Army Ballistic Vests With PCM Technology

Outlast Europe GmbH

Suitable technical equipment is becoming more and more important for authorities and the military field. Not only are electronics, hard- and software playing a big role, there are also increasing demands for apparel. The call for intelligent fabrics is becoming louder and louder.

A new generation of these fabrics feature phase change materials (PCM) which are able to absorb, store and release excess body heat when the body needs it. The result: You are sweating and freezing less, the microclimate on the skin is influenced in a positive way, efficiency and performance are enhanced.

Not too warm, not too cold – just right. That is the simple way it works. Outlast Technologies, Inc., based in Boulder/Colorado is the pioneer and market leader regarding the research, development, design and marketing of temperature regulating Phase Change Materials (PCM) under the brand Outlast®. The PCM technology was originally developed for NASA to protect astronauts from the extreme temperature fluctuations in space.

Army Ballistic Vests

In spite of this there are now and then persons not able to have faith in the function of PCM on a first glance. That happened in a discussion between German police men and Till Doellerdt, marketing and sales manager at Ballistic Protection Burgmann GmbH, Sittensen/Germany, a manufacturer of army ballistic vests.

Army Ballistic VestsTo eliminate doubts Till Doellerdt made an interesting extreme proposal at the IPOMEX 2004 regarding the comfort of ballistic vests: “Why not run a marathon with a ballistic vest…?” Like it was obvious that even with the 4,6 kg/m² standard solution in the style “SafeMex Plus“ a marathon (42 km) with a lightweight ballistic Outlast® vest could be mastered without major problems. Considering latest research in the field of ballistic vests the police representatives welcomed this idea immediately (followed by the notice, that there would be some police-men doing the special field test as private persons). The project “Ballistic Protection Burgmann goes around Berlin 2004” was born.

Carola W. (24) and Michael M. (45) agreed to run the Berlin Marathon 2004 together with Till Doellert (36) on 26. September 2004 as the field test. The motivated runners passed an additional 12 weeks training program running between 50 km and 70 km a week with ballistic vests. The basis of that four hour trial with high body performance was to test the vest’s features including design, weight, flexibility and the sweat-reducing smart Outlast® material under stressful conditions for both men and woman, and to compare these field test results with laboratory test datas. Result of the project: The runners were very enthusiastic and confirmed that they sweat much less.

Soldier Comfort

But not only extreme examples like this prove how well Outlast® Adaptive Comfort® PCM perform, other experiences also show the same delivery of soldier comfort; the following is an excerpt of another practical test under daily life conditions (manufacturer: Ballistic Protection Burgmann): “Since the 23 september 2003 I am based in the Kosovo. Until the end of october we had temperatures up to 28°C. Afterwards it became colder, in january and february there were temperatures down to –15°C. On duty I wear the vest between two and 16 hours constantly. Under the bulletproof vest I normally put on a t-shirt, in the cold season also a fleece shirt. Over the vest I have a shirt, over that a tactical vest.

Soldier Comfort for Many ApplicationsI have started my duty with a traditional vest lined with terry. Wearing that for up to two hours (in warm weather) the normal vest was OK. But if you wear it longer the terry material has many disadvantages. It was very, very wet, you had the feeling of having a wet flannel on your back and breast, which I regarded really unpleasant. And it is completely impossible to change the terry material while being on duty.

The next trial was without the terry. The feeling of having contact with a wet flannel was gone, but I felt very hot under the vest. The sweat was running all over my body and couldn’t be absorbed anymore. This was also a nasty experience”, says the test person. The third test was done with a smart Outlast® Adaptive Comfort® vest. The test person goes on: “Whatever temperatures you have, the vest is feeling more comfortable all the time. It is by far not as warm underneath as under the normal one.

Also if you wear the ballistic Outlast® vest for quite a long time I haven’t had an annoying feeling. The Outlast® vest dries quicker, but furthermore less sweat is produced and distributed regularly. It is extremly comfortable to wear – it doesn’t matter if it is very warm or very cold”, is his experience, which is confirmed by other test persons. Of course it is not surprising that so far many users of ballistic vests have “switched” to Outlast® apparel. Not only the police in Hamburg is wearing ballistic Outlast® vests, also many private persons and authorities in other countries are convinced of the innovative technology’s advantages.

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