Canada's first military usage of camouflage clothing occurred during World War Two. Men of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion (attached to the British 6th Airborne Division) wore British-made Denison smocks in a unique, hand-painted "brushstroke" camouflage pattern that later spawned a large branch of derivative patterns that are still used today. Canadian paratroopers continued to wear Denison smocks for several years after the war, but they were phased out after wartime stocks were depleted and the Canadians never replaced them with an indigenously-produced version. Indeed, aside from solid white outer clothing, worn by members of the Special Service Force and other Canadian military personnel operating in arctic or snow-covered regions, the Canadian Armed Forces did not utilize any camouflage uniforms at all until the mid-1970s. In 1975, the Canadian Airborne Regiment was issued its first camouflage garment in nearly twenty-five years, a DPM pattern camouflage airborne smock. Although the Regiment experimented with other items, such as special windproof trousers, the DPM smock remained the only item of issue camouflaged clothing worn by the Regiment until its disbandment in 1995. Canadian Forces briefly adopted a bizarre Garrison Jacket in 1989, printed in a dark woodland camouflage pattern, but it was short-lived and never intended for practical combat usage. The standard combat uniform remained olive green for the next quarter century, with a tan version for desert deployments seeing very brief trials in the mid-1990s. Then, in 2001, after several months of research and experimentation, for the first time in her history, Canada's Armed Forces adopted its very own camouflage pattern, a computer-designed scheme incorporating a pixelated pattern known as CADPAT (TW). This pattern was shortly thereafter complemented by its desert counterpart, CADPAT (AR), and a snow/arctic version, CADPAT (WA).
Canadian Camouflage Patterns
- Canadian airborne units during the Second World War were issued British brushstroke camouflage pattern Denison smocks, which continued to be worn by airborne elements into the 1950s. After wartime stocks were depleted, however, they were not replenished.
- By the 1970s, airborne elements of the Canadian Forces were issued their own distinctive Canadian Airborne camouflage parachutist smock printed in a variation of the British DPM pattern. The Canadian DPM pattern differs from that of the original British design in that it employs an inverse ratio of green to brown, the Canadian version having larger areas of the latter. The majority of these smocks were produced by the Peerless Garments Ltd company, whose design is seen below. Interestingly, the Canadian Airborne smock was never intended to be worn as a combat garment, but instead as part of the garrison dress and as a working uniform worn during parachute jumps, etc. For field exercises and during deployments, Canadian airborne personnel wore the standard olive green uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces.
- The Canadian DPM pattern is observed to have changed slightly on late 1980s production parachutist smocks (particularly those produced by Ambridge & Thompson Inc Ltd). Although the color ratio remained the same, the pattern was enlarged from the earlier version by about 30%. As well, the specific colors appear darker than those produced earlier.
- Introduced in 1989, the Canadian Garrison Dress Land Forces (LF) jacket was printed in this woodland-type camouflage pattern. As with the Airborne parachutist smock, the garment was never intendced to be worn as a combat garment, but strictly as part of the Garrison dress ensemble, which included rifle green trousers, a pale green collared shirt, and a garrison belt. Worn from 1989 to 1994, the jacket was impractical, uncomfortable and universally disliked by all ranks.
- Canadian Temperate Weight digital camouflage pattern, or CADPAT (TW). First introduced in 1996, this pattern is now employed as the standard combat uniform for all Canadian Forces. Within common parlance among some soldiers the pattern is often called "relish."
- Canadian Arid Region digital camouflage pattern, or CADPAT (AR). Introduced in 2002, this pattern has been employed by Canadian Forces serving in Afghanistan and other desert regions.
- A full ensemble of arctic gear is also produced for use in snowy conditions, called Canadian Winter/Arctic pattern or CADPAT (WA).
- The Royal Canadian Army Cadets (RCAC) League have endorsed the wearing of a Canadian Forces-style uniform in USMC MARPAT style camouflage in recent years.
- Members of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR; Régiment d'opérations spéciales du Canada) operating in support of Iraqi Kurds have been observed wearing privately procured uniforms in Multicam pattern camouflage.