More and more women are serving in the military, law enforcement, and security jobs every year. With this increase in women working in positions like this, many questions start to arise about body armor. Can females use the same body armor as men? Is there body armor made specifically for women? What about plate carriers? These are all fair questions, […]
More and more women are serving in the military, law enforcement, and security jobs every year. With this increase in women working in positions like this, many questions start to arise about body armor. Can females use the same body armor as men? Is there body armor made specifically for women? What about plate carriers?
These are all fair questions, so let’s talk about them and break down everything you need to know about female body armor!
Is Body Armor a Uni-sex Product?
Most body armor that is produced is made to be unisex, but this is quickly changing. Although uni-sex armor is marketed as being able to be used by both males and females, it often isn’t. It can easily be too tight in areas like the chest and too loose at the waist or arms for women that need to wear it. This will not only provide an inadequate fit, but it could even restrict movement and reduce your mobility. In really bad scenarios, it might not even properly cover vital areas that are supposed to be protected from bullets, knives, and blunt objects.
Unfortunately, there are many out there that argue that body armor is uncomfortable for everyone to wear, not just women. While this is partially true, think about it this way: a woman that is wearing body armor designed for a man is similar to a man trying to wear a pair of women’s pants. Sure, some might fit and it would get the job done. But it won’t fit right, and it definitely won’t be comfortable. When you have a potentially dangerous job to do, comfort combined with proper protection is of the utmost importance.
Men and women are different, and unisex armor might be adequate but it is far from perfect. Thankfully more and more companies are understanding this, and are making huge strides in trying to properly equip both men and women for all of their body armor needs.
Do Females Need Customized Body Armor?
So with all of that being said, do women need fully customized body armor? Well yes and no. Unisex armor can work and get the job done. While not perfect, it can be made to fit and protect even if it is not the most comfortable. That being said, a set of body armor specifically designed and customized for the female profile will not only fit much better but will be better able to protect the user while providing full mobility.
The good thing about this “customized” body armor is that it is not that different from standard or unisex body armor. They may only feature a few minor changes that make a major difference. An example of this is built-in cups that provide comfort and support instead of a flat armor squishing down on the chest. Different cuts of fabric can be slightly altered at the right points to cater to the curve of the body while still maintaining its protection integrity, something that is not thought about for male armor.
Can a Female Wear a Plate Carrier?
So what about plate carriers and hard armor While there are now several soft armor and ballistic vest options for women, the world of plate carriers and hard armor plates is, unfortunately, a little behind. Hard plate armor does not offer the same kind of fit that soft armor does. Hard armor, while able to withstand more powerful threats, does not do very well for women who can’t flatten down their chest to make it work. Plate armor is designed to stop a bullet and redisperse the energy from the impact along the plate and into the person wearing it as evenly as possible. But a plate that does not form the female body will leave large gaps that can cause major problems with the impact of the bullet.
There are rumors of new designs coming out for plates shaped better for women, but as of right now there are no great options. Hopefully, with the advancement of technology and the increased demand for female body armor, there will be greater hard plate options for those needing to wear and utilize a plate carrier while on the job.
Are There Helmets Designed Especially for Women?
Unlike hard armor, helmets can be more easily designed to fit a certain head shape and size. After all, not everyone has the same size head so these helmets must be available in a variety of sizes. Fortunately, this means women have more options when it comes to ballistic helmets and the protection that they provide. And unlike body armor, unisex helmets tend to work great for both males and females as head shapes are generally the same and the only difference is the size. With helmets ranging from extremely small sizes all the way up to extra large, women can find the perfect size of helmet regardless if it was made to be unisex or specifically for females to use.
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As more and more women join the military and police forces, the need for better body armor increases as well. Great advancements have been made and there are now many more options for customized and specifically designed body armor suited for the female body, but that still does not mean that more could not be done. Hopefully, this trend continues and female body armor will one day have just as many (if not more) options as male body armor!