What we wear is important and most of that comes down to its function and how it looks. Despite what a lot of people say, we do care about looks. Depending on the situation, how something looks can be a deal breaker.
So instead of looking at a piece of gear to see what it can do, we’re going to look at the colors those items can come in. Particularly the colors Olive Drab (OD) Green and Ranger Green.
There are a lot of greens out there. What makes these two different from each other? We’re going to find out and we see which ones look better for your gear.
Ranger Green Vs Olive Drab
Ranger Green is a desaturated version of OD Green with more brown tones. While OD Green has some brown tones but a high green saturation. This makes Ranger Green less “bright” than OD Green and tends to be more aesthetically pleasing with modern tactical gear.
This helps Ranger Green fit into more urban areas in addition to more rural areas.
Milspec monkey has a great reference picture for the different types of greens. But what does this mean for us when we are purchasing new gear? This gives us a measuring tool to see if we want that particular color for our purposes.
What is Ranger Green and Olive Drab Green?
Before we find out what these colors actually are we first have to understand what they are used for. This allows us to make an informed decision about our choice.
When most people hear the word camouflage they might think of modern digital camo, woodland camo, or some combination of Bundeswehr or other foreign camouflage style.
However at its core, camouflage is designed to break up the human outline in the outdoors. Our body sticks out like a sore thumb in nature. We can easily recognize a human shape against a variety of backgrounds. So we have to make that shape different.
We do this with adding gear and different colorations to break up that rather uniform shape. This means that our choice of gear color has to match our environment to a point.
Before we get into the function of Ranger Green or Olive Drab let’s look at what they are.
*Three different Olive Drab Greens: OD #9, #3, #7. For more information read here.
Olive Drab is the quintessential “Military Green”. However it doesn’t necessarily tie down what it is or its hue.
Olive Drab came in a wide variety of colors from khaki to a dark rich green. These were the OD greens of just before World War 2 and on. This would have solidified a particular color for OD Green if it weren’t for the advancement of the US Military.
Olive Drab of Vietnam officially entered our psyche in 1952. The US Military had a standardized color for all branches for their utility uniforms. With the official designation being OG-107 in the catalogs for the polyester uniforms. A darker cotton version was referred to as OG-105.
As pictures and military surplus found their way into civilian hands, it resulted in a wide variety of shades due to how well worn those items were and photograph technology of the time.
This made everything from the neon-esque Camo Green of some A.L.I.C.E. equipment to the older WW2 era items “OD Green”.
For our uses today we will define OD Green as a standardized saturated green color with fairly brown tones.
While not widely used in the military, Ranger Green gives us a military-esque image. We immediately think of Army Rangers and other special forces units.
However it is merely a shade of green that is popularly offered through tactical gear producers. It falls closer to the darker brown end of the spectrum and tends to be darker than most OD Greens available.
It has significantly more brown than OD Green and is desaturated in nature. This brings it inline with more modern camouflage colors like Coyote Brown or similar khaki colors. It is more muted than some OD Greens with more of a gray tone.
This gray tone and desaturation play well with modern attempts to have very matte colors for gear to aid in camouflaging.
This brings us to the major considerations.
Aesthetics and Function
The two major needs that come with gear selection are function and aesthetics. In a perfect world we would just focus on function rather than how cool it might seem. But we have to deal with it either way.
For function both OD Green and Ranger Green fulfill a similar role. They help individuals blend into a green/gray environment better.
Out in areas where there is a lot of foliage, green tends to fit in. This all depends on where you are going to be wearing these colors.
*Photo is of a DSS Agent with Ranger Green shirt and Coyote Brown accessories.
OD Green can vary from producer to producer while Ranger Green tends to be a little more consistent. Ranger Green can fit into urban environments due to its gray-er undertones and muted nature.
OD Green doesn’t necessarily stick out in the city but it is much less “natural” there. OD Green can also fade in the field after prolonged use, which brings it closer to Ranger Green in color.
Ranger Green gets you there sooner and with a more consistent color overall.
Now for Aesthetics. Ranger Green is cool. There’s no getting around it. It gives us an opportunity to get modern equipment in a color that is reminiscent of the uniforms throughout most of the 20th Century.
OD Green on the other hand is a commonly made color but a lot of military surplus comes in some form of OD Green, especially from the Vietnam Era. This gives it a little more of a cool factor. Because there’s a certain aesthetic that comes with Vietnam-sque gear.
This might be from 80s action movies to the highly televised nature of the conflict. It’s one of the major conflicts that we can go back and easily watch interviews and combat footage from people on the ground.
Together they make a very complementary pairing especially if the OD Green is on the darker side. In reality, choose which one looks better to you. They are both solid colors (literally) and do well in a decent number of environments.
If you want something new and consistent try Ranger Green. If you want a more classic look, go for OD Green.
When it comes down to which looks better, it is all a matter of preference. I personally love a good OD Green color. I find it fashionable and it works in the environments I generally find myself in.
That being said I would explore more Ranger Green gear when I can since it does better in both urban, night, and rural environments.
If you want a nice consistent color, go for Ranger Green. It matches modern gear better and pairs well with other popular colors that are now dominating the industry (Coyote Brown, etc.).
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