Canada's desire for a new soldier system dates back to November 1988 and closely follows efforts in many NATO countries. The first research effort, called Integrated Protective Clothing and Equipment (IPCE) Technology Demonstration was initiated in 1995 but then was cancelled, due to high systems cost and failure to meet the majority of the requirements. Ongoing operations in the mid 1990s led to the creation of the Clothe the Soldier (CTS) Project, which directly addressed the NATO soldier system capability areas of survivability and sustainability. The Canadian Disruptive Pattern was a part of ongoing research and implemented during the Clothe the Soldier Project (CTS). In development for the better part of a decade, the pattern comes in three varieties: temperate woodland (TW), arid region (AR), and winter/arctic (WA). The temperate woodland pattern became the standard issue for the Army in 2002, with the Air Force following suit in 2004. Uniforms and equipment in CADPAT material replaced the olive green material in use since the early 1960s.
Some civilian firms are licensed to sell clothing and accessories using CADPAT-like material (though not the same IR-defeating type used by the CF), as long as the patterns do not match official CF uniform and equipment patterns. These are commercially available from a wide variety of sources.
Temperate woodland CADPAT TW has four specific colours — light green, dark green, brown, and black — and was first introduced in 1996 on the helmet cover for the new CG634 helmet then coming into service. At the same time, the pattern was also introduced on a new soldier's individual camouflage net. The CADPAT TW uniform allows Canadian soldiers protection from observation by the naked eye and night vision devices.
Concurrent with the trials of CADPAT TW, work was carried out to identify a uniform for operations in desert, near desert, and savannah environmental conditions. This three-colour pattern, known as CADPAT arid regions (AR), incorporates three different colours of brown. The CADPAT design for arid regions has been approved, and the transfer of this digital technology is ongoing to the textiles industry. CADPAT AR also features two additional arm pockets and Velcro on the arms compared to the TW uniform. In light of the deployment of the Immediate Reaction Force to Afghanistan, the CADPAT AR project was expedited with the intent that it would be issued to soldiers in summer 2002.
Winter/arctic The winter/arctic pattern was introduced as an upgrade to the current monochrome winter whites to further enhance the Canadian soldier's camouflage capability by day and night. It includes near infra-red (NIR) technology.
Urban Defence Research and Development Canada based at CFB Suffield (DRDC-S) has a requirement to develop a new urban pattern for the Canadian Forces based on the three major metropolitan areas of Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. This new pattern is known as the Canadian urban environment pattern (CUEPAT).
According to the advance contract award notice, "The current CBR [chemical, biological and radiological] individual protective equipment (IPE) used by the Canadian military is provided in a woodland [CADPAT TW] or desert [CADPAT AR] camouflage. A camouflage suited to the Canadian urban environment is required when the military operates in urban terrain." Some even suggested it could replace CADPAT TW as the default pattern for Navy and even Air Force personnel wearing the standard combat uniform or the Navy's boarding party uniform (which is presently blue or tan). This suggestion is supported by the fact that grey is neutral and is also the basic colour of ships and airport aprons (although little is known about the new pattern, grey is the basic colour of most urban camouflage and is expected to be CUEPAT's basic colour). Green is also traditionally associated with the Army and rarely with the Navy or Air Force, which might become a source of confusion. Navy personnel wear navy combat dress when aboard a ship or on a naval base, CADPAT TW combat uniforms being worn only when operating with the Army or Air Force (especially the "purple trades").