Third Degree: 5.11 Tactical's ZB-7 Trauma Pad - Tactics and Weapons -

Third Degree: 5.11 Tactical's ZB-7 Trauma Pad

Added protection against blunt trauma



Ralph Mroz | From the March 2008 Issue Thursday, February 28, 2008

The vests we all wear protect us against ballistic penetration. That's a wonderful thing, but upon impact the blunt trauma introduced by the vest s backface deformation can still cause reasonably severe injuries. That s been the least of our worries compared to surviving a shooting, but now there s a miracle material on the market that can substantially reduce even that blunt trauma.

Zoombang is a shear, thickening, viscoelastic polymer. Under normal conditions, it s soft and pliable, but it stiffens in milliseconds upon impact. Hundreds of NFL players wear protective pads made from Zoombang, and it s a common, if high-end, material used in protective products in industrial applications and other impact sports, such as hockey and motor racing.

5.11 Tactical Series has partnered with Impact Innovative Products to provide the ZB-7 Trauma Pad to law enforcement and military personnel. Measuring about 8 wide by 10 high, this approximately 1/4 -inch thick Zoombang pad weighs almost nothing 6 oz., but it feels like less. The ZB-7 slides into a special chest pouch on the 5.11 Trauma Pad Carrier Shirt, a polyester, moisture-wicking undershirt (sold separately). Or, you can get the pad with an adhesive back that attaches to the underside of your ballistic vest.

Comfort & Performance

I wore the ZB-7 on duty under my vest during eight-hour shifts in hot, humid weather. If I thought about it, I could perceive the slight extra bulk it added to the vest, but only if I thought about it. Otherwise, the bulk was a non-issue.

The trauma pad did cause a little extra sweating compared to my normal sweating under a vest, however. In more reasonable weather, I would expect this to be a non-issue, too.

I didn t go so far as to shoot myself while wearing the trauma pad, but company-provided literature shows photos of more than 50-percent reduced deformation when body armor is impacted with 9mm rounds.

The Bottom Line

The ZB-7 Trauma Pad can do a lot of good and poses no real negatives. I suggest you give it a try. Hint: If you order the 5.11 Trauma Pad Carrier Shirt, make sure you order a size that fits snugly, not loosely, because the pad will cause a loose-fitting shirt to sag.

Ralph Mroz is the co-founder and training director of the Police Officers Safety Association (POSA). The POSA provides free force-training video programs to police officers. To obtain them, visit


  • Upgrades your protection against blunt-force trauma;
  • Pliable and form-fitting when at rest;
  • Weighs only 6 oz.; and
  • Comfortable to wear in the Trauma Pad Carrier Shirt.


  • May cause extra perspiration in hot weather.

Contact Info

5.11 Tactical Series

4300 Spyres Way

Modesto, CA 95356

Tel: 866/451-1726

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Ralph MrozRalph Mroz is a police officer in Western Massachusetts, currently assigned to his county's drug task force. He is the co-founder and training director of the Police Officers Safety Association (POSA). The POSA provides free force-training video programs to police officers. To obtain them, visit


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