Changing Stripes: a History of Tiger Stripe Camo

Iconic tiger stripe uniform Martin Sheen in the Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now.

It has been said that just as a leopard can’t change his spots so too a tiger can’t change his stripes. Yet when it comes to military camouflage, the versatile tiger stripe camo pattern has changed and evolved over the years. The fact remains however that unlike the U.S. military’s Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) or Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), the iconic tiger stripe camouflage pattern was never actually an “official” form of camouflage.

Tiger Stripe Camo

While it has been called “tiger stripe camo” unofficially, as the name derives from its resemblance to the stripes on the big cats, it is unique in that the pattern has no name. And unlike OCP, UCP, or the other official camouflage patterns, tigerstripe camouflage is also not really one specific pattern. Some experts have suggested that there were nearly two dozen different variants, so it really is the name of a group of camouflage patterns rather than one particular pattern.

Navy SEALS wearing tigerstrip camouflage in Vietnam.
U.S. Navy SEALs wore locally produced tiger stripe uniforms in Vietnam – and yes, blue jeans were also commonly worn by the frogmen. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Public Domain)

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