Ever get the sudden compulsion to jump through a second story window like The Hulk? Me neither. But if I did I would hope to be wearing the Leatt 3DF Airfit Body Protector – it may be the closest thing a mild mannered dual sport rider can get to a superhero suit.
The 3DF Airfit is an expansion of Leatt’s original 3DF Body Protector, both of which have a slightly different take on body protectors, also known as pressure suits. Leatt uses multi layer, multi density foam for protection, as opposed to the hard plastic outer shell used by other manufacturers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The idea is that the multi layers of foam will allow flexibility and therefore better fit between different body types, with the multi density foam providing a reduction in the amount of force that’s transferred through the pad upon impact.
The ergonomic and highly functional chest, back, elbow and shoulder pads on the Airfit are also quickly removed for washing – very handy for when they begin to smell like the bottom of the used towel hamper at the Hoboken YMCA. In addition to ease of cleaning, this provides the user with options. If you’re motorcycle camping with an inflatable ‘friend’ riding behind you, the back pad can easily be left at home.
Leatt was also considerate enough to place some additional basic padding in the biceps and love handle areas, which are two spots traditionally ignored by most other manufacturers. It should be noted that these extra pads are not removable and don’t offer the same degree of protection that the other pads do (level 2 for the chest and back, level 1 for the elbows and shoulders). But I do appreciate the extra protection, which may be enough to save me from enjoying a hematoma in these areas.
Where the Airfit really shines is with fit and comfort. When I first held it in my hands it felt a bit on the heavy side, but wearing it is another story – putting it on the Airfit felt extremely light. I would attribute this to the Airfit being exceptionally well balanced so the padding merely feels like an extension of existing body parts. Unfortunately, this does include accentuation of the love handles.
The most essential element to the Airfit’s comfort is the construction of the chassis. While the fabric of the original 3DF felt reminiscent of a cheap leotard, the Airfit is manufactured with a polyester that feels a lot more tear resistant and, uh, masculine. The moisture wicking, breathable material is also held together by a generous amounts of stout cover stitching. Ventilation of the chassis is enhanced by the incorporation of mesh in the armpits and lower side areas. Leatt also realized how crucial circulation through the pads themselves are to cooling, and perforated them for improved air flow.
The addition of a adjustable hook and strap fastening system to the Airfit helps hold the chest and back plates securely in place and allows for some customization of the fit.
One thing I don’t care for with both the Airfit (and the original 3DF) is the height of the chest plate. It offers perfect protection for the sternum and upper abdomen – great for a center mass shot from an errant rock or antler, but ends rather abruptly at the lower portion of the Pecs. Since it is a Leatt product I’m sure this was done purposely to provide optimal compatibility with their Neck Brace. But for those of us who savor the risk of having our necks snap like a toothpick, it would be nice if the Airfit offered more protection for the upper chest area.
At least Leatt didn’t retain the color from the original 3DF, which was an anemic gray and the perfect esthetic for a Sci-fi B movie from the 80s. I know, this is a superficial and largely inconsequential complaint since most body protectors are worn under a jersey or jacket – but some of us like to show off our love handles.
The Airfit is a bit on the pricey side; at $249 it’s more in Bruce Wayne’s budget than Bruce Banner’s. But when you consider that the Airfit is probably the best fitting, most comfortable, and high tech body protector currently available that can offer a euphoric sense of invincibility normally only obtained through a freak scientific accident, it’s a pretty economical way to feel like a super hero. Cape not included.
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