If you aren’t prepared, body armor can get uncomfortable if you wear it for even 20 minutes. Whether it’s the plates rubbing against your torso or the increase in temperature, the discomfort can easily distract you from your core business. If you’re security personnel, you must be alert and ready to swing into action should anything arise — not distracted trying to fix or adjust your body armor. Here are some tips to help you wear your gear more comfortably.
Why It Gets Uncomfortable to Wear Body Armor
To properly understand what makes plate carriers or body armor uncomfortable, you must first understand how they work and what they consist of.
Body armor can be made from hard or soft material and is designed to absorb a bullet or any other projectile’s impact. A plate carrier has thick straps with pockets, which you can fill with rigid plates to offer protection against rifle shots. The armor plates you put into the vests can weigh up to 20 pounds. For proper protection, body armor must be secured firmly against the body to permit movements like jumping and running.
Considering how tightly you have to wear these vests and the durations over which you need them, body armor can easily become uncomfortable. Their bulkiness and restrictive nature make it difficult to move your torso or even breathe. If not properly secured, they could also lead to chafing around your armpits and waist.
Body armor particularly increases your body temperature, reducing your comfort while moving around or doing activities like shooting at a range.
General Comfort Considerations
Now that you know where the discomfort from body armor and plate carriers originates, let’s look at how to reduce it.
These tactical pieces are made to protect your life first. According to the Florida Sheriffs Association, they have saved the lives of officers on over 3,100 occasions since their introduction in the 1970s. Comfort and other desirable features are secondary, but vital.
Before you get more accessories for your gear or replace it, consider the adjustments below for increased comfort:
Assess Your Safety Needs
Ballistic armor is quite heavy. The more protection you incorporate, the heavier it gets. Before inserting your regular plates into your vest, think about whether you need that degree of protection for your day’s engagements.
Level II armor is relatively lightweight and comfortable for most people and suitable for smaller rounds like those from a handgun. On the other hand, Level III plates designed for high-velocity rounds can weigh significantly more and are typically made of ceramics or pure steel.
In general, the more weight you get off your armor, the easier it is to carry it around for longer periods. Therefore, before putting on your armor, always take your time to assess whether you’ll need any additional equipment you think of carrying. If the situation you must attend to has the potential for fatal danger, every ounce of protection matters.
Wear the Appropriate Fit
Plate carriers and bulletproof vests come in different shapes, styles, and sizes. If you intend to wear your armor for long, it helps to have the correct size and style. If you have loose body armor, it will restrict your movements due to its bulkiness and constant shifting as you go about your tasks. That can cause great discomfort.
If your armor is too tight, you will have difficulty bending your waist to lift items off the ground. Breathing might also be challenging since pressure from your armor will make it harder for your lungs to expand as they should. A tight armor will also rub against other body parts, making you uncomfortable. You don’t want that, especially if you’re going to wear it all day.
Have Comfortable Attire Under Your Vest
The hard materials that make plate carriers and body armor can bruise and cut your skin, which can quickly become uncomfortable. The clothing beneath your gear significantly boosts your comfort, especially if you have to deal with body armor for extended durations.
Soft and breathable materials are the ideal under-armor wear due to their natural capacity to allow for circulation. They ensure you never get too hot from your gear.
Accessories and Adjustments for More Comfort
If you have tried all these basic steps to make your body armor more comfortable, but none seems to work right, you might want to change your gear or try out the accessories below:
When a bullet hits your armor plate, the energy released is sufficient to cause a shockwave behind your armor plate. Depending on your kind of armor, the shockwave could cause serious internal injuries. Trauma pads protect you from this trauma in case you take a shot.
In addition, they make it much more comfortable to wear your gear. Trauma pads are simply pillows between your body and body armor. If you presently run hard armor in your carriers, such as those made from ceramic or steel plates, you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t use trauma pads. The pads become more critical if you maintain uncomfortable positions for long or do sudden vigorous activities like running.
Despite the improved comfort trauma pads bring, they increase your carrier’s bulk. Nonetheless, wearing them is a worthy trade-off in most cases, considering their benefits.
Professional security and law enforcement personnel are frequent buyers of Maxx-Dri Vests. The vest comprises a strong mesh, which puts some space between your carrier or armor and your body. Its dual-chambered design facilitates ventilation and air movement. Also, the mesh is extremely light and does not retain moisture. It keeps you cool even in extreme heat conditions.
Besides improving ventilation, the Maxx-Dri vest acts as additional padding under your armor to reduce friction with your body and prevent chafing. Due to its stay-put grip design and side closures, you do not need to worry about the vest moving under your body. If it’s comfort you’re after, this is a body armor accessory you must have.
Your body armor plates contribute immensely to your comfort levels while wearing body armor. When getting your plates, you should give special thought to their curves. Single and flat curve plates are the most uncomfortable because they don’t conform to any body shape. They will make it harder for you to run, squat, or sit. Consider multi-curve designs that allow the plate to adjust better to your body structure. These make movements with your armor much more effortless.
Lighter Armor Plates
Since every industry is moving towards sustainability, body armor manufacturers are trying to increase your comfort while lowering their overall carbon footprint. One way of doing so is using less, or more eco-friendly, materials to make body armor. That gives you lighter plates that offer the same level of protection as well as safeguard your environment.
Although more studies are ongoing, lighter armor plates are already in circulation. If the available ones suit your safety needs, consider replacing your heavier ones, as these are easier to carry around for extended periods.
In summary, your body armor is meant to protect you from bullets and ballistics. That is why when choosing body armor, you should always place more emphasis on your safety than anything else. However, if you must wear your armor for long, comfort becomes a significant concern. You do not want to harm the same body you are trying to protect if you can help it. Adopt any combination of the above tips that work for you and stay comfortably safe.