All body armor used in vests and other protective gear is stamped with an expiration date. It’s important for you to know why and when your armor expires so you ensure your gear is always performing at its peak to keep you safe.
Why Does Body Armor Expire?
Like any chemical compound, the ones used to make up the panels inside your vest will eventually degrade. This is true whether the vest is made of Kevlar, a composite, or a combination of industrial fibers. Of course, there are a variety of factors that influence exactly how fast the typical body armor breaks down, including exposure to moisture, UV light, and overall use. A vest that’s worn every day in a humid environment is going to expire sooner than a vest that’s only worn on weekends in a dry climate. Body armor won’t suddenly go bad on its expiration date, but expired vests aren’t rated to protect you with the same consistency and reliability as non-expired vests.
How Long Does Body Armor Last?
That greatly depends on what it’s made of, how it was manufactured, and how it’s used. On average, most body armor comes with an expiration date around five years after it’s made. Soft armor deteriorates much faster than hard armor and is particularly vulnerable to heat and wetness. If soft armor ever becomes completely saturated with water, it should be replaced immediately. It’s essential to always follow the expiration guidelines provided by the manufacturer regardless of whether you think your vest should last longer; it could be a matter of life and death.
Why Shouldn’t You Wear Expired Body Armor?
Expired body armor may not provide adequate protection against deadly force. No one wants to find out the hard way that an expired vest is no longer viable. Although an expired vest may not be penetrable by a bullet or blade, its internal components are more likely to warp, crack, or dent, causing serious bodily harm to the wearer. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to body armor. Replace according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Vel Tye manufactures tactical vests that use both hard and soft armor. . If you have questions about your expired equipment, the lifespan of your current gear, or want to discuss upgrading your protective arsenal, give our team a call. We’re experts at keeping you prepared.