MTP and Multicam Camouflage

They're appearing more and more on this site and elsewhere - the new breed of Multicam and MTP camo clothes. But there's a lot of confusion about what the differences are and which is best to buy. This article aims to shed a little light on the matter.

The first of these new patterns to appear on the scene was Multicam which was developed by Crye Precision in the USA. This attempted to address the problem of needing different camouflage patterns for different environments. American troops were previously issued with both woodland and desert variants of their BDUs (Battle Dress Uniforms). These were great at camouflaging the soldier in the correct environment, but in the wrong environment they were quite ineffective. What was needed was a pattern that could be worn in any environment. As Crye Precision say "we decided good camouflage for where you are might be better than perfect camouflage for somewhere else."

Multicam Camouflage by Crye Precision
Multicam Camouflage by Crye Precision

After a lot of research including looking camouflage in nature, effects of different light sources, environments and terrains, a prototype of Multicam was produced. The seven colours in this pattern helps it to blend in with any background - from deserts to forests to urban environments. The US Army then began testing the pattern in the field and the results were very positive. After further trials and modifications, the Multicam we know today was born.

Starting with US troops deploying to Afghanistan, other forces began to adopt the Multicam pattern, including Australia, Chile and Russia. Crye Precision also license the use of its Multicam pattern for use in products made for the civilian market, such as the Multicam BDUs made by Propper International.

In Britain, the MOD adapted the Multicam pattern and combined it with elements of the existing British DPM pattern to produce their own variant known as MTP (Multi-Terrain Pattern). This is very similar to the original Multicam with a few modifications, most notably more elongated shapes and the traditional dots around the edges of each colour. The MTP pattern is not licensed for use in civilian products, so if you see this pattern then it is likely to be a piece of genuine kit issued to the British forces. The similarity of Multicam and MTP camo (often mistakenly referred to as "MPT camo") means that kit of each type can often be combined without any noticable problems.

MTP Camouflage used by British Forces
MTP Camouflage used by British Forces

British forces deployed to Afghanistan started trialling the new MTP kit in 2010. It was a welcome improvement in concealment. As one military advisor said at the time, "the new camouflage is optimised for all the Afghan background colour sets and in doing so we never reach a point - which we did with the old colours - where it is actually wrong. It may not be quite perfect, but it's good enough for everything."

Initially, the existing CS95 (Combat Soldier '95) kit (shirt, trousers and jacket) was produced in the new MTP pattern. After successful trials, a complete new set of kit known as PCS (Personal Clothing System) was developed. The main components of these are as follows:

MTP Combat Shirt: Technically a lightweight jacket, this can be worn over a thermal or wicking layer. Buttons are largely replaced by velcro and zips, and extra pockets have been added to the sleeves. Velcro panels allow combat ID badges and TRFs (Tactical Recognition Flashes) to be easily attached.

MTP Combat Trousers: These now include angled map pockets for easier access and have concealed buttons to reduce snagging. A seat panel provides provides reinforcement in the area that often suffered the most wear. The waist draw cord found on the CS95 trousers has been removed.

MTP Jacket or Windproof Smock: A mesh lining and armpit vents make this more comfortable to wear in warmer climates. Additional sleeve pockets and fleece-lined handwarmer pockets have been added.

MTP Goretex Jacket and Trousers: These are worn as a waterproof layer outside the other PCS kit.

Since Multicam and MTP have gained such widespread use, other commercial companies have developed compatible patterns for use on their own products. Most notable are the HMTC (Highlander Multi-Terrain Pattern) and Milcam patterns.

July 2013