If you’re in the market for a plate carrier, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all of the choices out there. With so many different brands, styles, and features available, how do you know which one is right for you?
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to choose the perfect plate carrier for your needs. We’ll discuss the different factors you need to consider when making your decision, and provide some tips on how to find the best plate carrier for you.
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Why Is Choosing the Right Plate Carrier Important?
Choosing the right plate carrier is important for several reasons. Not only will a well-fitted plate carrier provide you with the protection that you need, but it can also help make sure that your gear is comfortable and secure while in use. A well-designed plate carrier should be able to move with your body without causing discomfort or impeding your movements.
Furthermore, choosing a plate carrier with the right features can help you stay organized and ready for any situation. If you’re in the military or law enforcement, having the right equipment is essential to ensuring your safety and success.
How to Choose a Plate Carrier?
1. What Are You Going to Use the Plate Carrier For?
The first thing you need to consider when choosing a plate carrier is how you plan on using your plate carrier. Are you a tactical operator or law enforcement officer looking for an ultra-durable and reliable plate carrier for high-risk operations? Or are you a recreational shooter with more basic needs? Or do you need one for airsoft or paintball?
Knowing how you plan on using the plate carrier will help narrow down your choices and ensure that you get a plate carrier that meets your needs.
For example, tactical operators need to look for plate carriers that are designed for high-intensity operations and can withstand extreme conditions. These types of carriers usually include features like extra pockets, reinforced stitching, and adjustable straps for maximum comfort and protection.
Pretty much every other aspect of the plate carrier will depend on how and for what you are going to use it for. Like how much you are willing to pay for it, how heavy it will be, the cut of the carrier, the color of the carrier, additional features you might need, and so on.
2. Type or Cut of the Plate Carrier
Plate carrier types can be categorized by the type of plates they use. There are three main plate carrier types: “full cut”, “shooters cut” and “swimmers cut”.
Full cut plate carriers are designed for maximum coverage and protection, with large front and back panels to hold armor inserts. Shooters cut plate carriers are smaller and more lightweight, but still offer enough protection for most shooters. Swimmers cut plate carriers are the lightest and most minimalistic type of plate carrier.
When choosing a plate carrier type, make sure that you select one that is suitable for how you plan to use it. If you need a more minimalist plate carrier then go for a swimmers cut plate carrier. If you need more protection and a larger platform for your tactical gear then go for a full-cut or shooters cut model.
3. Size of the Plate Carrier and Adjustability
First of all, you don’t size a plate carrier by your body size. What size plate carrier you need will depend on what size plates you are using. And the size of the plates will depend on your height and how much coverage and protection you need.
The most common armor plate size is 10×12 inches, these plates will fit most people’s needs. But there are also larger 11×14 and smaller 9×9 or 8×10 plates available.
How to know what size plates you need? Measure across your chest from nipple to nipple to get your width. And for the height, you should measure from the very top of your sternum to your belly button and then subtract about 2 to 3 inches.
Make sure you check the product specifications before making a purchase, to ensure it will fit your particular plate size if you don’t plan on replacing your plates.
Also, some plate carrier brands and manufacturers have different sizing criteria so make sure you double-check their size chart, measurements, and overall product info before making your purchase.
You should also think about the adjustability of the carrier. A carrier with adjustable straps, buckles, and cummerbunds is essential if you want to always get a good fit.
4. The Cummerbund of the Plate Carrier
The cummerbund is an important feature of the plate carrier, it’s what holds the front and back panels together. It should be adjustable so you can customize how it fits your body type.
Typically, a cummerbund will come with adjustable straps on either side to keep the plates snug against your torso and reduce excess bulk. It’s usually made from a durable and lightweight fabric, like ripstop or Cordura, to keep the plate carrier light and breathable.
Usually, plate carrier cummerbunds are covered in MOLLE webbing and have enough space for additional pockets and pouches for extra tactical gear. Some cummerbunds have also extra padding for comfort, internal compartments for ceramic plates, and even pockets for magazines.
When choosing a plate carrier, make sure the cummerbund includes all the features you need, so that you can use your plate carrier how you want to.
5. Weight of the Carrier
This is another important factor when choosing a plate carrier. It’s essential to choose one that isn’t too heavy, otherwise, you will be weighed down and tired out easily. Overall plate carriers themselves aren’t that heavy and they range from under a pound to a few pounds. But still, even those few pounds can make a difference when you’re running and maneuvering on the field.
Now what makes it heavy are the plates you are going to put into it. The weight of the plates will depend on how large plates you use.
So make sure to check how much the plate carrier and the accompanying plates weigh together when making your purchase. If you want more mobility then it’s best to go for a lightweight plate carrier.
6. Plate Carrier Webbing
Most plate carriers come with MOLLE webbing, which allows you to attach various tactical pouches and accessories.
The MOLLE webbing comes in two styles the classic webbing and the laser cut one. Classic webbing is the traditional style with loops that you can weave straps through. In comparison, the laser-cut webbing has pre-cut slots for easy installation and a more streamlined look.
When choosing how much MOLLE webbing to get make sure it’s enough to accommodate all your tactical gear.
7. Color of the Plate Carrier
The color of the plate carrier is also something you should think about when choosing one. There are a lot of color options to choose from, like black, digital camo, coyote brown, and more.
Choosing the right color is important because it will affect how visible you are while on the field. For example, if you are going to use your plate carrier in lowlight areas then it’s best to go for darker colors. Or if you want to blend in with your surroundings then opt for a camouflage pattern or color.
Also if you are in military service then you should choose one that conforms to your unit’s regulations.
Finally, when choosing a color for your plate carrier make sure it matches the rest of your tactical gear and uniforms.
8. Additional Features of the Carrier
Some plate carriers also come with additional features like drag handles, loop velcro panels, and stationary pockets and pouches.
Drag handles are used for quickly pulling the wearer out of danger in case of an emergency. Loop velcro is often used to attach patches or other items to the carrier. And stationary pockets and pouches provide extra space for storing tactical items.
So when choosing a plate carrier, think about what additional features you may need so that you can pick one that has all the necessary components.
And finally, when buying a plate carrier, it’s important to consider how much you are willing to spend.
Plate carriers can range from under $100 to hundreds of dollars depending on the quality and features. The cheaper and budget plate carriers are mostly made from lower-quality materials and have fewer features and are meant for airsoft or other recreational use.
The more expensive plate carriers are made of high-quality materials and have better protection and more features. So think about how much you need to spend and how long you plan to use it for when making your purchase.
Choosing the right plate carrier can be a daunting task, as there are so many factors to consider.
The key factors to look at when choosing a plate carrier are:
- What you are going to use the carrier for
- Type of plate carrier
- Plate carrier size
- Additional features
We hope that this guide has been helpful and given you enough insights to find the best plate carrier for yourself! Make sure to do your research, consider the factors mentioned above and choose a plate carrier that suits your needs.
Written by John-Caspar
John-Caspar Jaanus is an Estonian military, tactical gear, and survival expert and author. He has an extensive military background and has been involved with the Estonian defense structure for over 10 years. Read bio!