Thor Impact Rig

History:

2008 is Thor’s 40th anniversary. They’ve been creating great products from the beginning and sponsor some of the top riders in motocross. Thor uses its experience and racing pedigree in order to give riders high performing products that stand up to abuse.

The Product:

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The Impact Rig was designed to be body hugging under protector for riders looking for lightweight/minimalistic protection. Thor included some nice features and offer it at a competitive price. Thor used a combination of micro mesh, hard plastic, and foam to create an armor product that helps keep the rider feeling comfortable as well as protected in the result of a crash. The Impact Rig is a good armor choice on days when you don’t need maximum protection and can be adapted to fit situations where more protection is needed.

Features and Materials:

  • Removable Articulated Back Panel – The inside of the back panel is cushioned with foam and the outside has a fully articulated hard plastic protector. The back panel can be removed via 2 zippers on each side and a velcro tab at the top.

back panel removed (click to enlarge)

articulated back panel detail (click to enlarge)

  • Side Mounted YKK Brand Zipper Closure – The zipper is offset to the side to keep it out of the way and allow the chest plate to be one piece for more strength.

zipper closure detail (click to enlarge)

  • Padded Collar – The collar is padded for added comfort.
  • Poly-Urethane Shoulder Caps – The poly-urethane shoulder caps offer protection and have venting to help with cooling.

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  • Molded Foam Panels – The cushioned panels throughout the armor offer protection and padding during a crash and are heavily vented to help keep the rider cool.
  • Multiple Tension Straps – The shoulder areas of the armor have tension straps in order to allow the garment to fit a range of body types and sizes for a secure fit.
  • Micro Mesh Chassis – The armor uses a micro mesh base to attach the protective pieces which keeps the armor light as well as vented.

sleeve detail (click to enlarge)

Riding Results:

Fit and Comfort: The fit of the Impact Rig was pretty easy to tune to my body. I put the armor on with the stock adjustments and then adjusted the tension straps on the front and back of the armor to fit my shoulders snuggly. The elastic wrists were a bit tight the first few times I wore the armor but eventually loosened up. Even after loosening up they are still pretty tight and don’t allow you push the sleeves up your arm very easily. I didn’t have any issues with the armor riding up while out on the bike and I didn’t feel like my movement was overly restricted.

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The micro mesh used for the chassis was soft and non-abrasive to the touch. It is mildly stretchy to a point but fits snuggly against the body to support the armor and keep it in place. I didn’t wear any Under Armor or other garment under the Impact Rig during testing and had no issues with chafing or irritation. The collar was nicely padded and was unnoticeable while riding.

Thor only makes the Impact Rig in 2 sizes. I’d say the sizing suggestions are relatively accurate. If you have broad shoulders or are close to 160lbs I’d suggest getting the L/XL. Trying on the armor at a local shop is always the best practice if you have a dealer near by.

Breathability: The armor has good and bad spots for breathability like most armor. While riding the armor is nicely vented. The micro mesh and vented foam allow air to flow freely and you stay relatively cool. The shoulder caps are designed to bring in air through sculpted vents which is also a nice feature.

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At a rest on a hot day, however, the armor can become hot. The chest plate and back panel both tend to generate the most heat due to the fact that they are large flat areas laying against the body. Thor has designed the front panel with several vents to help bring air in which works decently well when moving but at a rest is still hot. The back panel has a harder time getting airflow due to its location as well as the fact that more material is back there. Since the back panel can be removed there ends up being two layers of fabric, one for the chassis and one on the removable back panel. This tends to heat up quicker than the rest of the armor. It also tends to hold more sweat and doesn’t wick it away as easily due to the denser fabric and lack of airflow.

Protection: I had the benefit of crashing with the Impact Rig on several times. Each time I remained unharmed and protected. I shoulder checked a few trees as well as took a couple of heavy spills that gave me a good idea of how well the Impact Rig can stand up to abusive and protect a rider. The micro mesh chassis does a pretty good job of keeping the armor panels in place during a crash. The panels can, however, still be pushed upwards to an extent in a crash but downward movement is less noticeable and impeded due to the way the tension straps are configured.

The shoulders themselves are protected with both foam and a hard poly-urethane shell. The foam base covers the entire shoulder area from the front to back and travels down the arm to the bicep area. The poly-urethane shell doesn’t cover as much area as the foam but protects the vital regions of the shoulder. The shell does a pretty good job but I’d like to have seen the shell come a little bit more forward to protect the front of the shoulder from impacts. The collarbone area is also left exposed and could use some protection added to the Impact Rig. The shoulder area armor is secured in place via several means besides the tension straps. The shoulders are secured to the mesh chassis with double stitching as well as with a solid nylon strip at the top of the collar to keep the shoulder panel from moving down the shoulder in a crash.

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The chest protection area is very large and protects a majority of the front of the rider. The chest panel is fully cushioned with double stitched foam that has a large plastic protector sewn onto it with single stitching. After a while during testing the single stitching did start to unravel and needed mending. The chest protector piece is vented and covers an area just below the start of the sternum and few inches above the belly button. The chest piece doesn’t protect very far around the sides of the ribs which could be improved to offer more protection from side impacts.

The back coverage of the Impact Rig is extensive and versatile. The articulated back panel can be removed when needed and is easy to install and remove. The back panel uses a double stitched foam base that has plastic articulated panels attached to it. The back panel is flexible and doesn’t constrict movement when bending down or riding. Thor has added more foam along the zipper area to offer added protection along the back and give a good place to tuck the zipper tabs. The back panel covered a majority of my back and spine as seen in the pictures. I did take a good shot or two in my back from rocks I fell on when riding and the armor took the impact fine. It only left a little scratch on the armor itself and had I not been wearing the armor I’d have most likely been badly injured.

Versatility: Thor designed the Impact Rig to be versatile for the rider. I’ve already commented on the removable back panel which is nice if you just want some added chest and shoulder protection. On the other hand some riders might want to enhance the Impact Rig with the addition of elbow pads. The micro mesh chassis doesn’t impede this addition and works quite nice when maximum protection is needed. I had no trouble wearing additional elbow pads and felt no restriction of movement.

Possible Improvements:

  • Remove the sleeves – I don’t feel that the sleeves are really necessary below the elbow. The mesh allows for some added protection against abrasion but a jersey can also help in that area. The removal of the sleeves would make the Impact Rig a little more comfortable without much trade off.
  • Additional side protection – The Impact Rig could use a little bit of added side protection. In its current state the Impact Rig doesn’t offer much, if any, protection from impacts to the side. Kidneys and ribs still remain a bit vulnerable.
  • Improved stitching – The Impact Rig started to become undone where single stitching was used.
  • Enlarge the shoulder caps to offer more frontal protection – The foam on the shoulders protects the front of the shoulder decently, but the cap itself could be enlarged or redesigned to cover more of the front of the shoulder and collar bone area from impacts.

MSRP: $104.95

Conclusion:

When searching for body armor there are several factors to look for. Most riders are looking for armor that is versatile, breathable, durable, and offers ample protection. The Impact Rig offers riders a lighter duty protection option that has some really nice features. It’s versatile for varying situations and the vented foam and protective panels work well with the mesh chassis to help keep the rider comfortable while still protecting key areas on the rider.

The Impact Rig does have some short comings in its protection and can get warm on hot days when you don’t have air flowing. The sleeves can be a bit annoying at times but can help protect you in a crash. At the end of the day the Impact Rig performs pretty well for its intended purpose and doesn’t need a whole lot of improvement to make it better.

The Thor Impact Rig performs well and is offered at a competitive price. For those that are looking for lightweight/minimalistic armor or don’t need maximum protection the Impact Rig is a good choice. If you’d like a little bit more protection you can also check out Thor’s Impact Rig SE that offers fixed elbow/forearm guards and a removable kidney belt.

[Thor Impact Rig Review Gallery] [Thor MX Website]