This article provides a review of the best plate carrier vests from top to bottom according to the budget, specs, and quality. We will cover from Military spec to self-defense specs.
You will find the best plate carrier and the cheap plate carrier evaluated by weight, breath-ability, comfort, and downright tactical factors, we will cover it all to guide you on what features to look for in a vest to ensure you get the right one for you.
We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we have researched and made a list of the best plate carrier 2021 on our personal experience over the year to provide you with the information of top rated plate carriers in depth.
We’ll go into details and cover the pros and cons of each plate carrier below. But before that, let’s get some brief information about plate carriers.
Plate carriers are what we’re really referring to with the term “bulletproof vest.” Tactical plate carrier vests hold ceramic, composite, and steel body armor plates.
Level of Protection
Plate carrier vests have different levels of protection and come in different options and sizes for use under various potential threats. Depending on your operation, environment, or situation, you can choose from different styles, from minimalist tactical body armor for undercover and plainclothes operations to heavier constructed tactical armor for protection against high velocity, heavy-caliber rifle fire.
Plate carriers are designed to insert the required size and type of plates for use. These plates protect the vital organs of the upper body. You can insert front and back plates in but that makes it a little heavy but if you don’t mind carrying a little extra weight then it’s will be your first choice due to its attachments to carry other military-style gears.
Bulletproof soft vests
Bulletproof soft vests are lighter than plate carriers but also, have a major downside. They can protect you from smaller weapon rounds but they can’t withstand high caliber firearms. They don’t have many options for attaching accessories.
Multi-functional plates are much better than regular vests. A drawback of this as far as the protection goes they are not much better but the good side is they are typically lightweight and have a great capacity of attaching accessories like magazine pouches and other tactical gears.
Top 10 Plate Carriers Reviews 2021
|YAKEDA Tactical Vest||Color: ACU, Black, CP, Gray, Green, Khaki and Black CP
Adjustable for Adult
Multi Function, Adjustable Belt, Adjustable Waist Shoulder
|GFIRE Tactical Vest||Color: Black, Tan and Green
Size: Medium – X-Large adjustable sizing
|Condor Outdoor Modular Chest Set||Color: Black, Coyote Brown and Olive Drab
Adjustment: Adjustable chest platform
|vAv YAKEDA Tactical CS||Color: Black and CP Camouflage
Adjustment: Adjustable height using the removable velcro straps.
|OneTigris Multicam Tactical Vest||Color: Multicam, Black and Coyote Brown
Material Construction: 500D Cordura Nylon
|Tactical Airsoft Paintball Vest||Color: Brown, Army Green, Black, Multi cam Ocp camo and Shadow Gray||Check Price|
|Warrior Assault Systems DCS Base Special Forces Plate Carrier||Color: Black, MultiCam, Coyote Tan and OD Green
|AR500 Armor Veritas™||Color: Black, Coyote Brown, Veritas MultiCam and Olive Drab
Material Construction: Genuine 500D Cordura
|Spartan Armor Systems Light Weight Sentry Plate Carrier||Color: Black, Coyote Brown and OD Green
|WarTechGears Tactical Fast Vest||Color: Green and Tan
Manufacturer : WarTechGears
Here are the Best Plate Carriers 2021
1. YAKEDA Tactical Vest Outdoor Ultra-Light (best plate carrier for big guys)
YAKEDA Tactical Vest Outdoor Ultra-Light comes in different sizes from Small to Extra Large with a minimum of 33 to the maximum waist of 53 inches that is good for the sizes of Average person to large guys. The length starts from 20.5 inches that can be maximally adjusted to 22.5 inches.
It can be adjusted to the maximum size to fit your shoulder and waist having a medium-framed pistol on the left side with 3 pistol mag pouches that can also be adjusted in height for most normal-sized mags. The right side includes 3 ammo pouches including a large shell carrying pouch and a shooting pad.
Shoulders can be adjusted with Velcro strips and 2 metal D-rings for the attachment of carabineers or other types of equipment. The rear of the vest includes double-ply mesh for carrying a hydration bladder. The vest is mounted on tough nylon mesh to provide maximum ventilation that is one of the reasons it is ultra-light in weight.
It also includes a tactical belt for the maximum waist of 57 inches. That makes it a complete package for outdoor travel, mountaineering, and outdoor activity.
One of the reasons we love this plate carrier is it has a right butt shoulder that has a semi-firm tube that extends up to the shoulder all the way up that is great in absorbing shotgun butt because it doesn’t have any cheap impotent feeling support or any other saggy type form inserts.
The second thing we like is that the outer upper mag clip slots have a nice feel to them, sort of a thick rubberized texture and rugged and not just a vinyl feel or look. The belt is extremely firm which adds support like a tool belt type and doesn’t bunch up or spot sag as many do. The design on the hook and loop size adjustment is nice because it is on both sides so you keep the belt centered.
The shoulder straps are wide strong adjustable hook and loop and give great overall support to the vest once weighted down. It has a Velcro closure to keep it packed solid. You can buy the raw Kevlar IIIA and insert it there without any problem.
The Velcro everywhere is pretty tight hook n loop. The sides have three “PULL” tabs each and make it really nice to custom secure your vest depending on the undergarment thickness and depending on if you put your Kevlar Inserts in or not.
The holster easily holds Beretta and is easy to deploy flawlessly and smoothly. The gun holster holds very solid to your gun because it is not just Velcro but also two adjustable straps so you can custom it, one above and one to the left side that keep it from being ripped off.
The holster is open at the side end allowing for various sized barrels and some silencer tips can be slid through All these above features forced us to make this number one in our list but as everything has some drawbacks it also has which is the cell phone carrier on the upper the left shoulder is too small for most wider android touch screen cell phones.
However, it does fit a thin flip phone very nicely and might fit some thinner phones and it would stretch the sides out to fit most and we are not so sure if the upper Velcro closure would be long enough to close once filled depending on how long your phone is also it is not removable and it has the chances of dropping your phone while in combat.
- Adjustable for Adults
- Multi Function
- Adjustable Belt
- Mag and Zipper
- Adjustable Waist Shoulder
- Army Fan Tactical Vest
- Light Weight and Breathable Vest
Pros and Cons
2. GFIRE Tactical Vest Modular Vest Breathable (best lightweight plate carrier)
GFIRE Tactical Vest Modular Vest Breathable is second on our list due to its size specification as it only comes in medium to extra-large. It is made of 1000D polyester which is the reason it’s known as the best lightweight plate carrier on our list. The sticks are made of Nylon and the sutures on the molle are reinforced making it more solid and light.
High-grade and high-strength molle loops and webbings are made for modular attachments. Molle design makes it easy to pick up and retrieve items and gives you more space to carry all the gears you need. The adjustable shoulder straps include mesh interior lining that allows an anti-slip shoulder strap to give you better comfort.
One of the good things is it has 12 x 11 inches front pocket that can easily hold a big phone, maps, and other side pocket tools. The emergency drag handle is one of the things that are not included in most of the plate carriers nowadays but as per our experience, we think that it is not strong enough to stay for long that we consider as a drawback.
We have tried the vest and installed one triple mag pouch, 2 mag pouches, one storage pouches and it barely even made us feel bloated which is a good sign of quality and comfort. The stitching is extremely strong that made you feel more comfortable.
The Velcro is strong as compared to other carriers and it can barely separate with one hand, to some people they find it irritating while we find it more comfortable and felt more controlled in combat that it will stick to your body and will not create any kind of distraction.
- High Quality
- MOLLE Design
- Adjustable Shoulder Straps
- Adjustable Waist Straps
After trying this by our self we made a list of some pros and cons that we are going to discuss below.
Pros and Cons
3. Condor Outdoor Modular Chest Set
Condor Outdoor Modular Chest Set is third on our list. We have not given it any title because it’s not a plate carrier but the reason we have it in our list on the third number is that it’s the best for working out, mountaineering, and cycling.
The main specs are they have padded shoulder straps and a six build M4 Mag pouch that is the main reason we have it on number 3. It is not bulletproof nor it can carry any kind of plates but if you love mountaineering, hunting, any kind of outdoor activity or you are an active shooter, this is the best chest rig we have tried so far.
Also, It has a water bladder that doesn’t affect the weight distribution as most of the vest do which makes it more comfortable. This chest set has two internal mesh pockets, heavyweight webbing for modular attachments, and a removable chest platform.
We have tried it and we were surprised to find it fairly comfortable when fully loaded and we have even tried double stacking the rifle pouches by using Magpul mags to check the weight balance and it was full-on over expectations. In, other words, It has a ton of storage and you can add more according to your need.
- Padded Shoulder Straps
- Six built-in M4 mag pouch
- Two internal mesh pockets
- Heavyweight webbing for modular attachments
- Adjustable/Removable chest platform
After trying this vest in different scenarios, we concluded the list of pros and cons below on our personal experiences.
Pros and Cons
4. vAv YAKEDA Tactical CS Adjustable Vest (best plate carrier for working out)
The next one number 4 is vAv YAKEDA Tactical CS Adjustable Vest, It’s one of those plate carriers which are good for both protection and working out due to its lightweight and waterproof ability. It comes in all sizes from Small to Extra Large. Fabric is 1000D nylon with made it lightweight and waterproof.
Pockets have been backed up with 3D mesh to comfort and dispersal of body heat which is good for a hot climate. The shoulders can be worn in different configurations as a slick low profile with the addition of Velcro padded shoulders. This one is the latest vest from YAKEDA designed to be lightweight and low profile to enhance mobility without compromising protection.
We have tried to install 11” X 10” with a thickness of 5/16” rogue weight vest plates of approximately 20lbs but it didn’t fit. It can only fit 2.75” upper tall with 5.5” upper wide and 9” lower tall to 9.8” lower wide plates with thickness of 0.78”. Then we tried to install AR500 10X12 level 3 plates and it fits but with the help of an extra Velcro flap and that made it a little snug.
We added two m4 mags and they fit but they got a little tight. The best thing we found is the breathable lining allowing the shirt underneath to breathe and allows the sweat to dry not so fast but it really helps if you are wearing it for few hours straight.
- Drag Handle
- Breathable and Light weight
- Strong UTX Buckle
Pros and Cons
5. OneTigris Multicam Tactical Vest (Multicam black plate carrier)
The next one in line is OneTigris Multicam Tactical Vest known by us as Best Multicam black plate carrier.
It comes in all sizes from Small to Extra Large made with 500D Cordura Nylon. The reason this product is on our list and we have tried is the molle webbings for attachments that is a huge difference between this and all other plate carriers. It is adjustable to fit most with a loop panel for holding patches.
We have used this product with different plates and the medium plates fit the most. It is well constructed and comfortable. One of our friends tried this who is 6 feet tall and around 230lbs and it fits perfectly on him but it left some lower abdominal area naked but the vest purpose is to protect the vitals so it does the job.
The good thing we find in this was the integrated mag pouches so you don’t have to stack pouches and make the front of your vest like a shelf.
You can run with the plates in it and the Velcro is strong enough to hold the plates without any disturbance. The only thing we didn’t like much was the material we personally found the material not so much reliable to last longer if worn on daily basis and the drag handle is missing which is a compulsory thing in tactical vests nowadays for emergency situations.
- Plenty of molle webbings for attachments
- Adjustable to fit most
- Loop panel for holding patches
- Ergonomic Design System
- Offers Ultimate Comfort
- MOLLE Attachment Points
After few days of usage, we concluded the below.
Pros and Cons
6. Tactical Airsoft Paintball Vest
A Tactical Airsoft Paintball vest is not the armor plate carrier that can hold solid Armor plates for protection. As its name says it all it is used for paintball and airsoft purposes. It comes with a Free USA Flag and flag patch having molle mag pouch that can hold up to 4 mags and made from 1000D nylon that is stronger than 600D nylon used in some vests.
The front and back pouch can hold 10”X12” dummy plates and it has another small molle mag pouch for pistol mag, flashlight, first aid kit, or for other gear. It also has an additional pouch for the side or back for ammo. All these pouches are attached to the PALS Molle and can be reconfigured to a different location on the vest. It comes insides from Medium to Extra Large.
When we tried this vest for the first time, we were really impressed with the reconfiguration of pouches on the different location that is really helpful for you to use it comfortably with your own style of arrangements of gear. The second thing we like was the foam plate for padding on the front and the back that can fit 10”X12” foam plates for airsoft and paintball impact cushioning.
We even tried to add weighted plates to check the durability for weight training and we were satisfied with the quality. The plate carrier has an emergency release that disassembles the vest. We tried and were able to fit M4 P-Mags in the ammo pouch and it was well secured.
The thing we didn’t like was it doesn’t have Velcro on the front and the back and we really didn’t like hanger sleeves. The two pockets on the front and the back were not so much useful for anything and we took it off that gave a naked look to the vest that was annoying because if it has Velcro there instead of the slots, we could have patched something else to it that could be helpful.
The 1000D nylon was not as good as it was stated and we didn’t like the quality of it. The drag handle was not much bigger as it should be but on the bright side, we saw that it can hold 8 mags that give us plenty of storage for all the combat gear and different types of ammo.
- Free USA 🇺🇸 Flag patch included
- 4 Molle Mag Pouch can hold Mags
- Front and Back pouch for 10×12 dummy plates
Pros and Cons
7. WARRIOR ASSAULT SYSTEMS DCS BASE SPECIAL FORCES PLATE
Warrior Assault Systems DCS Base Special Forces Plate Carrier (best plate carriers for law enforcement) is lightweight having great load capacity. It is designed for protection, utility, and mobility thus giving it the title of best plate carrier for law enforcement.
This one is the ideal gear for high threat active shooter situations and multi assault counter-terrorism action capabilities (MACTAC). It fits 10×12 shooter cut plates and 6×6 and 6×8 side plates in the cummerbund. It also allows you to remove sides for your convenience.
This DCS Special Forces plate carrier is waterproof and lightweight with removable sides. The DCS plate carrier is a perfect fit with our 10×12 Shooter’s Cut body armor which is available in level III and level III+. The DCS is fully adjustable for height and width with 3D Spacer mesh lining for cooling and comfort.
When we tried this, we liked few things including the shoulder straps that come with padding that goes with our plate making it more comfortable. We also insert a block radio in the radio pouch to see if it fits and it did perfectly without any obstruction.
The shoulder cutouts make it easy to maneuver in and the shoulder pads distribute weight without compromising the comfort. The adjustment level is really perfect fit so the plates will not bounce when you are doing any kind of movement that makes the upper body movement completely non restricting.
The thing we didn’t like most was the side plate holders are 2 times smaller than the side plates that are issued in US Army and there wasn’t any weaving on the inside of the holder straps so we can attach our own side plate holders and we think that it should allow us to attach our own side plates.
- Weight: 7.1 Ounces per Square Yard
- Tensile Strength: Warp 453 lbs / Fill 348 lbs
- Tears Strength: Warp 14.1 + lbs / Fill 14.1 + lbs
- Abrasion: Wear Cycles 1955
- Water Repellency: 100%
Pros and Cons
8. AR500 Armor Veritas™ Plate Carrier (Great Budget)
If you are looking for a plate carrier with a minimalist profile than Veritas Plate Carrier should be your choice. It is a comfortable, well-ventilated, and lightweight plate carrier that can hold 10”X12” hard armor plates and have plenty of webbing for attaching Molle compatible accessories like pouches and holsters.
It contains a modular armor system consisting of a skeletonized cummerbund, multi-caliber kangaroo triple mag pouch, padded side plate pouches, and adaptive plate insert. All these items allow you to customize the plate carrier according to your mission need.
We have tried this product and we highlight some features mentioned next. The nylon used is of good quality and comfortable. Padded #D mesh for comfort and ventilation and we find it quite comfortable after wearing it for few hours with little sweat on the back but it was better than some of the plate carriers we have tried so far in last few years. It only comes in Medium to Extra large so if you are a short person than you have to buy another option.
Optional cummerbund and removable padded shoulder straps give you customization option according to your need. We found the military graded buckles strong and durable and the dual admin pockets with Hypalon easy to grip pull tabs are good option for keeping utilities and ID.
- Color: Black, Coyote Brown, MultiCam and Olive Drab
- Dual admin pockets with Hypalon
- Easy-to-grip pull-tabs
- admin pouch features elastic keepers for utility
We tried and tested this for few hours and after noticing all the things we made the list of pros and cons according to our experience.
Pros and Cons
9. SPARTAN ARMOR SYSTEMS LIGHTWEIGHT SENTRY PLATE CARRIER
Next in line is SPARTAN ARMOR SYSTEMS LIGHTWEIGHT SENTRY PLATE CARRIER (lightweight plate carrier) designed to have a more comfortable performance fit while holding standard plates with an emergency drag handle with quick adjustments for the front and hood loop adjustments on the shoulder with heavyweight webbing for modular attachments and quick release buckle.
When we tried this Armor plate carrier we noticed that it is so lightweight that we didn’t even notice that we are wearing anything extra because its weight less than 2 lbs thus giving it the title of the lightweight plate carrier.
This plate carrier is designed to hold medium or large steel, ceramic or composite small arms protective inserts (SAPI) in sizes up to 10.25” x 13.25” with either Shooter’s Cut or Swimmer’s Cut.
There’s no cummerbund in the Sentry lightweight plate carrier; but due to this it reduces bulk and improves airflow, that added comfort and makes it impossible to add side plate armor protection.
The front and back heavy-duty hooks and loop webbing allows for easy attachment of a full assortment of tactical accessories.
We tried this plate carrier and noticed that it is fully adjustable to fit the body but it only comes in Medium and Extra Large from the waist of 30” to 46”. We find the quick-adjust cinches, quick-release buckles, and wide adjustable side straps helping. The heavy-duty drag handle is durable and strong to last for some time. The best thing we like was pull-down flaps that provide fast and easy insertion and removal of armor plates and breathable padded mesh interior linings.
The customization allows you to remove padded mesh shoulder pads and the molle attachment allows us to mount tactical hydration on the back of the vest.
- Emergency drag handle
- Adjustable shoulder straps
- Easy access plate pockets
- Waist Size: 30″x 46″ adjustable sizing
Pros and Cons
10. WarTechGears Tactical Fast Vest
The last one on our list is WarTechGears Tactical Fast Vest 10″X12″ MOLLE and PALS Fully Adjustable Law Enforcement. The reason we have this on our list is the design, it has a very nice and decent design according to the price.
It has a heavy-duty drag handle, 10” x 4” loop fastener patch area, PALs webbing for MOLLE attachments and the stitching is of 1050 nylon material with cross-stitching.
This doesn’t come in many sizes and if you are a tall guy your stomach will be open, it will only cover your vital. This is a good choice for people who have small height. It has plate carrier slots in front and back and can easily fits AR500 steel plates with the trauma pads.
As we have tried this vest and we concluded that it is good for working out with plates in it because what we find bad is the stitching. We tried the drag handle and we were surprised to see the stitching has been affected. We added two plates of total weight 14lbs and it didn’t even make us feel bulky.
One thing we like the most was a large section of Velcro to secure the plates so if you are working out it will hold the plates tight and you can keep working out without the need to adjust any of this.
After using it for a while we concluded some pros and cons as below.
Pros and Cons
Best Plate Carrier Buyer’s Guide
Plate carriers have a variety of uses that can be for entertainment purposes like paintball fight, workout, or even for protection during actual combat in law and enforcement.
Either way, when you are shopping for a tactical vest there are some factors that should be considered to make the best and smart decision for plate carrier setup.
No one factor is which is very important is weight as if the plate carrier is heavy it will affect your speed and movement. Almost all the activities that are involved in the use of plate carriers require quick movement speed either it’s hunting, paintball, or tactical mission for law and enforcement.
If your plate carrier is heavy it will slow you down for the price of performance and response time. And even in some cases if your response is not fast enough it will cost you your life.
If you are a heavy build and can carry heavy equipment for a long time it’s fine but if you are not a trained person or you are an average build then you should go for a vest that is lightweight but with good protection according to your activity requirement.
The main job of the plate carrier in most cases is protection specially your vitals if you are using it for combat. While buying a plate carrier you must consider the level of protection in the form of size and the types and sizes of plates it can use.
This will help you can use the required plates according to the nature of your work and use it for your maximum protection.
The plate material is also important that comes in the category of protection so always choose the right plate carrier that can carry the right plate in material as well as size to be more effective.
The third factor that is required while purchasing a plate carrier is how much and how many types of attachments it can carry and are those attachments are useful for you.
If you are using a tactical vest for a workout then the vest allowing you to attach 4 Mags is equal to for you as well as the vest that can’t attach any mag pouch.
The right attachment type is really important while buying the plate carrier so you can maximize the use of the vest without worrying about the limitation of low ammo storage or less number of mags that can fit.
Also, the right place for attachment is also necessary so you can use that attachment in the need within your comfort zone.
The fourth factor that most people think is the first but some also ignore it when they find the vest that has all the above 3 factors is quality.
Let’s just say you found a plate carrier that can carry the required plate type you want for protection and have the ability to attach the required attachment to it but its quality is not so good.
When you are in combat specially in the scenario of a life and death situation and your vest torn apart from a side or any attachment malfunctioned than it will compromise your concentration level that will affect many other factors for you.
Choosing a vest that has a good quality and can be worn for hours without worrying about its reliability is a huge factor when you are in action.
The last factor that we think is important while buying a plate carrier is considering the heat consideration if you are operating in hot areas.
If you are working in cold then it’s not much of a big deal but in hot weather like in Florida where there is sunny most of the time you must get a vest that has good ventilation as well as protection and also has hydration bladder that will help you survive the heat.
While considering all of the above factors we are fairly sure that you will make a better decision whenever you buy the best plate carrier.
Each user has his own requirement and level of protection but we are sure if you will keep all these factors in mind before buying the plate carrier you will make the best decision, also keep in mind that these factors are really important because in some of the cases you’re your own life that is at stake.
Best Plate Carrier Vests | Infographic
What is a plate carrier?
Plate carriers are vests that can be made bulletproof after inserting the armor plates in front and back inside the plates panel for the protection of your vitals in combat situations.
Or they can be used in the workout, hunting, or other outdoor activities to attach the required attachments that required you like extra magazines or GPS and Phone pocket.
What are the sizes of plate carrier?
A plate carrier comes in all sizes from Small to extra large. Some companies make specific sizes but they can be adjusted with your body with the help of adjustment buckles. Plate carriers only protect your vitals.
Are plate carrier bulletproof?
All plate carriers are not bulletproof but they can be made by inserting armor plates inside the plate’s panel. Different plate carriers can allow different plate sizes to be inserted for maximum protection.
Can a civilian use plate carrier?
Yes, anyone can buy and plate carrier as it has many usages and can be modified according to the requirement of the user.
Are plate carriers legal?
Yes, plate carriers are legal because it has many different usages.
How heavy is a plate carrier?
Plate carriers’ weight is not fixed because it can differ according to the size, weight and type of the plate inserted inside the plate carriers.
What is a jump-able plate carrier?
Jump-able plate carrier is the second name of lightweight plate carrier that is specifically designed for maximum mobility.
How many attachments does it have?
Different types of plate carriers allow different numbers and types of attachments that can be attached with the carrier for maximum usage.
Does it comes in different colors?
Yes, plate carriers come in different colors and you must buy the one that blends easily with your surroundings specially if you are in tactical forces.