Plate carriers are an essential part of any tactical gear loadout, providing protection and carrying capabilities in a lightweight, ergonomic package.
But correctly setting up and wearing a plate carrier isn’t as simple as just putting it on. To get the most out of your plate carrier, you need to make sure it fits properly, is positioned correctly, and is loaded with the right gear.
In this guide, we’ll explain what a plate carrier is, how to size and adjust it, and how to wear it correctly. We’ll also discuss what you should include in your plate carrier setup.
So let’s dive in!
What Is a Plate Carrier?
To put it simply, a plate carrier is a tactical vest designed to hold armor plates. They can provide both protection and carrying capability, allowing you to carry ammunition, medical supplies, magazines, and other gear.
Plate carriers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from minimalist and lightweight rigs designed for concealment and mobility to larger and more durable plate carriers designed for maximum protection and load-carrying capacity.
How to Wear a Plate Carrier?
Wearing plate carriers might seem simple, but in reality, there are a few elements to consider. Here’s what you need to know:
Make Sure the Sizing Is Right!
Before we even get to the wearing part, you need to make sure that the plate carrier is the correct size for your body type. Sizing your plate carrier right is a crucial part of wearing it correctly.
In contrast to other body armor and load-bearing gear, plate carriers are usually sized by the armor plates they’re designed to fit. So, you should first figure out what size armor plate you’ll be using, and then select a plate carrier that fits those plates.
The armor plates are meant to protect your vital organs such as your heart and lungs, so you have sure the plate covers those areas comfortably.
To get a good estimation of what size plates and thus what size plate carrier you are going to need you will have to measure your chest. To do so measure your chest from nipple to nipple and from your sternum to your belly button. This way you will get a good estimation of the size of the plates you are going to need.
Statistically speaking most people will need 10 x 12-inch plates to cover their vital organs.
Once you have figured out the exact plate size you can start looking for plate carriers that can fit them. Now all that said, some plate carriers do have separate measurement systems to accommodate different body sizes. So make sure to read the product description before you purchase your plate carrier.
How Should a Plate Carrier Fit?
Now that you have your plate carrier it’s time to make sure it fits right. There are two things you need to consider here. First is where the carrier should sit on your torso and second is how tight it should be.
The first one is probably the most important as it will determine the effectiveness of the protection. It’s important to make sure the plate section covers your vital organs completely.
The front plate should sit in the center of your chest just above your sternum at your sternal angle. And the back plate should sit in the center of your back about an inch or two vertebra prominent. This way you can make sure that your vital organs are covered.
Now for the tightness or snugness of the plate carrier. It should be tight enough that it won’t move around when you do but not so tight that it’s uncomfortably squeezing your chest and torso. You should also make sure to adjust the straps and buckles to fit your body properly.
The key here is making sure you can move comfortably. You should be able to jump, bend, twist, and turn without any difficulties. Once you have the plate carrier adjusted properly it should fit like a glove.
How to Adjust a Plate Carrier?
Adjusting a plate carrier is fairly easy and doesn’t require much effort. The exact method differs depending on the model and brand of your plate carrier, but here are a few general tips to get you started.
First, adjust the shoulder straps so that the front plate sits where it is supposed to and you have a full range of motion when wearing the plate carrier. You should also make sure that the shoulder straps are not too tight or too loose.
Next, adjust the cummerbund or the side buckle (depending on the model) so that it fits snugly around your waist. You want to make sure that it’s tight enough that it won’t move and loose enough that you can still move comfortably.
Test It Out!
Once you think you have your plate carrier adjusted and fitted you have to test it out. But it is through a few tests to know for sure.
So first try to move around a bit. Then try to move your hands in as full of motion as possible to make sure that you still have a full range of motion. Try to jump up and down or do some burpees. Also, try crouching or getting in a prone shooting position to make sure the plate carrier doesn’t move around too much.
Once you have tested it out, make any necessary adjustments and ensure that the plate carrier fits snugly without restricting your range of motion. Then you can be sure that the plate carrier is fitted properly for maximum protection and comfort.
What Should Go on a Plate Carrier?
When it comes to setting up your plate carrier then there are a lot of different items you can add to it. But the most important thing to consider is what is the purpose of your plate carrier and what your mission is.
For instance, if you are a soldier working in a real combat zone then you may need extra pouches for mags and medical supplies and other mission-critical equipment. While if you are setting up the plate carrier for airsoft then you most likely won’t need medical supplies or that many magazines.
So the most crucial part is to figure out what exactly you need. Once you know that, then it’s going to be a lot easier and way more efficient to pick out the items you want to put on your plate carrier.
Overall in tactical terms, you can divide your gear into three groups: equipment for making holes, equipment for plugging holes, and other mission-critical gear.
- Equipment for making holes are things like ammunition and explosives.
- Equipment for plugging holes are items like IFAKs, tourniquets, and medical supplies.
- And lastly, mission-critical gear is the stuff you need to complete your mission such as comms, navigation, night vision, and even hydration pouches.
Depending on the mission you are going to undertake, this list can vary greatly but these three categories should give you a good starting place when deciding what to put on your plate carrier.
Keep in mind that sometimes less is more – don’t overload yourself with too much gear if it isn’t necessary. You don’t want to be weighed down and have difficulty moving around.
Once you have set everything up you should re-test your plate carrier to make sure that it’s comfortable and that you still can move around in it and haven’t lost any mobility. Also, test out each accessory and pouch you add to your plate carrier to make sure everything is easily accessible and can be used without too much effort.
- The size of your plate carrier depends on the size of the plates you want to cover your vital organs with.
- Measure your torso from nipple to nipple and sternum to belly button in order to determine which size plates you would need.
- Adjust both shoulder straps so that they have a full range of motion when wearing them
- Make sure that cummerbund or side buckle fits snugly around your waist without being overly tight
- Test out all adjustments by moving around in various positions to make sure that your plate carrier is fitting properly.
To get the best fit possible, make sure to measure your torso from nipple to nipple and sternum to belly button. Most people will need 10 x 12-inch plates to cover their vital organs.
When it comes time for fitting the plate carrier, adjust both shoulder straps so that the front plate sits where it should and has a full range of motion when wearing it.
Additionally, adjust the cummerbund or side buckle so that it fits snugly around your waist but not too tight as this can restrict movement.
Finally, test out all these adjustments by moving around in various positions such as jumping up and down or doing burpees before making any final adjustments if needed.
For the setup of your plate carrier, think about what is going to be the purpose of it and what is your mission.
Then consider dividing up your gear into three categories: equipment for making holes, plugging holes, and mission-critical gear.
Remember that sometimes less is more and don’t overload yourself with too much gear if it isn’t necessary.
And that’s about it for this guide on how to wear a plate carrier. Thanks for reading and we hope you found it helpful!