In recent years, the demand for personal protective gear has increased, with bulletproof backpacks emerging as a popular choice.
These backpacks are designed to shield the wearer from ballistic threats and are becoming common among students, professors, and everyday citizens. It’s horrifying that we have gotten to this point, but here we aim to discuss what bulletproof backpacks are, the different ballistic protection levels, and how to make your backpack bulletproof by adding a bulletproof backpack armor plate insert.
What are Bulletproof Backpacks?
Bulletproof backpacks are either specially designed bags equipped with armor panels sewn in, or any backpack with a backpack insert added made from materials capable of stopping bullets. These backpacks are designed to provide protection against ballistic threats in emergency situations, such as an active shooter situation.
This is the most discreet possible way to have ballistic protection in plain sight.
Who Needs a Bulletproof Backpack?
Everyone. I’m serious.
Students, teachers, commuters, and anyone else where ballistic threats are a possibility.
Several school districts have purchased bulletproof backpack inserts to give out to families in recent years.
I am incredibly grateful to have never been in an active shooter situation while in school or college. That said, I have been on campus during bomb threats, shooting threats, and several lockdowns.
I attended college in an unsafe bay area city and often walked to school/home at odd hours. I personally chose, at the time, a specialized backpack with a level IIIa armor plate sewn in because I walked around 10 miles a day and wanted as little weight as possible.
While active shooters typically use rifles, I hedged my bets wanting lightweight protection for the streets off campus where we had several shootings with handguns before, during, and after my time there. Remember, if armor is too heavy and uncomfortable you are less likely to wear it.
Although the likelihood of encountering a ballistic threat is relatively low, I found comfort in having a bulletproof backpack as an extra layer of protection in unpredictable situations, and still wear one to this day.
Soft Armor vs. Hard Armor
Backpack Pistol Armor
Bulletproof backpacks typically use either soft or hard armor materials, each with its benefits and limitations.
Soft Armor is now most commonly made of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMPWE).
Sheets of UHMWPE are layered together to create ultralight armor, such as the 1lb level IIIa backpack I wore in college which was rated to stop all common handgun, shotgun, and blunt force threats.
Soft armor is lightweight, comfortable, and easy to conceal, making it suitable for everyday use. However, soft armor is not designed to protect against rifle rounds.
Pistol armor can also come in the form of thin, hard plates so it’s important to see what threat level your armor is rated for. While having armor is better than not having armor at all, it is important to have the armor for the threat level you may face.
Backpack Rifle Armor
Hard armor is constructed from rigid materials like ceramic, steel, or polyethylene.
Hard rifle plates offer a higher level of protection, capable of stopping rifle rounds as well as handgun rounds.
However, it will be heavier than soft armor, and more fatiguing if you must wear it for long periods.
Bulletproof Backpack Inserts
I wish I had known about bulletproof armor inserts years ago.
These inserts provide a more cost-effective option for those who do not wish to purchase a dedicated bulletproof backpack.
Bulletproof inserts are available in both pistol and rifle-rated plates, offering the same benefits and limitations as the integrated armor in bulletproof backpacks.
They can be easily transferred between bags, providing a versatile solution for personal protection.
It is important to note that the term “Bulletproof,” while commonly used, is incorrect terminology. No armor is truly bulletproof, rather bullet resistant to a specific threat rating threshold based on its construction and intended use.
Bulletproof backpacks and inserts offer an additional layer of protection for students, teachers, and anyone concerned about gun violence.
Understanding the differences between soft and hard armor will help you make the best personal choice.
While these backpacks can provide an added sense of security, it is essential to remember that no armor is completely bulletproof, situational awareness and appropriate safety measures should always be the top priority.
On a personal note, school shootings gave me a lot of anxiety while I was still in school. I hear about school shootings weekly it seems, and I have friends who have been in them. It breaks my heart every time I hear about one. I implore every student to protect themselves.
It is very unfortunate and bothers me deeply that California legislators had the audacity to put forth AB92, which bans the sale of body armor to everyone except those in certain professions.
This goes a long way to make already vulnerable schools and students more vulnerable and further unable to protect themselves.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Tacticon Armament.