Police Officer Creates Cool, Breathable Vest to Wear Under Your Body Armor
The Maxx-Dri vest is a thin vest made out of unique mesh material that's designed to be worn under body armor. Policeone.com interviewed the inventor of The Maxx-Dri vest, Patrolman Suresh Madhavan and asked him about what lead him to invent the product which is changing the way officers around the world feel about body armor.
Founder of 221B Tactical and inventor of the Maxx-Dri Ultra Comfort Vest, Officer Suresh Madhavan of Wall, NJ, was ALWAYS so uncomfortable wearing a ballistic vest, especially during warmer months. that he wished he could leave it in his locker. But he knew better - "I NEVER TEMPT FATE BY GOING ON PATROL WITHOUT WEARING MY BODY ARMOR." Plus, he had made a promise to his mother to always wear his vest (body armor) on duty and vowed to never break that promise.
So what did he do? Never one to let circumstances get the better of him, he invented a solution and named it The Maxx-Dri Ultra Comfort Vest.
WHAT IS THE MAXX-DRI ULTRA COMFORT VEST, ANYWAY?The Maxx-Dri vest is a thin (3/16-inches) vest made out of a one-of-a-kind, unique mesh material that was derived through working with his friend in the textile industry, Brad Pedell of New York based Bradlee Int'l Ltd. It's designed to be worn under body armor to keep officers cool, dry and comfortable. The material – a proprietary blend of a derivative of polyester – is very lightweight and allows for three-dimensional (3D) airflow and heat release.
All Maxx-Dri vests are machine washable and doesn’t need to be dried – in fact it comes out of the wash ready to be worn because it doesn’t retain moisture. This unique material is also anti-microbial.
Where did the idea come from?
Suresh came up with the idea after suffering for over a decade as a police officer wearing body armor on duty and hearing so many other officers constantly complain about how hot and uncomfortable they were when wearing theirs. Plus, sweat can actually deteriorate the integrity of your vest’s Kevlar material.
"Things came to a head for me when I broke out in a rash on my back and ribs from having a sweat-soaked shirt and vest against my skin for 12 hours a day and my skin had no ability to breathe...and I wasn't alone. I realized that even wearing moisture wicking shirts like Under Armour did nothing for officers wearing body armor because the kevlar body armor did not allow the Under Armour to breath, thus keeping it from doing it's job of wicking moisture. The end result was ALL of the moisture being retained by the shirt against your skin. Some officers were even opting to not wear their body armor on duty because it was so unbearable. So I got to work on designing something that would keep the vest just slightly off my body so that fresh air could circulate between my body and my bullet proof vest."
How did that idea turn into a product?
"My very good friend Brad, who is now my business partner and one of the co-founders of 221B Tactical, has been in the textile business for over 25 years. So when I came up with the initial concept, I went to him for ideas. He was able to give me various samples based on what I wanted to do, but nothing seemed to work. Then one day we located a material that we thought just might work. After working to alter the material to our specifications, we finally had it. And that was it! As soon as I touched the material, I knew it was the one!"
What was it like creating the first prototype?
"Turning an idea into a finished product was a grueling process. There were a lot of failures and disappointments, but I was determined to find a solution. Honestly, I just wanted to create something that would work for me personally at first. But when I created the final prototype I used it on duty and realized that it actually worked! I had to let co-workers try it to make sure I wasn't dreaming. And they all came back and said, "Suresh, whatever this thing is, it works! Can I have one?" And that's when I knew had something really special on my hands."
How did you test it out?
"I wore it on duty myself and gave some to fellow officers for them to test. All of my test subjects were actual full-time patrol officers who work the streets and highways in all kinds of different weather conditions. To my pleasant surprise, the guys didn't want to give the prototypes back to me! Some were offering me cash on-the-spot to keep theirs. But I knew I still had to improve upon it by making it a nice, clean finished product. I'm a bit of a perfectionist."
Where did the names of your company and product originate?
"The name 221B Tactical was derived from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. In his books, Holmes' residence in London was 221B Baker Street. I came up with the name Maxx-Dri after I realized what I was trying to accomplish: maximizing dryness while wearing body armor."
Where can they be purchased?
"They're available on our website and on Amazon. Our original version is $69.99 and our newest model, the 2.0 version is $89.99. Each are unisex and come in 7 sizes from XS through XXXL. We want to make sure we take care of each person's individual, unique body size and shape. And, I wanted to make them affordable for everyone, even rookies who are only making peanuts. Money is tight for a lot of officers whom I know and work with. But that doesn't mean they don't deserve to be more comfortable while on duty too. They need to be focused on the job, neutralizing threats and not on how hot and sweaty they are! This not only serves themselves well - it helps them to best take care of the community and citizens they are sworn to protect and serve more effectively!"
Anything else you’d like people to know about your business?
"EVERY OFFICER should consider trying a Maxx-Dri Ultra Comfort Vest for themselves. There is absolutely no reason at all why they don't deserve the best gear while they put their lives on the line everyday for the sake of others. This is a "no-brainer"! And when you think about it, we often spend $70 or $80 or more on dinner and drinks on a typical night out. For that same dollar amount you can own a Maxx-Dri Vest which comes with a lifetime warranty (against defects) and will keep you more comfortable and safer while on the job for your entire career. We feel like this is more that sound investment in yourself for your comfort and health but also should become standard gear FOR ALL COPS! And with 12,000 sold and in use everyday by officers and first responders in each of the 50 states, in all provinces within Canada, and in 15 other countries, we are well on our way fulfilling our mission of taking care of all these brave men and women!"