I have been asked multiple times about how I designed my kit to withstand heat exhaustion.
Short answer is:
- “Fake” layers
- Camel Paks
- Cold Vests
- Under Armour Compression shirts and trousers
- Good food to feed body
- Rehydration Salts.
If you want a more in depth answer about my kit. Here is a breakdown about how I made my kit, and maybe it can help you.
First up. I still get hot, I still get sweaty, I still suffer and all the best kit in the world is still a challenge. If you are on the fence about playing a beastman, if you get the chance to monster, or even borrow an orc mask and sit and wear it all day. You’ll soon see why it is mentally and physically challenging. Even the best kit is hard work.
When I first approached Andy Rimmer at Offa Studio I outlined exactly how I wanted to have multiple layers, a foam musclely body, sculpted body parts, digigrade legs, a full face mask, fur all over and to be a huge scary beastman.
My design was based off the Charr from Guild Wars 2, but modified to be more humanlike and to fit within my system (Curious Pastimes) cosmological ideal. I also love the design and look of Warhammer’s Beastmen so I wanted a mixture. I wanted roman or greek style armour and I wanted to fit in my faction, Teutonia with a theme that fit their designs. I wanted hangy down bits, and shoulders bulked with leather to add even more to my size.
I’m already 6ft 3″ and I knew adding horns and bulk would make me huge, imposing and with a hunchback like a Charr, I’d be massive.
I knew the final look and design would be a heat trap and I would die.
I suffer from heatstroke easily and I attend around 10 LARP events a year, minimum and I will always, at least one, get heatstroke.
It was a real concern, so I designed it with all that in mind.
When I first started sketching my character, I had a loose idea about how to design the kit but I wanted to design a practical level.
I had 3 rules I adhered to at all steps.
My Kit would be built with:
- Practicality and stability
- Heat Management
- Looking good.
I ensure that, in that order, I would have liveable, durable, well working kit to last a long time.
Practicality and Stability.
I took my initial sketch and started pulling apart sections of it and trying to figure out how to make an easy put on and take off kit.
In LARP you have to take kit off, jump into monster kit, get ready for bed, get up in mornings and from watching a friend get in and out of his kit. I knew I wanted to do it in half the time, and be able to do it alone.
I ensured my kit was all elastic, loose, easy to manage and secure.
I can get into full kit within 15 minutes.
The legs are designed with elastic in key points, which are then further secured with the leather armour on my legs (which I don’t bother taking off).
Each bit is stitched, glued and stitched again.
I knew elastic would slowly die over time, so I always have extra elastic and a sewing kit, just in case.
I designed the kit to have fake layers.
I wanted to wear a roman tunic, a sleevless tunic, almost like a closed side tabard.
I figured if I had that over my chest, back and body I didn’t really need fur there.
I wanted it sleeveless to enable to have armpit holes where instead of fur, would be a large holed mesh shirt.
Now… I’m no artist, but check out my stylish “theory” MSPaint I made for the “fake layers”.
This allowed me to have a tabard, but without it you’d just see the under armour layer.
Around the crotch and armpits I needed a level of exposure, and knew the fur around it would hide the dark grey mesh.
In fact, without the tunic it can be a bit revealing.
You’ll be surprised how cool and refreshing it is getting a nice breeze!
My back is banded with ridged foam to create a cage and make my beast have a hunch. It also serves as a great place to hide a hydration bladder. (see below for more pictures of the body).
Now I started with a camelpak but moved over to Source and their UTA adaptation to allow me to refill the bladder without taking the kit off. Its an adapter that you attach to the drinking section and plug into the tap. Boom (Video link).
On battle days, or hot days, I can place my “ice” belt around my waist, this has ice packs which I store in my coolbox.
Yes, I now take a coolbox to LARP, and if I’m lucky I transfer my ice packs to a freezer.
My original ice belt seems to be discontinued, a simple belt with ice pack sections for inserts.
The closest is the Secrets Torso Cooling Wrap (Disclaimer: I have never used this website.)
For the hands I wear fingerless gloves with fur on the back. This allows me to keep my wrists open and exposed when I need to cool down I can put some water there.
I left my neck exposed and used a thin cloth to hide my pink neck and also hide my water hydration system. In addition I have a collection of BCB Neck Cooling Scarfs which you can drop in water for 15 mins while you get ready, and they expand and come out cool and refeshing!
I then cover it all with the light cotton red scarf (ideal for my Roman look).
I’m a personal fan of good faces make good beastmen. I understand that face paint and stick on prosthetics can work wonders, but with speed in mind. I much prefer it.
Yet it is hard work!
My mask is almost full face, it is full frontal face, with an open back.
I have long hair, so I braid it tight and out of the way.
I then have various heat gear skull caps that I change out frequently over the event. My mask then sits on my head and the “beastman hair” falls down the back of my head in a flap, which keeps it cool and airy.
The mask is the hardest part of the kit. It takes about 20 minutes to get used to the harsh heat and constriction the mask gives you, but once you are over it. You are golden.
With my the mask airy with elastic where the back of the balclava should be, it allows breeze and reduces heat.
Talc and skullcaps help with wearing it long periods.
I might try extra suede leather or sanity towels in the forhead with the skullcaps to give it more absorbtion.
So top tips for heat management in kit design:
- “Fake layers” to reduce actual layers
- Crotch light material
- Neck light material
- Wrists light material
- Chest light material
- Build in hydration bladders
- Build in space for hot day ice belts and alike.
You can see in the photo below the arm pit holes and mesh:
You can see in the photo below the inside framework and mesh for the back and camelpak/hydration bladder:
As we all know at larp, looking good is part of it.
I won’t go on tutorials how to roleplay your beast to compliment the kit.
Do consider the type of “beast” you will be, and consider how they are with heat.
I designed my backstory that my race of beastmen are from mountains of snowy crags.
This allowed me to have good reason to avoid heat, take cover and hide in shade.
In addition I knew I’d have down time so I built my character as a plot chaser/tactian to sit and discuss.
I know in my pictures I’m sweating, my facepaint is running and my mask is rubbing.
Try to hide all pink.
Try to get your masks, looks and skin and fur to compliment your natural skin tones. It makes it easier when it rubs.. cause it will rub off!
I do have primer, grease paint, concealer and matt “fixers” for the next time I’m out and about, so lets hope it works!
Finally I guess you want to see what I looked like at the end?
It is hard work, but massively rewarding.
You will sweat.
You will get uncomfortable
Just take water, drink water, and eat.