When all the fuels are consumed, the bullets are all exhausted, it all comes down to melee weapons in terms of surviving a zombie horde. My question is, will a human in a knights armor be the key to surviving a zombie infested world?

I'm thinking, the armor would be platemail and underneath is a chainmail for extra protection (and some space if the teeth manages to pierce the platemail).

The human can carry 2 weapons or 1 shield and 1 weapon.

The human is your typical Joe, can read, write, had 1 year training as a military cadet.

The zombies are your typical brain eating, not running or jumping zombies which will bite anything that smells human.

Let's say the human must cross a 50 kilometer road for this test, which is full of zombies. No covers! Just his armors and guts versus the zombies that want to gut him.

Will the human survive?

If you want numbers then it will be:

1 kilometer = 2,500 zombies

2,500 * 50 = 125,000 Zombies in total!

The task is just to survive the horde and make it across this land, not necessarily killing all the zombies, but all those hands and teeth might make this quite hard for sure.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't have any data, but wouldn't it be extremely difficult simply because it's so exhausting? I think I heard someone that normal medieval armor would be 40kg and above. Add an adult zombie or two that cling to you and your average Joe won't be able to move anymore just because of all the weight. Also, 2,500 zombies per kilometer seems extremely high - that's 2,5 zombies per metre. You basically have a 50 kilometer thick wall of human flesh before you. This road is completely full with zombies, no space to run around them or swing your sword. Just an ocean of zombies washing over you. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ Walking speed is about 3km/h, so the knight would need to walk for 17-ish hours. Even without the zombies that's not exactly easy. $\endgroup$
    – nwp
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ Bearing in mind you want to fend off opportunistic bites and scratches, you don't need plate armour. Look up "gambeson". Dying from a combination of crushing, heat stroke, and exhaustion as 50 zombies all pile on top of you is something no armour will protect against. Having multiple limbs (and neck) broken as 5 zombies try pull each one (and your head) off is also something the armour won't help against. (Might save your neck, if the helmet is attached to the body armour.) $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2018 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ 2500 zombies per km is a lot, is your knight crossing a city? Why can't he go around it? $\endgroup$
    – user38304
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ How is this about building a fictional world? This looks like a question about how a scenario will play out in a world you have already built. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 10:46

6 Answers 6


What's going to kill him is exhaustion

Full plate armour is perfectly resilient against considerably more than brainless biting and scratching, but he's not going to be able to fight more than 50 at the upper end before needing a long rest and some lunch.

The shield is not required, nothing is attacking him with anything that would penetrate good armour. He could theoretically take a nap by the side of the road with the zombies wailing at him in perfect safety with appropriately secure armour.

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    $\begingroup$ Are the zombie so dumb to not figure out how to untighten an armour while the meat inside is sleeping? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch I think there's no zombie intelligent enough to do that. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch, generally zombies are depicted as responding to only the most basic stimuli with only basic bite, swipe, (?grab,) and move responses. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ Grab and move are enough to remove boots, gloves and helmet. Not the most meaty parts, I agree, but... $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 8:57
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch, depending on period the helmet would be bolted to the breastplate, boots and gloves strapped on, good armour really was good but it's a two man (or more) job to get in and out of it. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 9:11

Your knight is dead, even if they don't manage to bite him they will swamp him and immobilise him almost immediately. Then he will either starve to death, die of thirst, die of heat stroke, or have a heart attack out of sheer terror. Possibly a combination of some of the above.

Unencumbered and without biting no one could push through that many people attacking relentlessly.


Let's look at some of your assumptions first

You are saying that there will be "1 kilometre = 2,500 zombies" yet this will be an open road with no cover. This is going to be a high population density. Very few countries on earth have 2,500 people living in a square kilometre. Even on a road, this will be about 2.5 zombies per meter. You don't say what kind of road, for some reason I'm assuming single track.

So if your knight is forced to stay on a road of Zombies they will be done for. Exhausted and crushed. However, this is perhaps not a very good test of the knights vs zombies theory. With a horse and a wider field say a KM wide, the knight should be able to avoid most encounters and will be reasonably protected in the encounters they do have.

(Side note, modern weapons may not work much better in such situations, this reminds me of the Battle of Yonkers in the book World War Z)

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the World War Z reference. $\endgroup$
    – Liquid
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 11:10
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    $\begingroup$ It's not an unreasonable density if a good stretch of the way leads through a large city; NYC has a population density of about 10,000 people per km²; The London Metropolitan Region has about 1,500 people per km². Of course spending any amount of time near a large population center is completely insane in a zombie apocalypse, and countrysides frequently have densities of less than one per square kilometer... $\endgroup$
    – Cubic
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Cubic note that most of that density is in vertical stacking. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 2:12
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn In terms of living space, yes. That many people do fit on the streets with room to spare though - a square kilometer is a million square meters, and a square meter is more than enough space for a person to stand. Even subtracting all the space the buildings take up, it's still more than enough for a couple thousand zombies. So yes, the numbers aren't really the problem, the question is what on earth the protagonist is doing in such a densely zombie infested area to begin with $\endgroup$
    – Cubic
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 10:43

Your knight would be better off with leather armor.

It's still resistant to biting and scratching but it's a fraction of the weight and a lot quieter.

He'd be better of trying to sneak around the zombies. He will die of exhaustion if nothing else trying to cut down 125K zombies while walking 50 miles. He still needs to eat, sleep.

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    $\begingroup$ Boiled leather specifically, and if it was backed by chainmail similar protection to full plate but as tge post says, way lighter. $\endgroup$
    – Seserous
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 3:36
  • $\begingroup$ Only have to stop biting. Don't need chain mail. It's extra weight $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 3:38

It all depends on his choice of weapon.


At best 50-100 meters. He's dead jim. Why? He will run out of steam hacking and slashing through the first kilometer. And promptly eaten. Even a swordman of the middle ages was rarely in combat for more than ten minutes in a row before they would take a short breather of a minute or two as they assess the situation - our Zombie fighter won't have that.


He'll die after meter 8 for his 20 arrow quiver is empty and he has to stop to refil from his backpack. Or maybe he is smart and uses a large back quiver, then he reaches meter 88, where he is out of his 220 arrows.


Let's assume he uses dual glock 18 with 100 round magazines, and he is smart and shoots just one at a time. Also, he has 6 reserve magazines with him. Let's assume he is good at the gun... like, a shot a zombie. That makes 800 rounds, which is, at the given density, 320 meters.

Flamethrower and a long fuel line

0 meters. Instead of zombies you get bruning zombies upon you.

Davy Crockett

Now, THAT's a solution to clear 280 meters in one go using a normal 10 to 20 t yield. He will have to deal with a lethal radiation dose though... Even the 250 t variant only clears out about 640 meters. To clear 50 km in the 3rd degree burn area one needs 48 kt on a urface detonation or 38 kt for a 610 m high airburst


Unless his chosen weapon is a nuclear device and he is for some reason immunity to radiation, he can not feasable hack through that density of zombies.


Gatsu (from the manga Berserk) won't bat an eye to face this task, but i fear that would be difficult to accept Gatsu as the "average guy". :)

As already stated the average guy with a heavy plate armor won't even walk for a tenth of the supposed distance, especially with such a zombie density. Maybe can be interesting to see, modifying some OP requirements, what a "lone knight" could do in a similar situation.

1: the walking distance. 50km is way too much for a sedentary person, but not impossible for a quite trained one. I'm not talking of professional athlete, there are a lot of amateur athlete that do marathons (42+ Km), therefore a young guy, who was military trained for one year, has a chance to close the distance. Actually, 50km is exactly the lenght of the "Kepi" march, part of the French Foreign Legion training, in which the legionnaire have to march in "full combat gear carying rifle, helmet and 30 kg load". Without the huge amount of zombies (and imaging that a plate armor is comfortable enough) the distance is an acceptable requirements.

2: the armor and the weapons. A full plate armor is more of a hindrance than a help. It cause additional unnecessary wheight, is feasible but for sure uncomfortable to run wearing it, it makes a lot of noise (and probalbly it shines, not helping to avoid zombies) and the standard helmet reduces the field of view. I would go with a leather suite, covered with grease (you really don't want to give grasp points to the zombies, or the 40+ Kg armor will easily rise to 200+ Kg and you'll be stucked). An hockey or football helmet, with some protection for the neck, will complete my defence against biting and scratching. The weapons should be 2 because you are supposed to face a huge number of zombies, and two arms to wear out are better than one. Since you are supposed to move constantly you only have to cripple the zombies that are on your path. You don't have to slash anything that's particullary strong, therefore something that's lightwight and handleable would work well, i'd go with a couple of tomahawks or the traditional machetes.

3: the zombies [measue unit: Z] density. You stated that the guy should expect 2.5 KZ/Km -> 2.5 Z/m. You didn't say how wide the road would be, therefore we/i assume 10m for simplicity -> 0.25 Z/m^2. Assuming that the guy needs only 1m wide track to proceed, he will face 12.5 KZ. For sure the Zs tend to mass against the guy, therefore the density won't be uniform and we should at least double the previous number -> a total of 25 KZ on the path. 25K machete hits to clear the path can't be sustained from anyone but, if we reduce the number by one order of magnitude, maybe is not impossible. 2.5K is still a lot of hits, and you also have to walk 50km: the only possibility for the guy is to have some triathlon ironman-level physical training. In this case it could be feasible: - walking 50km is affordable for an ironman athlete, he's supposed to RUN for 42+ Km. - he won't swim, but he needs to hit some skulls with tomahawks. The arm movement is quite similar to front crawl style. The ironman athlete is supposed to swim for 3860m, and a good athlete will complete one 25m pool with 15 arm swings. This means that the ironman is supposed to do 2316 arm swing, with a little more effort he could swing the arm another 186 times and actually clear his path. - an ironman athlete should also ride a bike for 180Km, we can dedicate this "energy reserve" to deal with the armor additional drag and to manage critical events (particularly annoying Z groups, sprints to gain time to drink).

4: food and water. The food isn't as important as water, you have to eat for sure but 1 Kg of high energy density food will be surely enough to finish the trip, the water is a problem. During a race, an ironman athlete needs 1.1 liter/h, the fastest athlete can finish the race in a little more than 8h but since our guy must deal with a lot of distractions he should plan a 16h run. Moreover, he won't use a triathlon suite but a (hopefully) light armor instead! Sweat increase, therefore 17 liters of water are definitely required, and this means that he needs to carry at least 18Kg + other gears. The plate armor is really a no-go option because of the weight.

To summarize:

  • an average guy, with a metal plate armor, facing 125 KZ on a 50 Km path -> he doesn't stand a chance.
  • an ironman athlete, with a leather armor, facing only 12.5 KZ on a 50 Km path -> if lucky, he can hope to reach a safe place after 16 hours of fight, outworn but alive.

For the records: for few people this trip wouldn't be anything special. For instance, we can consider James Lawrence, a man who completed 50 ironman-length triathlons in 50 consecutive days.

Apparently, provided he could rest every night, this guy could kill at least 6.25 BILLIONS of zombies on a streak! 0_0

He's not an athlete, he's a war machine...


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