Police Officer Figures Out How To Be Comfortable While Wearing Body Armor: Part 1
Wearing a ballistic vest over a base-layer shirt is uncomfortable, at best. Oftentimes it’s miserable—especially after long hours in hot, humid weather. For this reason, many officers don’t wear it, at least as often as they should.
So I spent many long hours and long days in body armor. I’d sweat, itch, and ultimately stink, as the armor vest got soaked with sweat, and laundering is difficult and time consuming. (Sweat also degrades the vest’s ballistic material.) I constantly adjusted the vest, which moved around and generally felt awkward and heavy. Many days I’d get fatigued from just having to wear my body armor all day long.
Discomfort is distracting, when you need to be highly focused, as danger could erupt suddenly. It’s ironic that equipment designed to increase your safety can impair situational awareness. But I dealt with these discomforts for many years.
Finally, after one grueling 12-hour day when a nasty rash broke out across my back and ribs, I’d had enough. Knowing of no existing solution, I resolved to invent one myself.
My design started with a simple idea: Put space between my base layer shirt and my body armor carrier vest. Something that would let fresh air in and allow moisture (perspiration) to freely escape. Something that would allow my body to breathe. It also had to fit the armor to my body in a way that felt natural, as though it was part of my body rather than something I was wearing on by body. I had the concept, but I didn’t have the material.
Founding of a Company
I’d recently befriended Brad Pedell, a business owner in the textile industry. I shared my idea with him. Based on my guidelines, he kept providing various sample materials. One day, he showed me a material used overseas in the bedding industry. It needed some tweaking, but I knew it was what I was looking for.
I created a prototype vest of this material to go between my shirt and my armor vest. It was thin and lightweight and felt comfortable. I remember the first time I used it while on duty. Although I’d created it to work, I was amazed that it really did. Wearing body armor was a completely new experience. From what I was used to, it felt great. My carrier vest stayed dried, and my body was able to breathe. As a sanity check, I had fellow officers try it. They came back with the same results and enthusiastically asked if they could have one, too.
Initially, I’d created it for myself, but it soon became clear that this could be a game changer for everyone who wears body armor, in law enforcement, military, and personal security. To bring this solution to market, I named it Maxx-Dri Vest, and Brad and I created 221B Tactical, a company dedicated to reinventing tactical gear through innovation.
A Game Changer
It’s now been 10 years since I first conceived of Maxx-Dri Vest, and more than 250,000 have sold. It became the game changer I imagined. Over the years, it’s evolved and improved. We've made changes to the design and materials to make it even more effective and comfortable. We’re now on Maxx-Dri Vest, Version 4.0. (I’ll tell you about about this in my next email, Part 2.)
We've received more than 20,000 5-star reviews from law enforcement and security professionals who swear by the Maxx-Dri Vest and say they couldn't do their job without it. Not everyone has the same experience, but most users are genuinely enthusiastic. A couple of quotes:
"I have been a cop for 33 years. I now walk a foot beat and carry 27lbs of gear in the summer working outside events....OMG ! This this a game changer!! It does add some slight bulk under your vest but its very comfortable, very light and I actually can feel a breeze crawling up my front and back! I now go home less sweaty and have more energy at work." (Michael K.—Oct. 4, 2021)
"Total game changer! I’m a person who gets overheated very easily, I soak through my uniform shirt and my vest carrier is wet at the end of my shift. The Maxx-Dri 4.0 has changed my life. Now at the end of shift I’m not rushing to take my uniform off because my of being uncomfortable, now I am amazed that my shirts are dry and my vest isn’t wet at the end of a warm day." (Juan B.—Apr. 22, 2021)
We created Maxx-Dri Silver Elite T-Shirt as the perfect base-layer complement to Maxx-Dri Vest.
The material is infused with silver, the actual metal (AG+). Silver naturally fights bacteria. The ancient Greeks and Romans put it in their wells to keep the water purified. Today it’s used in competitive swimming pools instead of chlorine. Having silver in your base layer while wearing body armor protects your skin from infection and rashes as you sweat.
Our innovative design of the Silver Elite T-Shirt includes flat-sewn seams and tagless labeling. We’ve also made it long enough to stay tucked into your pants all day long. The Silver Elite T-Shirt is both comfortable and functional.
As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Maxx-Dri Vest, I’m filled with pride and gratitude. It's been an incredible journey, and I’m honored to have played a role in making the lives of law enforcement and security professionals safer and more comfortable. I thank all of you who’ve believed in and purchased Maxx-Dri Vest and our other tactical solutions.
Respectfully and Forever Grateful,