Tips to increase the lifespan of your body armour
Whilst VestGuard body armour and covers both come with a guarantee, the fibres which make up both parts, like any product, if treated incorrectly can deteriorate a lot faster. Because this is a lifesaving piece of equipment it is important to ensure the body armour and cover are both cared for in the best practise to minimise the speed of deterioration.
Here are a few tips to help ensure the armour continues to perform
Please note that the information in this page does not increase the warranty or guarantee of the product and we would always recommend replacing body armour after the guarantee has expired. VestGuard offers a number of afterlife services including a trade in old for new armour scheme offering discount when you trade in old armour for a new set.
What will affect the lifespan of Body Armour :
- How well it is taken care of and maintained
Armour which is not inspected or used for anything other than protection in active service (e.g. used to dig or used as a stretcher) can have a shorter lifespan. Like a car or bike, regularly inspect and clean the armour and it will increase the lifespan.
- How often the armour is used
Body Armour used regularly for long periods puts extended pressure on the fibres which makes up the cover and the protection. If used in this manner the lifespan of the vest can be greatly diminished.
When purchasing body armour with the intent to use regularly VestGuard recommends returning the armour annually for inspection (VestGuard Through Life Management program) which provides peace of mind that the armour remains fit for continued use. Click on the link, or speak to a VestGuard representative for more information.
It is recommended for regular users to purchase additional covers to ensure full protection is maintained even when one cover is being cleaned.
- How often the armour is worn
The way body armour worn also has the potential to reduce the lifespan of body armour. If the armour is worn too tight to the body, or too loosely can cause the armour to flex in the wrong manner artificially ageing the panels in hard wear areas. Vigorous activities wearing the vest can also deteriorate the fibres faster. Wearing the vest too high or too low, can cause rubbing in locations on the panels or cover. For example, if the armour rests on top of the trousers or duty belt, the loops can rub against the cover and wear a hole in both the cover and the armour over time. These conditions are not standard wear and tear and can void the guarantee.
When wearing armour with elasticated sides, it is always recommended to avoid over stretching the straps as this can damage the elastic, and cause damage over extended periods of use. The best method to don armour is to breath in before securing the straps at normal extension. When you breath out the elastic will extend to a comfortable fit without over extending. This will allow you and the vest to move naturally during use.
Body Armour when not in use should ideally be opened allowing it be laid flat, and stored inside the armour carry bag. It should never be hung on a hanger. This avoids sagging and applying unnecessary pressure to the internal fibres.
Regular cleaning is important to maintain the health of the armour. Instructions provided with each set of armour for the best cleaning process for the amour which has been purchased. Heavy washing processes can reduce the lifespan of the outer cover if the materials are designed for covert operations.
As part of a cleaning routine, it is recommended to purchase additional covers to ensure full protection is maintained even when one cover is being cleaned.
- Cleaning of internal ballistic panels
The armour panels inside the outer cover should never be machine washed, this ages the armour artificially. They should be removed before laundering, and laid flat. They can be wiped clean using mild detergent and a small amount of water to remove unwanted dirt and debris which may cause damage to the panel when returned into the cover.
- Exposure to water, light and hot or cold weather conditions
Subjecting armour and covers to moisture, light and adverse weather conditions, like high heat or freezing temperatures, all have the potential to reduce the lifespan of the vest. Dark colours on the outer cover can fade in the light. Moisture and light can cause the fibres in the armour to degrade faster. Examples like leaving body armour inside a car during summer should be avoided, or minimised where possible.
If the armour or covers are exposed to any moisture or oil, as soon as possible remove the internal panels from the outer cover and wipe clean. Allow to dry before reinserting the panels. Sweat during hot days can have an impact on the lifespan and it is advised to follow the above process after each duty shift to ensure the armour maintains its protection throughout the guarantee. If a heavy sweater it is recommended to purchase a cover with a 3D spacer mesh lining allowing air to flow between the panels and the body and the moisture to evaporate or escape.
- Maintaining the outer covers
If an outer cover is not maintained and becomes damaged or worn, it can leave the internal armour panels vulnerable to external conditions such as increased wearing through holes, exposure to light, penetration of moisture, and also damage from debris which may become lodged inside the outer cover and rub against the panels. It is recommended to regularly check for damage and replace the cover when damage is detected.