November 11, 2021
Bowtreaders, rifle hunters, crossbowmen/women, young hunters, and anyone even remotely interested in camo, this is for you!
An issue has risen to our understanding lately that must be addressed — it's the ignorance surrounding the shift in camo styles over the past few years. If you're an avid hunter, you may have noticed the differences already, or maybe you are just waking up to this recent advancement in hunting gear.
Preferences differ but the pattern is clear.
Digital camo has taken its ascent in the camo world.
Over roughly the past decade, there has been a drastic switch among hunters to this new pattern of camo — pixels instead of leaves. Believe it or not, this sudden advance is not the result of some military fashion trend of everyone trying to look like the brave soldiers who defend our country.
In fact, though that is a bonus, it has very little to do with fashion at all. Turns out, the science behind digital camo is extremely well developed and effective in the field.
Here are the reasons why this new style has taken precedence and why we at Bowtreader chooses pixels instead of leaves!
Though it gained popularity just years later for hunting, the ultimate rise of digital camo began in 2005, when it became the standard dress code of camo for the United States Army.
Timothy O’ Neill, American camouflage expert, developed the first pattern of pixelated camo in 1976 which he named “Dual-Tex,” a type of camouflage that he found to meld seamlessly with its surroundings from a distance.
Much field testing and comparisons between the existing U.S. army camouflage at the time lead to a new rise of the standard digital camo we see in our army today.
O’ Neill believed that this new form of camo worked best because it could combine virtually any colors that could be printed on ink and therefore, become the right tone and pattern for any climate.
The pixels themselves, he soon discovered, were the only form of camouflage that can almost completely eliminate the tracings of the wearer’s outline. The goal was that with this pattern of colors, targets would become almost impossible to distinguish.
If located, the pixilated pattern was proven to make the outline of the target then very hard to make out, which is why O’Neill’s creation was adopted later as the improved U.S. Army print.
Since its standardization in the Army, this new pattern has proved itself effective — but in just a few years American hunters would be attracted to it as a new way to achieving invisibility on the fields of American hunting.
The scope of digital camo soon grew fast.
Jay Nietz, PhD, national animal vision specialist, along with O’ Niell became the scientific minds behind the first models of the field hunting versions of digital camo. They were brought together for a project instituted by a man going by the name of W. L. Gore.
Gore and the others studied not just how digital camo looks to us in the field, but how different colors appeal to different animals — the results were amazing.
Though, to us the pattern can be fairly obvious upon a closer look, to most animals this new type of camo was the closest thing in the field to invisibility. Through the eyes of deer, elk, and even turkeys and squirrels, the pattern was virtually impossible to distinguish.
The only thing that makes it remotely noticeable to them, is movement, and even then it often goes dismissed as wind hitting the foliage or a disturbance from small animals.
Studies took off to make different colors, fabrics, ans styles of this camo using a scientifically developed version of the pattern discovered in 1976. Soon the project grew into a business and the business into a popular brand that sent digital shock waves through the stick-and-leaf design of the hunting world.
That brand is none other than Sitka, the only camouflage clothing we choose to carry in our store.
As digital camo continued to develop, the benefits of using it on the hunt became increasingly apparent. The science proved itself pretty instantly on elk hunts, duck hunts, whitetail deer hunts, and even expeditions oversees on the plains of Africa and India.
After all, we wouldn’t be promoting the pattern if we were not completely convinced of its effectiveness!
#1 BLURRED LINES
The first and most important benefit of digital camo? Two words. Blurred. Lines.
We admit it. The stick and leaf camo does look pretty cool.
The issue is, if it doesn’t conform perfectly to the types of trees and background that you have, the animals will likely notice it. Like we notice the difference in dotted and straight lines on the road (and like the deer obviously do not), animals will notice when something is out of place. And, as you can read about in the upcoming Saturday Morning Post, normally that means trouble on the hunt.
If it isn’t already clear by the text above, digital camo is top-notch rated for blurring lines — by that we mean that the busy muddled background of wherever you are, pretty much melts into this pattern so that your body’s outline cannot be easily made out.
This helps because, though some animals can see the differences in different tones of color, most of them look for abnormal shapes when they perk up to look for danger.
Take those distinctive shapes away, and you have captured the first key to success — that is the foundation of stopping a good hunt from being ruined.
#2 THE COLOR CODE
The next point to consider is color.
We aren’t talking about little variations between tan and brown that may change how your camo blends with every single stick. Actually, with digital camo, slight color inconsistencies don’t always make a difference — but there are certainly critiques that must be made when it comes to hunting on different terrains.
Color can make a huge difference, for example, when it comes down to the gap between a desert and Georgia woodlands. While the pattern can remain the same, hundreds of color variations can be made to fit contrasting areas around the world.
Timothy O’ Neill made a few comments on this when interviewed by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
“Desert designs don't work well in woodland areas and woodland patterns perform poorly in the desert.” he stated in defense of the color variations of his pattern. “It is best to tailor the spatial characteristics and color palette of a camouflage pattern to the specific environment and tactical position where those using the camouflage would be inclined to hide.”
In response to research on this topic, Sitka created different lines of gear that vary based on where you will be hunting and the climate thereof. Sitka manufactures multiple colors and grain sizes in their camo which makes digital camo ideal for any hunting environment, from the swamp to the desert.
#3 THE STYLES
Finally, Sitka, the top producer of all digital camo has made immense advancements in style, ranging not only from every color, but every article of clothing you could hope to acquire for any hunt.
Because of its relatively simple composition, digital camo can be printed on many things easily (check out the Garmin site we custom hydro dipped below, and that is pretty clear!) and even woven into fabric consistently.
What’s more, you don’t have to worry about lining up any seams of pants or arms — all digital camo lines up seamlessly so you can’t tell the difference!
The camo you wear is important. For our infantry, it can make the difference between life or death. It isn’t something we take lightly either.
It may not seem like much of a difference to you, but when you are out on an elk hunt or hunting for whitetail, there's a fine line between ruining your hunt and getting the perfect shot, just based on the slightest body movements.
With digital camo, we believe there can be a fine line instead, between you and your surroundings. With it, you become one with your land, and on a deeper level with your country itself, bearing the memory in mind of those who first wore the pattern of this revolutionary form of camo — the American innovation of invisibility.
That is what makes Bowtreader a proud connoisseur of digital camo — it's an investment in our land both literally and at the core of our American minds.
Join us in becoming a part of our land!