LEO tips on wearing "bullet proof" vests.

This is a discussion on LEO tips on wearing "bullet proof" vests. within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Originally Posted by kb2wji The moisture wicking shirt does not make you sweat more, it just pulls the sweat to dryer areas more efficiently. You ...

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Thread: LEO tips on wearing "bullet proof" vests.

  1. #16
    VIP Member Array GhostMaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kb2wji View Post
    The moisture wicking shirt does not make you sweat more, it just pulls the sweat to dryer areas more efficiently. You sweat just about the same in Florida as you do in Arizona. But in Florida the humidity does not allow the sweat to evaporate off your body, so you are literally drenched in sweat. In the dry heat, your sweat evaporates, keeping you dryer. This doesnt mean you sweat any less.

    Moisture wicking shirts are designed to move water (sweat) away from the wet areas, and into the dry areas (called capillary action). It's not perfect, but it helps. Wet cotton just stays wet. If its even the slightest bit wrinkled (and it will be under a vest) it will create little tiny wet wrinkles that will not only give you pressure spots, but also a higher probability for those little heat rash lines. Both make it very uncomfortable. It's the same for my motorcycle under-shorts. If I wear cotton boxers, my butt is on fire after about an hour or two. If I wear a compression type short that does not wrinkle at all, I wont get those little wrinkly pressure spots.

    Forget the body armor... go for a jog on a really hot day wearing a cotton t-shirt. Then swap it out for a moisture wicking "athletic" type t-shirt. You'll feel more comfortable and dry if you ditch the cotton, even though you aren't sweating any less. The added bonus of a tight, wrinkle free fit under body armor seals the deal for me
    Agreed...moisture wicking materials are best for wear as opposed to the cotton T's. You also want to make sure you have a proper fitting vest. The one you are issued likely came from someone else and was fitted for them. Even if you vest is new, you can have the carrier and vest fitted which adds some comfort to them. Improperly fitted vest will rub, pinch, and itch you all day. You can even have extra velcro retaining straps sewn on (as I did) to help mold it to you better. Best of luck, and most of all, WEAR IT. I got hit by a vehicle working traffic once and the vest I was wearing absorbed a large portion of the energy. The ER doctor told me if I had not been wearing it I would likely have had interal damage and bleeding.
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  3. #17
    Distinguished Member Array Chaplain Scott's Avatar
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    I'm not a great fan of polyester, but I must say that after a shift in this summer heat (well, for Montana it IS hot, but I'll admit, not like other places around), with the UnderArmor heat gear t-shirt, I haven't actually feel most of the sweat until I peel the Armor off...........and about the sniveling comment, I think that Spuk was teasing rather than serious (just my read of him)
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  4. #18
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    Great information gentlemen (even you Spuk). I'm gonna look into some of those options. I'm lucky that I don't have to wear it for a 12 hour shift wearing a black uniform like our PD does, but I am content on wearing it when I'm on "duty". Comforting it is, comfortable it may never be. It is a hand me down vest and a new one (complete with my measurements) has been ordered but not received yet. I'm sure it will still be a sweat fest during the spring, summer, and fall for me but hopefully it'll fit better. I know you LEO get paid and get a lot of personal satisfaction from your work, but I want to say thanks. You probably hardly ever hear that from most of the people that you deal with.
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  5. #19
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    LOL I was kidding... to a point. A ballistic resistant vest is uncomfortable to wear. No matter what you do. My experience is that for a vest to be most effective it should be worn under the uniform shirt. I began wearing an old second chance given to me by my mother in law. This was in 1980. Heavy, stiff, and hot. But I wore it every tour. The city began buying everyone their personal vests some years later. The manufacture came in and fitted the vests to individual officers. They were a lot thinner, and not quite so uncomfortable. We recieved new vests about 6 years later, and new about every six years. My advice is to A) wear the vest, B) get two or three carriers, C) bring at least two clean cotton tee shirts to work every day. Then stop the snivelling and wear the vest!

    Our old vests were re-cycled to poorer off shore police departments. One year they went to Puerto-Rico.

  6. #20
    VIP Member Array joker1's Avatar
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    Yeah I don't ever expect to forget I'm wearing it, just looking for something to possibly help with sweating other than a balanced diet and excercise.
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  7. #21
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    As some have pointed out, there just is no way to make wearing body armor pleasant in hot weather. I agree with the wearing of wicking synthetic fabrics; they don't retain moisture and dry exponentially quicker than cotton. I personally wear Under Armor Heat Gear Compression t-shirts. At the end of the day, everyone is going to have their own favorite. Regardless of what you do to "cope", just remember it's better to have sweat running down your back and chest than blood. WEAR YOUR VEST, EVERY TIME, WITHOUT FAIL.
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  8. #22
    Distinguished Member Array 5lima30ret's Avatar
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    I wore one for 20+ years on 12 hr shifts in hot humid FL. They are miserable to wear in that type climate. In the winter they are not bad. I tried all types and brands of undershirts. The wife beaters definitely don't work. I found that that most of the moisture wicking shirts worked about the same. One suggestion I would make is don't cinch the side vecro straps too tight. A gap of dead space between your chest and shirt will allow a very slight amount of ventilation. One other suggestion is to frequently wash the vest carrier (not the panels) in fabric softener. Most guys I worked with (myself included) developed what looked like acne and blisters on our chests from wearing the vests for long periods of time. Good luck!
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  9. #23
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    I was an inner city medic wearing one every day and night for years. Nothing ever made them comfortable. A few things that helped:
    1- Thicker than normal T-Shirt: Wicking is not going to carry moisture from under the vest out side to the the edges as well as many would have you think, but any marginal gain is worth while. Cotton may not wick---but in the event of a fire/flash over, natural materials will not melt to you like poly will. My best under shirts were actually light weight wool. Wool wicks well and stays temperature neutral when wet, plus it does not melt in a fire.
    2-use skin treatment--sub-clinical fungus infections and bacterial irritation are the norm--diaper rash cream works really well, so does skin treatments used by cyclists and triathletes (chaffing cream, etc.) powder packs up and cakes up as it get's wet---but a good zinc containing powder will help some as well.
    3- wash the carrier--get extra when you get the vest--they are worth it...wash them, treat them. I found that when I washed them, I needed to avoid fabric softeners as that tended to just create reactions and irritate my skin. Just regular detergents also seemed to create additional irritation as they did not wash out well. I used sensitve skin detergent and put the carrier through an extra rinse cycle to flush out any extra chemicals (think hunting gear and getting out all soaps and softeners for smell, only this is to prevent skin irritation.)
    4- Please wear the thing---the night you need it--it has to be there.

  10. #24
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    I just wear a normal tee shirt
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  11. #25
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    Most of the time I wear a cool shirt brand under the vest. Our total black uniforms don't help either in summer sun. Stay in the vehicle as much as possible with the AC vents pointed at you ..
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  12. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by joker1 View Post
    Let me start by saying I am not a sworn LEO. I am a volunteer with my local PD or police auxiliary. We are issued vests, duty belts, cuffs, OC spray, etc. I'm fairly new but really enjoying it so far.

    I could lose a few pounds without any interest in finding them so that is part of my problem. Summer in Kansas is generally brutal and with the unusual amount of rain we've had lately humidity is also an issue. I consider myself lucky in that I only have to wear the darn thing a few times a month and generally in the evening or nighttime hours. I feel like I wear it too tight so I may need to work on that but damn I get sweaty just putting the dang thing on. I have worn cotton "wifebeater" shirts (not enough protection for skin in shoulder area), cotton t-shirts, moisture wicking t-shirts, and in the winter I wore a long sleeve compression shirt.

    My question is what type of garment do you find best for wearing under your vest?
    The Army has a special "combat shirt" to wear under their armor. I sugest you google the civilian equivalent.

  13. #27
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    working navy security in nevada we had to wear them. they definitely arent any fun and you're gonna be sweaty, but it is there to save you live so i just learned to deal with it. we had to wear them with out Navy BDUs (NWU) which means pants, long sleeve blouse, and the navy under shirts. i wish we could have been able to try to where navy blue under armor shirts but we had uniform inspections every morning. you get more used to it after time but if you have the option i would try some of the under armor products, they work great.
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  14. #28
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    If your new vest doesn't come with a second carrier, buy one separately. You should change that out and launder it regularly. My Safariland IIIa came with two.
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  15. #29
    VIP Member Array GhostMaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5lima30ret View Post
    I wore one for 20+ years on 12 hr shifts in hot humid FL. They are miserable to wear in that type climate. In the winter they are not bad. I tried all types and brands of undershirts. The wife beaters definitely don't work. I found that that most of the moisture wicking shirts worked about the same. One suggestion I would make is don't cinch the side vecro straps too tight. A gap of dead space between your chest and shirt will allow a very slight amount of ventilation. One other suggestion is to frequently wash the vest carrier (not the panels) in fabric softener. Most guys I worked with (myself included) developed what looked like acne and blisters on our chests from wearing the vests for long periods of time. Good luck!
    Yep! The "Vest-Rash" will catch most cops. One cop I knew rigged an vacuum cleaner hose up to his AC vents and ran the opposite end down the front of his vest. It kind of looked weird in the cruiser, but it worked very well.
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  16. #30
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    Well I'm not an LEO, I've got plenty of experience running, jumping, and all that fun stuff with "bullet proof" vest. Or more specifically military grade sappy plates and the tighter to your body the better. feel like you can't breath? good and well you'll get used to it, go out with that gear on and train, run around A LOT. Run in the heat with it all on, that's how you get used to it. That's what we do in the marines with our gear. I'm pretty sure my vest with plates weighed somewhere around 70 lbs (size xl). We used to curl, and do other exercises with them during deployments and what have you to make sure we stayed in shape.

    Also lets not call them bullet proof, hence the " " above. There are plenty of rounds capable of going through them.

    edit: the weight I mentioned is give or take based on the gear that was also attached to the vest at the time. by itself was probably closer to 50.
    Secret Spuk likes this.

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