Important Things to Know About Body Armor – a Guide for Survivalists

By Chris Taylor

Even the most prepared Survivalist may not consider wearing body armor for a number of reasons; some simply do not consider its benefits, whereas others think that body armor is a paranoid purchase fit only for military and the ‘hardcore survivalist’. However, protective clothing in the form of a bullet proof vest is an invaluable purchase, and should be a central aspect of any survivalist’s preparation.

As any good survivalist knows preparation can spell the difference between life and death, particularly as it will be much harder to find the things you need after the world has ended. In the event of the world ending you will need to be prepared if you want to survive, and yet body armor is necessary wherever there is the threat of attack. Of course, be it by nuclear attack, virus or something much more fantastical, the collapse of society certainly increases the threat of attack.

In these doomsday scenarios your preparation will dramatically improve your chances of survival, but it may also make you a target. Preparing for the collapse of society is not common, and those who did not have the foresight to prepare will likely desire everything you have. Therefore, you need to be able to protect yourself against people who may try and take what you have by force. Protective clothing covers a wide range of products, including helmets and shields, but the most important equipment is body armor. However, even this can refer to a number of different things.


Different Types of Body Armor

Body armor comes in a wide range of products, including bullet proof vests, stab proof and spike vests, and even these vary based on the level of protection and the style in which it is worn. It is most likely that firearms will be the major threat to any survivalist, as they will be the first weapon anyone will look for. However, bullet proof vests are graded according to the ammunition they can protect against, and so it is important that you pick a level of vest that can stop the right ammunition.

Bullet Proof Vests

It is usually recommended that survivalists carry a handgun, because of its relative ease of use. This is exactly the logic many others will follow, and even where society has broken down a handgun is the easiest type of gun to get your hands on. Therefore, it is important that your bullet proof vest can stop handgun ammunition. The National Institute of Justice tests and standardises bullet proof vests (NIJ Levels), and vests from Level I-IIIa are capable of stopping the vast majority of handgun ammunition.

Of course, some avoid body armor because of its perceived weight and bulk. However, bullet proof vests are increasingly lightweight and flexible, and can even be worn underneath clothing. These ‘covert’ vests are designed to be worn comfortably for extended periods, and some even include breathable materials that can help regulate your temperature. Covert vests have the advantage of being very discreet without sacrificing protection, making them ideal to be worn at all times, even before the collapse of society.

On the other hand, there are benefits to vests that are worn over clothing, in an ‘overt’ style. Some feel that displaying body armor in this manner can help deter potential attackers, and act as a statement of authority. These overt vests are just as protective, lightweight and flexible as their covert counterparts, and so it is a matter of personal choice as to which is most appropriate.

High Caliber Protection

Even protection at higher levels is available in both covert and overt styles. It may be that handguns are not the only or even the main weapons you will face, and the threat of rifle fire and high-caliber ammunition is far greater. In these cases you will need armor at Level III or IV, which utilises rigid panels of ceramics or polyethylene. While these are still relatively lightweight, they will increase the weight and bulk of your vest, while decreasing its flexibility, and so should only be worn when absolutely necessary.


Stab and Spike Protection

It may be that firearms are not the only weapon you will be facing, whatever the caliber, and in a world where your attackers may use whatever they can get their hands on, edged and spiked weapons may be more of a threat. As time passes and ammunition becomes scarcer and scarcer, your attackers will likely use knives or spiked weapons, which a bullet proof vest will not protect against. Bullet proof vests use protective fibers that can ‘trap’ and slow a bullet, flattening and slowing it to a complete halt. However, an edged weapon will simply cut through these fibers, while a spiked weapon can pass through the minute gaps between them. As a result, for complete protection you need to ensure that your bullet proof vest comes with stab and spike protection in the form of chainmail and/or a layer of laminate.


Body armor is a necessary part of any survivalist’s equipment, and yet it is not only suitable for the end of the world. Covert armor allows for discreet and lightweight protection that can be worn anywhere and everywhere. This is useful for everybody, and such a simple solution to an otherwise deadly situation that can occur at any time should be utilized by all.

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6 thoughts on “Important Things to Know About Body Armor – a Guide for Survivalists”

  1. I’ve entertained the idea of buying body armor but keep coming around to the problem of getting the right size. It seems like the kind of thing you should be fitted for rather then buying online and hoping it fits?

  2. While we have soft armor in our inventory for special situations, it’s only good if you are wearing it – and FIT enough to wear it daily. Too many people have fallen into the fantasy it will be like Mogadishu or Fallujah in grid down every single day. How many people are going to be wearing armor or even their full tactical chest rigs or vests while doing the menial tasks of cutting firewood, gardening, doing laundry or baking bread in your outdoor oven?

  3. jh and not me, I like your thinking.

    Nevertheless there are likely to be more than a few pre-planned high risk activities during which body armor is advantageous. One of the first things I purchased were MICH helmets with NV mount for everyone in the family and then equipped each helmet with the new advanced padding customized for each head. Ballistic head wounds are likely fatal and although the helmet doesn’t cover the whole head, it does cover up quite a bit. Top the helmets with quality goggles to protect the eyes and you’re half there.


  4. with limited dollars to invest I keep finding more places to put money .. and I can’t eat it .. But like insurance .. doesn’t matter until you need it and then the quality and cost are very important .. and maybe critical. I keep thinking that I will more than likely be defending myself from hungry locals or people in exodus of the city when and if things get real… They won’t be prepared and will be hungry .. and willing to do whatever to fix that for their families just like anyone would.. then some will just be taking advantage or mean.. So you guys thin armor is bug in or bug our material ? or both ? When I take Bob for a walk on my knees I don’t hardly want to think about another 20 pounds of vest or plate.. the stuff I have tried is pretty heavy ..

    • I would say both goingray58. Really depends on the situation. I would not wear any of mind while gardening unless I felt there was a specific threat post SHTF. Would I wear it while patrolling the neighborhood as part of a security team? Absolutely as my threat assessment would determine that my risk is higher versus tilling the garden.


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