Hard armor is a term that refers to permanent stabilization solutions. It comes in a variety of forms and is most useful for areas that experience high water velocity, such as channels and ditches. These systems offer significant value and safety over rip rap and poured-in-place concrete. For example, ShoreFlex(r) is a permanent erosion prevention system that can be installed to shield channel side slopes, culvert inlets, and shoreline.
Because of its inherent limitations, soft armor vests are usually only available in a few standard sizes. Sizing is therefore dependent on the adjustability features of the soft armor vest. Soft armor vests can only be adjusted to fit the torso circumference and strap length. They also may not cover the vital organs depending on the strap length and body size. Hard armor is available in Level IIA and IIIA versions. While a hard plate protects against bullets, soft armor is more flexible and may be more comfortable for certain users.
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High-tensile materials like Kevlar and Tensylon provide superior modulus and shape retention in body armor. As long as these materials are durable and are not too heavy, they can protect an individual. However, their elasticity limits make it unsuitable for heavy-duty use in combat. The best materials for hard armor are textiles or a combination of both. These materials can provide excellent protection against fragments of steel. However, the weight of the vest is a key issue.