One Police Officer Invents Way to Wear Body Armor Comfortably: Part 2
The Evolution of Maxx-Dri Vest
In my previous email, I shared how I had promised my mother to always wear my body armor while on duty as a police officer. And after many years of sweating, itching, smelling, fatigue, and finally a severe rash from wearing body armor for long hours in the heat, I resolved to find a solution. I invented the Maxx-Dri Vest, a garment constructed of a special mesh material worn between your body and body armor, allowing the body to breathe and fresh air to flow in beneath your body armor. It worked brilliantly and became the flagship product for the start of 221B Tactical.
Today, we call the first iteration of Maxx-Dri Vest Version 1.0. But at the time, there was no version number or plans for future versions. It was the end-all, be-all solution that I'd created to alleviate the discomfort of wearing body armor.
Making a Great Product Even Better
Over time, however, after many thousands were sold and worn by law enforcement and security personnel, we started to get customer feedback about what would make a great product even better. My education in the sciences and innate curiosity also motivated me to develop and experiment with new ideas. Thus began the evolution of Maxx-Dri Vest to where we are today, Version 4.0.
About two years after the launch of Maxx-Dri, we came out with Version 2.0. It featured a new material with larger holes, Velcro shoulder straps to attach to the body armor vest for better stability, as well as seven different sizes: XS, S, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL (v1.0 had only three sizes: S, M, L).
The larger holes in the mesh dramatically increased airflow and comfort. This initially surprised me. I’d thought the most important factor was the distance between the body (or base-layer shirt) and the armor vest—i.e., the more space, the thicker the material, the better. Through trial and error, I found that wasn’t necessarily the case. Future versions would become thinner, and therefore lighter, with even larger mesh holes.
User Feedback Led to Better Fitting
A lot of our user feedback focused on fitment issues. In the first two versions, Maxx-Dri Vest was put on like a pullover shirt. The front and back were connected by a stretch spandex-type material.
In Version 3.0, which came out in 2017, I’d completely changed the body construction. We introduced a spine down the back, splitting it into two separate cooling chambers. We also added Velcro side straps so the vest no longer had to be pulled down over the head. Most importantly, the side straps allowed for fit adjustments, promoting greater comfort. This also helped us reduce the number of size offerings from seven to five: XS/S, S/M, M/L, XL/2XL, and 3XL/4XL.
A couple of years later, with Version 3.0SL, we made the material 2mm thinner, from 8mm to 6mm. It now seemed as light as a feather. And while the material provides cushioning, it doesn’t compress. So the weight of the body armor is distributed more evenly across the body and torso, making it feel lighter, as though part of your body rather than something you’re wearing on your body.
In 2020, we introduced the current version, 4.0. The mesh holes are now even larger. We put the spine down the front as well as the back and added a gripping material on the spines to keep the vest from shifting. We made the side straps mesh and even wider for greater comfort and better adjustment. Finally, we created dual air channels down the front and back of the vest, to help direct airflow down through the vest and allow heat to escape more readily.
What Do You Think?
Maxx-Dri Vest 4.0 is the result of several years of feedback and study. In my next email, I’ll share what customers have said about it.
If you use Maxx-Dri Vest, I’d love your opinion. Is there anything you feel could improve its performance? I’m also working on several other innovative tactical products and am looking for customers willing to provide feedback in the development process. Please feel free to reach out to me at Suresh Madhavan.
From its simple beginnings as my personal solution to the heat and sweat problems caused by body armor, Maxx-Dri Vest has come a long way. Thanks to valuable feedback from users and my own experimentation, we've improved the design, materials, and functionality with each version. The journey from version 1.0 to 4.0 has been an incredible experience and I'm so proud that the Maxx-Dri Vest has become an essential piece of gear for those who wear body armor in law enforcement, military, personal security, and countless other fields. Comfort is important because staying comfortable keeps you focused. And remaining focused keeps you safe and alive.
Respectfully and Forever Grateful,
Click here to get your Maxx-Dri Vest today.