The best plate carriers are constructed of high-quality materials such as Nylon or Kevlar to maximize their protective capabilities. In addition, they are designed to be lightweight yet tough enough to provide superior durability and mobility. All these combined make plate carriers an invaluable asset crucial in creating effective tactical security systems worldwide.
Choosing the best plate carrier for your needs is challenging, but with the right information, you can find the perfect fit. Whether you have extensive experience in military and tactical operations or are looking for a plate carrier as a recreational activity, there’s an option available to meet your specifications.
From heavy-duty load-outs best suited to experienced tactical professionals to minimalistic designs tailored for minimal gear impact, this list of the best plate carriers covers every user out there.
Depending on your expertise level and preferences, you’ll be able to determine which of these 5 options best fits your individual criteria.
What Are The Best Plate Carriers?
Every plate carrier is designed with a different purpose in mind, and no one plate carrier fits all users. Depending on a person’s individual needs in terms of body armor, the plate carrier they should choose could range from lightweight to heavily armored.
For instance, if someone needs protection while operating in a war zone, they’ll likely opt for a plate carrier that offers maximum coverage and comfort even when under fire.
On the other hand, those who look for the best plate carriers for recreational activities may go for basic ones that don’t offer as much body armor but are suitable for their chosen activity. Ultimately, attempting to settle on one single plate carrier as the only option would not be feasible due to the vast array of users’ needs.
So, in this article, we will cover the best plate carrier 2023 in the following categories:
- Best Undercover Plate Carrier
- Best Minimalist Plate Carrier
- Best Conventional Use Plate Carriers (2 options)
- Best Heavy Combat Plate Carrier
The Best Undercover Plate Carrier: Spartan Armor Level IIIA Soft Body Armor And Concealed Plate Carrier
This concealable plate carrier stands out by not standing out. Not a single person will notice it if worn under a suit, a pullover, or a jacket. This lightweight plate carrier is designed as slim and discreet as possible and does a phenomenal job protecting you against bullets while looking just like everybody else. The plate carrier vest can be purchased in white, blending in with everyday clothes even more.
- Plates included: Two times 10×12 Spartan Armor Systems Flex Fused Core Level IIIA Soft Body Armor panels.
- Panel Weight: 1.14lbs
- Materials from America, assembled in Arizona
- Tested and passed in accordance with NIJ-STD-0101.06 / MIL-STD-662F
- Different sizes and colors are available
The Best Minimalist Plate Carrier: AR Freeman Bundle
The minimalist category’s clear favorite must be the AR Freeman plate carrier. The armor plates measure just 9″ x 9″ and protect the vital organs. It is incredibly compact and can fit effortlessly under a passenger seat or into a small backpack. While the protection might not be as excellent as for bigger plate carriers with bigger ballistic plates, the massive benefit of mobility and speed can’t be overestimated in stressful situations. What stands out further are the skinny shoulder straps, which means the unrestricted ability to shoulder a rifle.
- For body types S to XL
- Different versions of plates are available
- The weight is 0.54lbs for the plate carrier and 5.2 lbs (Version A1) for the armor plates
- Manufactured in Vietnam
- The material is Laminated laser-cut Cordura® on the front and Cordura 500D Nylon on the back
- Front and rear Velcro panels
The Best Conventional Use Plate Carrier 1. Option: 5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier
The 5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier has become increasingly popular lately. This is because the vest is used in the official CrossFit Games. Initially designed for the military, athletes increasingly use it as a weight vest due to its high wearing comfort. The plate carrier has a quick release and is adjustable to all body types. It is especially popular for its comfy shoulder pads and the possibility of attaching pockets or magazine holders on the entire surface. Additionally, the open sides allow air flow to make the summer heat less tedious.
Having worn many different plate carriers, this is the one I personally like most because it stays comfortable even after many hours of wearing it.
- Lightweight 500D nylon
- Includes a low-profile Grab-Drag handle
- Has a single-handed quick-release cable escape system
- Accommodates medium or large ballistic plates
- Fits Rogue® Men’s and Women’s Weight Vest Plates
- The plate pockets accommodate M-L ESAPI ballistic plates
The Best Conventional Use Plate Carrier 2. Option: Agilite K19 Plate Carrier 3.0
The Agilite K19 is an incredibly well-constructed piece of tactical gear. All the small details are what make this a really high-quality tactical plate carrier. The vest is a one-size-fits-all model and has a straightforward quick-release mechanism. Every strap sits extremely comfortably and is adaptable in seconds. This allows a great fit even if layers of clothing get removed or added during an operation. The rear plate bag has a triple layer of fusion foam to ensure comfort even with steel or ceramic plates. On top of the front plate bag is an additional pocket to store a small notebook or a map.
The Agilite K19 tactical plate carrier was used in Israel and is praised as the best plate carrier on the market by many soldiers. It is a battle-tested, great choice for many situations.
- Integrated Egress™ quick-release system
- One-size-fits-all Fast-Adjust™ Cummerbund
- One-size plate bags with an internal adjuster to fit all common plate sizes perfectly (fits 10″X12″ plates)
- Shoulder padding for comfort during prolonged use
- Rear drag handle
- 1000D Nylon
- Weight: 2.5lbs (1.1kg)
- Compatible with the AMAP III Assault pack so that you can attach it in a matter of seconds
The Best Heavy Combat Plate Carrier: Shellback Tactical SF Lightweight Armor System with Level III+ H3101 Plates
This carrier is very compact and suits high-risk operations. It is designed for SWAT teams, Special Reaction Teams, and military operations. The construction is lightweight but big enough to ensure that the plates protect all vital areas. Like most plate carriers, it has velcro on the surface to attach pockets and quickly adapt the plate carrier setup.
- Two Shellback Tactical Model H3101 Plates included
- 500 Denier Nylon
- Front and rear plate bags load from the bottom
- Cummerbund has two integrated pockets for 6×6 or 6×8 plates
- Rear drag handle
- Fully adjustable shoulder straps and cumberbund
- Lifetime Warranty
- GSA and TAA compliant
- Plates: Ceramic and Polyethylene construction
- Water-resistant cover
- Superior ballistic protection with the Level III+ Model H3101 Plates
My Experience With Plate Carriers
From my time in the military, I can tell that having the best plate carrier is absolutely paramount. The tactical gear field evolves extremely fast, and using cheap or old equipment is never worth the risk.
While many military plate carriers promoted on the internet were suitable when they came out, the new generations of plate carrier vests are lighter and more practical in adjustability. They also offer way more possibilities for attaching additional magazine pouches or camelbacks.
And most importantly, modern plate carriers provide excellent freedom of movement, which is as crucial as the protection itself and is often overlooked. Another necessity is a basic level of comfort. You might think it doesn’t matter how your shoulder straps feel on a mission, but when you spend hours and days in uncomfortable gear, it begins to wear on your spirit.
Choosing The Best Plate Carrier For You In 2023
Wearing the best plate carrier possible is an essential component of any well-equipped soldier’s body armor. Plate carriers are typically used for increased protection by providing additional coverage to the upper and lower torso, shoulders, and sometimes arms. Of course, their primary function is to allow the wearer to absorb ballistic impacts better and be protected from other blunt force trauma that can occur during battle.
I hope that this list of the best plate carriers in 2023 makes your choice easier. The options above are all excellent options. Of course, you could also use the tactical plate carriers at home and vice versa.
All plate carriers have their advantages; ultimately, it is also a matter of personal preference.
Since a plate carrier can also be used for some brutal workouts, also read: 11 Best Tips To Find Lasting Gym Motivation