Last week we showed you the new “SnoCam” overwhite system adopted by the Slovenian Armed Forces standard “SloCam”, last month we showed you the Finnish Defence Forces’ approach to snow camouflage, and we even got a rare look at the winter version of CADPAT a year ago too. Now the US Army has finally started to look into the subject of improved snow camo uniforms as well.

Representatives from PEO Soldier model the current USMC-issued MARPAT-Snow (right) and an un-named snow camo system (left) during the data collection effort at Tobyhanna Army Depot. Photo credit: US Army, Danielle E. Weinschenk


About a month ago, Tobyhanna Army Depot hosted a study to assess the effectiveness of  snow camo “overwhite” in concealing soldiers from an array of sensors in different snow environment conditions. Tobyhanna, located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, was selected because the depot’s terrain resembles environments in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Camp Dawson in West Virginia and Fort Drum in New York were also used as locations in the study.

The purpose of this study was to capture images of the different overwhite systems in environments similar to areas where exercises and future conflicts may occur. The imagery will be used in a probability of detection study in which soldiers will view the images under controlled settings to see if they can spot the person wearing the different overwhite systems. Such tests also usually measure the length of time it takes the observer to locate and identify the target individual. Results from the study will then be used to guide future overwhite development and procurement.


US Army paratroopers in Alaska, wearing the current style of overwhite system, prepare their equipment for an arctic exercise. Photo Credit: US Army.


The current snow camo overwhites ensemble used by the US Army has not changed fundamentally since the Model 1951 sets issued during the Korean War. The current sets however use a lightweight, water/snow, and dirt resistant lightweight synthetic fabric that is much better than the 100% cotton material used for the previous 60 years. Cargo pockets have also been added to the overtrouser legs, which is a very practical addition. The synthetic material is quite thin and semi-translucent however, so that the color of the underlying uniform shows through and affects the camouflage performance of the solid white over-garments.

A USMC participant in the Swedish Basic Winter Warfare Course step over a mound of snow during a long-distance march on skis in Arvidsjaur, Sweden, Jan. 22, 2018. Note how the DWR treated synthetic fibre overwhites used by the USMC (right) resist soiling better than the cotton fabric Swedish overwhites (left). Note also how the disruptive MARPAT-SNOW camo print works perfectly against the background. Marines Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Marcin Platek


The US Marine Corps on the other hand uses a camouflage-printed 50D polyester fabric that is not semi-translucent, so the underlying uniform color doesn’t show through the material. The USMC overwhite system also has a different pocket layout than the Army version – with cargo pockets only on the jacket. The “MARPAT-SNOW” camo pattern was developed by Dr. Tim O’Neill and Guy Cramer and has been in use with the Marine Corps for over a decade now.

Other, commercially developed, snow camo / overwhite systems have also been seen in use with the US military, particularly within the special operations forces community – who have more flexibility and freedom with regards to the gear they can purchase and use.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 321st Special Tactics Squadron, 352nd Special Operations Wing provide support by fire for a simulated assault during Arctic winter training near Kiruna, Sweden, February 23, 2017. Members of this unit used overwhites developed by Kryptek in the company’s “Wraith” pattern. U.S. Army photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Matt Britton.
Members of the U.S. Army 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) conduct winter survival training at Fort Carson Colorado. The 10th SFG (A) is often seen wearing sophisticated overwhite systems made by the Swedish company Taiga (sold as Torraka in the US) featuring a white and grey version of the Swedish Armed Forces M/90 “splinter camo”. Photo credit: US Army, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Navy SEAL Team Members demonstrate their winter warfare capabilities at Monmouth Lakes, California in 2014. They are wearing commercially developed digital snow camo overwhites from VERTX. Photo credit: U.S. Navy, Naval Special Warfare Command.


The MultiCam-Alpine camo pattern is a popular commercially available snow camo option. Crye Precision offers an overwhite system in this camo pattern, as does Wild Things Tactical as well – both of which have been seen in use with elements of the U.S. Armed Forces. Photo credit: MultiCam brand, copyright Crye Precision.


An unidentified participant of the Swedish Basic Winter Warfare Course evacuates a notional casualty on a ski pulka during the course’s culminating event in Arvidsjaur, Sweden, Jan. 23, 2018. This individual is wearing an overwhite system featuring the PenCott-SnowDrift camouflage pattern from Hyde Definition. U.S. Marine Corps photo by SSgt. Marcin Platek/Released.


hat tip to our friends at Soldier Systems Daily for tipping us off about the Tobyhanna study.