Armor has changed to meet the needs and demands of a particular time period's training, technology, and combat styles.

If you were sent to a medieval fantasy world- full of monsters, mounted knights, and bandits- and had to take modern armor with you (no plate armor reproductions, only things used by military forces, police, and civilians), which choices of equipment would you choose and why?

The forces that you would fight would include natural wildlife like bears and wolves, monsters (primarily zombies, skeletons, entities that use energy attacks), and human beings protected with late medieval armor (plate armor, mail, gambeson) armed with weapons appropriate for that era- polearms, shields, swords (either one-handed or two, focused on slashing or stabbing), and bludgeons like simple clubs to maces.

And weapons used by you in a fight would be modern firearms like semi-automatic rifles, handguns, and manually operated longarms such as lever rifles or pump action shotguns, with moderate amounts of training in their use.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding. Please take the tour and visit the help center to understand how this community works. If you don't specify the threat model it's not possible to answer your question without writing a whole book. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jan 15 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ Curious, of the many types of medieval armor, if you only had one to choose from for your setting, what one type of medieval armor would you choose and why? Can you narrow this down? If any and all possible circumstances of your fantasy world are in play, the question must be closed as too broad or primarily opinion-based. Worse, what armor I chose will be impacted by my circumstances. What weapons do I have? What skills? If I only have a knife, that's a different choice than if I have a vulcan canon. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 15 at 6:59
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    $\begingroup$ If you're talking about armor that's actually used in the real world today, aren't your choices pretty much limited to bulletproof vests and thicker bulletproof vests? (Or I suppose something from your local bomb squad, but that's not really designed for fighting in.) There isn't exactly a wealth of different types of body armor going around. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Jan 15 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Cadence well, there are more...but not usually that practical. I'm thinking of the suits fencers use, for example. There are also some industrial safety stuff that can work. Maybe a patchwork of few pieces of equipment. But all in all, it sort of qualifies as armour but it's not that great as one and it's probably not very practical to be in for extended periods of time. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 15 at 7:53
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Modern Body Armor for Medieval Style Weapons $\endgroup$ – Renan Jan 20 at 5:46

If we were talking about fighting hand to hand with medieval weapons, the best armor would be plate mail from that time period. Modern armor is not made for this type of combat and wouldn't be nearly as effective (applying modern techniques to improve it is a separate question) - in fact our standard issue plate carriers are meant to only protect vital organs because they are made with the idea of bullets and shrapnel - the plates would still be effective at stopping a sword but easier to bypass then plate mail in full melee combat so not as useful.

However, there is one type of "Armor" that would work quite effectively if we are talking about having long-weapons where the enemy has none (or only standing long weapons like longbows): The Ghillie Suit

Ghillie Suit

Basically the best protection would be sniping the enemy from farther away than their weapon's range is, using night vision and thermal imaging devices to see in the dark, providing support to melee units by taking out strong/high-value targets, being able to continue to move in and out of cover quickly without being seen, being able to stalk high-value or powerful targets and take them out alone, and being able to hide so well that the villians almost step on you as they walk past unaware. I would apply other tactics given more people (even small unit tactics require 3-4 people) or a way to make more ammo but for a single person without HE or armored vehicles and possibly limited ammunition? Sniper tactics is the way to go.

Or put another way: don't go for armor - go for invisible.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, night vision gear. People don't realize how dark the medieval (and older) world was once the sun went down. Short form: the plate armour is good if you want to fight fair. So don't fight fair. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jan 21 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithMorrison that's true, I remember being on mountains, desserts, and other remote locations where - there were no external/unnatural lights. Most nights were dark but on cloudy or new moon nights - pitch black $\endgroup$ – JGreenwell Jan 21 at 22:32

A motorized exoskeleton would be the best choice for a medieval world. It has a hard outer shell so piercing weapons are useless against it.

Like any armor, it it still vulnerable to blunt attacks.

However the fact that it is powered gives you a huge advantage in strength, speed and endurance for melee combat.

It is also the best choice for our modern world.

Incidentally, if I were sent to a medieval world, I d still bring firearms and a ton of ammo, why restrict yourself to melee only?

  • $\begingroup$ The OP says modern firearms would be available (last paragraph), I forgot about the TALOS and ONYX suits - mostly because they have been pushed back so many times - nice catch $\endgroup$ – JGreenwell Jan 21 at 13:24

Many of the riot gear suits currently on the market would be very comparable to medieval armor at a fraction of the weight.

I would cite for example the Damascus Gear Modular Hard Shell Crowd Control Suit.

enter image description here

With modern design that takes into account; human physiology, heating/cooling, range of motion, etc. I would think it would be superior to medieval designs.

  • $\begingroup$ This suit seems to be excellent for piercing and slashing protection (from weapons rioters may use if things got out of hand.) I see the helmet is fairly robust, but over all, how well does the limbs stand up to blunt force? Most medieval combat was not well protected warriors with axes and swords. It was large sticks, sometimes with spear heads or sharpened into a point, or were heavy clubbing objects, swung by conscripts. $\endgroup$ – sonvar Jan 22 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ It's designed primarily to deal with blunt-force trauma. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jan 22 at 5:47

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