Dressing For Safety- How A Woman Can Choose Safety Costumes

Posted by on July 30, 2020 in Stuff with 0 Comments

Even as much is said about gender equality these days, it seems that it’s still a man’s world in the area of survival gear. It is not really easy to find gender-friendly protective vests for women who love hunting adventures. Even the ones who need them to deal with dangers as a part of their occupation do not have anything satisfactory in the name of ballistic protection. Still, women deserve them as much as men do because disasters don’t differentiate between men and women. And there are probably as many female law officers and preppers out there as there are males. No matter what, this is one issue that requires attention and a relevant solution at the earliest.

The biggest concern with body armor for women is that they are made for men but women still have to compromise with ones that don’t work for them. These wrong types of vests do not fit well and may actually make you feel stifled and uncomfortable soon after you have them on. So, as a woman, it becomes important to know all about choosing the right shape and size in body armor for a perfect fit. And it is even more important to demand one that has been made just for you. Whether you are a female prepper, law enforcement agent, first responder, military woman or a civilian who just wants to stay safe, you need to be wise with the choice. Here are some helpful tips for women struggling to find the perfect fits in body armor.

The perils of ill-fitting body armor for women

Everyone who is in a survival situation is in danger because a bullet doesn’t differentiate people- it can kill a man or a woman. So if you are a woman out in the wild or on the battleground, you need as much safety as anyone else does. The fact that you will need to step out in ill-fitted body armor puts you at grave risk. Surely, there will be gaps in coverage if the vest is not fitted on your form. There are chances that a stray bullet or a sharp-edged weapon would find its way through the gap and injure you. Another peril that comes with a bad fit in body armor is that it hampers your mobility. There are times when you need to run or hide in a survival situation and you cannot afford to be in clothing that restricts your movement. Moreover, excessive weight of your body armor can make it a burden rather than life saving gear. Understanding these perils of ill-fitting body armor, it becomes clear that women need ones that fit them well and keep them safe in all situations.

Consider your curves

When it comes to fits, the body proportions of the wearer are important to make a good one. The vests originally designed and tested for males are most likely to be loose on female wearers because of the anatomical differences. Similarly, female breasts and curves may also influence the coverage that the vests offer. Women with larger breasts may have gaps between their torso and body armor, which exposes the vital areas to the risk of being stabbed or hit by bullets. This could cause the armor to swing and strike the torso. Moreover, men and women have skeletal differences, with females having wider hips and shorter legs and men having broader shoulders. Also, men tend to be taller than women- which means that the vest may hang low and restrict movement. Women need to consider these differences while choosing a vest and look for one dispersing the weight in the right areas. Certainly, they would want ones that are specifically created with their body shape and curves in mind.

Comfort and safety matter

Apart from the fit of the ballistic vest, comfort and safety should matter the most for female wearers just like it does for males. Obviously, these considerations are closely related because body armor with a good fit ensures both comfort and safety. It means that the vest will not strike your body on the loose areas and neither will cause stiffness if it is tight. There’s no point in wearing body armor outdoors if it risks your movement due to a poor fit. Restricted mobility, in fact, can be as dangerous as the perils of being attacked by bullets and sharp-edged weapons. So you would want a vest that doesn’t interfere with mobility. Moreover, one that is of perfect size will not leave any gaps or exposed areas. This is a critical concern because any part of the torso exposed puts you at risk of being hit.

Lighter is better for women

Another factor that applies for women’s body armor is its weight. Essentially, lighter is better for women because the average female weight is less than that of the males. This means you would find it easier to carry a vest that is lightweight. Further, it will offer increased mobility in addition to providing a greater range of motion. The weight of the vest greatly depends on the material used to make it. In this context, soft armor is regarded as a better choice for females because it is lighter than the hard alternative. Some other design enhancements include smaller armor plates that make the piece lighter. Additionally, an adjustable frame backpack helps women to manage the load. The shorter waist ensures better maneuverability, which makes it ideal for the female anatomy.

Custom is the key

Considering the specific needs and anatomical differences in females, one thing is clear. The only way women can get best fits is by having armor that is made for them rather than squeezing into ones designed for men. If you try putting a male vest on a heavy-busted woman, the sides of her breasts would get pushed out. Technically, this means that there is no side coverage on her chest area. So it becomes necessary to have vests that are designed and certified separately from male vests. Overlapping layers are essential for female body armor to ensure the integrity of the design even under stress exerted by the anatomy of the wearer.  Needless to say, adequate ballistic protection is something that a vest must absolutely have. Unfortunately, these elements may lead to the vests being very bulky vests. Moreover, the extra plies with overlapping layers can trap heat and cause excessive discomfort for the wearer. The only way out is finding a perfect balance with the right material and design, which only innovation can bring.

Manufacturers have the right solutions

Although there is plenty of advice for women to be smart with body armor selection, they need not really compromise by opting for a vest originally made for a male wearer. The reason is that manufacturers are going the extra mile and coming up with the right solutions specifically custom-made for women. They are bringing innovation in materials and design to ensure that female wearers get perfect protection without compromising with comfort. Some brands have special contoured models for women. Others offer soft ballistic panels that are neither stiff nor inflexible yet give Level IIIA protection. Further, you can find vests in custom shaping around body contours and curves so that you get a combination of fit, comfort and security in one piece. Manufacturers are using cup sizing for ensuring that women get proper fitting in vests. A technique called darting is also being used. Essentially, this method shapes the protective material around the breast area for a good fit.

The NIJ is doing its bit

From the beginning, women wearers have been managing with body armor which cannot accommodate the female anatomy properly and neither provide them superior comfort or protection they can trust. Thankfully, the National Institute of Justice has come ahead to do its bit for women. This regulatory authority is responsible for issuing the standards for testing and certification of body armor. It has introduced NIJ Standard 0101.07, which is specifically meant to include improved testing methods for female body armor. So women can expect things to get better in the future, with manufacturers and the NIJ coming together to ensure that they have better options from the coverage, comfort and safety perspectives.

Going ahead!!

As body armor manufacturers and regulatory authorities come together to create perfect products for women, they focus on the following objectives:

  • Determining the body surface exposure and vital organ vulnerability as a function of size and shape of armor.
  • Identification of the characteristics of armor shape and size which restrict mobility of the wearer.
  • Assessing the feasibility of accommodating both male and female wearers within the same sizing system for vests.

While keeping these objectives in mind, static and dynamic fit tests are being conducted for both females and males. Future options in female body armor design will depend upon the outcomes of these fit test outcomes so that they get nothing but the best when it comes to ballistic protection. Further, the ultimate objective for this initiative is to create a framework for designing next-gen body armor which is capable of providing equal function and protection for men and women. After all, women are at an equal risk and need an equal level of safety as their male counterparts’ do, regardless of the fact whether they are in a dangerous profession or just need ballistic vests for survival.

Obviously, there is much that female wearers can look forward to in the ballistic vest market in the near future. And that’s not all- there are myriad options for women of all shapes and sizes. Manufactures are already coming up with quality products that are meant to cater to the needs of women and things are likely to get only better in the coming time. And the NIJ is also going the extra mile to ensure that these products are tested for safety and reliability so that women officers and preppers need not compromise on these fronts. As a result, you can expect the issues of coverage, comfort and mobility with body armor to be resolved sooner rather than later. And this is not just amazing news for women working in dangerous professions but for preppers getting their survival stuff ready.

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