Are Trauma Pads Worth it?

Body armor is essential to protecting the health of soldiers, officers, and anyone who participates in rigorous outdoor activities. Trauma pads are an important supplement to body armor. Inserted underneath the armor, this helps absorb the impact of ballistic projectiles. 

Trauma pads are worth buying. Trauma pads are important because they can protect the user from contracting painful injuries. Moreover, they can prevent deformities and permanent scarring while body armor alone cannot always do. 

When engaging in ballistic activities, it is always important to take extra steps to protect your health and well-being. Knowing which supplemental materials to wear along with your body armor can go a long way. 

How Trauma Pads Work? 

Trauma pads have a specific science behind them. When a projectile hits a person it transfers a larger amount of energy that typically results in an injury, even if the person is wearing protective body armor. Trauma pads strive to reduce the ensuing energy by both absorbing some of this energy and by spreading it across a larger surface area.

Why Run Trauma Pads? AR500 Armor

Types of Trauma Pads

Trauma pads have some shared qualities; for example, most of them are required to be about 1.7 inches deep to help protect them from bullets. However, trauma pads are not “one size fits all.” They vary in shape, size, and material, and it is up to each individual to determine which trauma pad is the right choice. Evaluating the differences between trauma pads can help make this choice. 

Shapes, Sizes, and Materials 

The majority of trauma pads are rectangular, which is the conventional shape that fits underneath a body armor vest. However, some trauma pads come in unique shapes, such as hexagonal or rounded. 

It is best to pick the shape that fits well underneath your body armor. Sizes will also depend on your chosen body armor; the standard size is 5×8 inches, which fits under the average bulletproof vest. 

Most trauma pads are similar in terms of shapes and sizes, varying only by a few curves or inches. There is more diversity in the material of a trauma pad. There are a few materials to choose from: 

  • Metal: The purpose of a metal trauma pad is to reduce the chance of the user experiencing “blunt force trauma,” or an injury that results from a significant impact. However, metal trauma pads often fail to absorb a high amount of energy. 
  • Plastic: Plastic trauma pads absorb more energy than metal trauma pads. They compress around the body, which helps mitigate the force of projectiles. 
  • Fabric: Fabric trauma pads are not meant for severe impacts. They consist of cloth and require extra layering for adequate protection. 
  • Ceramic: Ceramic trauma pads are most popular in military settings. They are lightweight, which makes it easy for the user to move around. Their hard exterior helps them absorb the energy exerted by projectiles.
A simple trauma pad (Source).

Newer Trauma Pads

The design of newer body armor may seemingly render trauma pads obsolete. Many military-grade vests are designed to be powerful enough to withstand the impact of projectiles. However, this does not mean that trauma pads are unnecessary. 

When it comes to protecting one’s health and well-being, it is better to be safe than sorry. Trauma pads can provide an extra layer of security. 

Buying Your Body Armor

There are plenty of sites where you can acquire body armor and accompanying trauma pads. Before doing so, it is important to decide what body armor you need. There are different levels of body armor that should be selected based on your situation. 

Level II Body Armor

Level II body armor is lightweight and is worn in situations where the chance of forceful impact is low. You should invest in Level II body armor if:

  • You are a civilian or someone not in the armed forces
  • If your priority is swift movement and comfort 
  • If you are dealing with a 9mm Sub-Machine gun, 44 Mangum, or a small arm weapon

Level IIIA Body Armor

Level IIIA body armor shares many similarities with level II. It is also a soft armor that is used with small arms weapons. However, while Level II body armor is often worn on its own, Level IIIA body armor is worn underneath a layer of Level III armor. Level IIIA and Level III armor together will offer far more protection than Level IIIA armor by itself will. 

Level III Body Armor

Level III body armor is one of the most powerful and protective types of body armor on the market. It is designed to protect against powerful weapons, but will not protect against military level ammunition. Here are the projectiles that Level III body armor can and cannot protect against.

Level III Can Protect AgainstLevel III Cannot Protect Against
7.62 FMJNATO M855
5.56x45mm with 62-grain steel core5.56x45mm with 55-grain steel core
AK-47 RifleStandard Military-grade Weapons
Sniper RiflesDragunov Sniper Rifle

Level IV Body Armor

Level IV body armor is the typical body armor that is worn by soldiers. This body armor can protect against the weapons that Level III body armor cannot. The higher the level of body armor, the more protective it is on its own. Thus, trauma pads are more necessary when using Level II or Level IIIA body armor. However, they can be used in conjunction with all types.

Things to Consider When Buying Your Body Armor 

When buying body armor, you want to take into account factors such as your type of body armor, the variety, and the cost. Both Armored Republic and Spartan Armor Systems offer trauma pads. Here are how the two measure up. 

Armored RepublicSpartan Armor Systems
CostArmored Republic has cheaper trauma pads available, with its lowest priced one being $18Spartan Armor Systems sells trauma pads at a higher price point, with its cheapest trauma pad selling for $42
Variety Armored Republic has a wide range of body armor, but a smaller selection of trauma padsSpartan Armor Systems offers a wide variety of trauma pads, including non-ballistic trauma pads and different materials 
Body Armor LevelsArmored Republic offers plenty of choices of body armor in all levelsSpartan Armor Systems offers different levels of body armor, but has a smaller selection 

If you are more interested in purchasing different types of body armor than you are in trauma pads, Armored Republic has a wider variety. Conversely, if you are interested in a wide range of trauma pads, Spartan Armor Systems will cater to those needs.


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Kevin was born and raised in Texas and loves all things tactical. His hobbies include shooting, hunting, rock climbing, and hiking with his dog Jax.

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