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The 6 Best Desert Camouflage Patterns

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In this article, I’ll share some interesting facts about these desert camouflage patterns and what makes them so great. I’ll also discuss what to look for and what to avoid in a desert pattern to ensure you find the best options.

Here are the 6 best desert camouflage patterns:

1. MultiCam Arid

If you’re looking for a reliable pattern that people have been using since the early 2000s, then you should certainly consider the MultiCam Arid. This popular option is considered one of the best desert camouflage patterns because it’s suitable for several desert environments. In particular, it’s designed for brown, sandy, and rocky environments.

MultiCam Arid was first developed in 2002 in the U.S for light-colored desert environments and has been adopted worldwide. Not only does it work well in sandy places, but it can also be used in woodlands and mountainous regions.

I recommend this long sleeve shirt (available on Amazon). It’s an example of an early prototype of the MultiCam pattern and is highly useful in the desert. 

For the ultimate desert camouflage MultiCam pattern look, I recommend this Tru-Spec Tactical Response Uniform Shirt paired with these Tru-Spec Men’s Tactical Response Pants. The design works to adequately lower the near-IR signature and visual of those in desert environments, and the pants feature a straight leg style and drawstring waist to help keep the sand where it belongs: in the desert. 

2. Desert Battle Dress Uniform (Chocolate Chips)

The Desert Battle Dress Uniform (DBDU) was nicknamed chocolate chips due to its cookie-like spotty pattern. The base color of this pattern is a light tan color, perfect for the light sandy desert. There are also darker patches of brown and cookie-like black and white spots that imitate stones.

If you need a pattern that blends in with a desert and dark stones, consider the DBDU pattern. 

A great example of this pattern is these Rothco Tactical Military Cargo Shorts. It’s available in many varieties, including desert camo, khaki, and digital camo. The desert camo pattern is the one that most closely resembles the chocolate chip uniform print.

The Desert Battle Dress Uniform pattern was most prevalent in the 1990s during the Gulf War and was worn by the United States Armed Forces. Although they stopped wearing this pattern around that time, it remains a popular choice today due to how well it blends in with desert environments.

3. Desert Camouflage Uniform Pattern (DCU)

The DCU pattern was made to be worn in desert environments. U.S forces widely used it from the 1990s to the 2010s. This pattern replaced the DBDU pattern, although both are still widely used today.

This pattern is simpler than its predecessor, with only three primary colors: dark brown, light brown, and green. Unlike the DBDU pattern, this one doesn’t feature cookie-like spots.

If you’re looking for a pattern that suits a more flat and sandy desert rather than a rocky one, the DCU pattern is undoubtedly one of your best options. It’s easy to blend in with your surroundings in this pattern as it closely matches the colors you would see in most low-land deserts.

These Propper Men’s BDU Tactical Trousers (available on .com) Amazon are a great example of the DCU tricolor pattern and can help you blend in with light-colored sand. The light background and contrasting darker patches are the perfect colors for blending in with real-life colors and textures.

4. Desert MARPAT

There are three main MARPAT designs: Urban, Woodland, and Desert. 

All three patterns have a pixelated look, which many regard as being more realistic than other patterns because they blend in better with real-life textures. These patterns are also known as digital patterns because of the pixel effect. They were initially based on the Canadian CADPAT pattern.

Opinions on digital camouflage patterns vary widely; some people think they look too unnatural and don’t blend in as well as other patterns, whereas others believe the pixels make it harder to distinguish a person from the surroundings. 

A good example of the Desert MARPAT pattern is this STARTAIKE Balaclava in the shade ‘Desert Camo 2’ (available on Amazon.com). The print is transferred to the material using digital heat technology to create a realistic visual effect.

Keep in mind, however, most MARPAT patterns are challenging to come by since the United States government owns the patent on them. Nonetheless, it’s still possible to find replicas by searching Amazon and other online or specialty retailers. 

5. King’s Desert Shadow

The King’s Desert Shadow pattern is another viable option for blending with sandy terrain. These patterns are more floral and foliate than other options, but the colors are primarily beige and brown with bits of green. Although these patterns are aimed mainly at hunters, you can wear them for many activities in the desert.

An example of the King’s Desert Shadow pattern is this pair. The pants come in different patterns, but the most appropriate one for the desert is the “Desert Shadow” version. It’s suitable for many environments, but it works best in slightly darker desert terrains. 

6. Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP)

The Universal Camouflage Pattern was designed to blend in with various environments, including the desert. This pattern consists of tan, gray, and green, and was used from 2005 until 2019 by the United States army. Notably, many U.S. soldiers wore it widely during the Afghanistan and the Iraq wars.

Pants that closely resemble the Universal Camouflage Pattern include these pants (available on Amazon). While it does feature quite a bit more green than most of the other styles, this is perfect for a desert with green foliage and rocky textures, like the Sonoran Desert. 

Although the United States Army widely used this uniform, there was always controversy surrounding the pattern’s effectiveness. In particular, many argued that it didn’t blend in with any natural environment. What’s worse is that making the pattern cost the United States government upwards of $5 billion.

Having said that, unless you’ll be venturing out into dangerous battle zones, wearing the UCP pattern in the desert is still a viable choice.

By the way, I wrote an article on the Best All-Around Camouflage Pattern Across Multiple Biomes, be sure to check it out.

What Makes a Good Desert Camouflage Pattern?

The main thing that makes a good desert camouflage pattern is the color. Any good desert pattern should have shades of tan and brown to match the sand closely. In general, a predominantly green pattern will make you stand out in the desert, and some patterns are better suited to certain conditions.

There should generally be a tan-colored background with patches of darker brown throughout to match the natural colors that you find in the desert. However, the exact pattern you should choose will depend on the desert. 

For instance, some deserts may have more green foliage than others, so you need to choose a pattern with some green colors on top of the tan and brown shades. The Sonoran Desert in Arizona, in particular, has many green plants scattered around, so a slightly greener pattern may be more suitable for this environment.

On the other hand, the Mojave Desert has less greenery than the Sonoran, so a pattern with less green and more tan colors would be better if you were planning on wearing it in the Mojave. By assessing the region you plan on visiting, you can decide which colors are most appropriate. 

In addition to the correct colors, a chocolate chip pattern is a useful pattern to have on a camouflage uniform. Since they resemble much of the small stones you find in the desert, they help you blend in better with the environment. A digital pixelated pattern is also an excellent choice to blend in with the different textures of the desert because it makes it harder to detect the human form.

What To Look For in a Desert Camouflage Pattern

You should primarily look for tan and brown colors in a desert pattern. Some green is also helpful if the desert in question has green plants and foliage scattered around. It’s also best for the pattern to create the illusion of a sandy or rocky texture, depending on which desert type of desert you’ll be in.

A digital design is also something to look for in a desert pattern because it blends into the desert environment from many distances. This means that whether you’re close to someone or a mile away, they’ll be less likely to see you if you’re wearing a digital pattern.

What To Avoid in a Desert Camouflage Pattern

Soldier Looking at his Rifle

You should avoid predominantly green colors in a desert camouflage pattern, like a leaf design. Since a leaf pattern is more appropriate for woody and forested areas, it wouldn’t blend in very well in a desert environment. You should also avoid urban patterns.

The leaf patterns were commonly used in Asia during the Vietnam war because they’re well-suited to tropical areas rather than sandy deserts. 

You should also avoid large black brushstrokes if you’re looking for a desert pattern. Since the color black is scarce in most deserts, you’ll stick out more if you choose a pattern with lots of black. 

Another thing to avoid in a desert pattern is an urban design. Most urban camouflage patterns consist of gray, black, and white, none of which are very appropriate for the desert; you would undoubtedly stick out if you wore all these colors together!

The purpose of urban camouflage patterns is to blend in with a city or busy area with lots of buildings. Since deserts generally don’t have many people or structures around, an urban pattern wouldn’t work well in this environment.

Worst Camo Patterns for Desert

The worst camouflage patterns for the desert include leaf, jigsaw, tiger stripe, and urban patterns. For instance, the Belgian military uses jigsaw patterns because they’re most appropriate in green areas rather than deserts. Many jigsaw patterns feature bright yellow and red colors, which aren’t common in desert regions because you’d stick out like a sore thumb.

Tiger Stripe patterns are also some of the worst patterns for the desert because they’re intended for dense jungle regions. Jungles have many green trees, grass, and water streams–quite the opposite from dry, beige deserts. 

In general, anything that’s too colorful or doesn’t have enough beige colors won’t work well in the desert. It’s also best to avoid large stripes.

Is Flecktarn Camo Good for the Desert?

The original Flecktarn camouflage pattern isn’t good for the desert because it was made for woodland regions. However, a desert Flecktarn camouflage known as the Tropentarn pattern is better suited to wear in the desert. 

The original Flecktarn pattern was used primarily in Germany from the 1990s onwards and features dark green and brown colors which would stick out in a desert. The Tropentarn, on the other hand, consists of tan, brown, and some green spots, making it much more helpful in the desert.

Although Flecktarn patterns and their variations are pretty popular around continental Europe, they are hard to come by in North America, so you should probably stick with one of the other patterns mentioned in this article.

What Is the Best Desert Camo Pattern?

The best desert camo pattern is the MultiCam Arid because it’s suitable for nearly any type of desert. The colors closely match most common desert terrains and blend in well with the environment. Other honorable mentions include the Desert MARPAT pattern and the Desert Battle Dress Uniform pattern.

This article featured the six best desert camo patterns, but if I had to choose one as the ultimate desert camo pattern, it would have to be the MultiCam Arid pattern. These patterns are some of the best you can use to stay hidden in the desert, so I recommend giving them a try if you’re looking for one of the best desert camouflage patterns.

For more, check out Best All-Around Camouflage Pattern Across Multiple Biomes.

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