Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Flawed Logic in Zombie Kit: Armor and Protective Gear

It was recently pointed out to me that FBMG Inc. offers a Zombie Defense Loadout. While they are to be applauded for the completeness of their offering, that $21,000 can be spent more effectively on other gear, and some of their choices are suspect at best. Using their offerings as a basis for comparison, my goal is to list some alternatives that will be better choices in this specific application.

Armor is a good thing. It can keep you from dying when not having it would perhaps cause that result (I know, very deep thinking, that). However, most of the armor that is getting mention on the market at this time is far heavier and less effective against the MUD's (Mobile Un-Dead) because it was designed to stop bullets, not teeth. In the instance of civil unrest and rioting, hell yeah, give me an Eagle CIRAS armor carrier with IIIa soft armor and some level 3 polyethylene plates. For the ZO (Zombie Outbreak) scenario, though, its unnecessarily heavy and cumbersome. Riot gear, which is designed for protection against blunt trauma (like bites) is preferred. I would start with the Exotech EX-01000 from Hatch as a base:
This rig is a fairly lightweight and as stated previously, is designed to protect against blunt force trauma. Add to this some puncture resistant full gauntlet gloves (too many brands to list, but I'm partial to Hatch and Damascus). The thing to remember is that you're going to need to be mobile. Full plate armor may provide excellent protection (my friends and aquaintances that are into the SCA keep harping on how easy to move in and comfortable it is), but your ability to get up and go if you have to will be diminished. If you subscribe to the belief that Zombies infected with the Rage virus gain both strength and speed, that's not to be desired. Even a slow, plodding zombie will catch you eventually. He doesn't have to take a break to drink or catch his breath. he doesn't need to stop. He/she/they can keep going almost indefinately, and they feel no pain or fatigue. Clearly, mobility is paramount, which is why converted busses and campers are so popular with survivors needing to un-ass their current location. That's getting into an area for another entry, though. We'll revisit that topic at a later date.

Bear in mind, though, that armor in this case is just another barrier. Its protection is not absolute. The armor in this instance is designed to give you a chance to fight, not to be an all-inclusive solution to stopping infection via bites or absorbing blood through the mucus membranes or through ingestion.

Because of those threats, a helmet is not the detriment it would seem to be in this case. While you may take a bite to the skull, its not very likely for a couple of reasons: first, most people are hard headed. Its not as easy to get a bite on a skull as it is on the other extremities. Secondly, most people have a pretty good idea of where their head is. It tends to be protected by moving it out of harms way...generally, and by most people. As with everything, there are exceptions. At any rate, the protection afforded by riot helmets-the face shield and neck protection-starts to look like the gear to have. Protech, an Armor Holdings company (AH owns most everybody of consequence in the LE and .mil arenas. If you own tactical gear, chances are you own something made by one or more of their companies), makes several good helmets. I would prefer the TR 2200 with nape protection added.

This helmet has the advantage of being just about the lightest helmet with extra protection available. Its not going to stop a bullet, but it will stop a bite to the dome, and the face shield-providing that you actually lower it in a fight-will stop that blood borne stuff from getting into your face. I would strongly recommend adding a pair of Oakley M-Frames underneath, preferably their shooting array, to be kept either on your gear or in your assault pack. Those are also beyond the scope of this composition, but you need to start thinking about what it is you're going to need to bring. Here's a hint: think magazines and ammo.

What about footwear? I'm partial to Danner's boots. I've got a few pairs, hikers and duty boots, and I love 'em both. The Gore-Tex waterproof lining will probably assist in being a blood borne pathogen layer, but its not rated as such, so take necessary precautions.

It has been claimed that ACU works as cammo against the typical zombie. There may be some truth to that, but existing cammo, like woodland if you live in that environ, or desert tiger stripe, a favorite in arid regions, will work just as well. Since the eyes are an easy way to gain infection of the Rage Virus, they are attacked first, and vision is degraded. MUD's can still catch movement, however, so the effectiveness of cammo may very well be overrated. Consider the number of COD's (Crusty Old Dudes) from the midwest and north east that wear jeans and a red flannel shirt while deer hunting with their .30-30 Marlins or Winchester 94's. These old masters bag deer with what appears to be amazing ease. Its not luck; its experience and training. Stealthy movement is something to be learned now, so it can be applied during The Outbreak. I can almost guarrantee that the COD's and their families will probably just head into the woods and survive the whole thing. The Boy Scout Motto is "Be prepared". They are. Are you, city dweller?

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