Living on the Road

Threat Level Backpack Panel


Removable ballistic panel

My son is 14 and while there have been no shootings or violence at his school, there have been incidences of guns. This 12×17 ballistic panel can be inserted into the back of a backpack behind the books or laptop to help protect the wearer from errant gunfire. It is a shame anyone even needs to think like this, but I’ve found the increased number of school shootings and violence so disturbing that I decided for the minimal cost, it offered better protection that nothing at all. In addition to providing my child with some measure of safety besides crawling under a desk, I wanted to increase my safety during this year’s hunting season. I have been hunting for 20 years and during the past few years, I’ve heard about more and more hunting accidents. Compared to Kevlar body armor or vests, the price of one panel is far cheaper.

I took this purchase seriously so I did my due diligence. The panel is made of an Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) Fiber composite textile that is actually more resistant to moisture decomposition than Kevlar has proven to be (the original trade name was Dyneema, but it is now a generic material). It was independently tested by HP White’s Lab in Maryland (the premier testing facility for NIJ testing standards). The panel met or exceeded the Level 3a standard, which protects up to and including 9mm full metal jacket and 44 Magnum handgun rounds (approx. 99% of all handgun calibers). Given the ballistics of those rounds and the velocities of those rounds, it only makes sense that buckshot would not penetrate the material, as well. The NIJ standard does not test for buckshot but the shape of buckshot and the lower velocity of the shot and unrifled properties of the projectile would make it clearly less powerful than a 44 Magnum bullet.

Overall, I am sure it will do a better job of protecting me from buckshot than a wool, fleece, nylon or leather or duck cotton jacket, one of which I would still be wearing for warmth anyhow. The panel tapers at the top, so it can insert easily into nearly every backpack, allowing my son and I to share it easily. Being roughly equivalent to the size of a standard pack, it fits quite nicely. It is not heavy or clunky, so there isn’t any shifting around in your pack either.

The test result print outs from White’s Lab are posted on their web site (note: the file seems to only like to display properly in Internet Explorer). They also have some video on the site and on their blog of them test firing over 70 rounds at a panel with no penetration, from all sorts of handguns to 22 rifles and some type of shotgun. It is pretty wild to watch and is basically what impressed me enough to buy it.

Better than relying upon luck or the school to protect my son, if something tragic were to happen. And definitely decreases the chances of my having a hunting accident. Thankfully, I have yet to have to test it (and hopefully never will), but I feel confident it will protect me.

— Sean B.


Threat Level IIIa Backpack Panel – Large
Available from My Child’s Pack