03/06/2010 – Ask Tug Update: Police Body Armor Undershirts
Ran across a really interesting blog today where a Roanoke, Virginia police officer shares information about the life of a cop (pretty interesting stuff).
Yesterday, he wrote a post about wearing an Under Armour compression undershirt under his kevlar body armor. He described how his compression undershirt gets soaked in hotter conditions, because the protective body armor he wears over it doesn’t provide any room for sweat to evaporate.
Our uniforms are polyester. Dark blue polyester. Plus nearly 30 pounds of metal and leather, high top leather boots and body armor. Body armor is a woven fabric called Kevlar. It’s about half an inch thick and surrounds your upper torso. And it has a big metal plate in the front covering your heart and other important stuff in there. It doesn’t breath. And there’s nowhere for your sweat to go.
Within the first few minutes of the festival [in 95 degree heat] while I was walking around I could feel the beads of sweat running down my back under the armor. It didn’t take long for my undershirt to get soaked. I like wearing the compression Under Armor stuff. One of the main selling points of it is that it wicks moisture away from your body. Under the body armor though there’s nowhere to “wick it away.” It didn’t take long to feel like I was wearing a soda can. And the heat. There’s nowhere for that to go either. When I raise up my chin and pull the top of the armor away from my body I can feel the hot air come out like a hair dryer.
I wanted to find out if he had tried out other moisture-wicking undershirts to see if he had found one that kept him cooler and drier than the Under Armour compression shirt he referenced. Here’s the dialog he and I exchanged:
Tug said…Have you tried any moisture wicking undershirts other than Under Armour? I’ve written about some of them on my blog, but I don’t get into the extreme body temperature conditions that I’m sure you get into and would love to share some of your experiences with my readers. Thanks in advance!
Blogger RoaVaPD. said…It doesn’t matter how great they are at moisture wicking because the body armor prevents the moisture from evaporating. You keep sweating and sweating and you never dry out until you take off the body armor. That evening when I took it off my t-shirt dried off in about a minute.
Blogger Berserk said…I never really saw the draw to the compression shirts. They look cool and all (especially on the girls), but it’s like you said: the moisture has to go somewhere.
The last off-duty job I worked was 8 hours of standing in the hot sun at a busy intersection directing traffic for the construction workers. That put me off of these extra jobs for a while.
Blogger RoaVaPD. said…I like the compression shirts because they are like a second skin. The armor doesn’t snag on it and the shirt doesn’t get bunched up. But as far as their moisture and heat handling capabilities, useless with the armor on.
I thought the information he shared regarding the kevlar body armor preventing the moisture from evaporating was pretty insightful and thought it might be helpful to other police officers visiting here looking for information on Under Armour compression or other moisture wicking undershirt alternatives.
Here’s a couple of of takeaways to keep in mind:
- No matter what type of moisture wicking undershirt you wear, if your outerwear doesn’t provide enough breathing room to allow the sweat to evaporate, you’re going to get and stay wet.
- In the police gear application, compression undershirts seem to provide more value in protecting your skin from getting chafed and not bunching up under your gear than in actually keeping you cooler and drier.
If any other law enforcement officers (ok, cops) reading this have come across an undershirt (moisture wicking or not) that has performed really well, I’d love to hear from you!
I was just reminded of two companies who specifically market their undershirts to law enforcement. I have reviewed their product in the following articles:
02/05/09 – What about a bullet proof undershirt?
ARMOR-TEE: NFL players now wearing a bullet proof undershirt?