In this article, we will dive into the top 5 things you need to consider before purchasing a bulletproof backpack for yourself or your child. We will then show you our preferred bulletproof backpack given the tips we share.
What is a Bulletproof Backpack? A bulletproof backpack is a backpack with an added body armor plate inserted in the rear of the pack to prevent bullets from traveling through and hitting the wearer. Bulletproof backpacks come in different NIJ ratings that show what kind of rounds the wearer will be protected from. Level IIA is the lowest protection rating, while Level IV is the highest.
1. Not all bulletproof backpacks are made the same.
Not all body armor backpacks are made the same. There are 6 different levels of protection body armor can offer. These levels refer to the speed and caliber bullet the body armor can stop effectively.
A Level II armor can only stop basic handgun ammunitions, and normally only a single shot, while a Level IV can stop almost all handgun and rifle rounds, taking multiple shots, and still protecting the user.
One important distinction to remember is that these level were created by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and for a body armor or bulletproof item to be certified by the NIJ, it must undergo their testing process.
This testing process is time consuming and expensive for the manufacturers, so many manufacturers decide to not be NIJ certified. Meaning, when they say their bulletproof backpacks are Level III, it is a self certification with thier testing, and not nessessarily that of the NIJ.
While many of these bulletproof backpacks are accurately rated, the only sure why to know is by purchasing a actual NIJ rated bulletproof backpack.
2. A Bulletproof Backpack’s rating can affect its usability.
While the rating an bulletproof backpacks let you know the protection the pack provides, it’s also a good indicator of the thickness and weight of the body armor plate inside the pack.
While a level IIA – Level IIIA can be soft and flexible and weigh between 1-3 pounds, a level III+ – IV rated backpack might weigh up to 10 pounds for the body armor plate alone. Add anything to your backpack and you’re likely to be carrying around 15+ pounds on your back.
So, while a Level 4 might offer the highest protection, it comes at the cost of weight, comfort, and mobility.
3. Any backpack with a laptop sleeve can be converted into a bulletproof backpack.
This is one of the most important and overlooked aspects when people search for bulletproof backpacks to purchase. What many people do not understand is that a bulletproof backpack is normally a regular backpack with a body armor plate added to the back of the pack.
This might not seem like a big deal, but in reality, a “bulletproof backpack” might run upwards of $300, while any backpack with a laptop sleeve could be converted into a bulletproof pack for around $45.
Most backpacks today have a padded sleeve in the back of the pack to hold a laptop. This is normally the same size as the pack and is closest to the wearer. This is exactly where off the shelve “bulletproof backpacks” place their body armor.
You can do the same thing to your backpack by purchasing an armored plate separately and placing it in your pack. This saves you a lot of money, and give you the ability to choose the exact level of protection you want.
In addition, body armor plates are independently tested far more frequently than body armor backpacks so your chances of finding an independent test online to see how well the plate holds up under real fire is much more likely.
Another reason that a plate inside a backpack might be preferred is the ability to remove the plate and use it else where. Need it in your backpack? Great, swap it in. Only taking a brief case on this trip? Awesome, throw it in. Any place you can put the flexible plate will give you the added protection you need if it ever came to it.
If you are wanting to go this route, we recommend this plate as the best bang for your buck.
4. A bulletproof backpack can protect more than just your back.
Finally, if purchasing a bulletproof backpack for yourself or your child, it is important to know the various ways they can be used. The primary use of the backpack does not need to be to protect your back.
Often, what is best to do in a live shooting situation is to remove your backpack and place it on the front of you like a bulletproof vest. It can also be used to shield your face and chest if held up. See the illustration below for more tips on how a bulletproof backpack might be used.
5. Bulletproof backpacks are legal in all 50 states.
For some reason, many people are under the impression body armor is only legal for law enforcement. This is not true. Body armor can be legal purchases and owned in all 50 states. The one exception to this is that convicted felons cannot own body armor.
This one misconception is likely why body armor is not more commonplace in our society. Whether it’s on an airplane or in a school, body armor is completely legal.
The goal of a bulletproof backpack, however, is to conceal the armor inside the bag so it’s unlikely anyone would know you are carrying around body armor with you anyway.
Bulletproof backpacks are a wonderful invention and can save a lot of lives if more people began using them. Even if you choose to go the route of buying a certified bulletproof backpack by the NIJ, even with the higher price point, you can rest assured yourself, or your family, will be protected if the need ever arose.
It’s never fun to imagine a situation where you might need a bulletproof backpack, but if the need ever did arise, you bet you’d want to have one in your possession then.
With school shootings on the rise, the need to protect our children from harm at school is even greater. One small investment now could save yours or your child’s life in the future.
Our Recommended Bulletproof Backpack
The Guard Dog Security ProShield 2 Bulletproof Backpack is our bag of choice because it comes in at under $200, is NIJ certified, and is a Level IIIA meaning it is still lightweight, but can stop nearly all handgun rounds.
The pack is designed to be lightweight and can store almost anything you want inside with over 20 organizing pockets.
In total, the backpack only weights 3.8 pounds with the armor included. It has large straps to support that weight of any items inside and keep you comfortable all day long.
Given the Level IIIA rating, it can stand up to most handgun rounds such as, .380, 9mm, .40, .45 ACP, .44 mag, .357 mag, and even .357 SIG. Since the majority of shootings happen with handguns, this will give you the protection you need in almost any situation you might find yourself in.
Give the ample storage space inside the bag, this would be a perfect travel companion to protect all your belongings and you at the same time. Body armor is legal to travel with in all 50 states so there are not worries brining the pack with you.
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