Impact of a protective vest and spacer garment on exercise-heat strain

Samuel N. Cheuvront*, Daniel A. Goodman, Robert W. Kenefick, Scott J. Montain, Michael N. Sawka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Protective vests worn by global security personnel, and weighted vests worn by athletes, may increase physiological strain due to added load, increased clothing insulation and vapor resistance. The impact of protective vest clothing properties on physiological strain, and the potential of a spacer garment to reduce physiological strain, was examined. Eleven men performed 3 trials of intermittent treadmill walking over 4 h in a hot, dry environment (35°C, 30% rh). Volunteers wore the US Army battledress uniform (trial B), B + protective vest (trial P), and B + P + spacer garment (trial S). Biophysical clothing properties were determined and found similar to many law enforcement, industry, and sports ensembles. Physiological measurements included core (Tc), mean skin (Tsk) and chest (Tchest) temperatures, heart rate (HR), and sweating rate (SR). The independent impact of clothing was determined by equating metabolic rate in all trials. In trial P, HR was +7 b/min higher after 1 h of exercise and +19 b/min by the fourth hour compared to B (P < 0.05). Tc (+0.30°C), Tsk (+1.0°C) and Physiological Strain Index were all higher in P than B (P < 0.05). S did not abate these effects except to reduce Tsk (P > S) via a lower Tchest (-0.40°C) (P < 0.05). SR was higher (P < 0.05) in P and S versus B, but the magnitude of differences was small. A protective vest increases physiological strain independent of added load, while a spacer garment does not alter this outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-583
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2008


  • Body armor
  • Heat stress
  • Passive cooling
  • Spacer vest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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