It’s easy to believe that jackets are immortal. Stories of people having the same jacket for a decade or two aren’t rare. We get it, all the fancy chemicals in a helmet can go bad, but there’s nothing that goes bad in a jacket, right?
Wrong! Well, sort of. It isn’t so much that things “go bad”—a jacket doesn’t use EPS with glue and linings. What does happen, however, is that usage wears some of the components down. Unlike with helmets, there is no “industry standard” when it comes to estimating the lifespan of jackets and pants—so it’s all about the state of affairs.
With time, the foam of the armor can crease and become thinner which obviously reduces its efficiency. Velcro, snaps, and zippers can also break or tear. Unlike the pads, they don’t actively protect you from an impact but they ensure a good fit and keep the protectors in place.
Depending on the materials used in the armor (foam, silicone, plastic, viscoelastic pad, etc.), each has a different lifespan. For instance, the hard plastic and silicone shells can last a very long time provided you don’t crash with them. As Ryan F9 explains, viscoelastic armor has an expiry date and manufacturers guarantee optimal protection for a limited number of years as the molecules eventually start disintegrating—something you should look into if your jacket uses that technology.