Body armor versus summer heat
The functionality of body armor is usually conditioned by comfort. Being body armor an efficient defensive tool, comfort, can be something difficult to achieve.
This situation can be seen in different scenarios. For example, Troy Carter indicated to Task and Purpose that when he served in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, comfort was not an option. When he served in Afghanistan, Carter still had to wear the regulation uniform, even though the heat was almost unbearable.
“One time on guard duty I took my BDU top off, so I was just wearing my body armor and a t-shirt,” Carter stated. “It was so hot, but this platoon sergeant came by and he was so mad at me.”
Faced with this situation, and the large number of soldiers who experience the same conditions in territories such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria, a recent solution has taken place.
Cooling systems and a fish tank motor
Justin O’Brien, a security forces airman, has invented the new system that can help eliminate this problem. It is a cooling system for body armor, made up of a water bladder carefully connected to a battery-powered pump.
Ace Task and Purpose explains:
“The pump draws water from the bladder into pads beneath the body armor on the wearer’s chest, back, sides, waist, neck, and or head. As the water warms up, the wearer can drink it without drawing cool water from the bladder. The device can also be worn in a backpack, or as a standalone vest ”
This is a great advance for all those soldiers who find themselves in Carter’s situation. A system that allows this can also help prevent accidents, for example dizziness or heat stroke.
This system is made in a simple and intelligent way, mixing several elements that we never thought to see in body armor. For example, the pump includes a small fish tank motor. Plus, the cooling system adds 10 oz. Of weight, making it easy for soldiers with low mobility shifts to carry them around.
Competing in Spark Tank
O’Brien’s idea was so ingenious that it entered the Spark Tank competition in 2020, under the name Liquid Cooler Plate Carrier. Spark Tank is an annual competition in which Airmen present unique and frequently game-changing ideas. The winners have the opportunity to develop their invention through partnerships.
“Heat stress and related illness negatively impact all aspects of the military; both in an operational setting and in training. The LCPC active cooling system is a device that keeps our Airmen in prime fighting condition, while keeping heat stress at bay, ”said O’Brien for Air Force Materiel Command.