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Reviews : Police Product Test

Police Product Test: 221B Tactical Maxx-Dri Vest

This mesh vest creates breathable space between your body armor and undershirt to increase comfort.

February 26, 2015  |  by A.J. George - Also by this author

Photo: 221B Tactical
Photo: 221B Tactical

221B Tactical was founded by a cop and everything they make is designed to make cops more functional and comfortable on duty. The company's flagship product, the Maxx-Dri vest, addresses many of the problems common with body armor.

The Maxx-Dri is a proprietary mesh vest designed to create a breathable space between the wearer's undershirt and body armor. Traditionally, ballistic vests are worn snug to the torso and, although they provide much needed protection, the simple fact that there is no air space between the panels and the skin creates discomfort, especially during a long shift in the summer heat. The Maxx-Dri isn't complicated but it does a wonderful job of creating that critical air space. This not only adds comfort for the wearer by adding a thin layer of cushion but more importantly allows airflow between the vest and torso, thus eliminating the sweaty irritation that occurs even in the cold winter months. Moisture is the enemy here, dry is the goal. Even the best ballistic vest carriers on the market these days can't hold a candle to the amount of breathability the Maxx-Dri provides.

I committed to wearing mine for a full month during the fall in Arizona. Considering temps vary between the high 80s in the daytime and the 30s to 40s at night I felt this would be an optimal climate to test the Maxx-Dri's abilities. My vest is the most current Level IIIA model available. Having just received the vest weeks prior to this test I was still in "break-in period" and the vest wasn't exactly comfortable. The first thing I noticed about the Maxx-Dri was the level of comfort it added with the cushioning alone. My new vest now seemed to contour to my torso better and the shoulder straps put less pressure on my shoulders. Even if the vest provided little airflow, the comfort feature was nice and all without adding any noticeable bulk to my kit.

A little later in my shift I began to see the true benefit of the Maxx-Dri as the temps started to climb and that familiar sweaty feeling under my vest was surprisingly absent. Light breezes and air conditioning from my patrol vehicle now were able to find their way through the air space created by the Maxx-Dri vest and I spent the entire day dry and very comfortable.

My shift changed to midnights soon after and the vest's performance in the cold was equally pleasant. Even though there was more airflow reaching my torso I was warmer overall because I was no longer sweating under a constricted ballistic vest. I have to admit, I was sure I would be cold due to the Maxx-Dri's ability to create "drafty" conditions but I was wrong.

The Maxx-Dri is machine washable and dries in a flash. I washed mine weekly and so far it has held up great with no signs of wear. With a direct price of under $70 it is about the price of a single uniform shirt and well worth it. Give the Maxx-Dri vest a try. Being more comfortable and supporting a fellow officer at the same time? You can't go wrong.

221B TACTICAL MAXX-DRI VEST SPECS:

  • Polyester derivative mesh fabric
  • Acts as a spacer between your ballistic vest and your undershirt so that fresh, cool air can circulate in between
  • Helps keep you cooler in hot weather, warmer in cold weather
  • Can wear with both concealable and external ballistic vests
  • Machine washable, no need to put in dryer
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Thickness: 6mm
  • Sizes: Small–XXXL
  • Price: $69.99

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