Why You Should Consider a Bulletproof Backpack Insert

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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications.

Are you considering a bulletproof backpack insert? What can you do if you can’t be present to protect your loved ones? While there will always be both evil and cowardice on this earth, that doesn’t mean we sit idly by and watch. There are still things we can do about it to keep our family safe, and I think bulletproof backpack inserts (nitpickers, you know what I mean. “Bullet-resistant.”) may be something to consider. I tested the Streetwise 3A Backpack Insert from The Home Security Superstore, and here is what I found.

What does Level IIIA stop?

The short answer? Most handgun rounds. The long answer would read .22, .38 Special, .380, 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum. It’s my understanding that IIIA soft armor will provide ballistic protection against shotgun rounds as well, but the manufacturer doesn’t state this, and there’s a world of difference between a slug and birdshot.

If facing a shotgun, I’d much rather have IIIA ballistic panels than nothing, though.

Bulletproof Backpacks and Rifle Rounds

If you want to be protected from rifle rounds, you’re going to need hard armor, and when you switch to that, it’s an entirely different ballgame. The plates are heavy and unlikely to be something anyone would want to carry for daily carry in your bulletproof backpack.

Should you be looking for something that will stop common rifle cartridges, you’re likely going to want to look at Level III or III+.


How practical is putting an IIIA panel in a child’s backpack?

This was the first question I had, and so, the first thing I did was see what this panel felt like in standard “school” backpacks.

I found that this piece of backpack armor was absolutely massive and fully covered the torso of a grown man. While I really liked how much surface area the panel covered, I knew that it was much larger than a lot of the plate carriers that are available on the market, and so I had some questions as to how this panel would fit into a book bag.

It’s large – yes – but it does nestle in nicely within a school book bag, covering the entire area within the back of the bag. In the event of an active shooter situation, somebody would be able to cover a great portion of their body behind this panel turned into a bulletproof backpack armor.

It fits in there perfectly.

Are bulletproof backpack inserts heavy?

Not if they’re soft armor, they’re not. If you’re looking at hard armor ballistic panels, then absolutely, yes. Heavy child’s backpacks are already the culprit in a number of back-related issues for school kids, and I knew that this wasn’t going to be a feasible option if these were standard steel body armor plates.

I was surprised by the weight!

I was pleasantly surprised to find how light this ballistic protection panel is, though. It weighs less than two pounds. I carried the panel-protected bulletproof backpack with me throughout the course of a workday, and there was minimal fuss whatsoever. You really don’t even notice that it’s there.

It’s too big for any bags that aren’t full-sized. This Osprey Manta can’t even close.

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Are bulletproof backpacks a discreet means of carrying body armor?

There’s no doubt in my mind about this. Bulletproof backpacks are one of the most discreet means of wearing body armor on a daily basis that I’ve ever seen. Nobody is going to wear a plate carrier within “normal” society and not stick out like a sore thumb. Even the soft armor bulletproof inserts I’ve seen people wear underneath their clothes will make one look like a puffy oddball. Everybody can clearly see that body armor is being worn.

Zero panel profile pack

Most backpacks are ubiquitous, however, and there is zero profile with this panel whatsoever. It’s not hot, it weighs virtually nothing, there’s no profile and, being Level IIIA, it offers protection against a great number of pistol calibers. There’s still going to be broken bones, severe bruising, and possible internal damage if somebody takes a bullet while wearing this body armor panel, but they’ll have a much better chance of survival compared to if the bullet went through them.

(For more information on why I recommend checking out this video below…)

Be the gray man!

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to some of the videos that are slipping through the media of late, but I’m seeing a number of them where “protestors” blocking the road are pulling/pointing weapons at people attempting to drive down the road. This is another instance where I think a lightweight bulletproof panel could be of use.

No armored car for me.

While driving an armored car would be awesome (I’m jealous, Fabian), I can’t afford it.

Gas is high enough as it is. Wearing a plate carrier while driving is not likely to happen. Imagine you’re spotted at a “protestor” roadblock wearing a plate carrier. You’re screwed.

As others have pointed out, a car is not cover either. A car is concealment. You may think that metal door is going to protect you, but it won’t. The only cover you really have with a car is from the engine block and parts of the wheel. Getting out of a car when a gun is pointed your way takes precious time, as well. This is where the backpack panel can come to play once more.

I can easily nestle the backpack between my body and the door, giving myself a better layer of protection.

Bulletproof backpacks panel stability?

The only question I have about this is if you’ll want some means to brace the panel. In other words, if a bullet comes through and hits the upper right corner of the panel, I have suspicions that the panel would just “give,” bending out of the way by the force of an active shooter situations bullet. I can’t help but wonder if a large book or some other stiff board-like object wouldn’t give it the support (I think) it would need.

If I stick my copy of The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine – a hardback book – behind the backpack panels, would this risk of giving be reduced to nil? It would add about two pounds to the backpack (and give me something to read, ha), but it makes some sense, doesn’t it? I thought about using my router to cut out a Streetwise panel-shaped board, but it felt a little forced/indiscreet. If you know more about ballistics than I do, give us your thoughts in the comments.

bulletproof backpack insert
An excellent book, by the way. (It would pair nicely with this course.)

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Other additions to bulletproof backpacks for children

A tourniquet, pair of disposable gloves, and a chest seal could easily be thrown into bulletproof. backpacks. If it’s going to take over an hour before EMTs are able to enter the building, people are going to die from bleeding out. Interestingly, bleeding out is the primary cause of death in military settings. If we not only give children the means to shield themselves from attack but the ability to treat their friends as well, lives could be saved.

If you have a spouse or kid who doesn’t like to carry a gun on a daily basis, at the very least, perhaps you can get them to carry a panel instead. The Home Security Superstore has them for roughly a hundred bucks. That’s pretty hard to beat.

Not fun stuff to think about, but bulletproof backpacks, especially in an active shooter situation, are something that deserves thought. Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments below.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, The Faithful Prepperand The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

Aden Tate

Aden Tate

Leave a Reply

  • I really don’t wish to consider this, but given today’s environment, this article is timely and very illustrative. Keeping the weight down is important as mentioned, so adding something to “stiffen” it would seem prudent…..but another two pounds? Thanks again for an article that helps one consider potential ideas to implement and how.

  • (LOL) Don’t be, Aden. It’s already back to the lender. Was nice, though, won’t lie. You do feel safer. Nice to drive a luxurious model for a change, too (LOL). I’d get me one if I could.

    But I don’t even drive much, more of a scooter/bike/walk and PT guy here. Very economical, burns mostly calories and clears the mind. No one cares for you, and you never get stuck in traffic, big bonus IMHO. Discretion is cheaper LOL.

    Anyway, very good article, very timely and comprehensive, too. Just submitted a piece on improvised urban weapons and despite it being about weapons, I wrap it off by suggesting bulletproof plates for protection.

    That’s to say I’m 110% with you on this. Kudos, and thanks for sharing your experience, will help lots for sure. Haven’t tried one yet, was considering and you just convinced me.Bullets aren’t exactly flying where I live, but I want to be prepared.

    As you said it’s so simple, low profile, easy and versatile, there’s no reason not to use one, especially in this day and age, and even more going forward.

    Thanks for the tips, stay safe.

  • A pair of cloth strips with Velcro in each end could be sewn into the inside of the bag on each side allowing the pad to be better secured. There are a few companies that sell both backpacks with a pocket that holds the Level IIIA pad [or a thin solid plate – as you said, quite heavy] or even a backpack that transforms into an improvised front & back “vest” [very expensive, even minus the pads/plates].
    Unfortunately, if you don’t already own this, you cannot purchase this anymore in NY. The latest infringement passed faster than the original “SAFE” Act!

  • Sad that it has come to this, but I would agree, this is definitely an option to give serious consideration too. While a IIIA panel won’t stop a rifle round, it will slow it possibly limiting damage.
    Be warned though, it will still feel like you’ve been kicked by a Mule. Depending on the cartridge and the projectile, even from a pistol, you’re potentially looking at several hundred pounds of energy being absorbed by the panel. Bruising will be significant, and broken bones are probable. There are Trauma pads for use with hard and soft armor to lessen the shock, but they add bulk and we’re looking at limited space in a backpack.
    In addition to your Tourniquet and Chest Seal, a Pressure Bandage is something I would add (those 3 items I keep with me as EDC). I would highly recommend buying two or more of each of those items, and train to apply them, on yourself and others (especially yourself, as it’s a lot harder to apply a Tourniquet with only one hand, and yes, you need to practice using your non dominant hand as well).

    Good article Aden.

  • Millions of schoolkids, a few hundred under attack in any given year until people FINALLY learn that almost all mass shootings occur in gun-free zones, and realize that our politicians are monsters enuf to set up schoolchildren DELIBERATELY to get Americans to ask for gun “control” (they don’t mean hitting what you shoot at). A lot of work carrying the backpack for each life saved.
    On the other hand, most malls are also sitting duck zones. I avoid them because I don’t feel safe. If you wore a backpack like this on those shopping expeditions, that might make sense.

    • “almost all mass shootings occur in gun-free zones”

      There was at least one gun in that zone at the time of the shooting, so it definitely wasn’t gun-free.

      • Sigh Doly you sure love being a liberal, eh?

        There has been no Statistical proof that ANY of the literally thousands of Gun Laws has prevented ONE Criminal from getting a gun.

        The VAST Majority of gun violence occurs ODDLY in the MOST Gun Law Cities that have been controlled by Democrats for decades.

        You know, NYC, Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia and so on.

        THEY have had Mass Shootings every week for decades BUT because they are mostly Black on Black shootings Democrats DON’T care.

        As far as I can find NO Gun Shows have ever had a mass shooting event. Odd given the number of guns there to buy.

  • Aden, Thanks for this article and the link. I didn’t know about the soft armor plates, so I appreciate the information! God bless and keep you and yours.

  • Realistically,
    1)What could a child do bearing in mind the latest of insane attacks on a school. Trapped in a room, with an active shooter, intent on killing everybody.
    It has been written that a youngster survived by playing dead after being shot. Better that than holding a back pack up in self defense.

    2)I don’t hold a lot of faith in a child having the strength to apply a tourniquet. BUT direct pressure on a wound? Possibly.

    3)Years ago I had a fool step out in front of me with a rifle (that turned out to be a BB gun. Fool verses 1 tonne of car? He lost. No action taken against me by police. Fast forward to today. A fool points anything at you that looks like a firearm. What you going to do? Give him the bird or your hood.

  • Due to an increase in thefts, even in “nice” areas, a lot of stores are implementing a no backpack policy. I’m not talking the fancy smancy places, but some that preppers would likely frequent – run of the mill places. You have to check the pack at the register. Bummer if that policy decreases your shopping options for good stuff.

  • Did you inadvertently leave out 45 ACP or are you saying that a 45 ACP is more penetratingly than .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum?

  • Hmmm…I’d rather have a chest rig with Angel Armor front and back. Never liked side plates. Or a low profile vest worn underneath. IMHO and personally I don’t see any value of a bullet proof ruck of any kind. I just have a different mindset. I have worn heavy body armor and fortunately the new stuff is just a lot lighter. Wish we would have had it earlier!
    Soap Box Moment…
    We would not even be talking about have the crazy stuff we do here if it was not for a total disintegration of morals and values. Compliments of the Adversary! Coming to a city near you!

  • How about a clipboard made of Kevlar? Saw an article about those 2-3 years back, oriented toward LE to use outside a squadcar when making a traffic stop. Don’t remember the Mfgr but should not be too hard to find them. If I recall, they were about 10w x 12 or 13 long.
    Maybe you have seen those clipboard / paperholding cases in school supply sections of stores, like WM. Some of them have a handle hole at the bottom where it latches. If some soft armor were inside it then hook a shoulder strap to it and use it for a chest protector. Attaching D rings to the back by the hinge is possible and practical too. No one would.question it unless they saw the soft armor inside and maybe not even then.

  • Very interesting idea. I can’t see myself using this insert like this as I’m an almost 40 year old woman, but I wonder if I could put this in a large purse for sort of everyday carry…obviously a backpack has some strategic placement advantages automatically for this, but having it daily would be better than not. When it’s convenient to wear a backpack I could see swapping it.

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