The Icon Field Armor Compression Shirt (the shirt) is intended to be worn as a primary or secondary layer of clothing. Because it has no official CE or European rating, this is primarily due to its articulated shoulder armor. It utilizes D30 level 1 armor in the shoulders, back, chest, and forearm areas to mitigate potential impacts. Icon also advertises the shirt with DuPont™ Kevlar® fiber abrasion-resistant panels. Some users wear the shirt without an outer layer, and others choose to wear it with a jersey or other outside layer. It is very comfortable to wear and form-fitting while flowing a great amount of air.
Flows plenty of air
D30 supplied in potentially high-impact areas
Comfortable to wear
Thumb loops make putting the shirt on easy
Well sewn, minimal loose threads
Armor is not removable
Forearm armor feels as if it will easily rotate in a slide
Introduction to the Icon Field Armor Compression Shirt
I purchased this piece of hot-weather riding gear to wear on those days when the temperatures hover above 90 degrees. I live in the San Francisco Bay area. We have incredible micro climates year-round. I can ride 10 minutes in either direction and the temperature will change up to 20 degrees. Summer is the coolest season where I live but can get really hot too. So I wanted something that flowed a ton of air but was not too pricey, since I have this bad habit of buying too many jackets. This shirt seemed like a great idea.
Icon has been around since 2002, and they’ve quickly built themselves a reputation for tough, good-looking gear. Designed for daily riders, their jackets, pants, boots, gloves, and helmets are all built with the goal of protecting riders from that eventual brush with danger—courtesy of cagers, curbs, or other unexpected conditions.
I like the fit of the shirt, it’s tight and form-fitting. I always wear a Helite Turtle 2 airbag vest, so any garment I can use under the vest that flows a lot of air is great in 90+ degree heat.
The shirt fit that bill well. It’s nice and snug around my core. I’m 5’8” and 160lbs with broad shoulders. I chose to buy a large one, which fits me perfectly. Not too tight, but not loose at all. In two words: just right.
The length of the shirt goes down to my mid-butt area. I found that it did ride up a bit while I was riding, but this varied based on the type of pants I was wearing.
The placement of the shoulder and back armor is well-thought-out and never interferes with my movements. I did find that the forearm armor has a tendency to move a bit too much for my taste—not so much up or down my forearm, but it rotates a bit more than I feel comfortable with. We’ll talk more about the protection this shirt offers later in this piece.
Build Quality of the Icon Field Armor Compression Shirt
The shirt is well-put-together and stitched well. There are very few loose threads in the example I purchased. The articulated D30 armor in the shoulders is securely stitched together, as are the back protector, chest, and forearm armor.
The vast majority of the shirt is mesh, which explains how it achieves the amount of airflow it transfers. On some mesh motorcycle jackets, I’ve found that the stitching and seams are of poor quality. Not on the Icon. They’ve done a remarkable job of stitching each panel.
The only bling to speak of on the shirt is the rubber ICON color logo patch, which resides on the lower left-hand side of the shirt.
It’s also an added benefit that the shirt includes loops on each end of the sleeves. This assists in the ease of putting the shirt on and off.
The Protection of the Icon Field Armor Compression Shirt
Icon is very specific about the type of protection it offers in the shirt:
As I mentioned before, the forearm area of the shirt is where I have the most concerns. Even though the D30 armor is well placed and relatively wide, I found that the armor rotates too easily around my forearm, which may result in skin abrasion during a low-side crash.
I’ve low-sided at two racetracks, and the first points to hit the pavement were my hands, hips, and forearms. In both cases, I didn’t sustain any injuries. No road rash, no broken bones. One was at 91 MPH and the other at 106 MPH. But I was wearing full custom-made motorcycle riding leathers too. The forearms were tight, hence no rotation at all.
With the Icon, I feel that a low-side would result in severe rotational movement in the forearm armor, leaving my skin without its intended protection. Mind you, this is made to be a piece of daily riding gear, not a piece of track-racing kit. But it’s still something you should consider if you plan on hitting the highway in this thing.
The placement of the back protection D30 offers good coverage and is well secured.
In terms of the abrasion resistance of the shirt, I’m not as confident as I’d like to be. After examining the shirt’s abrasion resistance materials on the shoulders, forearms, and back, I felt it was not ‘battle tested’ enough to not wear an outer layer. For me, that would defeat my intended use of the shirt. So I purchased some welder’s Flame Resistant Leather Cape Sleeves. I tried wearing them over the Icon shirt.
Since these would be an overlayer on top of the shirt, they would serve as my leather abrasion layer. What I found, however, was that it defeated the airflow I sought from the shirt itself—even without a lower core body covering and an open back on the welder’s sleeves.
Although I have never crash-tested D30 armor personally, I have no doubt it would protect me as long as it was in the right place. I feel confident in the placement of the shoulder, chest and back armor and am reasonably sure they would not move enough to expose my skin to injury. Not so with the forearms.
Labels on the Icon Field Armor Compression Shirt
Here are the labels on the Icon shirt:
The Feel of the Icon Field Armor Compression Shirt
The overall feel of the shirt is excellent. The fabric used by ICON is both comfortable and very breathable. It is a tight-fitting garment, so anyone looking for a loose-fitting shirt may not like this type of fit.
The articulated D30 in the shoulders makes it very comfortable in both a riding or sitting position. Since I ride a dual sport, it’s important to me that whatever I wear feels great sitting or while standing on the pegs. The shirt feels great in both instances.
Final Thoughts on the Icon Field Armor Compression Shirt
As much as I wanted to love this Icon piece, I hesitate to fully recommend it because the forearm armor does not stay in place from a rotational standpoint. I feel it may depend on each individual’s forearm circumference, but for me, it just won’t cut it for my perceived protection in a low-side crash.
Still, there are a number of things this shirt does well—it offers substantial airflow (when not covered up), is comfortable to wear, and provides solid value for money. Is it a substitute for custom track leathers? Of course not. But can you use it on your commute? I’ll leave that up to you.