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BASE Jumping: Articles: Gear: Body Armor

Body Armor updated

by BASEwiki
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Body Armor comes in several variants. Most commonly, it is a top holding protection for the back, the elbows, the shoulders, the chest and sometimes the stomach. Sometimes it is a fully body suit including protection for the knees, the hips and the tailbones. Occasionally, a person only wears a backprotector (turtle-back) and this can be considered body armor as well. This section mostly deals with the full top style armor, although the other variants can be quite useful too.

Body armor has three major purposes
  1. The backprotector reduces the risk of breaking your back.
  2. The elbow and shoulder padding provide general protection to those areas
  3. .
  4. The chest protector saves you from sharp objects penetrating; imagine landing in a tree and being staked on the branches. If you were a vampire, that could be deadly.
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Properly fitted body armor doesn’t have to restrict your movement too much, but it is something to take into consideration, especially if you need maneuverability for aerials. Another thing to consider is the bulkiness. It is going to affect how well your rig fits, and it might have an effect on your pin tension. If you are concerned about aerodynamics for tracking or wingsuit BASE body armor might slow you down.

The above reasons is why some people jump with just a backprotector or no body armor at all. It is a trade-off that you have to make for yourself. Most likely you will rarely need your body armor, but when you do you’ll be happy you were wearing it. It can make the difference between coming out unhurt and becoming paralyzed because you weren’t wearing a backprotector.

What to look for

The following things should be considered when shopping for body armor:
  1. How solid is the hard shell protection offered? Pay close attention to the back protector.
  2. How well can you move while wearing it.
  3. Does your rig still fit when you wear it.
  4. Does it have snag potential?
  5. Can you put a longsleeve or something like that over top of it?
  6. How warm is it? Are you going to be sweating like crazy on a hot summer day?
  7. Have you considered getting just a backprotector, or perhaps a full body suit?

Dainese armour isn’t cheap, but I think the quality is far superior to the cheaper Bohn armour. The Shuttle Pro doesn’t restrict your movement at all, and is very comfortable. In fact, I’ve done several jumps in a day without removing the armour just because it’s that comfortable. With my old Bauer elbow/knee pads, I’d take them off right after I landed, because they weren’t so comfortable. The Shuttle Pro also has a sort of “cumberbund” that holds the lower part of the back plate in place. It also provides some abdominal pressure which I suspect stabilizes the low back.

Where to look

Have a look at the list of protective gear manufacturers.

The best place to shop for body armor is your local mountainbike store. There you can try some on and see how they feel. Unfortunately, you are often being ripped off there too, paying more for brand-names than for quality.

To illustrate; High Velocity Gear offers a body armor top that has the exact same shell padding as an older Dainese suit , at half the price. The backprotector, elbow and shoulder protectors, and chest protector are all identical between the two brands, probably coming from the same mold.

It helps to shop around and compare some different brands. The price and quality difference can be quite significant.


Submitted by BASEwiki on 2007-06-07 | Last Modified on 2010-04-16

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.  | Votes: 2 | Comment: 1 | Views: 14162

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 slickrock
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 2008-03-05
The Thor Sentinel chest protector works great! Super lite and low profile. About $90.00us.

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