The main variant is a four-colour woodland pattern with sand, green, brown and black, there is also a two-colour desert variant in tan and brown.
A general issue British DPM was developed in the 1960s, and in 1966 the Army introduced for the first time a camouflage field uniform, the Smock, combat, 1966 Pattern and Trousers, combat, 1966 Pattern. These replaced the plain olive green 1960 Pattern Smock and Trousers which had replaced the Second World War-era khaki Battledress. In doing this the British army was the first to adopt a camouflage uniform universally.
The 1966 pattern DPM design used the four basic western European temperate colours of black, dark brown, mid-green and a dark sand to make a very effective camouflage that has survived in its basic design, with slight changes to the colours, until current times.
Before the 1966 Pattern equipment had reached all units a slightly revised design of garments and DPM fabric were introduced in 1968 as the 1968 Pattern range. A Hood, combat, DPM, was added to the range, fastened as required to the back of the Smock with three buttons.
The 1966 Pattern DPM fabric was changed very little for the 1968 issue, though it seems that some 1968 Pattern garments, notably trousers, were made in the 1966 Pattern fabric.
The pattern changes slightly with subsequent issues; 1984 Pattern has fewer dots and the brown is much darker, 1990 and later has a band of new shapes and is smaller, 1994 has an orangey colour instead of a tan. DPM items in the Combat Soldier 95 (CS95) clothing system have similar colours to the 1966 uniform.
Although slight changes have been made to DPM and the colours, the pattern is easy to recognise. There are also jungle versions of DPM where the colours are brighter, on one variation the tan is darker than the green. Desert DPM is only two shades because a four-colour desert version was used by some Middle Eastern countries, notably Iraq.
From 1990 a system of Personal Load Carrying Equipment (PLCE) has been used, initially produced in olive green . The olive type was quickly replaced in production by a DPM version, and now almost all British issue webbing and rucksacks are DPM.
Issued DPM equipment is IRR (Infra-red Reflective) coated. This coating has a specific reflective wavelength in order to blend in with natural colours in the infra-red light spectrum. This reduces the visibility of soldiers to night vision devices, which detect infra-red light, as trees and other green plants reflect deep red and infra-red light (the Wood effect).