How much more difficult is it to move and fight while wearing armour?

Bullsherdog

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There's two extremes I notice when it comes to armour. There is the one extreme where armour is portrayed as being bulky and hard to move in such as the knights armour. And there is the other extreme where since armour was made to fit person for persona and to be distributed evenly so that even a 100lb armour would not feel heavy and be so light that you can do cartwheels, hand stands, jumps, run, and even fancy acrobatics. That armour is so light that someone who's not conditioned would feel its like wearing a T-Shirt.

So when I found my sister's weighted vest that totals to about 20 lbs, I decided to test it out. At first it did not feel heavy at all and it felt so light I can jump around it and even walk 2 miles without feeling exhausted. So I thought real armour must be as light as the other extreme is, so l thought plate armour was lighter than a shirt.

However once I started crouching and doing other prone movements to test swordsmanship and aerobics I began to feel pressure. In fact I was surprised as hell how tired I got just doing squats and practising low level attacks. In addition when I tested running, it suddenly felt so heavy. Not as heavy as Hollywood portrays mind you but I began to wonder if some of the tests such as the link below had validity.

Treadmill tests for heavy armour

As I was finishing my first mile and I reread the above article while I was resting, everything was so spot on.

Also trying to do high level acrobatics such as jumping over hurdles in a track field and some of those fancy gymnastics was almost impossible.

So it makes me wonder how wearing an armour would be like. I know its a running vest I used that had pockets filled with metal bars that totaled 20lbs, far less than a typical breastplate so its a different tool. In addition I'm not exactly a nerdy waste as I lift weights enough that I can curl 2 sets of 50 lbs dumbells casually and benchpressing a barbell with 50 extra weights on both side for 100 reps ain't hard. So does that explain why wearing the vest was initially not difficult?

I am so curious how armour felt like but don't have money right now to buy it so I ask people with experience here!
 

jobo

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There's two extremes I notice when it comes to armour. There is the one extreme where armour is portrayed as being bulky and hard to move in such as the knights armour. And there is the other extreme where since armour was made to fit person for persona and to be distributed evenly so that even a 100lb armour would not feel heavy and be so light that you can do cartwheels, hand stands, jumps, run, and even fancy acrobatics. That armour is so light that someone who's not conditioned would feel its like wearing a T-Shirt.

So when I found my sister's weighted vest that totals to about 20 lbs, I decided to test it out. At first it did not feel heavy at all and it felt so light I can jump around it and even walk 2 miles without feeling exhausted. So I thought real armour must be as light as the other extreme is, so l thought plate armour was lighter than a shirt.

However once I started crouching and doing other prone movements to test swordsmanship and aerobics I began to feel pressure. In fact I was surprised as hell how tired I got just doing squats and practising low level attacks. In addition when I tested running, it suddenly felt so heavy. Not as heavy as Hollywood portrays mind you but I began to wonder if some of the tests such as the link below had validity.

Treadmill tests for heavy armour

As I was finishing my first mile and I reread the above article while I was resting, everything was so spot on.

Also trying to do high level acrobatics such as jumping over hurdles in a track field and some of those fancy gymnastics was almost impossible.

So it makes me wonder how wearing an armour would be like. I know its a running vest I used that had pockets filled with metal bars that totaled 20lbs, far less than a typical breastplate so its a different tool. In addition I'm not exactly a nerdy waste as I lift weights enough that I can curl 2 sets of 50 lbs dumbells casually and benchpressing a barbell with 50 extra weights on both side for 100 reps ain't hard. So does that explain why wearing the vest was initially not difficult?

I am so curious how armour felt like but don't have money right now to buy it so I ask people with experience here!
dontay wilder wore a ring walk costume that weighted 40lbs and was to exhausted to fight, so i wouldn't recommend it
 

skribs

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Those who wore full armor were usually on horseback.
 

Oni_Kadaki

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Can't speak for full plate, but I think it's telling that the US military is abandoning the more protective interceptor vests in favor of less cumbersome plate carriers.
 

JowGaWolf

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There's two extremes I notice when it comes to armour. There is the one extreme where armour is portrayed as being bulky and hard to move in such as the knights armour. And there is the other extreme where since armour was made to fit person for persona and to be distributed evenly so that even a 100lb armour would not feel heavy and be so light that you can do cartwheels, hand stands, jumps, run, and even fancy acrobatics. That armour is so light that someone who's not conditioned would feel its like wearing a T-Shirt.

So when I found my sister's weighted vest that totals to about 20 lbs, I decided to test it out. At first it did not feel heavy at all and it felt so light I can jump around it and even walk 2 miles without feeling exhausted. So I thought real armour must be as light as the other extreme is, so l thought plate armour was lighter than a shirt.

However once I started crouching and doing other prone movements to test swordsmanship and aerobics I began to feel pressure. In fact I was surprised as hell how tired I got just doing squats and practising low level attacks. In addition when I tested running, it suddenly felt so heavy. Not as heavy as Hollywood portrays mind you but I began to wonder if some of the tests such as the link below had validity.

Treadmill tests for heavy armour

As I was finishing my first mile and I reread the above article while I was resting, everything was so spot on.

Also trying to do high level acrobatics such as jumping over hurdles in a track field and some of those fancy gymnastics was almost impossible.

So it makes me wonder how wearing an armour would be like. I know its a running vest I used that had pockets filled with metal bars that totaled 20lbs, far less than a typical breastplate so its a different tool. In addition I'm not exactly a nerdy waste as I lift weights enough that I can curl 2 sets of 50 lbs dumbells casually and benchpressing a barbell with 50 extra weights on both side for 100 reps ain't hard. So does that explain why wearing the vest was initially not difficult?

I am so curious how armour felt like but don't have money right now to buy it so I ask people with experience here!
I think you have to put things into context. Of a battle back then

1. Metal was not cheap
2. Other soldiers were available
3.Heavy armour is not a one size fits all solution
4. People back then were naturally stronger in the areas of functional strength
5. Heavy armour troops were probably sent in as supportive roles to the lighter troops which would make actual fighting time less. It would also be safer in the event that they some how fell to the ground. Other troops could provide enough time for the heavy armour troop to get back up.
6. There were also very mobile armour
7. People still got tired.

This should give you an idea. When heavy armour gets tied up, it would be easy to take a long dagger and stick it through the openings.

So take these things into consideration and figure out the best way to use armour and you should have a good idea of long they would fight on an average. You would probably also want to rotate the heavy units to keep them from being exhausted. The limited view of the helmets also make me think that they were support troops. They probably didn't move very far when on foot.
 

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Tony Dismukes

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There's two extremes I notice when it comes to armour. There is the one extreme where armour is portrayed as being bulky and hard to move in such as the knights armour. And there is the other extreme where since armour was made to fit person for persona and to be distributed evenly so that even a 100lb armour would not feel heavy and be so light that you can do cartwheels, hand stands, jumps, run, and even fancy acrobatics. That armour is so light that someone who's not conditioned would feel its like wearing a T-Shirt.
Both of those are incorrect.

Just for background, I have worn medieval style armor and fought in it. (About 8 years in the SCA.)

Armor is bulky. It makes you slower and less mobile. It tires you out faster than doing the same activities in normal clothing. It makes you hotter when fighting on hot days. There's a reason sprinters and gymnasts don't compete in armor and laborers don't go about their daily chores wearing armor.

Slower does not mean slow. Less mobile does not mean immobile. I can run in armor. I can do somersaults in armor. I can get up easily if I am knocked down in armor. I can* (and have) spend a day marching around and fighting in armor without collapsing. A professional soldier or knight from the medieval period who spent years training hours every day to operate in armor could do it much better.

*(I say can, but the last time I did so was over 20 years ago. I'm sure I'd be pretty wiped out by the end of the day if I jumped right back into doing that all at once. )
 

Ivan

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There's two extremes I notice when it comes to armour. There is the one extreme where armour is portrayed as being bulky and hard to move in such as the knights armour. And there is the other extreme where since armour was made to fit person for persona and to be distributed evenly so that even a 100lb armour would not feel heavy and be so light that you can do cartwheels, hand stands, jumps, run, and even fancy acrobatics. That armour is so light that someone who's not conditioned would feel its like wearing a T-Shirt.

So when I found my sister's weighted vest that totals to about 20 lbs, I decided to test it out. At first it did not feel heavy at all and it felt so light I can jump around it and even walk 2 miles without feeling exhausted. So I thought real armour must be as light as the other extreme is, so l thought plate armour was lighter than a shirt.

However once I started crouching and doing other prone movements to test swordsmanship and aerobics I began to feel pressure. In fact I was surprised as hell how tired I got just doing squats and practising low level attacks. In addition when I tested running, it suddenly felt so heavy. Not as heavy as Hollywood portrays mind you but I began to wonder if some of the tests such as the link below had validity.

Treadmill tests for heavy armour

As I was finishing my first mile and I reread the above article while I was resting, everything was so spot on.

Also trying to do high level acrobatics such as jumping over hurdles in a track field and some of those fancy gymnastics was almost impossible.

So it makes me wonder how wearing an armour would be like. I know its a running vest I used that had pockets filled with metal bars that totaled 20lbs, far less than a typical breastplate so its a different tool. In addition I'm not exactly a nerdy waste as I lift weights enough that I can curl 2 sets of 50 lbs dumbells casually and benchpressing a barbell with 50 extra weights on both side for 100 reps ain't hard. So does that explain why wearing the vest was initially not difficult?

I am so curious how armour felt like but don't have money right now to buy it so I ask people with experience here!
Unbeknowst to many, a big factor to consider is how well the armour fits. Armour that weighs say, 20kg with a perfect fit, would be much easier to wear than 10kg with a bad fit. So it hangs heavily on whether the armour would be tight, baggy, and if you could afford to do so at in the historical eras, custom made to fit your physique.
 

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Both of those are incorrect.

Just for background, I have worn medieval style armor and fought in it. (About 8 years in the SCA.)

Armor is bulky. It makes you slower and less mobile. It tires you out faster than doing the same activities in normal clothing. It makes you hotter when fighting on hot days. There's a reason sprinters and gymnasts don't compete in armor and laborers don't go about their daily chores wearing armor.

Slower does not mean slow. Less mobile does not mean immobile. I can run in armor. I can do somersaults in armor. I can get up easily if I am knocked down in armor. I can* (and have) spend a day marching around and fighting in armor without collapsing. A professional soldier or knight from the medieval period who spent years training hours every day to operate in armor could do it much better.

*(I say can, but the last time I did so was over 20 years ago. I'm sure I'd be pretty wiped out by the end of the day if I jumped right back into doing that all at once. )
You can do a somersault in armor? That's impressive.
 

jks9199

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Some insight...

I wear soft body armor and a gun belt for 12 hours a day. I gain about 40 lbs dressing for work. I can run, tumble, grapple, punch... get in and out of a cursed Ford "not-a-Taurus" Interceptor...

Our troops wear various styles of armor, and carry a load out that can top 60 pounds. They can run, tumble, climb, shoot, fight...

Properly designed, reasonably fitted medieval armor will influence how you move... but it won't keep you from moving.
 

Flying Crane

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Ive never worn armor but I seem to recall reading that maille was more difficult to wear than plate because the weight largely was carried entirely on the shoulders, while plate was strapped to different body parts and more effectively distributed the weight.

Maybe maille could have some under strapping that helped attach it to the hips a bit, but when it’s just a big bulky and long shirt I think there isn’t much you can do to redistribute that weight.

Perhaps @Tony Dismukes might have some input on this.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Ive never worn armor but I seem to recall reading that maille was more difficult to wear than plate because the weight largely was carried entirely on the shoulders, while plate was strapped to different body parts and more effectively distributed the weight.

Maybe maille could have some under strapping that helped attach it to the hips a bit, but when it’s just a big bulky and long shirt I think there isn’t much you can do to redistribute that weight.

Perhaps @Tony Dismukes might have some input on this.
I was never able to afford plate mail, but from what I have read and heard you are correct.
 

frank raud

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And there is the other extreme where since armour was made to fit person for persona and to be distributed evenly so that even a 100lb armour would not feel heavy and be so light that you can do cartwheels, hand stands, jumps, run, and even fancy acrobatics.
You may find this hard to believe, but 100 lbs is 100 lbs, no matter how well it fits.
 

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I spent 15 years or so doing HEMA with the SCA.
The first thing to clear up is the question of weight. A suit of full plate only weighs maybe 50lbs. Most are less. Made from modern materials, it could be FAR less. That's not all that much when the weight is spread over your body properly. And if it's built/fitted correctly it won't have any major impact on your ability to move. I could still throw spinning kicks while wearing it, back in the day. One fellow I knew (Duke Albert von Dreckenveld) who was a gifted armourer, made a set of steel finger gauntlets (as opposed to mitten-style) and could pick up a dime while wearing them, or lay his hand on a table and wack it with a mucking great hammer without hurting himself.
 

Rat

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That armour is so light that someone who's not conditioned would feel its like wearing a T-Shirt.

The funniest thing about that line is, practically every soldier and police officer always complains about how much of a pig their vests are usually.

You may find this hard to believe, but 100 lbs is 100 lbs, no matter how well it fits.

Weight distrubution does matter as much as how much weight it is.

Addendum: What you wear under all of this is equally as important of a factor as the armour itself, just for general comfort and to avoid chaffing etc.

Addendum 2: If you know anyone who does milsim airsoft they could have a vest you could borrow if you are looking at finding any form of armour to try.
 
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Oily Dragon

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You may find this hard to believe, but 100 lbs is 100 lbs, no matter how well it fits.

Do you believe 80/20 lbs on each shoulder feels the same as 50 lbs on each shoulder? You may find this hard to believe but it doesn't.

Modern armor is carefully designed around the center of mass, to protect the vital organs just above it. Ancient armor was designed to be carried by individual muscle groups, so it was still pretty agile.

Counterpoint, modern body armor isn't going to stop you from losing a limb, the same as ancient plate isn't going to stop most bullets.
 
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Dirty Dog

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Counterpoint, modern body armor isn't going to stop you from losing a limb, the same as ancient plate isn't going to stop most bullets.

You might be surprised. If you look at surviving examples of armour, you'll find that an awful lot of them have a dent in the same area of the breastplate. It's called a proofmark, and it's where the armorer shot it point blank as proof that it would stop a projectile.
I suspect that rifle rounds, with their heavier bullets and high muzzle velocity, would blow right through a breastplate. I suspect a handgun loaded with hardball might penetrate. I suspect that defensive ammo, which is not designed to penetrate a hard target, would not be very effective at all against a decent period breastplate.
 

Oily Dragon

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You might be surprised. If you look at surviving examples of armour, you'll find that an awful lot of them have a dent in the same area of the breastplate. It's called a proofmark, and it's where the armorer shot it point blank as proof that it would stop a projectile.
I suspect that rifle rounds, with their heavier bullets and high muzzle velocity, would blow right through a breastplate. I suspect a handgun loaded with hardball might penetrate. I suspect that defensive ammo, which is not designed to penetrate a hard target, would not be very effective at all against a decent period breastplate.

Aren't you describing relatively modern, firearm era plate though? I thought we were comparing armored knight plate vs modern plate carriers.

To be fair I've never worn or tried shooting through the former, so I wouldn't really know.
 

Dirty Dog

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Aren't you describing relatively modern, firearm era plate though? I thought we were comparing armored knight plate vs modern plate carriers.

To be fair I've never worn or tried shooting through the former, so I wouldn't really know.

No, proofmarks were a thing pretty much all along. Because longbows. And crossbows.
 

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