Common Desert Patterns in the States

In a previous article, I ranted about the common “woodland” camo in the eastern side of the US. While I can’t say that I live anywhere near a desert, nor have I ever been in one, I can say I have collected multiple examples of desert camouflage. let’s get into the domestic patterns that can be found here and follow them up with some others.

6-color desert camo pattern with PA woods backdrop.

For starters, there’s the fan favorite 6-color desert pattern, better known as “chocolate chip”. If you’re a small-regular, you can easily score yourself an issued set of this for less than $30. Unfortunately since the late 90’s, the larger sizes have dried up. These days the shirts are going to be selling above $15, most places and the pants will likely set you back $25. Just┬álike all US military patterns, you’re not going to be looking very long to find this stuff (be it actual surplus or reproduction).

Wearing them with the liner does make for a nice winter jacket.


To continue with the theme of Desert Storm, we have the desert night camo. Both this and the 6-color desert pattern were developed at the Natick Labs during the late 70’s. Obviously, most people will point out “hey that’s green, not tan.” Well, you’d be right, but this was designed to mess with early night vision systems of the time. Which it succeeds with doing. The parkas and over pants in this pattern are somewhat uncommon, but are still cheap. Typically to the sound of $10-$20 for a jacket and a similar price for the pants.

The DCU with interceptor vest.

Third is the US 3-color desert pattern, known as Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU). This and the M81 “woodland” were used in the early years of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan by the US Army before being replaced with “Useless Camo Pattern.” Prices on the shirts tend to range between $5 and $20 depending on how hard you look and how hard they’ve been used. Similar to German flecktarn, the supply of pants seem to be dried up and you can expect to pay upwards of $20 each. Once again, you aren’t going to see me reviewing the overall effectiveness of the pattern. Every now and again the less common, Dutch 3-color desert will turn up, so keep an eye open for those.

The desert variation of flecktarn.

Fourth on the list of common desert patterns is the desert variation of German flecktarn, mostly known as tropentarn. Depending on where you get the shirts, they can range from $10-$25, and the pants generally start at $20. You can also get the parkas in this pattern for $40, give or take. While not the best pattern for the woods, there are videos of its use stateside in winter. Other authors on this blog, who have lived in Arizona, have used this pattern while on hikes and hunts and found it to be functional.

Sparse DDPM shirt in the S95 cut.

Last on this list are the British Desert Disruptive Pattern Material (DDPM) variants. Should you be looking for the standard uniform, the S95 cut shirts shouldn’t set you back more than $12 and the matching pants should be no more than $15. There are a few variations of British DDPM during its run in much the same way there are variants to the British DPM. What is interesting is that you can also find the British MVP rain gear in this pattern. Think of it as the British army’s answer to Gore-Tex fabric: it’s breathable and waterproof. Interestingly, they generally wear the MVP rain gear as a mid-layer. If anybody has insight into this pattern being put on the rain gear, be sure to comment. Also gonna supply a link to effectiveness of it in the woods (here).


Small time military surplus and Lego collector with a penchant for pocket guns and dry humor.

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