Building a Camo UV Tester

Watch the YouTube Video on this right here:

Hunting Camo and Gear

For a while now I have been trying to design a visual light and uv light reflection test for hunting camo and I finally have what we will call the Camo Matrix White and UV light reflection test 1.0. 


This explanation is a prequel to future tests so that if you wish to know how I obtained future results, this video can be reviewed for a better understanding.  I am no scientist and that there are probably may things that can be improved to make this test even better.  If you have constructive criticism, please make a comment, I welcome it.  


It was a challenge to produce a testing environment that would both test each fabric and pattern equally and allow me to reproduce lighting intensities that might skew the results from one pattern to the next. But after a few tries and some changes, this is what I came up with. 


First, I built a box that is UV dead (basically flat black paint – you can see in this clip that when the UV light is on the white UV brightened fabric is glows yet the surrounding area is UV dead)

IN the box a flash light cradle is secured where I can place the light focal point in about the same location each time.  The light shines onto a surface positioned at 45 degrees from the light source.  This surface then reflects light at a light meter, where I can record the intensity of the light.


Let me talk about the light sources for a moment.


By white light, I am referring to the light emitting from a rechargeable lithium battery flashlight and by UV, I am referring to the light spectrum that we cannot see yet deer and other animals without a UV filter see which allows them to see much better than us humans in low light settings. My specific light produces a UV light at 380 Nm and is powered by a 15w rechargeable lithium-ion battery.


I wanted rechargeable lithium lights specifically for the UV light since producing true UV light (and not just something like a blacklight, which is white lite through a violet filter) takes more power to produce a true UV light wave.

The test procedure is simple.

For each test I will establish a base by producing a starting light measurement of direct light from the white light and UV light by placing a mirror on my reflective surface and recording the light intensity.  I also record a light measurement for no light.  This give me a top and bottom number for my brightest and darkest measurement, then I record the reflected light off of a UV brightened fabric with something like a cotton t-shirt.  Then the same measurement is taken from a black cotton t-shirt.  These numbers are crucial before a test is performed so that for some reason, if something isn’t the same as the previous test, light battery power or light refraction in the location I am running the test at, then it gives me a new set of numbers that my reflection percentages are generated from.  Each light measurement is taken 3 times and the average of the 3 is used.  Most of the time, the numbers are consonant.  I record the light intensity using a camera light meter that can tell me the number of foot candles or lumens the meter is receiving.


The first numbers I record give me a direct light number so I can measure the intensity of my light.  If it is to far off my previous direct light numbers, something is off.  The second numbers, from the white t-shirt fabric, give me a high range for a bright fabric, then the black cotton t-shirt gives me a low end of a non-uv fabric.  When I record the light reflection readings off of the camo patterns and fabrics, I produce a percentage of how much more white light and UV light reflect off of the camo.  How does this help?  The higher the reflective white and uv light, the more likely you are to pop out to an animal.

For this introductory video to this test I ran two camo patterns (more will come in the future and results will be tallied and placed on the Camo matrix website), Mossy Oak Break Up Country cotton hoodie and Real Tree edge Softshell windproof and water resistant 88% poly 12% spandex jacket.


Before we talk about results, lets talk about the light measurement results – For simplicity I am using the Exposure Value on my light meter, which can be converted to Lumens or foot candles but for this test, I just want to know what percentage we are at on a scale of bright white t-shirt (the brightest thing we can wear, to a black UV dead t-shirt (the darkest we can wear). For this, doing a simple percentage calculation of our Camo reflection values as they compare to out bright white and UV dead numbers. two

For some of these numbers make sense to you, I measured the bright direct sunlight, this gave me a result of 17.5 Exposure Value or EV.


The direct white light from my testing flashlight is 9.2 EV


The direct UV light measurement is 3.2 EV


No light source measures an EV of 2.3.


These base numbers are used to produce a top and bottom range for full light and no light so we can see where our results land in relation to these extremes.

For white light

Bright White T-Shirt reflection result is 4.7EV or 34% of the light

The Black UV dead t-shirt reflection result is 2.7 or 4.3% reflection

For the UV light

Bright White T-Shirt reflection result is 4.7EV or 267% of the light (note, the glow really brightened the light in the entire area so you can imagine how you may stand out).

The Black UV dead t-shirt reflection result is 2.4 or about 11% reflection

Even though the black cotton t-doesn’t glow, it still does reflect some light.

Onto the two camo patterns:

In White Light

The Mossy Oak had a reflection percentage of 11.6 percent

The real tree edge had a reflection of percentage of 13 percent

This is not much difference.  This reflection is probably coming down the fabric surface, where the MO isn’t wind proof or water resistant and the real tree fabric is.

In UV light

The Mossy Oak had a reflection percentage of 22 percent

The real tree edge had a reflection of percentage of 33 percent

This percentage also has to do with the fabric, but also is a result of the lighter coloring in the pattern.  As we saw in with the t-shirts, the white was way more reflective that the black, so if a pattern has more lights in it, the light bouncing off of it, will be greater.  I also think that the mostly polyester shell has a lot to do with the increase in UV reflection. 

Now that we have discussed the test, I will produce a deeper dive into each pattern and its results so hit the subscribe and watch for these videos as I teste one pattern at a time and post the results on the Camo Matrix website so we can all compare how each pattern that I have on hand fairs.  It may help you determine a camo pattern change that just might give you that extra edge we are all looking for.

Hunting Camo and Gear

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