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Backpack Body Armor Options

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Backpack armor is a fairly new body armor category, but it has become the go-to solution for on-the-move safety from unforeseen threats in the workplace, schools and everyday travel. Before the rise of backpack body armor, people would use standard soft or hard body armor plates and carrying them in their backpacks. Nowadays there are various backpack body armor options that come in different sizes, materials and threat levels. So what is backpack body armor,and is it different than regular body armor? What level of protection do you need and how do you use it?

Let’s take a closer look at backpack body armor types and options.

What Is Backpack Body Armor?

Backpack body armor is a ballistic body armor panel specifically made for wearing inside of a backpack. The body armor panel provides protection to the wearer against certain gunfire rounds, shrapnel or other projectiles. Backpack body armor panels may be attached to a backpack or may be separate so that it can easily be removed or replaced.

Backpack body armor panels are compatible with any backpack that can hold them, although many backpacks now include a back compartment that can house body armor panels, bladders or laptops. These bags are great options to use with the right fitting backpack armor. On the other hand, not all bags have a good place to put backpack armor panels.

Backpack body armor is the perfect addition to any hiking kit, bug-out bag or3 day assault pack. Why not add a pound of weight pounds in case of shrapnel, gunfire or projectiles? Your safety is worth the weight.

Is Backpack Body Armor Different than Regular Body Armor?

Although backpack body armor panels are specifically made for this type of use, they don’t come in the highest threat levels possible. If this is important, you could decide to go old school and simply add regular body armor to your backpack. For example, a good option would be Spartan Armor SystemsLevel IV Multi Hit Ceramic Rifle Rated Body Armor Plates, which weigh 8.3 pounds each but offer the highest protection level available. Or for slightly less protection and less weight, you can also consider theAR550 Level III+ Armor Shooters Cut with rifle-rated protection.

Why Do You Need Backpack Armor?

Body armor sales tend to spike after mass shootings. That’s because regardless of where you are or what you do, there is a risk of unforeseen danger. Backpack body armor is gaining popularity among prepared parents and adult students alike. Not to mention that many government personnel, top executives, celebrities and those in the public eye may choose backpack armor for the protection it brings without being conspicuous. It is a convenient, affordable piece of personal protective equipment that can come in handy in situations where you least expect a threat.

How to Use Backpack Body Armor

Wearing backpack armor will protect you as you leave a dangerous situation or find better cover. It is built to cover your vital organs and keep you alive as you find safety. If your backpack is off, you can use it as a shield. Hold it in front of your vital organs or crouch down to cover as much of yourself as possible.

Selecting Your Armor

A lot goes into selecting the right backpack body armor, just likechoosing the right standard body armor. How much protection do you want? Which type is most effective against the most common threats? When it comes to self protection, you can’t ask enough questions. Hopefully, we can help you sort it all out here.

What Body Armor Threat Level Do You Need?

To determine the level of threat protection a body armor plate can provide, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) designates it a safety rating based on their standards and regulations. It is critical to ensure your backpack body armor is NIJ certified. NIJ certified backpack armor plates are tested the same as basic body armor plates that are worn on the chest, back and sides. You can read more about the NIJ testing process inthis blog.

NIJ Certified Body Armor Threat Levels

NIJ certified body armor is proven to protect against the following threat levels:

Level IIA is tested to withstand up to 9mm and .40 S&W ammo fired from short barrel Handguns and will not provide protection against rifles.

Level II is tested to withstand up to 9mm and .357 Mag ammo fired from short barrel

Handguns and will not provide protection against rifles.

Level III+ is tested to withstand up to .357 SIG and .44 Mag ammo fired from longer barrel handguns and will not provide protection against rifles. Note that Level III+ is not an official NIJ level, but is independently tested to exceed the NIJ Level III designation.

Level III is tested to withstand up to 7.62mm FMJ lead core rifle ammo.

Level IV is tested to withstand up to .30cal steel core armor piercing rifle ammo.

What About Weight and Size?

Most people purchasing body armor look for the greatest compromise between a high protection level and the weight. Some hard body armor can weigh more than ten pounds, while some soft body armor panels can weigh as little as one pound. These soft body armor plates, of course, also provide much less protection. Lightweight options are great for low-threat environments, children’s backpacks and for those who can’t support the extra weight that hard body armor provides.

When it comes to personal protection, size definitely matters. You should choose backpack armor that is large enough to cover your vital organs. Of course, it also has to fit inside your bag or backpack. But if it comes down to your safety or a smaller backpack, we recommend sizing up your backpack. A 10"x13" panel can provide protection for most individuals and will also give you a large surface area to hide behind when using it as a shield.

Soft or Hard Backpack Body Armor?

Soft armor is much lighter while being more flexible and concealable. Again, this also means that soft body armor won’t provide adequate protection during many possible scenarios. Soft body armor will only protect against certain handgun rounds at lower velocities. Soft body armor plates also have a much shorter shelf life than hard body armor plates.

A great option for soft backpack body armor is Spartan Armor SystemsLevel IIIA Backpack Armor Plates. These plates are 11” x 14”, weighing only 1lb 9.4 oz with a slim .35" profile. These are perfect for children, low-threat situations and for added concealment.

Hard body armor is made of steel or composite/ceramic materials. This provides much higher protection, up to Level IV which is the most protection currently available. As mentioned previously, hard body armor is much heavier and less concealable than soft body armor.

Need a backpack armor system with heavy duty stopping power? Check out Spartan Armor SystemsArmaply™ AR650 Steel Core Armor 10" x 13" Panel. These high protection plates weigh 8 lbs each with a slim .3" profile.

Another option is wearing a soft body armor plate behind a hard body armor plate. This is often referred to as wearing ICW or “in conjunction with.” This can offer optimal protection and lessen the effects of impact to the wearer.

Backpack Armor Maintenance

Check your backpack body armor and its integrity often. Make sure it is placed correctly in your backpack and undamaged. Certain backpack armor, mainly composite/ceramic and Kevlar, can be weakened by humid temperatures and precipitation. Body armor plates also have an expiration date listed by its manufacturer. Most manufacturers put a five-year expiration date on their panels, but look at the tag to be certain.

When you think about the pros and cons of owning backpack armor, it all comes down to having the protection you need when you need it most. At Spartan Armor Systems, we work to keep you safe.


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