Hunter wearing camouflage gear is crouched in brush while aiming his shotgun

Types of Camo: Understanding Camouflage Colors and Their Uses

You’ll find all types of camo at Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show to help you get ready for your next hunting trip, tactical encounter, or if you just want rugged gear when you hit the range. Camo patterns are available to help you blend into almost any natural environment, and there are several options available for working in man-made terrain and structures, as well. With so many options available, it can be hard to understand the differences between variations and how they work to help keep you hidden, but with the right information and planning, you can find the right choice for your needs.

Blurring the Lines

Before we get into the types of camo available, it’s important to understand what camouflage is meant to do. Unlike the simplistic portrayals of Hollywood, where it renders the wearer invisible, its real purpose is built on the psychology of how the brain interprets information from the eyes. Humans (and other animals that rely heavily on sight to assess threats) take in a lot of visual information–too much for the brain to rapidly absorb and process. That’s why we sometimes do a “double take” when confronted with something unexpected–we saw it, but it took a moment for our brain to piece together the information.

Camouflage mesh

In survival situations, you may not have that kind of time, so brains evolved to parse through recognized patterns for known threats first. Camouflage patterns are all about disrupting the pattern of our presence, blurring us into the background so that it takes longer for the brain to get around to noticing what it saw. There are instances when this is taken a step further through active means, further blurring our profile, disguising the features, and concealing what can’t be blended into the surroundings, but that is often more of a technical skill set than simply buying the right clothes off a rack.

Types of Camo Patterns

While manufacturers are always pushing to find innovations that help them separate themselves from the competition, most camo will fall into four general pattern types.

  • Traditional – Featuring large blobs in asymmetrical shapes, usually with one to three colors over a single unifying background color, this style was a huge upgrade over single-color uniforms for the troops.
  • Digital – In an effort to further hide the silhouette of the wearer, the rounded curves of traditional types of camouflage got a digital upgrade, with the patterns being produced by small square pixelation-like groupings of color.
  • OCP – To address emerging battlefield trends, the latest military Operational Camouflage Pattern returns to using blobs over a base color but opts for smaller, more broken-up patterns that tend to give an appearance of running horizontally rather than the vertical or random distribution of digital and traditional types of camouflage. 
  • Civilian Designs – As camouflage became more popular with civilians–rising to the level of daily wear and fashion statements for some–civilian companies began producing proprietary patterns for outdoor sports enthusiasts based on hyper-realistic versions of real-world terrain.

Finding Your Camo Pattern

Man wearing camouflage while compound bow hunting

When it comes to picking the right camouflage for your needs, start by understanding what those needs are. Different types of camo are better suited for different terrain, purposes, or seasons, making camo gear some of the most versatile tactical accessories around. We’re going to cover some of the most popular variations, but remember, many of these are available as traditional, digital, OCP, or even civilian designs.

  • Forest – Forest patterns are meant to help you escape the notice of prey animals, not necessarily other hunters. Look for a pattern that features background and camouflaging colors that match the area you’re hunting in, whether you’re stalking midwestern dear, wild boar across the plains, or wild turkeys in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Tactical – Conversely, tactical types of camo are designed specifically with the psychology of human pattern recognition in mind. While military patterns may fall into this category, they may not be appropriate for your operational needs. Consider the most likely engagement places, whether it’s for paintball, airsoft, or in the line of duty, and find a pattern with not only colors but lines that better match the environment.
  • Seasonal – No, you don’t need to put on a Santa outfit to head out this winter, but with frost in the air and snow on the ground, make sure you have a camo pattern that incorporates cooler colors into its camo pattern to better blend you into the natural environment.
  • Desert, Rock, and Sand – Hard or barren environments take special care when choosing camo patterns. Your background color will take center stage, with smaller camouflage accents mimicking sparse vegetation, pebbles, or natural striations in the landscape. A horizontal layout to the print becomes even more important as the lack of natural vertical structures or cover will make types of camo with the wrong orientation or an oversaturation of patterns stand out all the more.
  • Nautical – Nautical types of camo see a lot of use outside the military except as a fashion choice. Usually a mix of blues, grays, and white to mimic water, caps, and foam, this gear may not work as well on land but is still made to the same rugged standards as its landlubber counterparts.
  • Nighttime – While you may think all it takes to be camouflaged after dark is black clothing, the reality is that very few environments offer the total pitch-black darkness to keep a fully black outfit from creating a silhouette. Night camo uses a mix of black, gray, and midnight blues to break up your silhouette.

Huge Camo Selection

When vendors come from across the country to compete for your purchases, you save money on the types of camo you’ve been looking for. The whole family will enjoy the comfortable, well-lit local event hall with paid on-site security, and there’s something for the whole family at our uniquely American retail experience. Book your tickets online to the next Eagle Shows Gun Show near you today.

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