Ever wonder if wearing a chest rig over a plate carrier is a good idea? In this article, we will discuss some basics of both items and the thought processes of wearing a chest rig over a carrier. We will also touch on some of the pros and cons.
Table of Contents
- What is a plate carrier?
- What is a chest rig?
- Can you put a chest rig over a plate carrier?
- Why use a chest rig over a plate carrier?
- Pros of the Chest Rig and Plate Carrier combo
- Cons of the Combo
- Is the Combo for you?
- Key Takeaways
What is a plate carrier?
A plate carrier is a piece of personal equipment, whose primary purpose is to serve as a platform to carry ballistic plates. Its secondary purpose is providing a platform for batteries, band-aids, and bullets.
In addition to plates, added protection can be supplied in the form of soft armor. In today’s standard military, plate carriers are usually supplied by the respected branch for infantry and other closely related personnel. Plate carriers are generally equipped with the MOLLE system, offering versatility for arranging gear.
What is a chest rig?
Chest rigs are another piece of personal equipment whose primary purpose is to provide an affected platform to carry the three Bs on an individual. Chest rig’s come in various designs but generally have a vest style approach.
Chest rigs can be made from various types of material and are very customizable by their build style, along with integration of the MOLLE system. Chest rigs do not offer the capability of carrying armored plates by themselves.
Can you put a chest rig over a plate carrier?
Yes, chest rigs can be worn over a slick plate carrier and is oftentimes the preferred method for high speed, low drag operators. Take into consideration that not all chest rigs are worn well or even capable of achieving this.
Trial and error, reading chest rig specs, and reading other related content will give you an idea of what combinations should work.
Why use a chest rig over a plate carrier?
The ideology behind wearing a combination is vast, and gear geeks could talk for days about this subject. One of the simplest reasons would be the fact that sometimes you don’t need your combat load, but you still want protection.
Let’s say your name is Lance Corporal Schmuckately and Sgt Hardazz just ordered you to fill sandbags inside a semi-hostile FOB. If the FOB has SOPs that are, “armor while about but, condition four weapons,” you’re going to want your combat load close, but not necessarily on. Having a chest rig that can carry a full load, while easily being able to come on and off quickly is ideal in this situation.
Another thought process is the triple-combo. With just two pieces of gear, you can run plate carrier only, chest rig only, or both. Along these lines, and a reason why some operators choose the combo method, is the fact that you can have multiple chest rigs for different equipment set ups.
Let’s say I’m running with a high speed, low drag, highly specialized 6 man infantry team, and I’m a designated slack man. My three primary purposes (not simultaneously) include carrying the M249 machine gun, land navigation/route selection/EE’s, and point man. We may have a QRF call for a downed pilot mission in our AO.
Since we’re such a small and fast team, we are set off with a short mission brief detailing our main objective is to get eyes on and relay information back to a larger QRF that’s slower or relaying information and assisting to an Air Force PJ unit that may or may not be their when we show up.
Knowing all this and knowing our primary objective isn’t in picking a fight, I will not be carrying my M249. Since a M249 setup is night and day compared to my point man set up, that sucker’s staying back. Having two rigs allows me to make high speed, low drag advancement towards the mission objective without switching gear around.
Another simpler example is being military police or security, and you’re in and out of vehicles all day. While having a full combat load on, your range of motion is limited inside of a vehicle. A simple fix is the combination setup. While inside a vehicle you can have your chest rig off and in reach for everything you need, once exciting the vehicle you can slip it back on, no problem.
Pros of the Chest Rig and Plate Carrier combo
The main pro I’ll give for rocking a combination plate carrier-chest rig is the simple fact of versatility. It gives you more options to safely and effectively perform your respected tasks as they arise. Not only does this make us more valuable and effective, it also makes our jobs more pleasurable, knowing we have the options.
Cons of the Combo
More gear means more malfunctions. Running a setup like this, you’ll have to maintain both pieces of gear. Everyone running a combo could potentially affect mobility at a Company level. More gear means more weight and space.
A lot of militants don’t understand some of the astronomical feats that go into shipment of personnel. If every infantryman in a battalion was running a combo, you can start to comprehend logistically how this would affect mobility.
Is the Combo for you?
When considering whether or not to run a combo, first know your unit’s SOPs. Some units don’t allow it because of reasons described in the cons section. Consider why you would want and not want to wear one.
Write a pros and cons list for yourself. Talk to others in your unit or MOS. Educate yourself as much as possible. At the end of the day, the decisions are ultimately up to you.
If you’re considering changing your set up, do it well in advance to work out the kinks. Muscle memory will also need to be established to prevent mistakes.
Do your homework, pick the right combat kit for you. Lots of people prefer running just plate carrier kit, and there are pros and cons to that also.
Just because you don’t operate a certain way, doesn’t mean you can’t understand the concepts of why other people do. Stay Safe
Military Jargon for POGs
- MOLLE = modular, light-weight, load-carrying equipment
- Three Bs = batteries, band-aids, and bullets
- Slick plate carrier = a plate carrier “stripped” to the bare essential of carrying plates
- FOB = forward operating base
- SOP = standard operating procedure
- Condition 4 = no magazine in weapon, no round in chamber, weapon on safe
- EE = escape and evasion
Written by Danny Young
Danny Young is a Veteran to the United States Marine Corps where he served honorably between 2010 and 2017. He was meritoriously promoted to CPL and ended his career as a SGT in a small specialized infantry unit at Battalion level operations. Read bio!