version that is simply called "Digital Woodland" or "Digital Desert", depending on which version of the MARPAT you're looking to get.  Have I lost ya yet?  If not, read on!
So there's 2 types of camouflage we looked at here: Desert and Woodland MARPAT.  There's a Military Issue version and a Civilian Issue version of each as well, for a total of 4 articles.  First, there's the obvious differences between the real-deal and the civvie stuff which is the color of dye they used.  The Digital Woodland (Civilian Woodland MARPAT) has a greener hue to it whereas the USMC Woodland MARPAT has more of a brown tint.  The Green and Brown colors are noticeably darker on the USMC version.  On the arid side, the USMC Desert MARPAT is also darker than the Digital Desert (Civilian Desert MARPAT).
The genuine USMC Woodland MARPAT is on the right
What got interesting was when my friend, who owns all the Civilian issue stuff, noticed similarities in the pattern.  Upon closer inspection, we found that they were using the same patterns, but that the shapes were distorted/stretched/modified.  The image to the right shows this perfectly.  Not only is that black pattern in the center almost identical, but the black patch below the center one on the left is actually tan on the right one.  So stretched/modified pattern shapes as well as some color swapping in the pattern.

Then we decided to see if there were actually similarities between the Desert and Woodland camouflage types.  Whether it was Civilian or Military issue, we managed to find shapes that matched in the design.  Pictured is the Digital Desert pattern next to a Digital Woodland pattern.  You can clearly see the elements represented in both, only with different colors.

Lastly, we decided to compare the cloth itself.  They are different compositions of materials and, as such, are stitched differently.  The Civilian issue camouflage has a grid-appearance to it up close.  However, the Military issue camouflage has a diagonal weave to it that is also thicker and stronger.

I was not expecting to dig into this camouflage to this extent, but one thing led to another and we just decided to go all out comparing the two.  You can purchase the Civilian Issue Digital Woodland and Desert camouflage from several websites and stores, but the genuine MARPAT is strictly military issue.  I've been fortunate enough to land my hands on some of this excellent stuff and I'm certainly proud to wear it during our outdoor games.  It's just neat knowing what separates my genuine schtuff from the rest of the civvies I'll be tagging it up with!


  1. I was under the impression that military-issued stuff also used a different dye/weave/process in it that reduced its' thermal signature? I doubt you could do any sort of experimenting to find out, but it would be cool nonetheless to figure out if there was any truth to it.

    1. There is certainly truth to this. MARPAT's development was related/shared elements of CADPAT, which has IR Defeating properties. This means that IR Scopes won't be able to detect this fabric.

  2. And the military version had the eagle globe and anchor hidden in the camo pattern.