Looking for a tactical plate carrier vest for a little added protection? When you are hunting, at the range, or doing anything that involves shooting, having a quality chest rig and plate carrier can provide you with some additional safety, as well as some functionality. The vests and plate carriers have the potential to help save your life and provide you with some added comfort. Whether it’s a military simulation, law enforcement, or tactical needs in the field, the plate carriers and chest rigs can provide you with lightweight protection that can help to ensure your safety from bullets and shrapnel.
Of course, there are many different plate carriers and chest rigs on the market today, which can make it difficult to find the perfect solution for your needs. Perhaps you only need a modular chest set that doesn’t hold plates. Maybe you are looking for a full, high-quality tactical plate carrier that you can use for your job in law enforcement, bail bonds, etc.
Regardless of the use, you need to be sure you are choosing nothing but the best carrier. To help make things easier for you, we’ve collected 10 of the best options for plate carriers and vests that are on the market today. Look at the options below, see what they offer, and then figure out which of the choices will be best for your needs.
- Accepts different size armor plates
- Low-profile drag handle
- Built-in side pouches
- Well designed
- 5.11 is one of the best tactical brands on the market
- Super comfortable
- Great reviews just about everywhere
- Great drag handle
- Quick-adjust cinches
- Accepts steel, ceramic, and composite plates
- MOLLE webbing
- Emergency drag handle
Best Plate Carrier Vest List: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
5.11 Tactical is a popular name in the field of tactical gear, and the TacTec Plate Carrier is one of the best plate carrier options that are available today. This is a true plate carrier that has been designed to be as lightweight as possible while providing you with excellent performance and mobility. You will find that this plate carrier has the ability to fit medium, as well as large SAPI plates, which provides you with options with the plates that you choose.
The plate carrier from 5.11 is designed with comfort in mind. The standard cummerbunds are capable of accommodating a 52” circumference while the elastic is still relaxed. They are able to go up to 57” when they are fully extended. This provides more comfort, and you will find that when you wear this plate carrier, you will also offer plenty of freedom of movement.
The back yoke and the shoulder pads on the plate carrier from 5.11 ensure more comfort, as well. They help to do a better job of distributing the weight evenly. This is important when you are out in the field and wearing the carrier for long periods of time, especially when you also have other gear that you will need to carry along with you.
Naturally, you will want to keep as cool as possible, as well, to provide more comfort and to prevent exhaustion and the need for more hydration. Fortunately, there are oversized airflow panels on the carrier, which provide some nice breathability.
You will also enjoy that these tactical vests happen to be easy to use, as well. You will be able to use just one hand to access the quick release. Another feature that helps to make this one of the best tactical vests to buy is the extendable GrabDrag handle that it features. This handle can be used quickly and easily to help to exfiltrate someone in an emergency.
The options from 5.11 also happen to be durable. The 5.11 military vest is made from abrasion-resistant 500D nylon and they feature durable Duraflex hardware. You will also like the water-resistant coating, so if you need to use the vest in the rain, mud, and other environments. The durability means that hi
Another nice feature you will like with the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier is that it can also be used with Rogue men’s and women’s weight vest plates if you want to use the carrier to help with your fitness routine by adding some weight to your workouts. There are many good reasons to consider this 5.11 military vest, and it is no wonder it is considered one of the best.
- 5.11 is a known and trusted brand
- Extremely comfortable
- Highly durable
- Quality drag handle
- Does not come with plates
The Sentry Plate Carrier from Spartan Armor Systems is an update to the company’s Condor Compact Plate Carrier. The new design is made to provide you with a truly comfortable fit and feel while still being able to hold the standard plates needed for your protection. The carrier has a lot of features that help to make it one of the standout options that are available today. It features hook and loop webbing and offers easy access plate pockets. There are quick-release buckles, so you can remove the carrier quickly and easily when needed.
The plate carrier also features a padded mesh interior lining that is comfortable. The quick-adjust cinches help to ensure that the plate carrier can be put on and adjusted easily. The carrier can use medium or large SAPI plates up to 10.25” x 13.25”. It will accept steel, ceramic, or composite plates.
You will also find removable padded mesh shoulder pads that have hook and loop guides. The shoulder straps are easy to adjust, as is the waist. The heavyweight MOLLE webbing is a nice feature, as it will allow for modular attachments to the carrier. This helps to ensure that it provides you with plenty of functionality when you are heading out into the field.
The plate carrier also has an emergency drag handle. This is useful for tactical situations where you may be injured, and someone will need to be able to drag you out of harm’s way. It is made from 600 Denier nylon, so you can be sure that it is going to last and be durable. There is no cummerbund in this carrier, which helps to improve the airflow and reduce the bulk.
The carrier features pull-down flaps that will make inserting and removing the armor plates easy. The Velcro panels that are on the front and rear of the carrier will make it possible to attach IDs and patches.
- Quick-adjust cinches
- Accepts steel, ceramic, and composite plates
- MOLLE webbing
- Emergency drag handle
- No cummerbund
The plate carrier can accept either 10” x 12” body armor plates or 11” x 14” body armor plates. The carrier is versatile and it will work well for those who have medium and large body types. Side retention buckles and straps are durable and rugged, as is the rest of the body armor. It will be able to stand up to use even in harsh conditions, and you will find that it is still a lightweight option thanks to the 500D Cordura nylon that is used in its construction.
The lower offset rear shoulder mounts help to position the rear plate pocket higher, so you will not have to worry about having a rear armor plate that is riding too low to provide you with ample protection. You will also find that the cummerbund on the carrier has been reinforced with Hypalon eyelet pass-throughs and durable shock cord. This allows it to expand as needed, but to have the retention that is required once you adjust.
There are 3D mesh inner lining and shoulder pads, which help to provide you with some additional comfort. The buckles are impact-resistant, and there is a soft loop Velcro surface for all of the webbing to provide added functionality and versatility to the plate carrier. There are also built-in side pouches for plates.
There is a low profile drag handle on this plate carrier, as well, making it possible for someone to remove you from a dangerous situation if you have been injured. The handle is reinforced, so you can be sure it will hold up to the rigors of being in the field. You will also find that there is reinforced stitching and bar-tacks throughout all of the webbing and the high-stress points of the carrier. This helps to provide some added durability, so you can be sure it will last no matter where you might happen to be.
- Accepts either 10” x 12” body armor plates or 11” x 14” body armor plates
- Low profile drag handle
- Built-in side pouches
- Highly durable
- somewhat costly
One of the first things that you will want to notice with the Condor Outdoor Modular Chest Set is that it is a tactical vest and is not an actual plate carrier. Those who are searching for a quality tactical vest will find that this affordable option can meet many of their needs. Not only are there several different colors from which you can choose, but you will also find that it includes plenty of space for carrying gear. The multicam vest includes nine built-in 5.56 magazine pouches for carrying your ammunition, as well as five internal mesh pockets. The multicam option is somewhat costlier than the other color options, but it does have more pockets and pouches. The Black, Olive Drab, and Coyote Tan vests each have size built-in pouches for your ammo and magazines and two internal mesh pockets.
The chest platform is adjustable and removable, and it even includes a built-in hydration carrier. However, you should note that the bladder is not included in the hydration carrier. The waist of the vest is adjustable, as well. Otherwise, they are essentially the same as the multicam version that is offered by Condor.
The vest has Velcro fasteners, which make it possible to keep all of the straps tucked away, so they are not getting in the way. The mesh around the waist makes it comfortable and helps to keep you cool. The shoulder straps also have padding, which helps to ensure comfort even when you are laden down with a lot of gear.
The vest is lightweight and comfortable to wear, which can make it a perfect solution for those who are looking for a vest for training, or those who want a quality chest rig to wear while they are hunting, and those who might need a great tactical vest in their line of work. It features a MOLLE system, so it can be used for carrying different types of loads.
- Features a MOLLE system
- Straps can be tucked away
- Does not hold actual plates
Made from 500D Cordura nylon and featuring UTX buckles, you can be sure of the durability that this modular vest provides. This is made as an airsoft vest, and it will provide resistance to dirt, water, and abrasion, meaning it should last for quite some time when you take proper care of it.
The vest is only available in multicam, and it features quick-release buckled shoulder straps, along with a MOLLE compatible patch panel. There are hidden cummerbund pockets that can provide you with some added storage if needed. When you remove the front MOLLE flap, you will find that it is compatible with other chest rigs. It is also easy to add additional gear to the system that you might want or need to take along with you.
To improve the comfort and the breathability of the vest there are four pieces of detachable padding. While it can accept a 10” x 12” plate, and it comes with an EVA plate, this is a tactical vest that is best suited for use with airsoft rather than something that you would typically want to use in an actual tactical situation.
There are many good reasons to consider getting this vest. It is easy to take on and put off, which is helpful when you have just finished a game and want to get some rest without being confined. Putting the vest on is just as fast and easy as taking it off. The shoulder straps are easy to adjust, and so is the waist area.
The vest is comfortable and allows you to be mobile when you are playing airsoft. It is breathable and it will be a pleasure to wear while you have a game or train.
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Easy to adjust
- MOLLE compatible patch panel
- Works best for airsoft
- Only available in multicam
The Spartan DL Plate carrier from Spartan Armor Systems features a minimalist design and a low profile, so others will likely not even know that you are wearing armor. It is possible to wear the carrier beneath a shirt, even though it can hold 10” x 12” or 11” x 14” plates. One of the things you will need to keep in mind with this carrier, though, is that it will not accept side plates. If you want or need to have protection on the side, you will want to choose another option. However, you will find that options with side plates tend not to be as low profile as this plate carrier.
The bottom-loading design of the body armor will provide support for the plate when it is in the pocket. The elastic cummerbund is fully adjustable, and you will be able to adjust the low profile shoulders with ease. There is Velcro on the front and the back so that you can attach a name, ID, and other types of pertinent information. The high-quality nylon material, including nylon webbing, helps to provide durability for the carrier. There are also magazine pouches that can hold an AR mag, as well as a pistol mag. There are two on each side.
The Velcro straps will make the plate carrier easy to adjust so that you can get the perfect fit. It is very lightweight and comfortable, as well as an affordable option for those who require body armor. As with other options on the list, you will want to keep in mind that the plates are not included. You will need to buy them and add them separately. This carrier will fit Spartan Armor Systems AR500 Omega, AR550 Armaply, IIIA Hard, and Spartan Armor Systems Flex Fused Core Soft Armor panels.
- Low profile design
- Highly comfortable
- Velcro straps make for easy adjustments
- Magazine pouches for AR and pistols
- Does not accept side plates
7. Ferro Concepts The Slickster Plate Carrier
Designed by Ferro Concepts, this plate carrier is a good option for the military, as well as for law enforcement use. One of the benefits of the carrier is that it features the ADAPT Carrier System, so you will be able to scale it and customize it to fit your needs now and when those needs might change in the future. The carrier is high-quality and features a relatively simple and low-profile design.
It features all of the elements that you will need, including the ability to fit and accept multiple types of plats. These include SAPI, ESAPI, Shooters Cut, Swimmers Cut, Stand Along Level 4 and XSAPI body armor plates. Naturally, the size of the carrier you choose will determine the size of the plate that you will need.
There are an adjustable hook and loop on the front and rear of the carrier. The Carrier Elastic Cummerbund has a four-cell section on each side. This allows it to accept 5.56 magazines, as well as 7.62 magazines, radios, tourniquets, flash-bang grenades, and smoke grenades, for example. There are also loop Velcro panels on the front chest and the back of the carrier. These will allow for easy attachment of patches.
The laminated shoulder straps are fully adjustable into the rear plate bag, providing you with a good and comfortable fit. You will also find another comfort feature with the front and rear plate bags. They are mesh-lined, which will provide more breathability and, ultimately more comfort.
Keep in mind when buying the body armor and carriers that the size will correspond to the plate. A medium plate will fit into a medium Slickster, and a large plate will fit into the large Slickster. This is a lightweight and easy to use option that will work well for your needs in the field and while training.
- ADAPT Carrier System
- Works with many types of body armor plates
- Accepts a range of equipment including magazines
- Only available in black and multicam
The Guardian is a plate carrier that is easy to deploy and easy to remove. It has a quick detach system, and you will find that the shoulders and the side straps are fully adjustable through the ITW GT Cobra buckles on the MOLLE version. There is plenty of webbing on the plate carrier, as well, which makes it possible to add other items that you need. The carrier is still lightweight, and the design ensures that there is not a substantial amount of bulk that you will have to worry about while using it. It tends to take only seconds to put the carrier on or to take it off, and it is comfortable enough to wear for a long time.
You will appreciate the mesh lining, which can help to improve the flow of air and comfort when you are wearing the Guardian. The webbing includes a soft look front ID panel that can be used for a patch and you will find webbing for MOLLE and pouch attachment. The carrier also features a durable drag handle that is low profile and that will not end up snagging on anything while you are wearing the carrier and moving around.
The shoulder pads have the same quality mesh lining, and you will find that they are removable if you do not need or want them. The shoulder pads have dual loop guides so that you can add attachments. For example, you might want to carry tourniquets, D-rings, a radio, or a hydration tube.
The overall construction of the plate carrier is high-quality, as well. It features 1000D nylon and #92 bonded nylon thread. It can accept 10” x 12” body armor in hard or soft variants. The carrier can provide you with quality coverage, while still ensuring that you have the comfort you need.
- Durable construction
- Easy to put on and to remove
- High-quality drag handle
- Comfortable to wear and use
- ITW GT Cobra buckles only on the MOLLE version
If you are looking for a genuinely high-quality plate carrier, you will want to consider the Shellback Tactical Banshee Elite 2.0. It is one of the best plate carrier options you will find today, and it was designed using input from law enforcement, as well as the military. It is a durable tactical vest for body armor that can provide you with comfort and the mobility that you need when it counts. Because the Hypalon shoulders are broader than they are on previous models, you will find that they lay flatter against your body.
There is also 3D spacer mesh that will help to increase the amount of airflow through the body armor, which keeps you cooler and more comfortable. The carrier also features a hidden quick release buckle, so you can get out of the body armor quickly when needed. It is a fully customizable plate carrier, and it offers size rows of PALS webbing on the front and the back. You will also find an integrated admin pouch where you will be able to stow small gear.
The adjustable Banshee Elite Cummerbund is removable, and it offers six interior pockets that provide the carrier with added functionality. There is a drag handle sewn into the carrier, along with a separate pack pocket used to hold a hydration bladder up to two liters.
The design of the carrier allows it to fit over uniforms and soft body armor. There are two loop areas for IDs, along with guides for hydration hoses, antennas, or wires. There are integrated nylon vertical strips that will accommodate QASM buckles for chest rigs.
Overall, you will find that the plate carrier is very durable and reliable. It is also highly functional, thanks to the pouches and the loops. The fact that it also happens to be comfortable to wear and that it offers excellent protection when used with quality plates helps to make it one of the best plate carriers available to round out the list.
- Designed with input from law enforcement and the military
- Fits over uniforms and soft armor
- Can hold a hydration bladder
- Comfortable to wear
- A costly option
10. WARRIOR ASSAULT SYSTEMS DCS BASE SPECIAL FORCES PLATE CARRIER
Spartan Armor offers this quality lightweight plate carrier that provides users with a remarkable load-carrying capacity. The design of the plate carrier helps to ensure that all of your tactical needs are being met. The carrier offers a compact and lightweight design that ensures you have plenty of mobility while wearing it. It also provides utility for carrying gear and, of course, protection. These are popular plate carriers that are often used by law enforcement in active shooter situations, as well as counter-terrorism.
The carrier can hold 10”x12” shooters cut plats, and it will fit 6”x6” and 6”x8” side plates in the cummerbund. The DCS (Dynamic Combat System) plate carrier’s body armor is available in Level III and Level III+. The system is fully adjustable for height and width, and it even has a 3D Spacer mesh lining. This provides more cooling and more comfort while you are wearing it. You will also find that the shoulder pads are comfortable, which is nice when you are wearing the body armor for an extended period.
As with other plate carriers on the list, you will find that there are several colors available. This allows you to find and choose the option that will work best for where and how you need to use the carrier. One of the other interesting benefits of selecting these plate carriers is that the clips, threads, plastic hardware, fabric, and webbing have been treated to ensure that they have the lowest possible infrared signal possible. This helps to provide you with more concealment from those who have IR gear.
The carriers use genuine U.S. Mil-Spec webbing that is available in Crye Multicam, Coyote, A-TACS AU, and A-TACS FG. It is also available in other special projects color options, including Olive Green, Ranger Green, and Black. The 25mm (1”) webbing has a breaking strain of 1,200 lbs., while the 38mm (1.5”) has a breaking strain of 1,800 lbs., and the 50mm (2”) has a breaking strain of 2,200 lbs.
This is high-quality tactical gear that provides you with comfort, protection, and functionality. It’s genuinely one of the best plate carrier options you will find today.
- High load capacity
- Armor available in Level III and Level III+
- Highly durable
- A costly option
What is a Plate Carrier?
For those who may not know, a plate carrier is a name for a special type of tactical vest that can carry ballistic plates. These ballistic plates stop bullets from passing through the armor and into the wearer. These are sometimes called chest rigs, as well. However, you need to understand that there is a difference between basic tactical vests or chest rigs and actual plate carriers. Namely, the plate carriers will provide you with the additional protection that other types of vests cannot.
The plate carrier will not only stop bullets from passing through, but they also allow you to carry a wide range of different types of equipment with you thanks to systems like MOLLE. You will be able to carry medical supplies and gear, radios, and many other items with ease. Also, the plate carriers will often have pouches that you can use for holding magazines, so you can be sure you always have plenty of magazines for ammo.
The plate carrier will include the vest portion and the pouches for the plates. They will typically also contain a cummerbund. The cummerbund is similar to a belt for the vest. It will help to ensure that it is tight around you. They are made from an elastic material, so the armor will provide you with a snug fit. This helps to ensure that it will not move around and get out of place when you are moving around while wearing it. However, you will find that most of the time, when you buy your carrier, you will have to buy the body armor plates separately.
Often, they will feature or be compatible with MOLLE. This stands for modular lightweight load-carrying equipment. When you have MOLLE on your tactical gear, it makes it easier for you to attach load-bearing equipment. While MOLLE might not be needed in all circumstances, it is generally a nice feature to have with your plate carrier. There is often some confusion between PALS and MOLLE. PALS is essentially a type of webbing, while MOLLE is a type of modular gear that can attach to the webbing.
Why Might You Need a Plate Carrier?
Does everyone need to have a plate carrier? While it might not be a necessity for everyone, you will find that some professions simply can’t do without them. Naturally, one of the first that will come to mind is the military. Those who are in the military need to have as much protection as they can get and tactical gear like these carriers can help immensely. They protect from shrapnel and bullets, and they allow you to have a substantial amount of pouches tactical gear strapped to your body and ready to go quickly and easily.
Of course, even those who are not in the military can find this type of tactical gear useful. People who are in law enforcement, such as SWAT or who work for Border Patrol will need to have this type of added protection, as well. Others are preppers who worry about the worst-case scenarios that might happen. Having quality tactical gear, including a plate carrier, can help.
Those who are in search and rescue can find the carriers to be useful, as well. Keep in mind that just because it can carry plates, doesn’t mean that it has to. Search and rescue are not involved in firefights, but they would find the PALS and MOLLE systems to be of great use. It will allow them to carry a substantial amount of equipment with their hands-free thanks to the addition of pouches. They will have the flexibility of adding plates if needed for more protection, which they wouldn’t have if they instead went with a simple chest rig.
It can also be a good option for those who have hobbies where they might end up getting hit with fast-moving objects. Namely, this includes airsoft and paintball. Getting hurt with pellets can hurt and leave some nasty bruises. Therefore, having some quality tactical gear like a plate carrier can allow you to have some added protection. It’s also nice to be able to carry other equipment along with you on the MOLLE system. You might not need to have steel plates if you are using the carrier for paintball or airsoft. Instead, you could opt for a lighter weight option, such as foam plates.
Many like the idea of having added resistance when they are exercising, and a quality plate carrier will allow you to add several pounds. While it might not seem like much, when you are jogging and doing calisthenics, it can provide you with an excellent workout. As you can see, there are plenty of interesting ways that people can use carriers with or without the plates involved.
How to Choose the Right Plate Carrier for Your Needs
Naturally, you want to make sure that you are choosing the best plate carrier for your needs. To make sure you are choosing the right one, the above list of options should help immensely. Also, you do need to think about what you need and what you want. For example, if you are going to be jumping out of planes, fast-roping out of a helicopter, or rappelling down the side of a mountain, you will want to have a quality jumpable plate carrier.
You need to be sure that the carrier will fit you correctly and that it will provide you with the protection and the coverage that you need. You also want to make sure that it will not move around too much when you are wearing it. The tactical vest should also provide you with the ability to carry everything that you are going to need. A MOLLE compatible tactical vest that can carry as much of your pouches and tactical gear as possible, and still remain comfortable is a huge benefit.
On the topic of comfort, it should never be dismissed when you are making your choice. If you are going to be wearing the carrier for any length of time, you will undoubtedly want to know that it will be comfortable and breathable. It’s better to research this and find out now rather than when you are five miles deep in a training exercise or an actual firefight.
You should also remember just how important it is to buy high-quality. You are going to be choosing tactical gear that is meant to provide you with protection, and that will help to save your life. This is not an area where you will want to look for a bargain option to save a few dollars. Always choose the best quality that will provide you with an ample amount of protection, and make sure that it has all of the right features. You can’t settle for low-quality when it comes to this type of protection.
You may need to have a plate carrier that you can use for your law enforcement, security, or military work. You may be looking for an option that will work well for airsoft or a way to carry more pouches with you into the field. With the best plate carrier options and tactical vests that we’ve examined above, you should be able to find what you need. Take the time to go over the options that are available and find the solutions that will work best for you.