Rhino Skin - Second Chance Gear
by Hila Raam


Rhino Skin-secon chance gear by Hila Raam

This Kevlar rucksack with a built-in protective hood by Israeli designer Hila Raam is perfect for anyone who wants to go backpacking in a war zone.

Rhino Skin-secon chance gear by Hila Raam

Hila Raam, a recent graduate of Hadassah College in Jerusalem, created the Rhino Skin backpack as a form of personal protection that safeguards the wearer from the debris and impact of missile attacks.

Rhino Skin-secon chance gear by Hila Raam

Developed using Aramid, a bulletproof fibre used in military vests, the backpack is designed for people living in areas of the world where terror attacks are a part of daily life.

Rhino Skin-secon chance gear by Hila Raam

In the event of an emergency, the wearer simply pulls the side straps of the bag around their chest, hauls the protective hood over their head and lays on the ground for cover.

Rhino Skin-secon chance gear by Hila Raam

The shape of the backpack is formulated to protect the vital organs. Raam hopes its use will reduce the number of fatalities associated with terror attacks.

In the video Raam created to explain the project (above) she documents the number of rocket and mortar attacks in Israel in recent years points out that 60% of people were in the open air when the attacks occurred, leaving them with limited options for protecting themselves.

In the event of an air raid warning, people caught outdoors should lie flat on the ground to avoid shrapnel from exploding munitions. Donning the Rhino Skin backpack and hood would reduce the chance of injury, Raam believes.

"This unique bag pack protects the essential life or death body areas," says Raam. "It protects the head, neck, back and the sides of the body. Most important the brain, heart, liver and kidneys are fully protected."

Photography is by Noam Sharon.

  • seth

    Let’s start with the obvious… why would one want to backpack in a war zone?

    • shhigg

      It’s not for backpacking, it’s for school children. That was kind of obvious.

  • Will Palestinian children be allowed to buy and wear these as well?

    • Tal

      Will dezeen readers, who come here to read about DESIGN, be allowed to buy and wear this to protect themselves from ignorant, self righteous and corny talkbackers?

      • frigolito

        Yeah, give these to Palestinians. To protect them from the Israeli tanks. Cool concept.

      • pipo

        Not all design is just aesthetics.

        • Tal

          You’re right. My comment was badly drafted. I apologize. My point was that these predictable anti-Israeli comments on every possible occasion are both unfair and fulsome.

  • nofelix

    I don’t see how the side panels are positioned, or why they can’t just be fixed in place to start with.

  • anonymous coward

    Let’s answer the obvious… because one lives in a war zone!

  • pipo

    This design shows the sad state the Israeli/Palestinian region is in. The sad part about it is that this design shows no signs of irony.

    • I think the idea for the backpack is well done. I don’t know how you would go about testing the effectiveness without input from the militaries responsible for killing innocent civilians in the first place.

      The part of this that really bothers me is the production value of the accompanying video. It’s a lot of focus on propaganda that amounts to a dozen dead Israeli civilians when thousands of Palestinians have been killed needlessly. The real shame to me is in the fact that we have so many intelligent, creative Israeli designers with very little acknowledgment of the apartheid that exists within their nation.

      Why not market the backpack for people in all war zones? Why not market a camera backpack for journalists who cover these wars to expose the truth for all people?

      I guess that was my biggest complaint with this idea. It can do more then protect the unaware victims in Israel. It could be used to help many innocents in the path of violence.

      • Tal

        Michael, you are welcome to visit my country, which is the only country in the Middle East where Muslim women have FULL equal rights (they study with me at my university in Jerusalem) and then visit an Arab country of your choice.

        You may choose to try Yemen, where 11-year-old Nada al-Ahdal chose to flee from her family to avoid being forced to marry a rich old man just a few days ago. Or Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive. Or Iran, where homosexuals are executed, as well as adulterous women. Or maybe Syria, which suffers from a conflict that makes the Israel-Palestinian conflict (which is one of the least bloody conflicts in the world, by the way, Google it) look like an argument between two kids. After you do this, feel free to lecture about apartheid.

        I know you have good intentions, but when it comes to distant conflicts, modesty is important. I travel a lot to Europe and am always amazed by how different the common beliefs of many Europeans, which rely on the picture illustrated by local media, are from the actual situation. It’s true, we have real problems here, but believe it or not – it’s a bit more complicated than an action movie with good and bad guys.

        We’re no saints, but we don’t intentionally kill civilians. Stating this out loud is like fighting windmills, but I’ve been there and I know it for a fact. Our Palestinian neighbours, who live a few hundred metres from me, are no saints either. Far from it. Many of them would like to live in peace, like most Israelis. I personally know some of them. But as for saints – they don’t survive here.

        Israelis suffer from this situation quite a bit too. We are constantly being put in a position where we have to choose between protecting ourselves and avoiding criticism, which is mostly based on very little knowledge. Like every responsible nation, we usually choose to protect our lives before we protect our image. It’s always sad to hear that this basic principle is not appreciated in Europe, but it’s a price we have to pay in order to survive.

        • The distinction to be made is between you, Hiram, me and then our governments.

          I don’t hold the German people accountable for the Nazi’s, I hold the Nazi government accountable. I don’t hold Israeli’s accountable for beating Palestinian Christians making a pilgrimage into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, I hold the IDF accountable.

          I would have loved to have visited Egypt before the government there was thrown into chaos. I would have loved to have visited Syria or Lebanon before it became unstable and dangerous for me to travel there.

          You have to ask yourself why that is. Who supports the destabilisation of the Arab world and who benefits from it? If even the Arabs are now unsafe in Arab countries, how did that happen?

          I think as designers, it’s critically important to see problems outside our own bias, and find the underlying causes to amend them. As an atheist, Oscar Niemeyer left his bias aside to design and build some of the most spiritual worship spaces in the world.

          Writing off problems as merely, “too complicated” to understand is an empty excuse. Ultimately, there is a mechanism that suppresses us. Discovering that and expressing it is worthwhile for our generation to pursue.

          • Tal

            Well, Michael, your distinction is artificial. The people of Israel elected the Israeli government. Israel also has mandatory military service. If you want to criticize the Israeli policy and army – criticize Israeli citizens. Don’t patronize us, please. We are not a helpless group of people who are held hostage by evil decision-makers and generals. We are a free people with a democratic regime, and we should be held responsible for our country’s actions. The same holds, in my opinion, for Nazi Germany (even though comparing the two is nothing more than an ignorant provocation).

            If you don’t have the time, will or guts to visit our region, which is completely safe in the vast majority of its territories, or even learn some basic historic facts (it’s clear from your comments), it really is OK. Just don’t feel you have the right to preach on these issues, and then cover your ignorance up by clinging to excuses.

            Stability in Egypt is a top Israeli interest. Israel has a peace agreement with Egypt since the 70’s, which is one of it’s most important strategic assets. The current situation in Egypt is a big headache for Israel, and not, as you imply, an Israeli conspiracy.

            The situation in Syria and its effects in Lebanon is also much more complicated than you probably think, whether you recognize the complex nature of geo-religious conflicts and the need to study them before writing comments, or not. Israel has absolutely nothing to do with the situation in Syria. In fact, the war in Syria brought a wide range of new threats to our northern borders, and caused the first violations of truce in our border with Syria since the early 80’s, so thats also quite a big problem for us. Israel also allows injured Syrian fighters to enter Israel for medical treatment in Israeli public hospitals regularly. Your claims are ludicrous.

            Regarding all this Scientology-like mumbo jumbo about us designers discovering our true suppresses for the sake of our generation – no comment. I wish you all the best, man.

        • beatrice

          Tal. Assuming you are Israeli, how come you think it’s wrong for a foreigner to talk about what happens in Israel but it’s okay for you to list and describe the society in several countries that you are not even allowed to enter?

          How dare you describe the workings of a society you have next to zero experience of. This is the kind of arrogance that perpetuates the state of conflict in your country.

          I’ve been to Syria, Egypt, the West Bank and Israel many times and I can tell you the life for most people in all of those places during (relative) peace time is pretty similar – nothing like the nightmares that you project from Israeli television onto the Arab world.

          If you had any intelligence whatsoever you might have pointed the finger at your vile far-right government that is supporting the war like invasive cults that operate in the occupied territories who are perpetuating misery for the rest of Israel and the Palestinian people.

          I agree this mildly interesting project is harmed by a terrible video that looks far more like a piece of propaganda.

          • Tal

            Beatrice, if you fully read my comment, you probably saw that I stated that the vast majority of the Middle East is safe. And yet, the state of human rights on Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and most other counties in the region is far worse than in Israel. Can you contradict the examples I gave here? Can you honestly claim that homosexuality is not illegal in Iran – a country whose laws are baes on the Shari’a? Can you honestly claim that women are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia?

            You are allowing yourself to make some truly phantastic assumptions about my experience in my region or intelligence based on Internet comments, without knowing me or my personal history. I had more contact with palestinians than you think. I’m not sure I am the one with the bigger arrogance problem here.

            I am a left-wing voter, who supports a peace agreement based on the 1967 borders with the needed modifications. I did not vote for our right-wing government. This has nothing to do with this discussion. In fact, Israeli left wing governments were, historically, more militant in their actions when it came to protecting their civilians.

          • Beatrice

            Maybe you know some Palestinians, but you have certainly never experienced life in any of the countries you think it’s okay to criticise.

            Iran is more than just a place where homosexuals are murdered. Saudi Arabia is more than just a place where women are banned from driving.

            Terrible things also happen in your own country and your xenophobic generalisations and tit for tat attitude are predictable and offensive.

          • Tal

            You’re right. I’ve never been to Iran or Saudi Arabia. But I also never claimed that there is no normal life there. I know that most citizens in these countries live peacefully, and that most illegal acts are being overlooked by the regimes of these countries.

            It doesn’t change the fact that the state of human rights there is terrible – much worse than in Israel or in the occupied territories (a term that many Israelis don’t accept, though I do) – and demands a firm condemnation. And yet, while these countries force their horrible laws on tens of millions of citizens and murder hundreds of them every year, the hot trend in European media is the delegitimiSing Israel. This is pure hypocrisy.

            In my country, like in every western democracy, if an Australian citizen would call the police after being brutally raped, the last place she would find herself is in prison. In the United Arab Emirates, on the other hand… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/12/alicia-g

            This is not xenophobia. This is admitting simple facts, instead of joining the choir in its ragged habit of beating the unpopular kid of the international community. Presenting the situation in Israel as intolerable and the situation in most Islamic countries as fairly normal is unjust both towards Israeli civilians and toward Iranian and Arab exiles (many of them, including many Iranian exiles, are supporters of Israel).

            As I said before, I don’t always agree with my governments policies and actions. And yet, I challenge you to give me one single example of a conflict that takes place deep within civilian territories for such a long period of time in which any army made more effort to save lives of un-involved citizens than the Israeli army. Just one example, that can be backed up with numbers. I was personally evident of this extreme effort, which sometimes even caused the lives of Israeli soldiers and citizens.

            It would be very interesting to compare our actions to those of any European country who would sustain thousands of rocket attacks, from a territory it has RETREATED from (in a historic act that tore apart the Israeli society), for so many years.

            I hope for all European citizens that we won’t get a change to conduct such a comparison. It’s important to understand that we simply don’t have an option other than applying military force when needed (and we usually hold our horses much more than most countries do before applying massive force), and I don’t feel we owe any apologies for it. The criticism of you and your kind is something we’ll just have to live with.

            Having said that, I can also state that I am a strong supporter of ending the occupation in the West Bank. I think it is a top Israeli interest, and I hope that the security arrangements that could allow this to happen without endangering the future existence of Israel will be achieved as soon as possible.

            A two states solution is the only way to get out of this mess. This is, by the way, also the position of the Israeli prime minister (sorry to disappoint you, but we have far-far-more-right politicians and parties in Israel).

          • beatrice

            No Tal, xenophobia, is when someone dares to mention that Israel (via its right wing government) is complicit in an apartheid system (a misdirected exaggeration, but an element of truth) and you go on the defensive and fire random propaganda commentary on the Muslim world and/or a random number of non-related middle eastern countries.

            As I say, Iran is a much bigger and more complex place than just a place where gays are killed and adulterous women are stoned – although you may have watched some of this propaganda on Youtube. Life is bigger than this and I’m sure you get upset when people generalise about Israel.

            I know Syrians who have no idea where Israel even is, let alone what they do there. Equally, you have no right to make generalised comments about their culture to defend a (quite valid) point about Israel.

            Coming back to the backpack, considering that the video was posted (sent to) a world forum, it’s incredibly insensitive – or maybe just naive to the audience.

            The main perception of Israeli foreign policy (whether you like it or not) is a ruthless army that bulldozes villagers in Gaza. Offering a back pack that defends only Israelis from rocket attacks read as propaganda if offered to the international audience. Maybe it works within Israel, but to most people it just looks unbalanced – is this company siding with Israel in favour of just making cash? Why?

          • Tal

            Beatrice, let me remind you that I replied to a guy who compared my country to a country where race granted voting rights, based on close-to-zero knowledge (I believe you may even agree with me on this).

            My point was that the obsession about Israel is unjust, especially when we are surrounded by countries with far worse violations of fundamental human rights which receive much much less coverage in the media. You can’t expect me to start describing the complexity of Iranian or Syrian societies, which I am aware of (once again, probably more than you think, though I would much rather witness it with my own eyes and I hope I would be able to do so one day).

            I certainly did not make any comment about Arab or Iranian culture! I mentioned ONLY human rights violations conducted by the regimes of these countries. I think it’s quite fair. My examples were given as answers to specific claims against my people. You don’t know me, but I can say without a slight doubt that I am not at all xenophobic.

            I didn’t get your point about our right-wing government. We have military control in the west bank since 1967 (after a massive regional war against four countries directly and another seven indirectly). We had many left-wing governments since then (including in 67).

            About the backpack – “the company”? This is an Israeli designer. She emphasises with her people. Maybe she even designed it for the protection of her loved ones. I see nothing wrong with it. And yet, I agree that the video does not make a good job of explaining the problem and I can understand why it may seem like propaganda to foreign eyes.

  • Dickie Smaber

    Bomb goes off; booooommmm. You think; wow, lucky me, I got my Rhino Skin Second Chance Gear! Then you flip the protective hood on and tighten the straps, duck to the ground. And lay there. Damn, only one bomb…

    I don’t see how this would work. Sorry.

    • shhigg

      There are alarms you know…

  • UP1

    This idea would’ve made sense and would be extremely welcome if aimed at serving the thousands of civilians involved in the recent protests around the world against totalitarian and violent regimes.

    As a defense mechanism for backpackers in a war zone… really? How far fetched from reality is this concept?

    If it takes into account the Israeli/Palestine conflict maybe it should have been named the Ostrich, not the Rhino?

    Would the very few Israelis that one day might decide to march against their state’s apartheid regime be allowed to wear these?

    • Tal

      Half a million Israelis protested in Israel in the summer of 2011. They had no need for such equipment. In fact, most economic protests in Europe (the ones that took place in Greece and Spain, for example) were much more violent – both from the protesters’ and from the governments’ side.

  • It’s ironic that you cite other Middle-Eastern nations to contrast the Israeli government, when it was the Israeli government along with US military, Mossad and the CIA who overthrew secular governments and helped create the turmoil you now oppose.

    Empires build when they divide people and pit them against each other. Weaken the citizens and take them with little force. This is what every artist, designer and filmmaker should be resisting.

    • Tal

      Can you bring any examples or evidence to support these claims?

      • The Lavon Affair is one off the top of my head. Look up the book “Ben Gurion Scandals” that was banned in both Israel and the United States. It was written by Naeim Giladi, an Iraqi Jew who witnessed the overthrow of his government at the hands of the Mossad. Surely you were taught these in school.

        • Tal

          I rest my case.

  • 8mismo

    How much does it weigh? How many cubic litres of storage space does it have inside? If this is somewhat lightweight and extremely durable, I could see a variant being popular in the US with people doing backcountry stuff where bags can get torn open by sharp rocks and thick vegetation.

  • Sarah Avila

    I think this is awesome!

    I have read all the comments below and what I see is somebody trying to use their talent to better the world. It’s a small effort in creating protection and change but it’s something and it’s a start. I would be proud to have thought of this kind of an idea rather than building some dress out of glass or a chair that can turn into a set of dishes.

    It’s such a daring idea to put out there in such political turmoil and I’m happy to read about this kind of design! Looks awesome and provides more protection than what there is at the moment. So why criticise? We are all ignorant to other cultures, wars and people. I think it’s a great work.