9 Best Plate Carrier Vests for the Money You can Buy in 2020

A plate carrier vest is one of the most useful protective items you can wear. Such a garment allows you to have the protection you need by supporting armor plates. You can use such a vest to protect yourself from many threats. But it’s also essential that you look at what you’re interested in the most when finding a vest that fits your needs.

But you have to know what you’re getting when finding a plate carrier vest. You have to look for a garment that fits your needs and is easy to support. This guide will help you find the best plate carrier vests that are available today.

Buying Guide

What Is a Plate Carrier?

A plate carrier is a vest that you wear around your chest. The carrier is supported by a few armor plates on the inside. You have to load these plates into your vest for optimal protection. You would then secure the garment around your body, producing a suitable fit.

How Is It Different From a Bulletproof Vest?

The plate carrier is different from a traditional bulletproof vest in that a carrier is adjustable. Whereas a bulletproof vest’s protection is set, a carrier lets you add ballistic plates or other armor pieces with ease.

Also, a carrier is easier to adjust around your body. It has more straps and features to produce a better fit, something you might not get with a bulletproof vest.

Who Uses Plate Carriers?

People who participate in recreational shooting activities can enjoy using plate carrier vests. These include games like paintball and other airsoft competitions.

Plate carrier vests are also suitable for military and law enforcement use. The flexibility of these vests makes them ideal for such situations.

What Plates Work Inside Your Plate Carrier?

Your plate carrier vest is capable of supporting various armor plates. Among the top plate models to find include:

1. Steel

Steel is a standard in that it can stop many materials. But it may be too heavy for some people.

2. Ceramic

Ceramic armor plates are lighter and offer extra protection. The ceramic plate will break apart upon impact, thus absorbing a shot. Any plate you use should last for a while and shouldn’t have too many things coming off of its body.

3. Polyethylene

Polyethylene is a tough plastic material that can repel many things. The plate uses the friction created by an impact to melt the body. The round is captured by cooling the round area on the plate. The arrangement does well when protecting the user, not to mention the plate is lightweight.

4. SAPI

The Small Arms Protective Inserts plate is a ceramic material with a composite coating. The added coverage provides a sturdier body that will not break apart as much as a traditional ceramic plate would.

Be sure that your plate carrier vest can support whatever plates you want to utilize.

Key Features to Look For In a Quality Tactical Plate Carrier

Sizing

Look at the general sizing for your tactical plate carrier when finding a model that fits well. A plate carrier should be measured based on the maximum waist size. Many models are adjustable and work for multiple people. But you have to note how well your plate carrier can support your body and how you will wear the unit.

Some vests may also be height adjustable. The point means that the vest can be raised or shortened based on the user’s height. The functionality varies by model, so take a look at what you can do when adjusting something of note.

Weight

The weight of your tactical plate carrier is the best point to note. The weight is traditionally measured based on what the vest feels like without the armor plates on the inside. The carrier may weigh a few pounds on average.

You’ll have to ensure you can handle the weight produced by a plate carrier vest, regardless of how many armor plates are on the inside. You’ll need to know how to move fast in any situation where such a vest is necessary. A carrier vest that is too heavy may limit your response and reaction times.

Plate Support

As mentioned earlier, you can get one of many plate types added to your vest. You need to ensure your vest has enough room for those plates. The vest must also handle all that weight without tearing apart. The vest material might be a factor here.

Vest Material

The material on your vest is essential to note. Most vests feature polyester materials. The fabric is ideal for being durable. Also, polyester can be woven into dense patterns with more fibers to create a thicker and stronger body. Anything that can handle all the weight surrounding your armor plates helps.

Denier Rating

You also have to note the denier rating on your vest. The denier rating is a measurement of fabric over its thickness. The number is more commonly associated with polyester.

The denier rating entails the thickness of the threads. A higher count means that the fabric is thicker and stronger.

The rating is measured with a number followed by a D. A 600D body is not as thick or heavy as a 1000D model.

Concealment

Not all plate carrier vests are easy to conceal. You should look at how well you can hide your vest. Some models are thin enough to where they will be difficult to detect.

Finding a discrete vest is critical for those in the military or law enforcement fields. You don’t want to risk having visible body armor. An armed person might attempt to shoot you in another place where you are not as well protected.

Ventilation

All that weight and coverage can cause you to become warm. You’ll need a vest with a material that keeps you cool and doesn’t cause you to overheat.

The ventilation features in your vest can vary. Sometimes these are built into the fabric materials. In other cases, the vents are larger openings in specific spots. You’ll have to find something that allows the air to move well around your body without making you feel hot.

Attachment Support

You may be capable of adding attachments to your tactical plate carrier vest. The ability of your vest to handle these items should be noted based on how well you can apply those items.

The MOLLE system is the standard used on most vests. The Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment system entails an emphasis on easy access points. Webbing appears on each side for extra support. Padding is included to allow the gear to stay protected without potentially breaking apart as you move around.

Multiple rows of attachment support may appear around your vest. The MOLLE rows should be easy to access at any time.

Velcro pockets may also be included in some spots. The Velcro system provides a better amount of support for securing items.

Other Storage Features

Always look around at the storage spots around your vest. While the MOLLE setup can provide room for many attachments, you also need something with enough pockets. These include pockets for maps and other items you might carry. You may also find specific measurements for fitting magazines or communication devices on the inside.

Any pockets on your vest should be accessible. Anything insulated and guarded against moisture and other external threats is also welcome.

Patch Space

Some vests have room for applying patches. Such patches are for identifying specific people by name or organization. These parts of a vest are only necessary for those in law enforcement or medical communities. You could use a patch to identify yourself as being a part of such a group.

Caring For a Plate Carrier Vest

You’ll need to ensure you care for your plate carrier vest to allow it to stay functional. Multiple tips may work when caring for your vest:

  1. Don’t ever submerge your garment in the water when cleaning it off. Excess water can warp the material.
  2. Only use dish soap when cleaning your vest. Anything stronger could damage its body.
  3. Always use cold water when cleaning the vest. It takes a while to clean it by hand with water and dish soap, but it is a safer effort.
  4. Some parts of your vest might be capable of being washed off in a machine. Check the care instructions on your vest for details.
  5. Always store your vest in a spot where it won’t be tossed around. When driving, you should place the vest in the seat next to you, so you know that it’s not bumping around. The plates inside your vest can only handle so many impacts.

A Comparison of the Best Plate Carrier Vests

Details on the Top Vests

1. GFIRE Tactical Vest Modular Vest – For Fully Adjustable Needs

You will have more control over your vest when you use this option from GFIRE. The GFIRE tactical vest features adjustable shoulder straps and a hook and loop webbing body. The hook and loop closure provides more control over the fit. An internal waist strap also helps you keep the vest on without it slipping off. The vest can be adjusted to fit a waist up to 54 inches in size.

The lightweight 1000D polyester body provides a soft body that allows air to move well. Nylon stitches produce a reinforced body. The high tear strength on this vest provides a better array for support.

The storage features include not only MOLLE loops for items, but also a front pocket that takes in things up to 12x11 inches. The front and side pockets are easy to reach. You’ll have enough room for maps and other items you wish to carry around with you.

Even the cummerbund feature is adjustable. The design features additional pockets for a better adjustment setup.

There’s also an emergency drag handle on the base. The handle is for when you need to drag anyone in an emergency.

Pros
  • Capable of holding many disassemble pouches

  • Provides enough room around the shoulders and waist

  • Quick to adjust

Cons
  • Weighs a little more than other models

  • Takes a while to clean off

2. vAv Yakeda Tactical CS Adjustable Vest – For People Who Get Warm

Some people often get too warm when wearing an adjustable vest. But the vAv Yakeda Tactical CS Adjustable Vest provides a body that keeps the user cool.

The vAv Yakeda vest has a 1000D nylon fabric body with pockets featuring three-dimensional mesh. The mesh material allows body heat to move out. The dense material stays intact no matter what items you add.

The shoulders are also adjustable and can work with a low profile. Velcro padding works on the shoulders to allow a better fit. A wraparound sleeve is also available for a hydration pouch or communication device you wish to secure on the vest.

The vest weighs about 2.2 pounds. The lightweight layout gives you added mobility without producing any more heat than what one wants. You’ll especially appreciate how well you can wear this vest without worrying it being all that massive. It fits well under most forms of clothing.

You can also use the mag holders on the sides for magazine handling. The features provide extra help in keeping your items intact and secure while moving.

Pros
  • The low profile does not add lots of bulk

  • Does not chafe

  • Can work with or without a gun holster

Cons
  • Takes a bit to figure out the best fit

  • The opening for armor plates might be too small for some

3. Gray Tactical Gear Tactical Airsoft Outdoor Molle Breathable Vest – For Lightweight Use

Not all plate carrier vests have to feature massive bodies. This Gray Tactical Gear vest weighs a little over two pounds. The build has a thin enough of a profile for your use. The 600D polyester fabric adds a good body.

The waist body features adjustable straps that fit waists from 32 to 48 inches. The bands allow for a good fit, but it doesn’t take much time to get it ready.

The MOLLE setup features multiple bars for use. The bars are spaced evenly and feature enough openings to secure whatever you wish to carry.

The front compartments on the vest can handle a few magazines. You can get three M4 magazines added here. Other small bits of equipment can also fit.

The most important part of the vest is that it fits most plates well. The openings in the middle part provide a useful body without cracking the plates or other bodies. The padding all around ensures you’ll enjoy a better hold for your armor.

Pros
  • The foam insert in the middle helps the vest keep its shape

  • Has enough vents on the sides for keeping the user cool

  • The body is easy to wash

Cons
  • May not hold plates well for massive people

  • The Velcro fasteners might not secure some magazines

4. MG Flash Force Tactical CS Field Vest – For Flexible Needs

Having a tactical plate carrier that is adjustable is essential for use. You could use something that provides a flexible array. This MG Flash Force field vest features an adjustable body from 37 to 51 inches with a 600D polyester body producing a firm body.

The model also offers a height adjustment feature. The shoulder buckles are easy to loosen and reseal. The padding around the shoulders adds to your comfort, but the pads won’t take up lots of room.

A 10mm PE foam insert appears throughout the vest. The vest bends well without wearing out the fabric.

The bags and other components around the vest are removable. You can use three standard magazine pouches or a flashlight holder, but you can remove them.

The suspension belt on the front has magic tape and can use various patches. You can also remove this part.

The MOLLE compartments include ones on the shoulders. The shoulder compartments allow for you to carry communication devices and other lightweight things in moments.

The D rings on the top help you in securing additional items. The rings are for more massive items you need to carry. These parts are accessible enough to help you find things.

Pros
  • Easy to use the quick release buckle

  • The ammo holder works for most small arms materials

  • No Velcro corners mean no worrying about catching anything while moving

Cons
  • Heavy at nearly 3.5 pounds

  • The shoulder length may be tough to adjust

5. OneTigris Multicam Tactical Vest – For Multiple MOLLE Uses

Having enough MOLLE bars and components on your vest is essential to its use. The OneTigris Multicam tactical vest has many of these MOLLE parts for storage needs. The front body features three bars of MOLLE spots, a hook and loop space near the top, and a few shoulder pockets. You have enough room for carrying everything in your arsenal.

A loop panel lets you hold patches. The buckle also provides help for many uses, including for getting a better waist fit. The design allows for a few waist adjustments.

The 500D nylon body ensures the vest stays light in weight. The vest is less than three pounds, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to get something that provides a better fit. The body can also handle various armor plates without them adding lots of bulk.

The stitching features include nylon materials for added protection and support. The additional strings used around the body also provide enough of a build for keeping the vest intact. You’ll appreciate how well the garment can work for a while.

Pros
  • The MOLLE parts are easy to use and access

  • The Velcro parts don’t distract much

  • Does not produce lots of bulk when used accordingly

Cons
  • The waist only goes from 36 to 46 inches

  • Takes a bit to wash off

6. DLP Tactical Phantom Low Profile MOLLE Vest – For Extra Storage

It never hurts to have enough storage on hand for getting a vest working. This DLP vest features many storage components, most notably a built-in kangaroo pouch in the middle part. The added pouch has room for many things you wish to carry, including up to three 223 magazines. There’s also an admin pouch in the chest area to help you hold a phone and other items.

The loop closure cummerbund adds a comfortable look. The design also features a Kydex body for added reinforcement and support.

The MOLLE bands work for the inside and outside surfaces alike. All parts are accessible thanks to the fast on and off design. The bands on the ends and the hook and loop closures ensure you’ll get the vest on and off as necessary. The 360-degree coverage is helpful, but the breathability and flexibility of the vest make it all the more ideal for your competition and activity needs.

Everything works alongside a 600D nylon construction. The nylon fabric adds enough protection and comfort without being overly hot. The lightweight design is also a positive, as the vest weighs a little over two pounds. The layout is very comfortable for your use.

Pros
  • The shoulders are reinforced

  • Fits most forms well

  • Produces a low profile

Cons
  • The components for plates are hard to adjust

  • May not work for some high-capacity cartridges

7. ArcEnCiel Tactical Molle Vest – For Specific Needs

There are many unique needs that you might have when carrying items of all sorts. The ArcEnCiel Tactical Molle Vest is one option to have. The vest comes with multiple compartments suitable for many work needs.

You’ll find many compartments in the vest for everything from maps to magazines. There are also pockets dedicated to flashlights, communication devices, and even a medic pack. All of these points are easy to access from around the body. The pouches are also fully removable, so you can keep the weight of the vest down when you don’t need certain things.

The adjustable features on the vest make for a helpful item for all people. The vest fits waist sizes up to 55 inches. You can adjust the shoulder and waist parts alike for an optimal fit. The best part of this is that you won’t have anything loose coming off of the vest when you get the fit ready.

A jointing sheet can go in the middle part of the vest. The sheet adds more coverage without leaving any open spots all around.

Pros
  • The hydration pack on the back part works for most pouches

  • The MOLLE links are helpful for all the compartments

  • The 1000D nylon body resists tear and fatigue

Cons
  • May not take some plates in the front area

  • Takes a bit for the Velcro to adjust to the fit

8. Invenko Training Tactical Airsoft Molle Police Vest – For Heavy Duty Needs

Some tactical plate carrier vests work better when you’re trying to get into something heavier. Invenko’s vest gives you a full body that offers complete coverage all around. The garment has a 1000D nylon body with reinforced stitching. The powerful body works well in all situations, including in rough weather conditions. The design will not tear apart or wear easy. The connectors are also secure around the vest body without potentially getting in touch with something or getting stuck when being used.

There are also multiple pouches around the vest for various uses, from three magazine pouches to a medic pouch. Everything all around is removable.

The modular webbing helps you add more camo items. The Velcro fasteners around the ends also give you extra help with securing the materials you want to stick.

All of this works without feeling too hard to use. The nylon body doesn’t feel rough on your skin. The sides also provide plenty of room for breathing, thus keeping you from feeling too warm.

Pros
  • The waist side provides a good sticking point for keeping the body secure

  • The compartments are easy to add and remove

  • The latch buckles on the sides are easy to open and close

Cons
  • May not work well for some larger users

  • Does not adjust well on the shoulders

9. Jipemtra Tactical MOLLE Vest – For a Slim Layout

Sometimes it helps to have a vest that isn’t overly bulky. A slimmer vest makes it harder for you to be spotted in many environments. The Jipemtra tactical vest has a narrow middle body in the front. The small body provides extra coverage without adding lots of weight all around. You will like how well the vest feels on your body, but the best part is that it allows you to handle many different plates and materials for your protection.

The Oxford fabric material is a popular part of this vest. The nylon-like compound is carefully woven at 800D to create a thicker arrangement without tearing up. The waterproof design also gives you extra coverage without being hard to fit. The MOLLE system fits in well with the fabric to create spots for storing items.

A patch may also go on the vest to add a better all-around look. The design makes for a beautiful look, but the functionality adds to its quality.

The adjustable design of the vest makes it a winner. The shoulders can be adjusted from 8.5 to 16.5 inches, while the waist can go from 29 to 47 inches. The design is suitable for most users.

Pros
  • The chest coverage provides room for the entire area

  • Vents well on the sides

  • The shoulders are well-padded without feeling stiff

Cons
  • The shoulder adjustment straps are hard to use

  • May not do well with protecting any tech items you want to carry

Conclusion

A plate carrier vest is helpful for when you’re out in the open, but you also have to look at how well the vest is built and what you can expect out of your model. Your plate carrier vest has to be easy to wear and capable of supporting enough weight.

A vest needs to have enough storage compartments and support features for your use. It must also be comfortable and not cause you to become overly hot. You’ll have many choices to consider, so be sure you look well at what fits your needs. You’ll need something that is simple for use and gives you more control over whatever you’re trying to tote around.

Recommendation

Our choice for the best plate carrier vest is the GFIRE Tactical Vest Modular Vest. The vest has a great body that is suitable for multiple activities. The layout provides help for multiple sizes while featuring adjustment buckles and loops for keeping the vest from feeling loose. The pouches all around are easy to fill and remove as necessary. The MOLLE loops and parts also give you more control over how you’re going to carry items with you.

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