Several months ago, while attending the Police Security Expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey, I came across a company called 221b Tactical. They had a product on display called the Maxx-Dri Ultra Comfort Vest (UCV). When I first saw it from a distance, I was thinking, “Oh boy; here’s the mesh cooling shirts from about twenty years ago, trying to make a comeback.” Thankfully, I was WRONG. Although it may look similar from a distance, it is completely different and all for the better.
I spent awhile at the 221b Tactical booth speaking with Suresh Madhavan. Suresh is the President/Co-Founder of the company, and he is a police officer in New Jersey. Suresh talked to me about the discomfort of wearing body armor, especially in the heat and humidity (something every cop just loves, right?). The undershirts that have become available to us in the last ten to fifteen years have made an improvement, but Suresh thought there had to be another way to improve our comfort.
Over time, Suresh developed the Maxx-Dri Ultra Comfort Vest; that is a mesh-like material that is about 6mm thick. Typically, we are wearing several layers, starting with the undershirt, then the body armor and finally the uniform shirt, which isn’t very conducive to staying cool and dry. But, if you wear the Maxx-Dri UCV between the undershirt and body armor, it puts a little bit of space for air movement, which can result in keeping you cooler and dryer. Yes, you are still going to get hot and sweaty on those higher temperature summer days, but once you enter a cool environment, such as an air conditioned building or patrol car, the combination of the cool air and the Maxx-Dri UCV will cool you faster. The Maxx-Dri UCV will also allow fresh cool air to enter the space created between your body armor and undershirt, which in turn helps dry out your undershirt. This not only aids in your comfort, but also can increase the longevity of your body armor. It has been shown that the integrity of Kevlar fibers in body armor degrades from perspiration. Using the Maxx-Dri UCV should also increase the time between washings of your armor carrier.
Over the last few months that I have been testing the Maxx-Dri UCV, I have been very impressed with it. It is so lightweight, that I don’t even notice I’m wearing it, other than being cooler and dryer. In order to stay cooler and dryer, I had switched several years ago to an external uniform style carrier, which had helped (some). So, when I got the Maxx-Dri UCV, I just wore it between my undershirt and uniform shirt. I’m cooler and dryer now that I’m utilizing the Maxx-Dri UCV. Generally, I am wearing an Under Armour undershirt with the Maxx-Dri UCV, which is probably the best option. Although a cotton t-shirt isn’t the best option, I did wear one a few times in conjunction with the Maxx-Dri UCV. The Maxx-Dri UCV will still help keep you cooler and dryer, but a cotton t-shirt likes to retain moisture, so it kind of hinders the Maxx-Dri UCV. Wearing a moisture wicking undershirt like Under Armour along with the Maxx-Dri UCV will get you the best results.
The Maxx-Dri UCV is made of a plastic type material, so it isn’t going to retain any water/perspiration or odor. If you should feel the need to wash it, simply put it in the washing machine as you would any other shirt. The final spin cycle will remove all the water from the spaces within the vest, giving you a dry Maxx-Dri UCV upon pulling it out of the washer. There is no need to put it in the dryer. 221b Tactical does recommend that you hang it up and allow it to air-out prior to wearing. During the time I’ve had my Maxx-Dri UCV, I have washed mine once. Not because it smelled, or I thought that it needed it, but I was washing my uniform and figured why not throw it in as well. When I went to switch everything over to the dryer, I pulled the Maxx-Dri UCV out of the washer and sure enough it was dry.
As far as sizing goes, there are no special measurements that need to be taken. Simply order the same size as you would a t-shirt. The Maxx-Dri UCV comes in sizes Small through XXXLarge, and is available directly from 221b Tactical for $69.99 (includes domestic USA shipping and handling).
I am sold on the Maxx-Dri UCV and I plan on wearing it every day while on-duty. I just wish someone had come up with this many years ago.
Stay cool and dry, but most importantly, STAY SAFE!