Body armour, eh? I’d always considered myself as someone who doesn’t really need too much body armour – but recently I’ve been trying to push my riding in a variety of directions to which it’s spectacularly disinclined (to put it delicately). The holes in my knees have become somewhat more infrequent thanks to a generous application of kneepad, and the next step, surely, is to try some rather more substantial upper body protection. This will hopefully also have the effect of making my shoulders seem (even more) manly. Either that or I’ll resemble a lost American Football player.
Here, then, is the somewhat tricky to pronounce Tuatara Idro D30 armour from Bluegrass Eagle. For those who can’t be bothered to Google, the Tuatara is a New Zealand native reptile of the order of Rhynchocephalia. The name apparently means ‘peaks on the back’, which is odd, as you’d imagine that might be painful in the event of a crash. Neither, too does the Idro bit refer to the Industrial Development And Renovation Organisation of Iran as you might think – nor does it refer to the world’s first plug and grow hydroponics system.
The armour is essentially a zippered mesh vest, liberally festooned with a variety of D30 pads in select useful places (shoulders, spine), a couple of EVA chest pieces flanking the zip and a removable separate EVA pad piece for the lower back. A key selling point for this armour is that there’s a zippered chamber on the rear pad for you to insert a bladder if you like training/racing enduro without a backpack. There are also a couple of zippered side pockets at the back for your phone, or snacks or whatever.
The armour is available in two sizes, M and L, although if you fall outside of these size rubrics, the mesh from which the armour is made is flexy enough to accommodate some differences. Indeed, it fitted my XL torso fairly comfortably, although the lower back pad was rather higher than would’ve been ideal. It’s meshy enough that it’s acceptable for longer rides, and even long climbs (enduro indeed), and although I’d not like to bust a gut on a climb wearing it (it’s an extra layer after all) I can attest to the relative comfort.
The shoulder and spine armour is made of D3O, which is a non-Newtonian substance, flexible when it needs to be and rigid when encountering pointy, nasty things. I can’t say I’ve had too many spills wearing it (I had just the one, and I was fine, thanks for asking), but it was certainly flexible enough. The spinal pad is ribbed for your comfort (or at least to prevent things getting too sticky, and on shorter rides I soon forgot I was wearing it, if I’m honest. I also liked the bladder capabilities, although when the armour is hidden under a suitable top, the extra bulk of the bladder made me look as if I had some interesting spinal formation…
It’s a fine piece of kit, considering what it is. Not for everyone, for sure – but you’ll know if you’re the sort of person who would benefit from something like this or not. If you are, and it fits you, the Tuatara armour is well worth investigating