As has already been mentioned, 16th Century armour was quite different from that seen in the 15th Century, primarily due to the advent of increasingly effective firearms and secondly due to the increased mobility of warfare as history moved into the modern age.
Early 16th Century battles like Flodden (1513) were one of the last instances where fully armoured men would have faced each other. However, fully armoured infantry were becoming replaced by partly armoured as is seen in the Landsknecht (spelling!) mercenaries found in 1500s Germany and Switzerland.
I suspect you are referring more to the type of armour seen on battlefields in the 1400's, at Bosworth field and Towton.
Would this be any good vs wild animals?
Yes, it would be, in the extent that it would stop you getting bitten however, armour is not designed to be worn for long periods of time, certainly not by infantry.
I own a set of infantry armour of the type that would have been worn at Towton (1461) by a well to do gentleman-at-arms. This is far from the custom sets of tightly fitting armour worn by the super rich aristocrats at the time. By the 1400s, armies in England and those opposing English armies were fighting mostly on foot, horses were used to transport the army (as during the Agincourt Campaign) and for scouting or for pursuing a broken foe but were never used against infantry. Bannockburn (1314) had shown what a small, well trained army of phalanxed pikemen could do to armoured horse; by the time Edward III and his son the Black Prince had perfected the longbow armed mounted archer (mount used to transport archer) using mounted men against formed longbow archers supported by armoured men at arms (infantry) was shown to be utter folly.
The main problem using the type of armour I own is weight. TV gives us the impression that it is relatively easy to move and function wearing armour. This may be the case with the thin aluminum worn by modern actors but, speaking from experience, you have to be in peak physical condition to wear real armour and function in it, let alone fight, for longer than a few hours.
Multiple period historical chronicles of the aftermath of battles describe beaten and fleeing troops stripping off their armour to escape. To the modern reader, unschooled or with no experience of actually wearing armour, this seems like a rash thing to do, but the reality is, if you need to run very quickly then your best bet is to ditch the armour as quickly as possible because you will certainly be able to outrun those who are still armoured - i.e. the victors, unless they are able to mount to pursue you.
This is the crux of it - running
Running is critical to surviving wild animal attacks. OK you can't outrun a pack of wolves or a bear but you could feasibly run somewhere safe.
Now my armour consists of this - skin up:
- 1" thick padded linen arming jack (jacket) with 1" think padded linen leggings
- maille (chain mail) leggings and hauberk (vest) these are by far the heaviest items. The Hauberk weighs 25 kilos, each leg, 9 kilos.
- over the maille goes armoured lower arms and upper arms (14 gauge steel (4 kg each)) hinged and protected elbows
- greaves (lower legs) and thigh pieces (14 gauge steel (10 kg each)) hinged and protected knees
- back and breast plate of 14 gauge steel (15 kg) with interlocking steel plate kilt which comes to mid thigh
- steel gauntlets (5 kilos)
- steel shoulders (spauldrons) (8 kilos)
- steel gorget and beevor (4 kilos) this protects the neck and lower half of the face
- lobster tailed sallet (helmet) with half visor
- as an alternative to gorget, beevor and sallet you could wear a visored bascinet (usually with a pigs or hounds shaped visor to allow comfortable breathing) which has a maille avantail covering the neck and shoulders. These were going out of fashion circa 1420 but were still being used by some poorer men mid 1400s and are used for full contact fighting in modern times as they are safer than the sallet/Beevor - they fell out of fashion because visibility and comfort (O2) is seriously compromised and they also weigh 12 kilos and that weight is right on your neck. Under either helmet option you would wear a padded arming cap (looks like a thin version of a Russian tank helmet (1" thick padded linen).
You can add up the weight yourself - when wearing the above for reenactment or for fighting full contact with blunt weapons I typically lose about 1 kg in sweat. It is literally exhausting. Now yes, a mid 40s modern man like me, even a fit one does not have the sheer physical strength of a 20 something 1440s man at arms who would have been trained to wear such form an early age, but even so, would not have worn it for anything other than combat or training for combat. Indeed historical chronicles frequently stress the size of baggage trains and going back to even 1066 we know that Harald Hardrada was beaten at Stamford Bridge by Harold Godwinson's Saxon army because his force was surprised and was unable to don its armour (in those days maille) which had been left on board the longships whilst Hardrada and his men feasted.
Indeed, one of the only accounts of armoured incursion was Henry V's small mounted force of men at arms and archers who marched across Normandy and Picardy to the Pas de Calais during the Agincourt campaign. The fact that Henry ordered his archers and men-at-arms to ride in their armour, and not to take it off for the duration of the (forecast) 5 day ride was unusual enough to have been cause for comment by the chroniclers of the time. The purpose was to move very fast, with no baggage train and no tents. It poured with rain for most of the march and the men were suffering from dysentery. Most slept in hedges or on the open ground. On top of this, wearing steel plate either makes you overheat or it makes you very cold indeed, especially if you are wet. Your body heat is conducted through the wet arming jack to the steel - a brilliant radiator of heat. Having worn armour for one single day in the wet, without dysentery, I have nothing but huge admiration for the discomfort and fortitude of the men who won Agincourt. By the time the battle was fought they had been on the road, in torrential cold rain for several days and their armour would have been pretty rusted. Armour being carbon steel which, unlike stainless steel, does not shatter.
Would I fancy being in the woods wearing armour of this type when trying to escape wild animals? Not on your nelly!
Would I fancy being in the woods wearing the sort of armour an archer of the period would have been wearing? Absolutely.
Archer armour of the period was usually:
- gambeson with chains. This is a very thick padded linen jacket, a good 3 inches thick and it has long linked chains sewn into the arms from shoulder to wrist. The single biggest mistake that writers of this period make is to repeat the myth of 'leather' armour. Leather armour is a Victorian fallacy, created to explain the 'coat of plates' or brigandine - which was a leather jacket with steel plates sewn on the inside of the jacket and frequently used instead of the back and breastplate described above. The lightest and most effective armour of the time was the padded gambeson, which is surprisingly effective against slashes and cuts but is exposed by arrows, bolts and thrusts by solid shaped points (spears, the pointy bits of pole weapons and the very nasty rondel dagger (think 16" 3 or 4 sided steel spike). The arm chains are there to give some protection to limbs from blades. Gambesons protect effectively from concussive blows.
- On the legs the archer is seen often wearing padded leggings with either maille leggings or plate leggings of the type described above, or maille and plate on top.
- a plate steel gorget with a sallet (usually without visor or beevor) would be worn on the head.
- aside from the bow, the archer would be armed with mallets, axes, (for making the sharp stakes used to defend their position from horse attack) arming swords (one handed) and just about always either a vicious rondel dagger (above) or a more traditional ballock (bollock) dagger whose hilt is shaped... well... like bollocks. These daggers were specifically designed for murdering armoured men and the archers at Agincourt and Crecy did terrible carnage to the French men at arms once the men-at-arms were off their feet and lying in the mud: again, this shows the problem of wearing armour.
The armoured infantry attack of the time would have been a bit like the tactic you see forwards use on the rugby pitch or the offensive line on an American Football pitch when they make a closely packed formation to protect the ball - it is effective because they keep their formation cohesion and use united strength. Imagine 4,000 men at arms, all armoured as above, all holding either pole axes or bill hooks, with hammers and rondels on their belts packed in tightly together, moving towards you at a rolling pace - about as fast as you can go in armour - shoulders hunched and heads down to present the strongest part of the armour to archers (the shield was out of use by the mid 1300s due to the improvements in armour). They key to their effectiveness was their momentum. They would smash through any line of unarmored troops. Provided they kept on their feet, they were the tank of the age. However, when off their feet, bogged down in mud - they were hugely vulnerable and when this happens we see men shedding their armour as quickly as they can, they would often keep a small, accessible and very sharp knife to hand so they could quickly cut the straps and the points (strings) which held the armour to their bodies. When such a formation was fought to a standstill or, worse, fell over and piled up on top of itself, lightly armoured men like archers, with suitable tin opener type weapons would have them at their mercy.
Whilst this doesn't directly answer your question, I wanted to give you some feeling to what period armour was actually like for the vast majority of armoured men and knights. It was only the super rich who could afford the Milanese or German customised plate which was designed to distribute the weight across the body and made from the most super hardened carbon steel possible with period technology. The vast majority wore a collection of bits and bobs, antique suits adapted and remodeled and pieces captured and adapted from other men. Even the customised suits restrict movement to some extent and also make it difficult to cover ground quickly.
*** - in response to the 'modern soldier has 100lbs of kit twice the weight of a medieval knight's kit' and Heavy 'plate mail' being a Hollywood myth.
Both these statements are incorrect.
Full armour from around 1450 weights at least 100lbs on its own. There is no such thing as 'plate mail' there is plate armour and there is maille (chainmail does not exist). They were frequently worn in combination which was the most affordable protection for most armoured men from 1330-1485.
A modern soldier's kit is about twice the weight of what an archer between 1330 and 1530 would have carried onto a battlefield. It is certainly not twice the weight of what 99% of armoured men would have carried, if anything, it is lighter.
Yes, there were some very wealthy men with customised suits of armour which weighed as little as 60lbs but these were extremely rare and vastly expensive, being custom made from the finest steel possible.
Anyone who doubts this is very welcome to come to my house on the Anglo Scottish border and try wearing my armour - a faithful reproduction of an averagely wealthy landed gentleman at the time of the Wars of the Roses!