Best Bulletproof Backpacks: Do They Really Work Or Not?

By "Just In Case" Jack | Updated: 08/07/2023

Bulletproof BackpackToday I have something incredibly important to share…

A Complete Guide To Researching, Buying & Wearing A Bulletproof Backpack

Now whether you are a gun enthusiast or hate guns doesn’t matter.

We can ALL agree ANY device that adds a layer of protection from bullets is a worth exploring.

  • But do they REALLY Work?
  • Or are they just a gimmick…

Today, we’ll get to the bottom of all these questions (and more):

TOPICS IN THIS GUIDE…    ↓(click to jump)
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Recent Mass Shooting Statistics

Recently, the desire to upgrade to a bulletproof backpack has exploded in popularity.

And it’s easy to understand why.

It’s due to the increase in school, office, and public event shootings around the world.

These horrible tragedies injure and kill hundreds of innocent men, women, and kids annually:

Number Of Mass Shootings In The US Between 1982 and April 2023

Mass Shootings Chart In USA per Year

One way for the public to combat this is to use more bulletproof tools and devices…

Best Bulletproof Backpacks (& Armor Plates)

Finding the best bulletproof backpack for YOU can be tricky:

  • It depends on if you’re shopping for your young kid or a teenager
  • Or perhaps you’re a college student looking for more protection
  • Or maybe you want a bulletproof backpack for the office

Each of these scenarios presents different needs.

Different designs and different weight requirements also come into play.

So let’s start with a few DIY bulletproof backpack solutions.

DIY Bulletproof Backpacks By Adding An Armor Plate

Often you can DIY MOST packs into an armored backpack.

How? By adding armor inserts.

So you buy the plate and then add it to whatever backpack you’d like.

This strategy works exceptionally well for kids’ bulletproof backpacks.

Why? Because kids grow fast.

So their backpack will quickly become too small (or worn out)…

But an armor panel can slip into or out of any backpack.

So by getting the amor plate separate, you future-proof your investment.

1. Our Top Choice
Bulletsafe Bulletproof Lightweight Backpack Panels

This Bulletsafe light and flexible backpack panel is THE best option for most people out there...

Why? Because it easily transforms any ordinary backpack into a bulletproof one.

This gives you the freedom to choose whichever backpack you want to protect yourself.

It's made from the same ballistic materials as many bulletproof vests, so you know it's top-notch quality.

And the most important feature is it's super lightweight and flexible, weighing in at just 17 ounces and measuring 0.29 inches thick.

But don't let its size fool you, because it provides NIJ level IIIA protection and can stop almost all handgun rounds, including a .44 Magnum.

And with this panel (vs. a backpack) you can move it from backpack to backpack for years to come.

It's perfect for school-age children who can't carry heavy loads.

So, if you want unparalleled protection against small-caliber handgun rounds and the peace of mind that comes with it, invest in a BulletSafe Bulletproof Backpack Panel.

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↓ Impressive Bullesafe Bulletproof Backpack Panel – Field Test

AR500 Level III BackPack Armor

AR500 Armor® launched its own line of ballistic armor and body armor solutions in 2012.

The AR500 Armor Level III Backpack Armor is designed to slip into any backpack. It will fit in nearly any backpack on the market.

So it can fit easily into school bags and laptop pockets capable of accepting 15.1" laptops. Many times with the laptop in the pocket as well.

It not only stops all handgun rounds, but it also is designed to stop rifle calibers up to 2,780fps!

But this extra level of protection comes at a price - it weighs 8 lbs!

This may be right for you if you're an adult and can handle the excess weight. But for most small kids, carrying an 8 lbs. panel on top of books and school supplies starts to get unreasonable.

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Here’s a good video testing and reviewing all AR500 plates:

↓ AR500 Armor: All Threat Levels + Armor Piercing Rounds0!

Premier Body Armor Panels

Premier Body Armor has been making armor for tactical vehicles for 20 years. They've taken this innovation and knowledge to make body armor plates.

Maybe you'd like even more choice in selecting the "ideal" body armor panel for your backpack. Then look no further than Premier Body Armor Panels.

Each of their panels is unique in its size, shape, weight, and protection level. Yet they ALL have one thing in common – they are all designed to fit into most backpacks.

First off, they have a small/medium/large "Universal" sized panels option.

But many premier panels are specifically sized for the best backpacks on the market. For example, they feature plates for packs from brands such as:

Eberlestock, Vertx, Haley, 5.11, Under Armour, The North Face, Maxpedition, Nike, L.L. Bean, GoRuck, Adidas, etc.

They even have bundles where you can purchase BOTH the panel and the backpack together!

So feel free to browse any of Premier Body Armor's Bulletproof Backpack Inserts OR Bundles!

Shop until you find the one that offers the perfect combination of weight and protection.

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Note: The National Institute of Justice NIJ – establishes NIJ standards and updates voluntary minimum performance for body armor.

Here’s an excellent video discussing how Premier Body Armor Panels work:

↓ Premier Body Armor Panels | Bulletproof Your Backpack

Full-Featured Bulletproof Backpacks

Next up are full-featured options that come with plates build in.

These plates are part of the design of the backpack.

So these panels fit perfectly and won’t shift around when you’re running.

Making these packs ideal for older youths, college students, and adults.

Some of them are more focused on a casual office setting.

But others are geared towards tactical features such as camo and MOLLE.

Phoenix Armored Backpack | Bullet Resistant

The Phoenix 2.0 Armored Backpack is built to stop bullets used in 95% of gun-related homicides.

This lightweight backpack is suitable for either kids or adults.

The backpack is always well designed for the office or school. Because it's a generously sized primary compartment that features a laptop sleeve.

The backpack also features durable zippers, padded backing, and padded fully adjustable straps.

Finally, you have several customizable options to choose from, including

  • Color (Blue, Gray, Mauve)
  • Threat Protection (Pistol 3 lbs. / Rifle 13 lbs.)
  • Armor Size (10" x 12" OR 11" by 15")
  • Add Trauma Pad? (Yes / No)

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The Firebird Armored Backpack

The Firebird Armored Backpack has many similar features to the Pheonix.

But it comes with a few more technical design features such as additional pockets and an 11" x 15" armor system.

This backpack only has one color option, Black. But you have a choice between

  • Pistol Rated Soft Armor (sub 3lbs.)
  • Rifle Rated III" LW Steel Armor (10 lbs.)

You can also add a trauma pad or an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) if you'd like.

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And here’s an excellent video showing both the Phoenix and the Firebird packs from AR500:

↓ LIVE Demo Of The Pheonix Armored Backpack


What Is A Bulletproof Backpack?

It’s a backpack that includes an armor plate.

That’s it.

Now some readers might not be familiar with armor plates.

These are plates designed to stop firearm bullets from deadly penetration.

These are the same plates inside bulletproof vests.

A plate provides portable ballistic protection that ANYONE can add to their backpack.

Let’s move on to a more important question – WHY?

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Why You Should Invest In One

The easy answer is to stop bullets.

School shootings, and mass shootings, are the primary concern here.

And in today’s modern world, shootings are more frequent – especially in “gun-free zones.”

Unfortunately, “gun-free zones” attract mass shooters.

Why? Because these locations have a limited ability to put up any immediate resistance.

If an area is deemed a “gun-free zone,” a shooter assumes they’ll be the only person nearby with a gun.

At least until law enforcement arrives (but that can often take several minutes or longer).

So kids become sitting ducks to such horrendous acts of senseless violence.

Some gun enthusiasts recently renamed “gun-free zone” to “start shooting here zones.”

That’s why you must equip yourself (or your kids) with some bulletproof protection.

AND – IF such a backpack pays off…

It will be the BEST investment you could make.

And it’s not even close.

It could save your life or the life of a loved one.

How much would you pay to protect a loved one during an active shooter situation?

I know I’d give up ALL my wealth to save my kiddos.

My guess is you’d do the same.

So what’re a few hundred dollars compared to that?

Kids Bulletproof Backpack

Do They Really Work? How?

Yes, they do work (to a point).

However, how well they work depends on several factors.

Factors include the type of firearm used, the caliber of the ammo, and the type of plate inserted.

But in general, most backpack plates will protect against most handgun calibers.

A few backpack plates can even protect against high-powered rifles.

Great! But why not all plates?

Because the plates that can stop a high-powered rifle are usually too heavy for most people to carry.

These thicker armor plates are upwards of 10+ lbs.

And that’s a weight you must carry before adding any textbooks or survival gear to a backpack.

So there is a tradeoff between the protection you get and how much weight you must carry.

How Bulletproof Backpacks Are Used

Now let’s talk about HOW armored backpacks work in a real-world situation.

Most people assume they will prevent a surprise shot from behind. But this scenario is unlikely…

For a shot to be a surprise, you’d need to be an active shooter’s first target.

Possible? Yes. Likely? I have my doubts.

Why? Because I think it’s more likely the person wearing the backpack will hear a few shots before they become a target.

And the first reaction is to flee from the sounds of gunfire to escape the danger.

OR if you become scared, your next instinct is to hunker down.

If escape is possible, wearing a bulletproof backpack provides some layer of protection.

If an active shooter sees a fleeing target, they may unload a few rounds in that direction.

But this added protection comes with a high cost.

Heavy bulletproof backpacks will slow down your escape.

Everyone knows you cannot run as fast or be as agile while wearing a heavy backpack.

So wearing a backpack, as opposed to not wearing one, could make you a more attractive target (slower) for a shooter.

Which is correct? To ditch the backpack or leave it one?

It’s a tough one…

That’s why an armored backpack is more useful in a “hunker down” situation.

When cornered by a shooter, our natural reaction is to get small and hide behind something (a desk, a table, etc.)

You could take it off and use it as a bulletproof shield.

The shooter hopes to unload the rounds into the backpack and move on.

Hopefully, the panel stops the bullets from penetrating, saving the life of the one behind it.

Either way, carrying a bulletproof backpack gives you some added protection.

More security and options than NOT having one – that’s for sure!

And while it’s far from “perfect,” it’s way better than having nothing.

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Closeup view of closed zippers on a bag.

Best Bulletproof Backpack Features To Look For

First off, the backpack should be of high quality.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a survival backpack, office backpack, bug-out bag, tactical backpack, or school backpack.

In general, you want your backpack to have the following key features:

High-Quality Fabrics

There are many different fabrics a backpack manufacturer could choose from.

For example:

There are cotton, nylon, polyester, and even unique blends.

And fabrics have comparison metrics such as stretch, abrasion resistance, tear resistance, etc.

So you’ll want to choose a backpack that won’t rip or tear easily.

You’ll want one that can withstand the daily toils of use (whether at school, work, or outdoors).

Strategic Use Of Double Stitching

Backpacks are designed to carry loads on your back.

And backpacks are not made from a single piece of fabric.

Backpacks are stitched together using separate swaths of fabric.

These stitches are always the weakest point on a backpack.

We’ve all seen packs where seams have popped.

That happens when the load on the joint/seam exceeds what the stitching can handle.

A bulletproof backpack must have DOUBLE STITCHING at the high load points.

High load points are where the back and shoulder straps or the haul handle meet the pack.

Why not just use double stitching everywhere?

Because that requires more materials and more time than necessary.

This strategy makes such a backpack unnecessarily more expensive.

So look for quality double stitching at the high load points.

Lots Of Compartments (for better organization)

I prefer my backpacks to have lots of separate compartments.

This separation helps stay organized.

I can keep any books, survival gear, or spare clothes in their own compartments.

I also prefer a special compartment near the top of my backpack for a pair of sunglasses.

The total number of compartments is a personal preference.

But I highly recommend staying away from cheaper single-compartment backpacks.

These packs leave you without organization options, and all your stuff is jumbled.

No Thanks.

Quality Zippers And Zipper Tabs

The zippers and zipper tabs are an often overlooked aspect of a quality backpack.

And it’s a shame.

Because if the zippers fail, the entire pack becomes completely worthless.

So look for thick chunky zippers.

Zippers that can take abuse and are not prone to separation issues under intense weight.

Quality Armor Plates (not too thick or too thin)

There are lots of armor plates on the market today.

I wrote an entire post on plate carriers, and I went into some details about different armor plates.

But generally, the thicker the plates, the more protection they offer.

But, the trade-off is the thicker the plate, the heavier it becomes.

So you’ll want to settle on armor plates strong enough to stop the penetration of all common calibers.

Yet, still, keep the weight of the armor plates in a reasonable range.

Now, this extra weight depends on the age and health of the person who intends to carry the backpack.

For example, little kids can only take so much weight.

So it’s a delicate balance between protection and weight. It’s a tradeoff you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Do you (or your kids) plan to wear a backpack to work or school ANYWAY?

Then why wouldn’t you upgrade that tool to make it better?

Why not add an extra layer of protection – just in case?

To me, it’s a no-brainer.

Bullet proof backpacks give you an extra layer of safety with minimal sacrifice.

It’s taking a tool you already use and turning it into a legit defense mechanism.

The risk/reward analysis says – you risk a few dollars and ounces in weight to save a life.

That’s why this is NOT a hard decision – do it now.

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