What’s that smell? How to not be a wet, stinky mess when you’re on duty
Don’t let excessive perspiration ruin your mood or confidence level when you’re just trying to do your job
Sponsored by DragynSkyn
By PoliceOne BrandFocus Staff
Every officer can relate to the dread that comes with putting on body armor that’s stiff and uncomfortable. It takes quite a bit of work to get used to, but things tend to get worse when sweating season is here. Everyone sweats, obviously, but wearing body armor that’s smelly (and even itchy) during long hours in the miserable summer weather is brutally uncomfortable.
It’s not just your personal comfort that’s at stake, it’s also your safety and your work performance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined that there are plenty of health hazards, including psychological effects, that come with dismissing heat stress that’s built up in body armor under the baking sun.
So what’s an officer to do? Where can you get relief when you need it?
Darryll Van Deursen, who started his career as a paramedic for 10 years and then became a police officer at the Fresno Police Department, was tired of trying different shirts and products to stay cool under his body armor and uniform.
“Four years ago, I had a partner that soaked his Kevlar vest with Febreeze before he put it on—I’ve seen officers wash their vest carriers, decontaminate their Kevlar and put it on in 105-degree weather and it’s back to square one,” said Van Deursen, founder of DragynSkyn: Extreme Base Apparel, a startup based in Fresno, California. “That’s when a lightbulb went on and I wanted to create a breathable barrier that prevented the sweat and from soaking through the body armor and the odor that came with it.”
Sure, there are a lot of undergarments out there that promise to wick off the sweat from your body and keep you dry, but when Van Deursen put them to the test there was still a problem.
For example, moisture-wicking shirts trap the sweat at the fabric surface rather than the skin, but this trapped moisture would still end up getting absorbed by the body armor material (such as Kevlar), creating a smell problem and potentially affecting the life of the vest.
Enter extreme base apparel
To address this issue, Van Deursen chose to create what he refers to as DragynSkyn, an “extreme base apparel” that’s made with a material called thermoplastic (TPU) laminate, a material that’s well-known for its use in the healthcare field as a breathable barrier to microbes. TPU offers protection from long-term exposure to moisture, bacteria and even UV light.
Van Deursen added that he’s tested prototypes of DragynSkyn for three years and had set a personal record of going as long as 12 months without washing his vest carrier, “that’s how well it works,” he added.
Unlike other moisture-wicking fabrics, TPU laminate is suited well for compression apparel and doesn’t allow sweat to collect on its surface. Instead, it allows moisture to evaporate while it traps odor-causing bacteria from contaminating your clothing and gear. This also means it can cool the wearer down faster because it instantly vaporizes the sweat that’s transferred through the fabric to the surface.
“My hope is that officers will wear their body armor 100% of the time with this extreme base apparel that’s unlike other shirts on the market-- they prevent sweat from soaking over anything you wear over it,” he said.
Our columnist puts DragynSkyn through the sweat test
Sweating isn’t just a seasonal activity reserved for the feverish summer months. It’s a year-round phenomenon for most officers on duty. So we tapped Sean Curtis, our columnist to try out DragynSkyn.
After trying DragynSkyn through many bike trips, hikes and running sessions, the first thing he noticed was that this extreme base gear did keep the wearer dry.
“It kept sweat away from your undershirt, vest and uniform shirt,” said Curtis. “While you can still feel the sweat on your body and under your shirt, it isn’t leaching into your armpits.”
The fit, according to Curtis, was snug –just like what you would expect from compression apparel – but it also had the unexpected benefit of highlighting the wearers’ “assets” like a pair of Spanx.
“The black one I donned had me standing up straight and growling, ‘I’m Batman!’ in the mirror,” he quipped.
The verdict? After multiple uses, Curtis said he couldn’t smell any odor in his garment despite excessive sweating. He even asked his wife to conduct a sniff test, and the results were encouraging.
If you’re on the lookout for the next item in your sweat-blocking arsenal, consider trying a DragynSkin shirt, now available for pre-order (ready to be shipped by early December).