I have been wearing body armor as a patrol or S.W.A.T. officer for most of the last 20 years. Storing armor in such a way that does not degrade its capability has always been problematic. The major vest companies have guidelines and many of them have to do with the longevity and/or effectiveness of the vest. Manufacturers may even try and void warranties if the “care and use” instructions are not followed. The three primary things to prevent are “bunching” where the vest is turned up at the bottom of the vest, moisture retention, and stretching of the straps (especially the shoulder straps). These issues together have made storing soft body armor somewhat problematic.
If you store them on a hanger, over time it will stretch the straps, and the panels are close together which can retain moisture. If you lay it flat in your locker or closet, then the panels are touching, again adding to moisture retention, as there is no airflow over the vest. If you stand it in the closet or your locker, the bottom tends to bunch up. This is again especially true with the new vests. When I did this with my first vest in 1984 this was less of an issue as it was rather thick and could stand all by itself (especially after a few summer days). Today, they are so thin and pliable they bend easily. I always figured there would be a solution, and one has come on the market. It is called the Vest Rest. It is an economical answer to these three problems, and provides an affordable way to safely store your vest. I have seen similar products over the years but they have either been of substandard quality, or expensive. I have seen these for as much as $100, which for most street cops is just more than they can afford. The Vest Rest comes in at half that price and for the time that I have been using mine, the thing works great.
I have been wearing body armor as a patrol or S.W.A.T. officer for most…
by Tactical Life / Nov 1, 2008