Bodyguard Switchblade Bulletproof Backpack

Stay Organized — And Safe!
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The Bodyguard Switchblade pack makes a great daily commuter or work bag and it hides
an important secret: quick-deploy front-and-back armor.

Plan on getting shot at any time soon? Most of us don’t but some folks like having the extra bit of safety offered by a bullet-resistant backpack close at hand. If one of these packs interests you, a good choice is the Bodyguard Switchblade Backpack.

I requested to try out the Switchblade model with level 3A armor. This 40-liter pack is the average size for a daily carry or commuter bag, but mostly I was intrigued by their patented quick-deployment system. The rigging allows you to tug on two handles on your shoulder and rapidly pull a second bullet-resistant pouch from a hidden compartment to place over the front of your torso. Within seconds, you are essentially wearing soft body armor.

This idea seems very useful as we don’t get to pick the direction from which gunfire might be arriving during an active shooting incident. Instead of fumbling with adjusting the pack to protect your exposed side, you now have front and back bullet-resistant panels.


Taking a look

I found the pack to be well-built and thoughtful in design. Made from black triple-stitched water-resistant 1000-denier nylon, the bag is carried via a fully padded shoulder suspension system which includes a sternum strap. There is also a stout padded belt with a high-quality metal quick-release buckle. Though I didn’t attempt a heavy load test, the suspension system seems up to any reasonable task.

The main body of Bodyguard Switchblade has a three compartments — no “death by 1,000 pockets” here — the largest of which includes a padded section suitable for a laptop or tablet, a medium-sized compartment with a zipper pouch and a smaller 8×8” compartment which includes slots to organize your office or travel supplies. All the compartments have a light nylon liner to provide a finished look. There are red accents at the start and stop zippers, a nice touch which makes it easy to find where the zipper slider is probably hiding. Another helpful component is the well-padded carry handle on the top.

The 40-liter 1000-denier nylon water-resistant bag features three main compartments supported by a padded shoulder strap system
with sternum strap and waist belt with a quick-release buckle.

The “ripcords.” These black nylon straps on top of the shoulder straps are inconspicuous but allow you
to quickly bring out the front armor panel.

The outside of the pack has a taller zippered pouch on one side and a stretchy water bottle pocket on the other. There are load-stabilizing straps, two on each side, and a small section of nylon strap in the center to serve as an attachment point for external loads.

One thing I like about the pack is it doesn’t look any more “tacticool” than a typical black commuter bag, despite the surprise it holds. Without all sorts of Molle straps and other “Hey, look at me! I’m Tactical!” stuff draped on the outside, nobody will give it a second look. If you are compelled to let the world know how suave and warriorlike you are, this probably isn’t the pack for you.

The included soft armor plates (Level 3A) are 10×12” and approximately ½” thick. They are encased in a light black nylon covering. The body side of the panels seems to have about ¼” of foam backing, though I’m not sure if this is part of the ballistic protection or for comfort.

The two included Level IIIA panels should stop nearly all handgun rounds but are lightweight and flexible.


Critically, the armor inserts are marked with the manufacturing date, manufacturers name, a serial and lot number, manufacturing location and notes a five-year warranty from the manufacturing date. This might seem like trivial information but it is critical to make sure the armor actually performs as claimed.

When you are shopping for soft armor panels, always run far away from any which do not include all the above listed information. It isn’t unheard of for people to pay hundreds of dollars for layers of ordinary cotton canvas sewn together in a Chinese factory and sold as “bulletproof panels” on Amazon and other websites. Based on all the information provided, plus the overall appearance and reputation of the company, I’m confident the Bodyguard armor panels meet the claimed specifications.

One of the included soft armor plates fits into a pouch along the spine of the pack to protect your six. The other armor plate fits into the Stay-Put Armor System front pouch which is stowed in a compartment right behind the straps. Two black nylon straps extend from the carrier along the shoulder straps and stay in place with Velcro. To the casual observer, these deployment straps aren’t even noticeable. In case you suddenly need the body armor, you pull the straps briskly, lifting your arms up and forward and the pouch containing the second armor panel will slide into place over your chest.

The Stay-Put Armor System allows you to quickly pull the front armor panel from its hiding place to protect your chest,
basically turning the backpack into soft body armor. The panel offers Molle straps and Velcro for ID patches.

The forward armor panel is covered in molle tape if you want to accessorize and there is ample Velcro for ID patches if you’re a first responder. I’ve got a friend who is a school police officer, and he wants to check the pack out as it would certainly serve nicely as “war bag” or “go bag” for law enforcement, private security or VIP protection teams. This bag would not only provide you with a means to carry emergency equipment in a discrete manner but also give you instant body armor protection.

The instructions say the pack waist belt must be worn and tightened to deploy the front panel but I found it can be done without, although it’s not nearly as neat an operation. Having some weight — the typical laptop, paperwork, travel supplies, a lightweight jacket — in the pack helps but it’s still going to be a little slower and fiddly without the belt.

Frankly, I don’t think most folks are going to wear the waist belt because it is inconvenient and really only needed when carrying a heavy load. Since you probably won’t use the belt on a daily basis, you should practice deploying the armor carrier several times before depending on it in a real crisis.

The only quibble I have with the pack is this belt. Since the instructions require the belt to be worn in order to deploy the front panel, there is no means to stow it when not in use. With its heavy metal quick-release buckle, you’ll find it dragging behind you all the time. I’m currently using Velcro straps to keep the belt under control.


Final Thoughts

Bodyguard makes two other models of armored backpack along with the Peacemaker bullet-resistant jacket. They also offer the Switchblade without panels if you already have suitable armor. This might be of interest to police officers who often have access to old outdated armor panels.

Overall, speaking as someone who has an almost unnatural love of backpacks and owns far too many, the Bodyguard Switchblade is a very serviceable commuter/school/travel bag, even without the armor. The bag is TSA-compliant — though you might get some strange looks going through the x-ray machine — and is about the same size as my other black carry-on travel backpack. All in all, I started out liking the unique Switchblade pack and the feeling only grows the more I use it.

MSRP: $469 with two Level 3A Plates

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