KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As parents across the country grow more concerned about possible school shootings, some are sending their children to class with bulletproof backpacks. But how well does the in-demand safety device actually work?
FOX 4’s Nicole DiAntonio visited a KC shooting range to find out. Bjorn Jonsson works with Leatherback Gear, a California-based company known for creating a bulletproof backpack that can convert into a protective vest. Each backpack sells for $399.
“With our backpack you are basically able to cover both your front and back,” Jonsson said.
Leatherback Gear officially launched on Feb. 12 — just two days before the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Immediately after, the company said traffic to their website went up nearly 1,000 percent. The company gave FOX 4 one of their backpacks to test. We brought it to Don Pend, an instructor at Show Me Shooters Indoor Range and a retired Platte County deputy.
“I have a 14-year-old grandson, and I’m kind of spooked,” Pend said. “You keep hearing about the reports. Whether real or not, the still call them in.”
Pend was immediately impressed with the weight of the backpack. Each backpack weighs between 5-6 pounds. That’s because inside there are two bulletproof plates located in the front and the back.
“They’ve done a lot with the material. That’s for sure,” he said.
To test it, Pend used a 9 millimeter. Both bullets were stopped by the first bulletproof plate. To compare, FOX 4 tested a regular backpack and filled it with an old laptop and several books. Once again, the bullet was stopped, which surprised Pend. But overall, he said he would purchase the Leatherback Gear backpack for his own son.
“I was in favor of it mainly because of its weight,” Pend said. “It doesn’t weigh very much and doesn’t look intrusive.”
Unlike many other bulletproof backpacks offered online, the difference with the Leatherback Gear one is that it adds protection in the front, not just the back.