In my opinion, Original Vietnam Tiger Stripe from Tiger Stripe Products is one of the sexiest and most badass patterns of camouflage you can get. However, I recognize this as being an emotional attraction. This attraction does not necessarily make it a practical camouflage for every environment I find myself in. Being a camouflage pattern that has interested me for a long time, I thought I would look into it in greater detail.
The history of Tiger Stripe is pretty short. There have been few, if any, official patterns that were developed. However, it was started some time during the Vietnam war. Soldiers had them made and none of the patterns seemed to be the same. It was never officially adopted, but soldiers that were in special mission units like LRRP or SF units loved the pattern. I think this is where I got the love for the pattern. The individuals that wore this pattern were badass dudes in my opinion and the pattern became synonymous with them. However, this was not the end of the story for the tiger stripe pattern. There are plenty of countries that issue the pattern with their own interpretation and color scheme. Tiger Stripe Products is a company that makes the original loved variation of the Tiger Stripe known as "John Wayne Dense" and I find it to be the sexiest version of them all. There were several other versions of Tiger Stripe camouflage used during that time, but this version is touted as the original and that is going to be the focus of the article.
The Original Vietnam Tiger Stripe pattern uniform is produced by Tru-Spec in the classic and true BDU cut. The BDU uniform is made of 100% cotton ripstop and can also be acquired in 65/35 polyester nylon twill. You have a couple of options, and I personally have been pleased with the 100% cotton version. I think it breathes well in the hot climate and is plenty durable. Just be aware that different fabrics will take colors differently and therefore, the shades may be different between the cotton and polyester uniform fabrics. The BDU cut that Tru-Spec has is basically everything you would expect out of a military BDU uniform. You don't have inserts for elbow or knee pads, but that is kind of the trade off you make with this simple but classic uniform cut. I may end up making an alteration to the uniform to get it to take knee pad inserts. That will merely require me to take a trip to my local alterations company. One thing I would like to see is this pattern being offered in the T.R.U. uniform. Tru-Spec certainly did a great job with that line and I am in love with it. Perhaps if I were to ask nicely...
The Original Vietnam pattern was designed after one of the more commonly seen tiger stripe variants. The Vietnamese clothing makers would basically copy a pattern and do certain alterations to the design that the individual may have requested. So basically, this pattern can not truly be labeled as original, but perhaps it could be ranked as the popular or more desired pattern of about 20 different variations. Afterall, this pattern was seen alot, and it was quite popular. But there was no true consistency between uniform pattern colors and shapes, until now with Tru-Spec making these sexy outfits.
The principle of the tiger stripe pattern is to take advantage of the complex combination of shadows and shapes with a simplistic horizontal pattern that combines 4 different colors (black, light tan, medium brown, and OD Green). The big stripes of black are the greatest criticism people have about this pattern. I understand the reason for concern, but I find that this is not a problem behind light concealment or in shadowed areas. I know that there is debate about whether black appears in nature. I would say you should look at what black is, which is merely when something is devoid of light. There is plenty of this under leaves, dense canopies, undersides of fallen or leaning trees. This is what the black is attempting to replicate. the Human eye when it picks up black during a scan, it merely looks like a photonic barrier. Like being in a lit room and having a doorway with a completely dark room. This is black appearing and working on our eyes in nature. Do not fear black in this pattern, but do be aware that it needs to be applied appropriately.
The other three colors in this "original" pattern are well selected. The light tan breaks up the solid nature of the color stripes and blends really nice. In my eyes, the light tan registers as light reflection you can get from the tips of leaves or light rays. The brown used is well matched to most bark and branches found in nature. These two colors are spread out and are merely filling in smaller areas, which is brilliant in my opinion. Usually you don't see too many large blotches of brown in nature when looking trough thick bushes and undergrowth.
Last color I will cover is the green since it is the most important one. This color is very close to standard OD Green that you will find on your old school LC-1 gear. This shade matches beautifully with healthy lush vegetation you would find in a woodland environment in the spring and summer time. There are other tiger stripe patterns made by other companies that feature a darker shade of green in their pattern. However, I feel that this lighter green compliments most of the woodland and rain forest environments I have seen.
In my experience, this pattern is best used in an area where the foliage is predominantly green, with plenty of brown mixed in. Also, I would say that you will have the best results in an area where the canopy is providing plenty of shade. The underbrush should at least be chest level for the full effect of this pattern when standing. Basically, I think this pattern is best employed when you are going to be behind light to heavy concealment. Unless you are in a heavily shaded bush, this pattern can have a tendency to stick out like a sore thumb.
Being that this pattern got its start and gained notoriety in the dense wooded jungles, that is where it will shine. Best to stick to areas of thick foliage where there are plenty of dark areas to hide. I understand this may be hard to do since wooded areas don't always look the same. However, that is part of knowing the environment you will be operating in. If you can't stay in the shadows, I would say to keep distance and layers of foliage between you to help break up the shadow stripes on the uniform.
I really like the pattern and color combination of this Tru-Spec tiger stripe. The look of it reminds me of the old photos of the LRRPs, SF, SEALs, etc who were hooking and jabbing in Vietnam. In many ways, American SF cut its teeth in Vietnam and became some of the most legendary badasses in those jungles. That may be why this pattern attracts me so strongly. Yeah yeah, it is emotional but I am not alone in this attraction. There is quite a following behind the pattern by people who don't even know the history. Luckily, this pattern works well in Alaska as long as you know how to use the concealment properly. Don't completely disregard this pattern as niche or old school. This is a pattern that is still serving today and is still just as relevant as it was in the 60's.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.