Project Run-A-Way: The Craziest Combat Outfits

Project Run-A-Way: The Craziest Combat Outfits

They might be garish or sophisticated, bizarre or comical, technology-heavy or explosive-proof. All sorts of suits outfit the men and women who work hard everyday — to fight bombs or keep the peace. Here we showcase a few of the cool, functional or just plain insane fashions fit for the fight.

The Bomb Suit

Defusing bombs? It might be handy to put this on. The 27kg, armour-layered Hurt Locker ensemble certainly can’t guarantee survival (it has the nickname “Demon Suit” for a reason). But it sure is your best bet against a pressurised explosion. With hard-armour plates on top of multiple layers of strong heat-resistant synthetic fibres, it protects against the shockwave from the blast as well as flying shrapnel. Here’s a much more detailed explanation of how these outfits keep you alive. (And a photo of Danger Room’s Noah Shachtman in one himself.)

And in case you’re wondering, the current world record for fastest mile in a bomb suit is nine minutes and 58 seconds. What Staff Sgt Jeremy Herbert was doing running that far, who knows.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


The French are coming. And they can spot you from 150 metres. That’s thanks to the Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés, a French infantry combat suit. It comes complete with an electronic jacket, osteophone-laden helmet and an assault rifle that doubles as a wireless video camera. Information from the multitude of sensors gets fed back to the soldier through an interface on the helmet, allowing them to see through obstacles or in the dark. Plus, the 24kg suit is supposed to be quite comfortable — its fire-retardant fabric is designed for maximum ventilation.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Sniper Suit

You’ll never see that sniper in the grass. Designed to blend right into the foliage, ghillie (or yowie) suits come in all sorts of varieties, with burlap, twine, leaves, twigs and other bits and pieces of nature stuck right onto a poncho. Taken out of their natural habitat, though, they look downright ridiculous, like these particularly Chewbacca-esque camouflage outfits from Iran.

Photo: expertinfantry/Flickr

Nett Warrior

Nett Warrior, if it ever materialised, is the US Army’s longstanding attempt to build an ensemble of wearable electronics. The idea is to connect soldiers on the battlefield with a variety of gadgets — mobile computers, maps and radios — so that they can communicate and navigate on the go.

After twenty years of working on the outfit (and predecessors like Land Warrior, pictured above) the Army recently put the program on hold. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that smartphones can do everything the eight pound Nett Warrior could. Provided there are cell towers nearby, of course.

Photo: Noah Shachtman

Muammar Gaddafi’s Garb

This is one emperor with some interesting clothes. Muammar Gaddafi has appeared in everything from a brown sleeping bag to flamboyant purple robes, from ostentatious to just plain weird. These suits never get old.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Iranian Female Cops

Women may have it tough in some parts of the Islamic world. But in Iran, policewomen dish it right back, and in black robes to boot. During operations — which include climbing walls, arresting armed robbers, firing from moving cars and dismantling bombs — they aren’t required to wear the traditional all covering veils. Instead, they wear a variety of uniforms that include trousers and overalls.

Combat Chef Hats

No, that’s not a chef hat, shower cap or deflated balloon atop the heads of these Israeli soldiers. It’s a called a mitznefet, the typical helmet cover of the Israeli defence forces since the 1990s (it’s supposed to help with camouflage by disguising the recognisable shape of a helmet). The floppy headgear has roots in the ancient head coverings of the Jewish high priests.

Photo: Israel Defence Forces

The Fire Suit

These futuristic silver suits are designed to withstand even the hottest of aircraft fires, and so are a staple for the defence industry. So-called proximity suits are made of aluminised glass fibre fabric, which reflects 90 per cent of heat, and is an improvement over the older model, which was made of asbestos.

Photo: expertinfantry/Flickr

Chinese Militia

They’re tough. They’re strong. And they’re in pink. A 2009 parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China featured this miniskirted, knee-high-booted, insanely symmetrical procession of Chinese militiawomen.

Photo: Xinhuanet has been expanding the hive mind with technology, science and geek culture news since 1995.