Marine Pattern Uniform (MARPAT)

In 2003 the United States Marine Corps authorized a new uniform. Called MARPAT (for Marine Pattern) the uniform utilized a complex digital pattern that provides more effective concealment in a variety of environments when compared to the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) camouflage.

Lance Cpl. Matthew Disbro, with Golf Co, 2nd Bn, 7th Marine Regiment, tries on a pair of newly issued cold weather boots at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, 28 April 2008
Lance Cpl. Matthew Disbro, with Golf Co, 2nd Bn, 7th Marine Regiment, tries on a pair of newly issued cold weather boots at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, 28 April 2008.

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Origin of the Marine Pattern (MARPAT) Camouflage

MARPAT woodland and desert variants
Woodland and desert MARPAT.

MARPAT was the first U.S. use of disruptive digital patterns, a concept that originated decades earlier. In the 1990s, research in Canada led to CADPAT (Canadian Disruptive Pattern) adopted by the Canadian military in 1997. Cooperation between the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center led to a CADPAT derivative pattern to be tested for use by American forces.

Further refinements of the Natick pattern for the Marine Corps were evaluated by the USMC Scout Sniper Instructor School, along with various other camouflage patterns, to determine the best pattern for Marine Corps use. Out of eight patterns submitted to the School testing, two became leading contenders, an improved "tiger stripe" pattern and the Natick pattern for Marines, called MARPAT.

Tiger stripe is a well-known military pattern, used in different variations throughout the world. The proposed Marine version used colors that had been optimized with medium value colors for maximum effect. The pattern itself had a natural flow which lent to an effective break up of the wearer's outline, although the flow tended to be bi-directional.

MARPAT also uses optimized colors with medium values, overall a random, omni-directional pattern. Viewed up close, MARPAT appears as small digital blocks, but with increasing distance it blends in with many environments. Although the tiger stripe was found to be more effective than the old BDU pattern, MARPAT was selected due to its multi-environment flexibility, tactical effectiveness and ability to provide Marine Corps distinctiveness.


MARPAT Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU)

The MARPAT uniform is officially called the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU), replacing the BDU that was the standard field and garrison uniform since the 1980s. MCCUU is worn with associated accessories as well as the new Marine Corps Combat Boots (MCCBs), or other authorized footwear.

Marine wearing Desert MARPAT cammies turns in his BDUs, Consolidated Issue Facility, Camp Lejeune, NC, 26 January 2006
Marine wearing Desert MARPAT cammies turns in his BDUs, Consolidated Issue Facility, Camp Lejeune, NC, 26 January 2006.

After the MARPAT pattern was selected, a new uniform was designed to replace BDUs. There are two color schemes for MARPAT, woodland and desert. The USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor (EGA) emblem appears on the boots, the patrol cap (cover) and other appropriate locations. The EGA is also embedded in the pattern itself (photo below, right).

The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU), called cammies, consists of:

  • Coat, trousers, garrison cover, and field boonie cover, each in both a woodland and desert MARPAT
  • Hot weather and temperate weather olive mohave (light brown) rough side out leather Marine Corps Combat Boots (MCCBs) with the USMC emblem heat embossed on the ankle
  • Coyote brown boot socks
  • Coyote brown short and long-sleeve t-shirts

By October 2006, Marines were required to possess two sets of each MARPAT uniform. Old style infantry combat boots (ICBs), optional black boots, and jungle-desert boots (JDBs) were no longer authorized. Camouflage Utilities (BDUs) were also no longer authorized.

MARPAT Cammies for Female Marines

Beginning summer of 2004, female Marines were given five new sized MARPAT blouse and trouser combinations to augment the existing sizes. Female Marines were also permitted to mix and match old and new sizes depending on the fit of the uniform.

Specific changes in the female cammies include raising the fixed waist indentation and widening the circumference at the bottom of the blouse to fall over the hips without gapping at the center front, shortening the shoulder length and fullness in the neckline while maintaining existing chest circumference, raising and reducing the waistline while increasing the hip circumference, and lengthening the inseam of the trousers.

Improvements for female cammies also extend to the maternity wear as well. In April 2003, a new maternity utility became available after verifying the improvements during a fall 2002 user test.

MARPAT is Exclusive to the Marines

EGA embedded in MARPAT pattern

The Marine Pattern has been copyrighted and is not authorized to be produced for civilian sale. Official MARPAT cammies have a label stating "Made Expressly For" with the USMC seal. The official MARPAT fabric has a small EGA with USMC printed in the pattern (photo, right). Unofficial copies of MARPAT are marketed, but without the EGA and special labels.

As with most military items, official MARPET uniform components are found on eBay or via military suppliers. Marines can order and wear these items, of course, but such use is not authorized for others. If you are not a Marine, public wear of MARPAT is unlawful, disrespectful, and could get you in trouble.

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