One of the most distinguishing elements of the Yautja's appearance is their advanced armor, which provides them with formidable protection and a fearsome appearance. In addition to fighting bare-skinned or wearing fishnets, the Yautja have developed a range of different armor types, each tailored to different hunting scenarios and combat situations. In this article, we will explore the various Yautja armor types and their features, providing a detailed look at the technology and tactics of these fearsome hunters.
Although they almost always wear armor on hunts and in combat, the Predators sometimes resort to fighting bare-skinned, with clothing covering only the Yautja's reproductive organs. This can happen during training when two Predators have a one-on-one duel to prove their worth. Furthermore, Predators often get captured and their armor is taken from them. More often that not, they escape and cause havoc while being stripped almost naked. In situations like that, they improvise and use either their claws, mandibles, or human weapons to attack. However, their main goal is to reclaim their armor and weapons so it does not stay in human hands for too long.
Almost all Predators wear fishnets and it has become a staple for their entire race. However, the fishnets don't give any combat protection and are not connected to the Predator's cloak either. The fishnet's main purpose is to keep Predators warm in hostile environments. Although hunting in the jungle might be the natural environment for the Yautja, they still need to keep warm at night or in water. The fishnets are much more useful in the Arctic and Antarctic environments, as seen in the first Alien vs. Predator movie or in Predator: Cold War. As seen in Predator: Big Game, the Predators also employ fishnet bags to carry their trophies around.
The most common Predator armor type is the light armor, often worn by members of the Jungle Hunter or Lost Tribe Predator clan. The Yautja don't want to burden themselves too much with armor because it limits mobility and might be considered dishonorable as well. At the same time, they need to keep their vital organs protected and the armor is integrated with their gear, including the wrist gauntlet, bio-mask and the power pack for their shoulder cannons. The Feral Predator from Prey chose to wear even less armor than the Jungle Hunter, leaving his shoulders and chest exposed. He did not use a shoulder cannon either and often preferred to use melee weapons.
The Predator medium armor is used by either less-experienced hunters (Young Bloods) or Predators dealing with Xenomorphs, where acid protection is more important. Although the Predator's blood is alkaline and lessens the effects of the acid, it still causes a lot of pain and can decapacitate the Predator. For some reason, the medium armor is not fully acid-proof, which might be a way to raise the stakes of the hunt and or give a bigger challenge. Compared to the light armor used by the Jungle Hunter, the AvP Predators had metal protection on both shoulders, the entire chest area, and shins. They even had metal shoes, giving better protection to their toes, and their groin-protection strap is much longer.
Heavy Predator armor is used on the most dangerous hunts, including missions to capture Alien Queens. Heavy armor covers most of the Predator's body, leaving only some parts of the arms and legs exposed. Most likely, this armor is more acid-resistant than the medium armor used by Young Blood Predators. This type of armor was famously used by Top Knot's clan and the human Predator Machiko Noguchi when assaulting an Alien hive. Each clan member used their own color scheme for the armor, distinct from the generic metallic look of the other types. Not only special armor was used, but heavier Yautja weaponry was as well, including plasma burners.
Due to the unnatural and forbidden practice of DNA hybridization, some Predator clans have opted to enhance their bodies with traits from other species. Thanks to this exploit, the Upgrade Predator had gained armored skin which he had harvested from an unknown species. His chest became hardened and could resist blows from both Yautja wristblades and small-arms fire. Although he did enhance his eyes and breathing so he could drop using a bio-mask, his face was not armored. Thus, he was shot in the face with a pistol by Quinn McKenna, ending his killing spree on Earth.
It is a little-known fact that the Yautja have a military that is called upon in a larger conflict, such as a war between multiple species or involving many Predator clans. A good example of this is the Jungle Hunter vs. Killer Predator Civil War that spanned several centuries. This kind of conflict requires different weapons and tactics, and Predator armor as well. The military-style armor is not personalized, giving the Predators an easier way to identify friends from foes in big skirmishes. There is a bigger emphasis on covering all body parts and making it agile, and less on trophy taking, trinkets, or ornaments that are associated with hunting.
The Yautja Honor Code allows the Predators to wear the bones of their slain enemies on their bodies, even forming armor around them. The Alpha Predator was the first Predator to do this, wearing armor from the bones of the Amengi (or styled after them), an insectoid species that first enslaved the Yautja but were later conquered. The Feral Predator famously wore a bone mask, most likely from the head of a River Ghost creature, seen in Predators. Furthermore, the Yautja often decorate their armor with smaller bones, such as wearing a bone necklace.
In addition to bones, the Xenomorph endoskeleton makes for a serviceable armor as well, giving at least some acid resistance to the wearer. The Two-Face Predator from the Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Splice and Dice wore Xenomorph chest armor, fought dozens of Xenomorph hybrids, and was the only Predator to survive out of the original five. Dachande, the Broken Tusk Predator, kept a Xenomorph head on his chest, giving some protection but also reminding him of a great hunt. Finally, the Serpent Hunter from the Aliens vs. Predator 2010 video game styled his helmet after a Xenomorph face, but it was most likely not made out a of Xenomorph.
When all else fails, the Yautja might resort to creating and using wooden armor. The Exiled Predators from Predator Hunting Grounds and Predator: Hunters comic line crash-landed on a remote Pacific island and the Yautja ship with their equipment was destroyed. Instead of falling into despair, the seven clan members created their armor from scratch, mostly using wood, with pieces of bone and rock thrown in as well. This armor served them well for training purposes and against easier opponents, like jungle animals. However, when human Predator hunters came to the island, most of them were killed in combat, with only one Yautja remaining.
The Predator bio-mask armor give limited protection against the vacuum of space, allowing the Predators to breathe and escape for a few minutes. However, to truly operate and hunt in space, they need a fully enclosed vacuum suit, even covering their dreadlocks. These suits were introduced in the Predator: Rage War book trilogy where the Yautja fought both Xenomorph and Colonial Marines on the surfaces of ships, space stations, and floating Predator habitats. The Predator vacuum suits looked both strong and elegant, allowing the Predators to operate in space for days, but were still vulnerable to human weapons. The visualization for the suits was created by artist William Bao.
Predator Killer Suit
The Predator Killer Suit was meant to be a gift to humanity from the Fugitive Predator Clan but was most likely employed by the Predators themselves as well. It had all the aesthetics of a Predator, including wristblades, shoulder cannons, and even metallic dreadlocks. The Predator Killer was very much like an Iron Man suit, using nanotechnology to expand itself out from a wrist gauntlet and wrap around a human (or Yautja) user. This ridiculous armor never saw any action in the Predator lore, but was most likely at least tested by Quinn McKenna. A great-looking statue for the suit was created by Prime 1 Studio, it looks better than the movie version.
Marvel's Predator Armor
While most Predator comics were published by Dark Horse for several decades, the license moved to Marvel in 2020. Launching their ongoing series, the first of which was titled "Day of the Hunter", Marvel introduced new and futuristic Predators hunting in the 2050ties. They wore advanced armor, taking elements from both the Predator Killer suit and the Samurai armor. This metallic armor was decorated by spikes, offering some extra protection in close-quarters battle. However, these Predators proved to be weak, as a female Predator hunter named Theta took down more than twenty of them, seeking revenge for her family killed when she was just a child.
Yautja Cosplayer Armor
Wearing Predator armor is a popular thing among human cosplayers, who often go with a classical Jungle Hunter look. However, the Predators themselves often dress up as humans, wearing human-style armor in some of the Predator comics and games. There is a Viking Predator, Pirate Predator, Samurai Predator, and even a Cleopatra Predator, a female Yautja who looks surprisingly good in the golden armor. The Cleopatra Predator's armor is both ceremonial and practical, giving ample protection to her vital areas. Cleopatra was the only Predator to defeat Dutch Schaefer, slaughtering his second team but leaving Dutch as the sole survivor with a scarred face, damaged by a netgun.
In conclusion, the Yautja's armor is an integral part of their hunting tactics and technology. While the Predators are known to fight bare-skinned or wear fishnets in certain situations, they also use different types of armor for various hunting scenarios and combat situations. The Yautja have light, medium, and heavy armor types, with each serving a specific purpose in combat. They also have military-style armor for large conflicts and personalization is less emphasized. Despite the Predators' advanced technology and armor, they sometimes improvise when their armor is taken from them. Overall, the Yautja's armor is an impressive display of their technological and tactical prowess in hunting and combat.