When making the "cross over" from private sector security to journalism, and from journalism to hybrid security-intelligence, remaining defensive, much of the equipment is interchangeable. Soft and hard body armor is key equipment in our quest to equip journalists in non-conflict zones. The press armor worn on battlefields is well known. What about for everyday city blocks in the United States, border towns, or restrictive, but permissive zones in foreign countries? One option is a concealed soft armor vest. Another option (supplemental to vest or stand alone) is backpack armor.
In the private sector market for backpack armor, we endorse and recommend DFNDR Armor. The armor is engineered in California and tested independently at an National Institute of Justice (NIJ) certified ballistic lab. An important factor is "multi-hit" rating. DFNDR backpack armor is rated Level IIIA handgun, meaning testing revealed adequate protection from the following handgun rounds, known as a ballistic profile:
Three of the common calibers found at the street level in the U.S. are 9MM, .40 S&W, and .45ACP. The area covered by a 9.5x15 soft plate is less than a full vest, yet is better than walking with no protection. At least there is a barrier to use in the front if needed and protect one's back from stray rounds/shrapnel and intentional handgun fire.
Unlike even the most low profile vest, the backpack armor is wholly concealed (not even the outline of an armored plate is visible). This combination of protection and low visibility is essential in civil unrest and riot conditions, for example. Another area is US-Mexico border towns, and for that we would upgrade to hard plate rifle armor for much of the terrain.