Protect that Bod

Whether you call it a body protector, safety vest, or XC vest, the end result is the same: it’s pretty much time for me to get a new one.

Chatt2XC6

My current one is only 3 years old, which is on the shorter end of the recommended replacement period. Yes, vests do indeed have a limited lifespan. If what people say/buy/sell on facebook is any indication, it seems like not many people know that they have pretty much the same “replacement requirements” that helmets do. From British Eventing:

Body protectors should be replaced at least every three to five years, after which the impact absorption properties of the foam may have started to decline.

If you should have a heavy fall, your body protector should be checked immediately for dents. The foam will expand back to its original shape within 30 minutes; but if a dent is showing on examination, then it’s likely that this part of the garment has lost its impact absorption properties and should be replaced.

Hidden damage that a body protector may have sustained is also a good reason for avoiding second-hand garments or those with unknown histories. Taking good care of your body protector means that it will last longer within the three to five year recommended lifespan. So don’t leave it lying around at the yard or in the lorry to be chewed and trodden on. Spending too much time in a hot car or damp tackroom won’t do it any good either.

When not in use, body protectors should be hung on a clothes hanger. Doing up zips ensures they keep their shape, while closing Velcro fastenings will help prevent them becoming clogged with horse hair and hay particles.

Most body protectors are made from heat sensitive PVC nitrile foam, which is why they feel increasingly comfortable as they soften and mold to the wearer’s body. 

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Lots more info about body protectors can be found here, if you’re interested in reading up. Many people like to keep their XC vest in their trailer or car – that’s bad. Don’t do that. Also if you’re wearing an old ass Tipperary, or have taken a few tumbles in your current one, love yourself enough to buy a new one. It’s as if we think that since it’s not covering our head, it isn’t as important. I’ve been guilty of that many times too. In reality though, proper protection for your body is obviously really friggin important. And putting an air vest over top of a damaged, old, or sub-par body protector does not make it more safe either. I won’t even start on my thoughts about air vests though, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Anyway.

It’s not so much the age that is the driving factor for me buying a new one. It’s 3 years old, I haven’t fallen in it, and I store it inside (ok a few times it’s been forgotten in my truck for a few days because I am a hot mess of a person). But anyone with particularly keen eyes will notice in the banner picture of the blog that a little bit of orange is showing at the chest strap of my current vest. This means that it’s a bit too small. For more information on properly fitting a vest – go here.

That vest was a pretty snug fit when I bought it and I’m a bit… er… fluffier than I used to be. If I tighten those chest straps to where they really should go, I legit have a hard time breathing. So either I get to breathe or I have to set the strap in a place that isn’t ideal. Neither of those are good choices.

I’ve been really happy with my current vest, the Airowear Outlyne. It’s a bit bulky, but basically any BETA 3 approved vest will be. Thorough protection requires a certain amount of bulk – example being approved helmets vs unapproved hunt caps. Foam takes up space. I definitely want another BETA 3 vest, and knowing that the Airowear brand fits my shape well (they have different cuts/sizing for men, women, and teens) I have been eyeballing their AirMesh model since it came out. The idea of better airflow is really appealing, since I live in the devil’s armpit.

Image result for airowear airmesh

The only bummer is that it doesn’t come in navy. – black or dark gray only. Airowear, why you gotta go harshing my navy vibe? Granted, the one I’ve been wearing is half navy and half gray, so whatever. The color isn’t that big of a deal (does any eventer actually say that and mean it? No.). I haven’t quite decided which color I want yet, although there isn’t a huge difference between the two since the gray is pretty dark. I can certainly overanalyze this decision past the point of oblivion though. Either way, a new vest is definitely on my radar as an upcoming purchase.

Anyone else buy a new vest/body protector lately, or currently shopping?

16 thoughts on “Protect that Bod

  1. I had an aeroware first – I replaced it because I lost a ton of weight and I was rattling around in it. I replaced it with the racesafe provent 3.0 after trying a bunch of vests on and it is the best vest I have ever put on. I have a really long torso and was having trouble with the vest either not reaching the bottom of my ribcage or extending so far down it pinched my stomach when I folded over the jumps.

    I wear it every time I jump, even when it’s hot (and I wore it every ride during runkle’s rehab….) and I would frequently forget to take it off until I was done untacking. I can’t say enough good things about it. It comes in so many different sizes you can get a nearly custom fit on it.

    15/10 would absolutely buy again. Even though it only comes in black 😛

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  2. I’m probably in the minority; but I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on an air vest. The endurance community seems to use them almost exclusively, and once I have a few extra bucks, I plan on investing on some kind of body protection…and since I also live in the devil’s asscrack, and people rave about how comfortable the air vests are…now I’m wondering if they’re inferior in protection.

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    1. I’d like to hear her thoughts on an air vest, too. I ride western, and I’ve learned some about vests but really don’t know much about air vests except for the gist of how they function.

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  3. I’m just getting started in eventing and starting to look for a vest, but there’s so many options, most of which are a lot more expensive than I can justify. I’ve been eyeing the Ovation one, but I really don’t know how it stacks up safety-wise.

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  4. I have the Airmesh and adore it. Here in SC any bit of air flow is helpful so I don’t die and that thing is super comfortable from the moment I put it on. It is still hotter than not wearing anything, but even in the middle of summer I forget it is on pretty quickly. I store mine inside on a hanger and it is only 1 year old so hopefully I get another 4 out of it before needing to buy another.

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  5. I recently purchased a Charles Owen Ultralite vest at a steep discount that I really wanted to like (because hello, who can resist a good deal), but I think it’s a bit too long in the back. It touches the back of my saddle when seated. I know I should probably sell it and get a new one, but money is tight, and since I’m just going to my first ever horse trial in Sept, I figure I need to make sure I can attend some more events before I justify the money. Like, I’m also super eyeing some white Majyk Equipe XC boots for my horse, but I can’t justify $150 if we’re only going to go to one starter event lol.

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    1. Yeah if it’s touching the saddle it’s definitely way too long in the back. :/ Bummer. If it’s new though you might be able to recoup a good chunk of what you spent, anyway.

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    2. I am trained to fit body protectors, and if there if the body protector touches the back of the saddle it can do more harm than good, as it can be really annoying and even sometimes get hooked on the back. You’re looking for 4 fingers give or take between the cantle and the bottom of your protector. I recommend Airowear no end, the technology behind their products is really superior! 🙂

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  6. ugh i need one but haven’t bought one yet for two reasons A) cause i am not even riding LET alone jumping and B) i will have to try it on before buying one and a lot of the ones I like aren’t in stores (SHIT the only tack store I have nearby is TRACTOR SUPPLY. UGH i am sure the tack shops in Germantown don’ have them either (hunter people baby). BUT one day I will be somewhere I can try one one. I can’t even take the change of buying online because I will take your fluffiness and times it by ten. Full figure with a longish torso with short ass legs….UGH yeah not easy to fit. My Tipp (both of them) need to be tossed but I hold on to them until I get something new. One thing is i always have my helmet and my vests in the house. This TN heat would kill them all even faster…..

    Speaking of I need to start looking at helmets too…I will miss my sunglasses in my onek if i find a new one but mine is approaching 3 years I think now…….

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  7. I’m on need of a new XC vest so I have been eyeballing the KAN ones. Sigh… Time to start saving even the Tipperary one’s are $300+ now days. I have a Tipperary and find it very comfortable.

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  8. WHAT! You mean my body protector from when I was 18 (aka 12 years ago) should be replaced?!? Is it awful that I actually NEVER considered that? Like… never. Not once did it cross my mind that it might be “too old” to be protective anymore. Hmmm…. looks like if I continue with my little XC outings I may need a new vest!

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  9. I replaced my old Outlyne with the Air mesh one and it is slightly less hot. It also feels a bit more flexible. I haven’t done it to my mesh one yet, but I did add color to my old Outlyne with fabric spray paint (I just did the outside of the straps and such so no damage to the safety parts). Also, if you add an air vest on top, they come in Navy.

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