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A question about modern body armor / riot gear


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Does anyone know how long it takes to don a suit of riot gear / body armor?  More or less?


I tried Googling, but I got a lot of weird results that didn't say and I'm sure my search history is beginning to look a little odd by now. :unsure:

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I've never put on riot gear, but a lot of the protective stuff I wore in the Navy when I was doing VBSS (visit, board, search, and seizure; inspecting foreign [ and possibly not entirely friendly ] sea going vessels for drugs, weapons, and other contraband ) is similar.


I never timed it, but somewhere between 2 and 7 minutes is probably a reasonable answer.


Just like with anything else, there are lots of factors that will shorten/lengthen that time:

Practicing will make one faster.

Using your own gear ( a set of equipment that you have worn previously and is therefore already adjusted to your particular body ) will make one faster.

Conversely, using 'off the shelf' gear will take longer, since one will need to adjust several times for proper fit.


I hope that helps/makes sense.

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What kind of body armour are you talking about? A plate carrier takes a few seconds to put on (maybe 15 to 30 seconds) if it is customized to fit you (eg, your own kit) - that includes strapping and buckles. It takes one second to remove if you have a quick-release harness. I believe this is what most people think about when they think body armour but I could be wrong as my view is skewed on the matter.


Full riot gear takes longer. Much longer. The plate carrier basically a vest that you slide your right arm and head through and then strap and buckle under the left arm pit (mine was, at least). Riot gear includes a bulkier vest made of Kevlar and... you know what? Look up a medieval knight's armour diagram on your favourite search engine, imagine everything being made out of hardened polymer and nylon, and there you go. Riot gear comes in different styles, too. On average, state police riot gear takes around three to five minutes to don and/or remove.


I could look them up if you need an exact time for each but I'd go with @Chaoswolf's guestimation. I'd also like to add that "off the shelf" armour, when not properly adjusted, can really mess your body up. Torn muscles, poor protection from bullets or assault, pulled ligaments, etc.

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Time to bathe the cat again?


I spent several years training folks on this stuff professionally.  Vest (velcro!) and helmet are pretty quick, gloves aren't too bad, shinguards are usually the fiddly bit (buckles...).  Overall it's comparable to any other contact sports armor, but you don't have to mess with a jersey.  Police that wear it in the US are usually poorly trained (riots are thankfully rare here), so it takes longer and hinders them more.

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As with the comments above the gear time can vary.   My commentary follows based on the type.


When familiar with your rig, it can be donned very quickly.  Of the pattern I am most familiar with, it took me about 30 seconds to put-on/take-off.  I didn't put it on the "proper" way, I kept most of the straps done on one side and pulled it over/on and tightened it quickly.  It is tricks like that for each type that matter.  That was the more complicated armour, the "simpler" armour took at least 2 minutes as it had zippers and other fiddly straps you could not leave done up.  To echo above, if you are given new armour for the first time and told to figure it out, expect 10 minutes and comical moments with at least one guy putting it on backwards, another with something inside out, and a third guy licking a window in the background.  Or at least that is my experience - new kit makes people lose 20-30 points on the IQ scale.


The tactical rig/vest/web-gear/pouches that go over the armour are a different story entirely.  A simple vest takes 2-5 minutes depending on what is loaded in it/pouch configuration to get it to rest properly.  Modular "bib" chest rigs go on very easily (the few seconds to pull on and tighten) unless you went overboard on the side pouches.  Web gear (the old US army model from Korea onwards) was 50/50, if you got it on right it was like a vest.  Get it on wrong and you spend minutes untangling it.  Interesting enough, the zipper model armour above worked best with vests as the vest could be kept attached to the armour so it was one thing to put on/take off.


Shin/knee-pads might not be removable (some uniforms issued now include them in the pants/boots).  I know I kept shin pads on at all times (when I wore them) because they were a pain to put on and I avoided wearing kneepads.  The only thigh/groin armour I wore was always attached to the body armour, hanging down to cover the lower body.


The last piece, the helmet is not worth mentioning.  Much like my comment above, once you are used to wearing it, a second at most is all it takes.  I have slapped on a helmet and goggles on in the time in takes to say "suit-up".


You have a very diverse level of experienced people on the forum, if you showed a picture of the type you were referring to, you could probably get an exact answer.

Edited by hosercanadian
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I've only worn the Velcro style Kevlar vest (optional plate inserts) and that just takes seconds.  Longer if it is being taken off of the watchstander I was releivingband there was a large size disparity between the two of us.  Swapping the gun belt typically took longer.  The belt could be difficult to adjust in size depending on what middle the TMs ordered.

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Can't say  much about the armor, but the old style web gear is quick to put on.

(Had to wear it sometimes during my stint in the RNoAF)   As long as you kept it assembled it was on in a couple of seconds. (Mine contained two magazine packs holding 2 x 20round mags for the G-3 each, a bayonet and a water bottle. What took the longest was tying the strap at the end of the bayonet sheath around your leg. You do NOT want the sheath flapping around.) Strapping on the gas mask pouch(under your left arm. Darn uncomfortable) took much longer.  

Those doing regular guard duty or otherwise used it often would have it taped up both to avoid 'slippage' and to keep buckles and stuff from rattling.


Some types of body armor can take a while to fit on properly, though.

But then we're talking bomb-suit and similar.


9 seconds to put on a gas mask?

That sounded a bit excessive, but then I started thinking about it...

1. Yell 'Gas,Gas,Gas' as you drop down on your knees and close eyes. Feel free to take one last breath if you dare.

(Of course, everyone else also heard the siren, but there may be someone who's terminally stupid. If everyone else is shouting, or there are no one else nearby, you may consider saving your breath.)

2. Remove helmet.

3. Pull open the gas mask bag with your left hand and reach in with your right to pull the mask out.

4. Lift the mask up to your face and grab straps with your left hand.

5. Stretch straps back and up as you move the mask clsoer to your face.

6. If you have excess air in your lungs, blow gently into the mask as you place it on your face, then lower the straps into place.

7. Check for tightness... If you forgot to shave that day, this is when you find out why they were so insistant on that during boot camp...

8. It's now OK to open your eyes, and possibly even to breathe again... Assuming that you had the air filter mounted correctly and the cap removed when you last checked it for readiness.

9. Pull hood over your head and close as tightly as possible.

10 Gloves.

11. Helmet back on.

12. Go back to painting...


A normal exercise in the Norwegian armed forces is to put on the mask, enter a room filled with CS, then one by one, remove the mask, present yourself correctly to the sergeant, put mask back on...

I never got further than the first syllable... 

That kind of teaches you to take good care of your mask.

(I was in the RNoAF, so we had access to some decent equipment, such as a SAAB Safari trainer parked near the entrance of the gas room. Prop wash is nice to blow the CS out of your clothes.)

Sarge, being tougher than nails, never bothered to put on his mask... 

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