Energy expenditure of walking with different types of armored vests in military personnel - A pilot study

Brinnell Caszo, Zubaidah Hasain, Justin Gnanou


Use of armored vests is an additional burden on the wearer, and has an impact on the ability to function. In view of the limitations in the amount of rations that can be carried, the aim of this study was to determine the energy cost of wearing armored vests and compare the energy cost of 6 different types of vests. Six well trained volunteers from the military training academy were chosen. Their basal metabolic rate was measured. Then they used 6 different vests in a cross-over study design, and their energy expenditure was measured using an indirect calorimeter, while walking on a treadmill. Data from our study revealed that using the vests, energy expenditure was increased by an average of 2.7 Kcal/Kg/day over basal metabolic rate. However, there was no significant difference between the 6 different vests. Thus we were able to quantify the amount of additional energy that is required for walking at a speed of 3.5km/hr. This study also revealed that there is no difference in energy expenditure between different types of armored vests. Further investigation is required to study the effects at greater workloads to document the effect of the vests.


armored vests, basal metabolic rate, energy expenditure, indirect calorimetry


Blond, E., Maitrepierre, C., Normand, S., Sothier, M., Roth, H., Goudable, J., & Leville M. (2010). A new indirect calorimeter is accurate and reliable for measuring basal energy expenditure, thermic effect of food and substrate oxidation in obese and healthy subjects. European e-journal of clinical nutrition and metabolism, 6,e7-e15.

Cadarette, B., Blanchard, L., Staab, J., Kolka, M., & Sawka, M. (2001). Heat Stress When Wearing Body Armor. Natick, Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Costello, J.T., Stewart, K.L., & Stewart, I.B. (2015). The effects of metabolic work rate and ambient environment on physiological tolerance times while wearing explosive and chemical personal protective equipment. BioMed Research International, 2015,857536.

Duggan, A. (1998). Energy cost of stepping in protective clothing ensembles. Ergonomics, 31:3-11.

Harman, E., Frykman, P., Pandorf, C., Tharion, W., Mello, R., Obusek, J., & Kirk J (1999). Physiological, Biomechanical, and Maximal Performance Comparisons of Female Soldiers Carrying Loads Using Prototype U. S. Marine Corps Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment with Interceptor Body Armor and U.S. Army All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment with PASGT Body Armor. Natick, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Hasselquist, L., Bensel, C.K., Corner, B., Gregorczyk, K.N., & Schiffman, J.M. (2008). Understanding the physiological, biomechanical and performance effects of body armor use. Natick, Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Centre.

LaFiandra, M., Wagenaar, R.C., Holt, K.G., Obusek, J.P. (2003). How do load carriage and walking speed influence trunk coordination and stride parameters? Journal of Biomechanics, 36,87-95.

Lee, J.Y., Bakri, I., Kim, J.H., Son, S.Y., & Tochihara, Y. (2013). The impact of firefighter personal protective equipment and treadmill protocol on maximum oxygen uptake. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 10,397-407.

Lee, J.Y., Kim, S., Jang, Y.J., Baek, Y.J., & Park, J. (2014). Component contribution of personal protective equipment to the alleviation of physiological strain in firefighters during work and recovery. Ergonomics, 57,1068-1077.

Mabry, R.L., Holcomb, J.B., Baker, A.M., Cloonan, C.C., Uhorchak, J.M., Perkins, D.E., Canfield, A.J., & Hagmann, J.H. (2000). United States Army Rangers in Somalia: an analysis of combat casualties on an urban battlefield. Journal of Trauma, 49,515-528.

Majumdar, D., Srivastava, K.K., Purkayastha, S.S., Pichan, G., & Selvamurthy, W. (1997). Physiological effects of wearing heavy body armor on male soldiers. International journal of industrial ergonomics, 20,155-161.

Miller, M.R., Hankinson, J., Brusasco, V., Burgos, F., Casaburi, R., Coates, A., Crapo, R., Enright, P., van der Grinten, C.P., Gustafsson, P., Jensen, R., Johnson, D.C., MacIntyre, N., McKay, R., Navajas, D., Pedersen, O.F., Pellegrino, R., Viegi, G., & Wanger, J. (2005). Standardisation of spirometry. European Respiratory Journal, 26,319–338.

Patton, J.F., Bidwell, T.E., Murphy, M.M., Mello, R.P., Harp, M.E. (1995). Energy cost of wearing chemical protective clothing during progressive treadmill walking. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 66,238-242.

Summer, G, & D’Amato R. (2009). Arms and Armor of the Imperial Roman Soldier – From Marius to Commodus, 112 BC – AD 192. London: Frontline Books.

Taylor, N.A., Lewis, M.C., Notley, S.R., & Peoples, G.E. (2012). A fractionation of the physiological burden of the personal protective equipment worn by firefighters. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112, 2913-21.

Tong. D, & Beirne, R. (2013). Combat body armor and injuries to the head, face, and neck region: a systematic review. Military Medicine, 178, 421-426.

Wyss, T., & Mader, U. (2010). Recognition of military-specific physical activities with body-fixed sensors. Military Medicine, 175, 858-864.