Custom soft armor is designed specifically to fit its owner. Whether you’re ordering soft armor in bulk for your law enforcement team or purchasing a set for yourself, knowing what factors to consider can be the difference in a second-skin and uncomfortable gear. Women often have a particularly tough time finding well-fitting, soft armor.
Here are four things to know when purchasing soft armor for women.
- Check for quality
Women’s torsos are shorter and generally protrude more than men’s which has led some armor manufacturers to produce women-only gear. If soft armor is made with bust cups – either shaped or sewn in – it may have vulnerabilities where the seams meet or in the actual material used to create the chest cavity. Female body armor wearers deserve the same level of protection as their colleagues, regardless of gender. When purchasing soft body armor, always check to make sure the gear’s quality has been tested and rated for duty.
- Gaining or losing weight means new gear
Gaining and losing weight is a fact of life. Particularly before or after a pregnancy, female body armor users may find their physique has shifted or changed size. As a general rule, if you’ve gained or lost 5-10% of your body weight based on when you purchased body armor, get a new fit.
- Tightness doesn’t equal protection
Women have a tendency to expect their body armor to fit snuggly like athletic wear. Armor actually functions best and provides better protection when it can move a bit. The best way to measure for women’s body armor is to take a deep breath and hold it; the extra breadth you give your armor here will give you room to move, particularly in the chest.
- Material is critical
The unique form of the female body demands a flexible fabric. Materials like woven Kevlar and nylon provide much-needed protection while being malleable enough to be comfortable. It’s important for women to consider plate placement, too, and whether or not the weight load of a specific piece of armor renders it uncomfortable. A vest’s shoulder and side straps should provide enough slack to accommodate the curvature of a woman’s body.
Vel Tye is a tactical gear designer and manufacturer based out of Virginia. Call us today to talk about your options for female body armor protection.