Another way you can go is to buy regular OD fatigues (jungle) and spray black spray paint in blotches or in stripes all over the fatigues. This works extremely well in my AO in northern Ohio. MACVSOG also did the same. Just IMHO.
While I was in SERE school, most the people there were in ABUs, we had a couple guys in ACUs, and a small handful in multicam. Come evasion phase, it was no contest. One guy from my element had an instructor come withing 15 feet of him and didn't see him. He was wearing multicams. Pretty much everyone in ABUs got caught at least once and the ACUs are only moderately better than ABUs.
For the Late Spring to Early Fall in Minnesota I have ATACS-FG except for my Plate Carrier which is currently OD Green. I will soon be painting my Plate Carrier to better match my ATACS-FG camouflage. I will use brown and tan Krylon spray paint with stencils and a few leafs (not over doing it) to help create a natural look. For Mid-Late Fall I would like to get to get ATACS-AU but I will have to make due with my Flat Dark Earth and Browns until then.
I would say Multicam Tropic for your environment Kev.
ACU gravel-flage is not suitable for use as camouflage, as others have noted.
That said, the FLC itself is solid colored, not patterned, which is less of a deal breaker. If you go with the blue-gray FLC (note: way better vests/chest rigs out there, unless the FLC is dirt cheap, you can do much better), just don't put any ACU pattern pouches on it.
I live in similar foliage to Texas, you might want to consider both MarPat and Multicam. Marpat is great for late Spring to early fall, but Multicam is going to work much better once the leaves have started to turn.
For forest? Multicam over UCP ("ACU") every fracking time.
I've spent a fair amount of time wearing various camo patterns in woods. Including US military issue OD, ERDL (Highland and Lowland), Over Whites, Night Digital, RDF, BDU (Woodland and Desert), ACU, & Multicam. This in a professional capacity against folks who were looking for me.
UCP was not designed for woods/jungle/croplands. In point of fact, it sucks for those environments. Worse than almost any other camo pattern extant and (surprisingly) even worse than solid colors like OD, Coyote, or Feldgrau. It's too bright for those vegetated backgrounds. It stands out badly at night to the MK I Eyeball. Not as good under NVGs as the predecessor Woodland BDU pattern.
After some time in the field, UCP/ACU will get tinted by local soil/vegetation stains and blend in a little better. But the same applies to any other pattern or color as well. So that's not really a feature, just a natural function of clothing getting very soiled by plant and dirt stains.
The UCP pattern does work in some places. Rocky terrain & mountainous exposures above/away from the tree line...and urban concrete jungles.
But generally a failure at camouflaging anyone in vegetation. The greener the background, the worse UCP is.
Note the contrast and tone differences between the above photos of "ACU" in the woods vs the effectiveness of non-digital ERDL depicted in the below photo:
Today, the only real advantage to the UCP/ACU pattern is that it's available as cheap surplus. Because the Army ditched it. Because it was mostly a failure as an effective combat camouflage pattern. But very low price is often a pretty convincing argument. Since the pattern is currently very affordable, you can also afford to experiment and dye it darker with greens & browns. This will make it somewhat more practically useful in the field, but you will kill the limited IR protection of the factory fabric.
With prices slashed, UCP uniforms are great candidates for home dye jobs. But if you are trying to dye tactical nylon (like an FLC), you really need to use an acid-free dye (available from crafter outlets). As opposed to everyday RIT dye found on your supermarket laundry supply shelves, which doesn't work very well for vests, pouches, and other nylon gear. Acid free dye will actually impregnate the new color into factory dyed nylon gear.
Keep in mind that, as with previous uniform patterns, a day will come when virgin ACUs command collector prices. Down the road (in just a few years), the surplus supply will dwindle... and prices will climb. Just as they did with original OD jungles, ERDL, RDF, and even woodland/desert BDUs and Night Digital. If you're willing to store some new sets away, along with matching load bearing gear, it'll one day increase in value. 'Cause nobody is going to bother to make it again. And the retro crowd will be looking for them. You heard it from me here first...
With regard to forested areas and commonly available US patterns, the choices are going to be between Woodland BDU, Multicam (or the current OCP version), and Woodland MARPAT. Which one works best for your area is going to depend upon your particular terrain, seasons, and "forest". Drier climates, sparser woods, or more open brush country will usually favor Multicam. Darker coniferous or mixed coniferous/deciduous forests favor BDU woodland. Jungle or verdant coastal growth regions might favor MARPAT Woodland.
I agree, anything other than ACU, the road is about the only thing that blends with ACU. I think some new surplus bandoliers are the only thing I have in ACU. All of my camo is in Multicam, Flecktarn, and some Alpenflage. You wanna see some killer camo, look at the Sitka or Leo Kohler Phantomleaf. I don't think they have any plate carriers in those colors though.
Since UCP is available for cheap and dyes well, for dense vegetation you can use green RIT dye to dye UCP to your environmental needs. That being said my carrier is in Forest green (thanks RIT dye) and my chest rig that I have over top of that is Woodland. Depending on the environment I am in I wear either Woodland, Multicam, or OD Green BDUs, hat and gloves (helmet as dictated by “mission” with multicam cover”
) and OD boots. It tends to blend in to a wide range if environments and break up my figure. I did have to be unique with Rhodie Brushstroke pouches and belt for my battle belt though.
RIT dye tends to ruin IR materials like in UCP surplus gear though so keep that in mind.