There are so many plate carriers to choose from. How can you decide which one is the right one for you? Plate carriers have many different features, but does any of them match all of your needs for a mission?
Below we have a hard look at eight of the best plate carriers available in 2023. From this list, you will probably be able to choose one that closely fits your use case.
Some of the variables involved in your mission may be unknown. You’ll have to put on your big boy pants and figure out which plate carrier will match the mission.
Are you ready? Let’s do this!
List of the 8 BEST PLATE CARRIERS
Plate carriers can easily be the best gear you own and the most important. Keeping you alive is not an easy job, but all the companies on our list have made it their focus. Spend some time and review each one in detail to see which one matches your use case the closest.
1. Spartan Armor Systems Leonidas Plate Carrier
The Spartan Armor Systems Leonidas Plate Carrier is an exceptional plate carrier system that is packed with numerous features to keep you safe and comfortable in any tactical situation. Its 500 Denier construction is made to be tough and resilient, which makes it ideal for prolonged use in harsh environments.
The Leonidas plate carrier is named after the legendary Spartan King, which speaks to its ability to withstand any battle.
- Versatile and feature-rich heavy-duty plate carrier
- Fits 10″X12″ plates
- 500 Denier Construction.
- Includes two MOLLE pouches designed to hold either a 6″ by 6″ or a 6″ by 8″ side plate.
- Sizes: one size
- Colors: black, tan, ranger green, and MultiCam.
The vest features ample storage space, including a front top-zippered admin pouch and a front lower velcro kangaroo pouch, allowing you to store additional gear, including administrative supplies.
The PALS webbing attachment points are positioned throughout the front, back, and shoulder areas of the vest, making it highly customizable and easy to accessorize. The vest’s cummerbund, which is designed to hold 5″x15″ IIIA soft armor inside each side, is removable and equipped with quick-release buckles, making it easy to expand your armor coverage or remove the cummerbund entirely.
The Leonidas Plate Carrier has a proprietary retained shock cord system, which allows for the cummerbund to stretch while being held in place to prevent sagging. Also, the cummerbund is removable, which makes it easy to adapt to your needs in any situation.
The carrier also comes with two MOLLE side plate pouches that accept 6″x6″ or 6″x8″ side plates, which is a great feature for those looking to expand their plate coverage.
The Leonidas Plate Carrier is designed to keep you comfortable and functional for extended periods of time. The padded front and back interior of the carrier features airflow channels sewn in, ensuring breathability and ventilation, even during intense operations.
The carrier’s bottom-loading plate pockets accept 10″x12″, SAPI, and similar armor, and the Velcro on the back drag handle keeps it in place for added security.
The Spartan Armor Systems Leonidas Plate Carrier is available in Black, Tan, Ranger Green, and MultiCam. Each piece is made in the USA and assembled in Mexico, ensuring the highest quality standards. The heavy-duty bar tacking at key stress points provides durability, making the vest an excellent long-term investment.
Overall, the Spartan Armor Systems Leonidas Plate Carrier is an excellent plate carrier and a great tactical gear investment. It offers a range of features designed to keep you safe and comfortable during extended operations. If you’re looking for a highly versatile, customizable, and resilient plate carrier system, the Leonidas is definitely the best option on the market.
- Versatile and feature-rich
- Durable and high quality
- 500 Denier construction
- Includes two MOLLE pouches to hold side plates
- Padded interior for breathability and ventilation
- Higher price point than some of the other plate carrier systems
- One size fits all, which may be too small or large for some users
2. AR500 Valkyrie™ Plate Carrier
The Armored Republic Valkyrie Plate Carrier is a high-quality, long-lasting plate carrier. This Berry Compliant military-grade carrier is designed and manufactured in the United States.
- Durable and lightweight plate carrier
- Compatible with 10”x12” hard armor plates
- Made in USA
- Sizes: one size
- Colors: black, coyote, MultiCam, black MultiCam.
This tactical plate carrier is made with Cordura 500D Nylon which is known for its strength, abrasion resistance, and durability.
The Valkyrie Plate Carrier is available in sizes ranging from medium to XXL. The carrier is fully adjustable, with an adjustable cummerbund for the perfect fit. This ensures the wearer’s comfort and the plates’ retention while in use. The carrier is also lightweight, weighing only 2.2 pounds, making it easy to wear for extended periods of time.
The admin pouch and kangaroo pouch, which are compatible with the Kangaroo Magazine Pouch Insert, are two standout features of the Valkyrie Plate Carrier. This enables the wearer to carry extra magazines or other small items. The carrier’s large Velcro ID panels allow for easy identification and customization.
The Valkyrie Plate Carrier is designed to hold 10″x12″ hard armor plates, which are not included. The carrier has bar-tack stitching at all stress points to ensure it can withstand use. The carrier’s front-mounted quick-release buckles with laminated Nylon protective covers allow for simple donning and doffing.
When not in use, the Valkyrie Plate Carrier has a collapsible carry handle that makes it easy to transport. The handle is strong and strong enough to support the weight of the carrier and plates. The carrier comes in a variety of colors, allowing the wearer to select the one that best suits their needs.
Overall, the Armored Republic Valkyrie Plate Carrier is a great option for military personnel, police officers, and anyone else looking for a high-quality plate carrier. The carrier is well-designed and well-built, with emphasis on functionality, ergonomics, and comfort. The carrier is also reasonably priced, making it an excellent buy for anyone looking for a tactical plate carrier.
The Valkyrie Plate Carrier is intended for medium to XXL body types, so it may not fit smaller individuals well. Furthermore, the carrier does not include plates, which must be purchased separately. These minor flaws, however, do not detract from the overall quality of the Valkyrie Plate Carrier.
Finally, the Armored Republic Valkyrie Plate Carrier is a great option for anyone looking for a high-quality plate carrier. Its strength, functionality, and low cost make it an excellent choice for military personnel, police officers, and civilians alike.
The Valkyrie Plate Carrier is a well-designed and well-constructed tactical plate carrier, and its attention to detail and user comfort make it an excellent investment for anyone in need of a tactical plate carrier.
- Durable and lightweight
- Cordura 500D Nylon construction
- Made in the USA
- Fully adjustable cummerbund
- Collapsible carry handle for easy transportation
- Admin pouch and kangaroo pouch for additional storage
- Quick-release buckles
- Designed for body types M to XXL, may not fit smaller individuals well
3. 5.11 TACTEC PLATE CARRIER
5.11 is one of the world’s prime suppliers of tactical gear. We have positively reviewed all kit we’ve looked at from them and this TACTEC® Plate Carrier is no different. A very solid offering from a great company.
- Allows much greater mobility than other systems.
- Fits 24mm wide medium (12.5″ H x 9.5″ L x 2″ W) and large (13.25″ x 10.25″ x 2.25″) SAPI plates
- Abrasion Resistant 500D Nylon – tough.
- Drag handle with leash system to allow more upright posture dragging buddy or bag.
- Sizes: one size adjustable waist and tension bands cover x-small, small, medium, large, x-large.
- Colors: black, ranger green, storm, kangaroo, dark navy.
The entire vest uses 500D nylon. One test showed that a row of laser-cut webbing on the top portion of the plate carrier can hold up to 70 lb. of kit on it. That’s tough!
This plate carrier holds a lot of weight and can be loaded down if you can handle it. It’s tough and distributes weight efficiently with the yoke and shoulder pad system.
The 5.11 company has a history of using only top-level materials. The 500D nylon is tried and true. The hook and loop used is considerably stronger than what other manufacturers use.
Besides the open-air side cummerbund area, this vest distributes weight well with its yoke and shoulder pad system. This increases comfort for heavy loads. On the front of the chest is a 4-pad system with space between which allows airflow.
This plate carrier has some nice features. A single-hand quick release for one or both sides makes it easy to get a pack off fast.
The GrabDrag carrier loop extends on a leash to make it far more comfortable to drag the pack or drag a person in the pack in an emergency.
The plate carrier also accepts side armor plates (extra).
The 5.11 TACTEC® plate carrier incorporates both traditional PALS webbing on the bottom of the vest and laser-cut webbing on the top part of the front and back of the vest. Webbing on the cummerbund is loose and not as functional but is usable for some lightweight pouches.
The cummerbund reminds me of a net to hold down my backpack on my motorbike. This is a flexible tensioned bungee cord netting on the sides of the cummerbund. This allows your body to move easily in any position. It also allows the free flow of air through the side of the vest.
The 5.11 TACTEC® Plate Carrier system is designed primarily to be flexible, and comfortable, and allow more freedom in mobility than traditional plate carrier setups.
You can see this mostly in the cummerbund which is a net-like grid with elastic bands inside. This gives breathability and enhances mobility considerably.
This 5.11 TACTEC® plate carrier system will be great for you if you need a hard plate carrier in a vest that allows more mobility than you thought was possible.
- One of the most mobility-enhancing designs we’ve ever seen in a hard armor plate carrier.
- Thick pads for shoulder straps.
- Quick release system – choose one or both sides.
- Laser-cut webbing on top of vest with potential for Velcro patches or other.
- Cummerbund webbing is quite loose and will contribute to the kit bouncing around during movement.
4. LBT 6094 G3 PLATE CARRIER
London Bridge Trading has nothing to do with trading, but they do make some tactical gear that is well thought out, durable, and functional. This LBT 6094 G3 Plate Carrier is version 2 of their lightweight modular plate carrier. This version has been updated with better materials and functionality.
Note – LBT offers 9 tactical plate carriers, a huge selection that most companies cannot compete with.
- 1000D Nylon construction.
- Laser-cut webbing.
- Lightweight mesh cummerbund included (swappable).
- Sizes: small, medium, large, x-large.
- Colors: black, ranger green, Multicam, coyote brown.
Building on the success of their previous 6094 plate carrier, v2 promises to be tougher by using stronger 1000D nylon. This next-generation technology is lighter weight, more abrasion-resistant, and weather resistant.
1000D laminate nylon is one of the latest materials being used for plate carriers and a number of other top tactical companies are upgrading their plate carriers to use it.
This is a well-padded design that incorporates air flow through the vest and keeps the user cool.
Foam Air-Channel pads are optional and attach with Velcro to the inside of the pocket for the front hard plate.
There is laser-cut webbing on the front and back panels. The top of both front and back also have Velcro.
A rigid mesh system allows attachments. Replaceable with other LBT cummerbunds.
The previous version of the 6094 plate carrier used 500D Cordura® nylon and was upgraded to 1000D nylon in v2. The new material is stronger and more resistant to snags, abrasion, and weather changes.
The new vest has routing slots through the shoulder pads and a new admin pouch on the front. They added some more webbing slots on the MAP area for comms routing.
They reinforced the carrying handle. They included a rigid mesh cummerbund with slots for MOLLE kit.
This plate carrier is lightweight, breathable, strong, and highly modular. There is quite a bit of aeration with the optional front air-channel pads and hard mesh cummerbund on the sides.
All-in-all, this is a great plate carrier for law enforcement, range use, tactical teams, survivalist, and airsoft. Soldiers have taken LBT gear onto the battlefield. There is something of a legacy about this company that has been in business since the 1990s.
- Filled with laser-cut webbing for MOLLE attachments.
- 1000D Nylon for weight savings, strength, and durability.
- Easy to add front panels with a variety of connections.
- Can add side panels with hard plates.
- The cummerbund bothers some people as it is too rigid, even for the mesh design.
- More padding in shoulder straps and on the chest would be nice without having to purchase it separately.
5. GREY GHOST GEAR SMC PLATE CARRIER
The Grey Ghost Gear SMC Plate Carrier has great expandability and functionality that many plate carriers cannot match. The vest is one size fits most and can wrap around a huge body all the way down to a small woman’s frame.
- Fits 10 x 12″ hard plates in front and rear and up to 6 x 8″ side plates in cummerbund (separate pouches needed).
- Takes modular attachments and panels on front and back.
- Laser-cut webbing and loop material over most of the front and back.
- Sizes: One size fits most. Adjustments in shoulder and cummerbund.
- Colors: black, coyote brown, Multicam, Multicam black, Multicam tropic, ranger green.
The durable and smart design is enhanced by strong nylon construction and ROC buckles. Laser-cut webbing outlasts traditional webbing and frays less. It’s made from laser-cut laminate nylon.
The plate carrier has thick and comfortable shoulder pads and adjustable shoulder straps above and below the buckle allowing a comfortable fit for some people, but not all. The cummerbund is comfortable but less functional than stiffer styles.
The highlight of the Grey Ghost Gear SMC Plate Carrier is the open design. The expansion capability and versatility of adding and removing panels and gear of all kinds is a major plus and a strong reason to buy this vest.
This plate carrier has a lot of laser-cut webbing all over the front and back as well as in the cummerbund. A bonus is that loop material covers most of the webbing so you can also choose other attachment methods, you are not just stuck with MOLLE.
The cummerbund of this plate carrier is a mesh, with webbing for MOLLE attachments. Can add a side plate but the pocket is not large enough to fit it. Can add an additional pouch for a 6 x 6″ or 6 x 8″ side plate using webbing.
This plate carrier has no proprietary attachment system, so you can use many third-party accessories. Laser-cut webbing and loop material increase functionality. One size fits all works with women and large men.
This Grey Ghost Gear plate carrier is ideal for nearly any use case because the highly modular functionality allows it to be what you need it to be.
- Very easy to remove and put on.
- Has both laser-cut webbing and loop for a variety of connections.
- Expansion is a big plus. Common connection points allow easy swapping of entire panels.
- Hard plates of 1″ or thicker will not fit the front or back pockets.
- Shoulder strap length adjustment is not ideal.
- Chest and back pads could be thicker and softer.
6. Ace Link React Plate Carrier
The Ace Link Armor React Plate Carrier is an excellent choice for anyone looking to keep a low profile while remaining protected. This plate carrier is designed to be durable, comfortable, and functional, with input from law enforcement officers and soldiers who have worn it in combat zones around the world.
- Minimalist low-profile plate carrier
- Fits 10 x 12″ hard plates
- Features a removable 3X rifle mag front flap
- Laser-cut webbing
- Sizes: Available in 4 sizes: M, L, XL, XXL
- Colors: black, tan, and OD green
The React Plate Carrier is made of a tough 500D Nylon Cordura fabric that is also lightweight. The carrier comes in four sizes to accommodate different chest sizes, ensuring a comfortable fit. The carrier has an internal cummerbund system that secures your armor while allowing maximum airflow throughout the vest. The elastic cummerbund also includes AR mag pouches for carrying extra ammunition.
The shoulder straps and cummerbund of the plate carrier are both adjustable via a 4-point adjustment system. This means you can easily adjust the fit to your body without help, making it easier to put on and take off quickly in an emergency. The wear-resistant Quick Attach Surface Mount Buckles are also simple to use, making mounting your gear a breeze.
The React Plate Carrier comes with a Velcro Triple AR Magazine Pouch, making it simple to transport extra ammunition. It is also compatible with Skeletac PC’s Kangaroo Pouch panels and inserts, allowing you to personalize your plate carrier.
The React Plate Carrier’s minimalist design is ideal for anyone looking for a high-quality plate carrier that they can use on a daily basis, whether they work in law enforcement or military service or simply enjoy outdoor activities like hunting or hiking through rugged terrain where additional protection may be required.
The slim profile design and adjustable fit options of the plate carrier make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-quality plate carrier that they can wear all day without sacrificing comfort or protection.
One of the best aspects of the Ace Link Armor React Plate Carrier is its low price. Despite its superior quality and features, it is less expensive than many other plate carriers on the market. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-quality plate carrier without spending a fortune.
Overall, the Ace Link Armor React Plate Carrier is an excellent plate carrier that provides durability, comfort, and functionality. It is made of high-quality materials and has a slim profile design, adjustable fit options, and numerous features to make carrying your gear easier.
The plate carrier is available in three colors: black, tan, and OD green, and it is ideal for anyone looking for a minimalist tactical plate carrier with maximum protection.
Whether you work in law enforcement, or the military, or simply enjoy outdoor activities that necessitate extra protection, the Ace Link Armor React Plate Carrier is an excellent choice that will not disappoint.
- High-quality materials and construction.
- Low profile design for maximum protection.
- Adjustable 4-point fit system for a secure fit.
- Includes removable Triple AR Magazine Pouch for extra ammunition.
- No side-plate pockets.
- Only available in three colors.
7. Premier Body Armor Core Plate Carrier W/ Level IIIa Cummerbund Armor
The Premier Body Armor Core Plate Carrier with Level III cummerbund armor is a high-performance plate carrier designed for those who demand high performance and dependability from their tactical gear.
This American-made plate carrier stands out with its seamless integration of traditional molle webbing and velcro-covered laser-cut molle sections, adjustable cummerbund with First SpearTM Rapid-Release Technology, and reinforced “man down” strap.
- Durable and high-quality plate carrier
- Fits 10″x12″ plates
- Laser-cut webbing in the front of the carrier
- Rapid release buckle
- Sizes: available in 3 sizes: small/ medium, large/XL, XXL
- Colors: ranger green, black MultiCam, Black, Arid MultiCam, and regular MultiCam.
The Core Plate Carrier’s level IIIA cummerbund armor inserts, which provide additional protection against ballistic threats, are one of its standout features. The cummerbund is adjustable to fit a variety of body sizes and includes First SpearTM Tubes Rapid-Release Technology for quick and easy carrier donning and doffing.
The Core Plate Carrier can hold all 10″x12″ PBA Plates (sold separately) and has three internal pockets for spall liners, body armor plates, and a trauma pad. The carrier is made of 600 Denier Polyester from domestic sources, which is both tough and durable. The carrier’s laser-cut molle allows for the attachment of additional gear and accessories.
The Core Plate Carrier is machine washable, making it simple to clean and maintain. In addition, the carrier has a reinforced drag handle that allows for quick and easy extraction of the wearer in an emergency.
One of the most noticeable features of the Core Plate Carrier is the laced paracord at the back of the vest, which adds comfort and adjustability. This feature ensures that the carrier can be worn for long periods of time without becoming uncomfortable or fatigued.
The Core Plate Carrier is available in three sizes: Small/Medium, Large/XL, and 2XL, with cummerbund ballistics weighing 4.2 to 4.8 pounds. The carrier’s lightweight design makes it ideal for high-speed operations requiring agility and mobility.
Overall, the Premier Body Armor Core Plate Carrier with Level III cummerbund armor is an outstanding piece of tactical gear that provides the ideal balance of durability and speed.
Its seamless combination of traditional molle webbing and velcro-covered laser-cut molle sections, adjustable cummerbund with First SpearTM Rapid-Release Technology, and level IIIA cummerbund armor inserts make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a dependable and high-performing plate carrier.
The Core Plate Carrier is the ideal foundation for your tactical kit, whether you’re a law enforcement officer, military personnel, or a civilian looking for the best in personal protection. If you want to learn more about how to set up your plate carrier, Premier Body Armor’s PBA Blog is a great resource.
- High performance and dependability
- Level IIIA cummerbund armor inserts
- Laser-cut webbing in the front of the
- Reinforced drag handle
- It’s relatively expensive compared to some other plate carriers on the market.
- Some users may find the carrier to be too heavy
8. FERRO CONCEPTS PLATE CARRIER (FCPC V5)
The Ferro Concepts Plate Carrier (FCPC) has been under constant improvement since 2012. They use direct feedback from the special ops community to improve on their plate carrier designs. The FCPC v5 is the latest iteration of their top plate carrier and it has quite a following.
- Works with all Ferro Concepts plate carrier accessories and components.
- Side zippers for Ferro Concepts rear panels.
- Holds different size hard armor plates with Tweave stretch pockets.
- Sizes: medium – use with plate carriers measuring 10 x 12 x 1″, large – use with hard armor measuring 10.75 x 12.75 x 1″.
- Colors: black, ranger green, Multicam, coyote brown, wolf gray.
Ferro Concepts uses 500D Cordura® laser-cut webbing, strong hook and loop, and double layers on wear points. A mini-Cobra quick-release buckle for one shoulder strap is interchangeable with a steel ring for the other side.
The FCPC v5 uses 500D Cordura® material and laminate to replace other weaker materials, saving weight and increasing strength where needed. Double-layer Cordura® material is used in the high wear and tear areas. Tweave Durastretch® panels were added to increase armor plate fit and retention.
This is a lightweight setup that weighs just 15.2 oz for the medium and 15.8 oz. for the large (without cummerbund). The AC3 cummerbund by Ferro Concepts has some stretch to it but is a rigid weight-bearing design.
Shoulder straps rotate to fit better but come with no padding. You’ll need to add some even if running a light setup.
The FCPC v5 was developed with simplicity and functionality foremost in mind. The precision pattern matching on the body and armor shows attention to detail.
Shoulder straps have pivoting attachments providing greater comfort than static straps.
The carrier allows the layering of back panels – like adding a panel on top of your water bottle.
Laser-cut webbing is present on the front and back panels. Includes some laser-cut vertical slots for attachments.
There is no cummerbund with this plate carrier. If you add one, it must be 4″ wide or less. There is a Velcro cummerbund attachment under the cummerbund flap. The Ferro Concepts ADAPT 3″ Assault Cummerbund 3AC is the right belt or you can use one from another manufacturer.
In the FCPC v4, the shoulder straps were held on with G-hooks. In v5 they use a solid metal ring and a micro Cobra fast-release buckle on the other side.
The Air-Flow cummerbund on the FCPC v4 has no webbing and is not structurally functional. It’s primarily for comfort and to keep the vest from moving too much.
The highly modular system of stackable rear panels (zip-on back panels) is fast and convenient. The 3″ AC cummerbund adds a lot of functionality and most people buy it with the plate carrier.
This is a lightweight hard armor carrier that gives most wearers what they want, a convenient and strong carrier they can customize and rely on for just about any purpose.
If you need a highly modular system that swaps out panels fast, is comfortable, and is full of laser-cut MOLLE slots, this plate carrier is for you.
- Laser-cut webbing throughout.
- Very customizable. Zip-on back panels that are not proprietary.
- A stiff cummerbund with some stretch is ideal for most people.
- Accepts G-hook placards and holds them very securely.
- On the expensive side, especially after buying the separate cummerbund.
- For small-framed individuals of medium size (5’7″ and 155, for example) the plate carrier sits too low on the chest and no amount of adjustment will raise it high enough. You may need to cut the velcro off the straps and place it higher up, sewing it on securely. Or, you might want to just buy another plate carrier.
- Cummerbund must be 4″ wide or less to fit the space allowed by the plate carrier
About Plate Carriers
What Are Plate Carriers?
Plate carriers are a type of tactical equipment used for protection in hostile environments. Plate carriers are designed to provide ballistic protection against small arms fire and fragmentation, and are often used by military personnel and law enforcement officers.
They consist of a vest with pockets that hold ballistic plates made of materials like ceramic or steel. These plates are designed to absorb or deflect incoming bullets, shrapnel, and other types of impacts.
Plate carriers are highly customizable and can be adjusted to fit the user’s body and mission requirements. They often feature MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing, which allows for the attachment of pouches and other accessories. This enables the user to carry additional gear, such as ammunition, radios, medical supplies, and grenades.
Plate carriers are also very popular amongst civilians for airsoft, hunting, and shooting sports. Many brands offer civilian versions of plate carriers that are designed for use in non-hostile environments.
How to Choose the Best Plate Carrier?
There are so many considerations you’ll need to take into account when choosing your plate carrier. Things like the quality of material used, comfort, features, design, durability, and more are all things that matter. A lot.
The following are crucial considerations in choosing the best plate carrier for the mission at hand.
- Why you need a plate carrier in the first place – The most important consideration when buying a plate carrier is its purpose. So first ask yourself why you need the plate carrier. Are you going to use it in active military service, for home defense, airsoft, or some other recreational activities? From there, you can figure out what type of plate carrier, material, and features would be best for the situation.
- Type of plate carrier – Plate carriers come in a range of styles, from lightweight and low-profile to more tactical designs. Different plate carrier types are designed for different purposes, so it’s important to choose one that is suited for the activity or environment.
- Material quality – The quality of the material used in the plate carrier is of vital importance. You need something rugged, strong, forgiving, comfortable, and durable to last the length of the mission. It’s a good idea to go with a material that has already been tested and used in the field for years. Strong nylon is the way to go.
- Size – You’ll also want to buy a plate carrier that is the correct size for you. Usually, the size of a plate carrier depends on the size of the plates you intend on using with the carrier. But that’s not always the case so make sure you take into account body type, torso length, and other factors when selecting the size.
- Durability – Durability is one of those things you need to know before you buy a tactical solution. Go with a great company that has a history of producing durable plate carriers and other gear. Read the reviews before you buy. Ask friends in person and online what they think.
- Webbing – The type of PALS/MOLLE a plate carrier has can make or break the deal. Do you need a specific type of webbing for your pouches, or will MOLLE cover it? Do you want traditional MOLLE or laser-cut MOLLE? Do you need loop material on top of the webbing or not? Also, the quality of the webbing can make a difference in the performance and longevity of your gear.
- Design – You’ll need to choose a plate carrier design that allows you to add other gear you want to use like a battle belt. Some plate carriers can fit small or full-size side plates. Some attach to battle belts to take up some of the load.
- Cummerbund – A cummerbund can add comfort, storage space, and stability to your rig. A variety of attachments and functionality are offered. Lately, rigidity and comfort are what people in the field are insisting on.
- Comfort – Will you be on long tactical missions that last days? Weeks? Is it possible that you’ll be out there taking fire for weeks on end? Comfort and safety are going to be prime concerns if the mission is long-term. On short-term missions, you might decide you can put up with some discomfort if you’d rather carry heavier gear.
- Adjustability – How well can the plate carrier be adjusted to fit your body? When it comes to plate carriers, you want something that is easily adjustable so you can make on-the-fly adjustments in the field.
- Mobility – When it comes to tactical gear, mobility is key. You need to be able to move freely and quickly without the plate carrier getting in your way. Look for plate carriers that have been designed to maximize mobility.
- Your plates – As we mentioned above, the size of the plate carrier you choose should depend on the type and size of the plates you’ll be using. Also, the “cut” or shape of your plate carrier plates will make a big difference in the type of plate carrier you need. There are standard, SAPI, SAPI-CUT, and ESBI-CUT plates. Make sure you know what cut your plates are before you purchase a plate carrier.
- Extra features – Plate carriers come with a variety of extra features, from different quick-release buckles, hook and loops to hydration pockets. Consider what you will be using the plate carrier for and the environment you’ll be in, then choose the extra features you need to make your mission successful.
The best modern plate carriers are modular and accept a variety of front and or rear panels and other attachments. A great plate carrier must allow both level III and IV hard plates and have side panel options.
Laser-cut webbing and 500D or 1000D nylon Cordura® have become the standard and you shouldn’t accept less. Plate carriers have become more comfortable with better shoulder straps and padding, body padding, and comfortable cummerbunds that have some flex but are rigid enough to support heavier kit.
All-in-all, we hope this article on the best plate carriers in 2023 helps you make an informed decision when buying a new plate carrier. There are a lot of great plate carriers available and each has its own unique features that should be considered when making your purchase.