RIDING GEAR: Upgrading Cheap Back Armor

The below repairs, replacements, and what-not have all been done by me on my personal gear. This procedure applies to any riding gear with cheap, crappy foam "armor" that feels flimsy and looks sad. Do not attempt any of these procedures unless you're confident in your skills - however limited - as a shade-tree mechanic. Don't send me hate mail if you mess something up!!

Upgrading Cheap Back Armor

1. This is me and my FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket. It is a fantastic jacket - waterproof, comfortable, great pockets, vents for when it warms up, room to layer. It's basically your run-of-the-mill perfect three-season (fall/winter/spring) jacket ... except that the back armor is cheap, flimsy foam. Not good foam at all, and not protective in the least.
2. Here you can see the stock Kilimanjaro back "armor" next to a high-tech piece of kit, D3O (and that's a capital O, not a zero) armor. Use the link above to learn more about how great this stuff is and to find your very own. This particular example is a women's item; I initially bought one each of men's and women's sized back armor pads, not knowing which one would be the right size. The men's size one is longer and wider than the women's pad, and that one is in my other FirstGear jacket (that I use for summer).
3. As you can see here, the cheap pad supplied by FirstGear holds its shape, especially when you leave the jacket bunched up in the back seat of your hot car for two weeks. I can tell you from experience that it takes a long time for it to get back to flat.
4. The "Viper Stealth" back armor from D3O will not hold its shape and it comes with various brands on it and at various prices. It's also bright orange!
5. To begin your quick and easy back armor upgrade, put the pad you're replacing on top of the pad you're replacing it with and trace around it with a marker of some sort. I used a Sharpie.
6. Because this (women's) D3O pad is shorter than the original pad, I'm going to trim off the bottom of the original pad and use it to support the D3O pad in the jacket's back armor pocket. I'll just cram this down to the bottom of the pocket.
7. You can see the shape of the old pad here. Using a sturdy pair of scissors, trim off everything outside the lines. (I'm really reaching for steps here!)
8. Trim off the bottom of the original pad if you're going to use it like I did, to go in the bottom of the pocket.
9. Here is the original pad (right) and the trimmed D3O pad. I spoke to a D3O representative at a massive motorcycle industry trade show about this process, and while he absolutely would not recommend that I cut the D3O pad down to size so it fits in my jacket, he did acknowledge that doing so would not compromise the protective qualities of the armor.
10. All done and installed in my jacket!