Ask Tug: What Kind of Undershirt To Wear Under Kevlar Body Armor?

Be sure to checkout the additional reference articles at the bottom of this article.

kevlar-body-armorI thought I’d provide an update on a topic we started discussing back in September about wearing UnderArmour undershirts under police kevlar body armor.

The article started after I saw a blog post from a Roanoke, Virginia police officer who was describing his experience when wearing UnderArmour under his body armor.

We exchanged some emails and pulled together some great information.

In the process, Brian, a florida police officer joined the discussion to share some of his experiences with various undershirts.

Well he and I have been emailing back and forth and he recently sent me the following update:

Hey Tug,

Sorry you haven’t heard back from me in a while, work’s been hectic.

I tried a couple different shirts over the last several weeks and I tried the Jockey one you mentioned below. [tug: the Jockey 3D Physique Crew Neck]

Overall, I think I like the Jockey one the best for under the vest.

I liked the Equmen one also but the Jockey works a little better for me. Plus, although the money wasn’t my deciding factor, it’s foolish for me to spend $100 when the $25 shirt is doing a better job.

Regarding the Equmen size, I had already ordered it when you mentioned the size thing; if I ever got another one, I would definitely order one size smaller [tug: i think he meant bigger], especially since I’m not using it for the slimming effect.

There was one other shirt I liked and it was also about $20. I got it at JC Penny and I think the brand name was Roberts or something like that.

It’s late right now and I don’t want to wake up my wife looking for it to make sure of the brand name, but I’ll let you know.

It was nice because it actually felt like cotton while wearing it, even though it is made of some kind of wicking material. Most of the wicking shirts feel like a weird plastic spandex.

Lastly, one of the guys at work swears by the Walmart Underarmor knockoff for $10, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Plus, he’s a cheapskate and may like it just because of the price, so I’m not expecting too much.

At this point I think I’ll order five or ten of the Jockey’s to keep me going for a while.  Summer’s been brutal this year with the vest on.

Thanks for your help, and if someone comes up with an end-all beat-all under the vest shirt, please let me know.

One last thing, my weird old under the vest tube-shirt ripped this week so I can’t wear it any more.

If you have any friends in the undershirt business that want a new idea to try, let me know and I’ll send you my old tube shirt to show them.

I think the company that made them originally went out of business, but maybe the market has changed.

Who knows, maybe someone else could make something of it. I know I swore by it…

Thanks again,
Brian

I emailed him back because I wanted to throw out a couple other recommendations.

I had forgotten that Execwearonline.com offers a lightweight nylon blended undershirt that they market to police officers and the military.

I also wanted to be sure he new about the new RIPT Fusion as well.

He sent back in some additional observations that I found very interesting. Here’s his email:

Hey Tug,

My work schedule changed a bit and I haven’t looked at my email in weeks but since everyone in my house is sleeping right now, I can catch up on things.

The $20 shirt at JC Penny was a Russell Athletic Dri-Power shirt, but Russell apparently makes several types of wicking shirts.

Unfortunately, I can’t find anything on the shirt to distinguish it from their other ones, but the one I got from JC Penny feels like a cotton shirt (even though it isn’t).  I bought one of Russell’s other type wicking shirts from Sports Authority and it’s just like everyone else’s, not better or worse.

I also tried out the Under Armor Heat Gear shirts, good also, but a little thin to wear under the vest.

Of the five or six different types I’ve tried so far, I’m still leaning to the Jockey shirt [3D Physique] you told me about.

I haven’t had a chance to try either of the shirts you listed below, but I’ll probably order one of each in the next week or so to try them out.

Holy Crap, it’s been hot out there over the last two months.

[…continued]

It’s funny, there is one side effect to using these wicking shirts under the vest that I never thought about.

When I wear a cotton t-shirt, I feel like a wet sponge all day, the shirt is sopping wet at the end of the night and the vest gets a little wet but not too bad (I guess the t-shirt is soaking up the moisture).

When I wear the tube shirt, I feel good all day (although it’s a little itchy because of the material they used), the shirt is pretty dry at the end of the day except for the tubes, which seem to trap the moisture and are wet, and the vest stays pretty dry.

When I wear any of the wicking shirts, I feel good all day, the shirt is wet at the end of the day but I don’t feel it, but the vest ends up being soaked.

That’s the thing I didn’t expect.

I have two vest covers I used to swap out about once every two or three weeks, now I’m having to swap them every week, sometimes twice a week. I guess the wicking shirts are wicking the moisture right off me and onto the vest cover.

When I get the ones you mentioned below [Execwear, RIPT Fusion] I’ll let you know how they work out. In the meantime, I’ll try to stay in the shade.

Additional Reference Articles / Updates

05/2017 CoolShield Under Kevlar Undershirt

10/2014 Wear Kevlar? Stay Dry Underneath With Maxx-Dri Vest

08/2011 The original Ultra Cool RVU Undershirt for Body Armour Found!

03/2010Ask Tug Update: Police Body Armor Undershirts

15 thoughts on “Ask Tug: What Kind of Undershirt To Wear Under Kevlar Body Armor?”

  1. I am a police officer in Florida also. I hate trying to find a decent undershirt for under a hot ballistic vest.

    I have tried the Under Armor, the 5.11 and really now I am wearing a Nike dry fit that cost around $20.00. I found the article very informing but decided to stay with my inexpensive Nike dry fit.

    My agency makes you wear v-necks which is becoming very hard to find. Now some of you may ask about the Nike swoosh on the chest. Obviously it doesn’t show under the vest. When I don’t wear the vest, my badge covers it and it cannot be seen.

    Stay cool and safe my brothers.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this post!! I am going to try out a few of these because my vest gets SOOO hot. I work in California so it’s not that bad, I can’t imagine how bad the cops in AZ and Tx etc. have it down there. Thanks again!!

    Reply
      • I’m looking at it, but it doesn’t have very much on there. I wish there was some more pictures. I was about to buy some on Amazon, but I might contact them. Are those flaps to let the air in on the front?

      • heya brad, yeah the product is still in development so they haven’t posted all the information yet.

        from what i’ve heard, the t-shirt will be knitted from a soft-handed carbon-infused nylon, and there will be mesh panels seamlessly knitted into the body in various areas that will help keep you cool and they will also be placed strategically to interface with where their coolcop 360 concealment carrier will sit on you. the carbon is an odor deterrent, and the nylon is wicking, but it will have a non-synthetic feel — so it’ll wear more comfortably.

        i guess it would be best to email them and see what the eta is.

  3. To whom it may concern

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    Reply
  4. Hey Tug, I just found this site and it has me very interested. I was looking to get a couple more underarmour shirts, but figured that there has to be something better out there. I bought my current shirts a while ago and I’m not really happy with them. As I can see from the posts here, they are likely the least desirable shirts for under body armour.

    I am a bit different than the other police officers that you have here, as I am in Canada and don’t have the same access to some of these products. I also need to try and find not only shirts for the heat, but also the extreme cold that we get in the winters.

    I don’t see any new updates since mid 2011, so I was wondering if there were any new “words of wisdom” or shirts that I should be looking into.

    Thanks for your time and keep up the good work with the site!!!

    Reply
    • hey jeff!

      thanks for stopping by and posting your comment and question(s)!

      the truth is that there hasn’t been any other performance undershirt that i’ve come across or heard about that offers the optimal protection/performance for cops wearing them under kevlar.

      the only other undershirt i heard about that performed really well under kevlar, was a carbon-infused nylon stretch undershirt, but that product is no longer made. i’m not sure how that product would work in cold-weather situations, but i know it worked great in hot-weather conditions because a very experienced officer told me so, and he tried a whole lot of different undershirts too. the officer i just mentioned is the inventor of coolcop.com.

      this same officer is working with a colleague to come up with a suitable carbon-based replacement tech undershirt/t-shirt, but i hear progress is slow because it’s hard to source the right fabric for a reasonable price.

      if you stay subscribed to this thread, or to my blog, as soon as i hear of any updates, i’ll keep everyone posted through here.

      Reply
    • I am also a fellow Canadian police officer but work on Vancouver Island, as such we don’t have the cold weather most other Canadians do. Our department issue us Arc’teryx Phasic base layer shirts for under the vest. They come in 3 versions for differnt kinds of weather including extreme cold, cool weather and warmer weather.It’s the only shirt that I have found that isn’t soaked after 12 hrs. The only draw back is the price at 60-100 bucks a peice. This can be lessended by joing their LEAF program which offers substncial savings off retail for Law Enforcement and Armed Forces. Stay safe.

      Reply
  5. [message posted by wickers representative]
    Naturally, I would advise that the best additional protection underwear for Police Body Armor is Wickers Moisture Transport Fire Resistant T-shirt S/S or L/S. US Special Forces have been wearing these garments since 2004 outside the wire. Made in the USA. The fabric is made from long staple super fine Merino Wool and Fire Resistant Lenzing Modal, both of which are sustainable and come from renewable natural resources. The fabric will not retain any body odor, ever! Strenuous physical activities while wearing Police Body Armor have a high potential for inducing heat stress reducing the ability to perform at the level required. It is particularly important not to wear synthetic underwear that will melt under flame or high heat that may come about from an explosion or a bullet.

    Reply
  6. Thanks for the info. I was looking for a T-shirt to wear under my body armor and switched so far from 100% cotton to underarmor, and now I’m going to try the others you guys have mentioned. When I wear my undershirts, at the end of my shift I get really itchy on my mid back and have to scratch it because it feels so dry. Well, thanks for the useful info. and i’ll check out the other shirts you mentioned.

    Reply

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