best plate carriers
Tactical Gear

10 Best Plate Carriers

Tactical plate carriers allow you to have extra protection without sacrificing mobility and function.

If you expect contact with the enemy, personal body protection is a must since protective plates defend your most vital organs.

Throughout this article, we’ll review the 10 best plate carriers on the market.

These are all used by both the military, as well as law enforcement agencies across the country.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Tactical Vest

There are a few things to look out for when choosing a tactical plate carrier.

Since this choice could be a life or death decision, it should not be taken lightly, and you need to do your research before committing to a purchase.

Materials

First, you need to ensure that your plate carrier is constructed out of quality materials designed to provide additional protection while not hindering your movement.

Reinforce nylon provides excellent durability while keeping you light on your feet.

Level of Protection

You have two options to choose from when deciding what tactical plate carrier to buy, side SAPIs or no side SAPIs?

Having side protective plates gives you even more protection against incoming fire by covering more surface area.

However, these plates add bulk, weight, and make your vest more uncomfortable.

If you need a low-profile look, skip the side plates.

Consider your firing position when deciding if you need side SAPIs.

When firing a rifle, you expose your side to incoming fire, but with a front-firing position, like when you are firing a sidearm, you are limiting your sides to exposure.

Capacity

Based on the attachment platform your plate carrier uses and its size will determine how much storage space you have for gear and magazines.

It is important to note that some plate carriers have additional rows of MOLLE/PALS webbing based on the size of the carrier.

Here are the 10 best plate carriers you can buy.

#1. Yakeda Phantom Modular Tactical Vest

yakeda phantom modular tactical plate carrier
Image: TacticalXMen.com
  • Colors Available: MultiCam, ACU Camo, Khaki, Black, Camo
  • Material: 1000 Denier Nylon
  • Sizes Available: One Size
  • Price: $108.99

The Yakeda Phantom Modular Tactical Vest Plate Carrier is an all in one package that will give you everything you need for a plate carrier minus the plates.

The plate carrier comes with 9 magazine pouches and 4 pistol magazine pouches with drain holes.

With 360 degrees of protection, you can easily insert standard front/back plates and side plates.

It is constructed out of 1000 denier nylon which includes abrasion resistance.

For your comfort, the vest includes detachable shoulder pads to help spread the weight of your load.

The vest is completely adjustable to help provide an excellent fit for maximum comfort.

The front of the vest includes a Velcro identification patch to customize your look.

Designed with the MOLLE mounting system, you can customize your loadout past the included magazine pouches.

You get serious value with this tactical plate carrier.

At only $108.99, you are getting an excellent package.

For an additional $179.99, you can also get front/back level IIIA plates or level III plates for $269.99.

You are also getting several colors/patterns to choose between.

It’s easily one of the best plate carriers available right now, and is available from Tactical X-Men.

Here’s where to buy it: www.TacticalXMen.com

#2. TacTec Plate Carrier

tactec plate carrier
Image: 511Tactical.com
  • Colors Available: Ranger Green, Black, Storm, Dark Navy, MultiCam
  • Material: 500 Denier Nylon
  • Sizes Available: One Size
  • Price: $199.99

5.11 Tactical’s TacTec Plate Carrier provides a lightweight design that enables you to move freely while having an extra layer of protection.

The plate carrier is adjustable to provide maximum comfort.

The cummerbunds, waist, and tension bands expand to provide an excellent fit while keeping it secure to your body.

With the included back yoke shoulder pads, it evenly distributes the weight of your gear for better comfort, which is a must for an all day wear.

Constructed with 500 denier nylon, it is resistant against tearing, rot, color damage, and water.

The plate carrier accepts medium and large 24mm SAPI plates for ballistic protection.

With a one-handed quick release, you can drop your vest quickly in case of an emergency.

If you become a casualty, the extendable GrabDrag handle allows emergency extraction to bring you to safety.

The vest includes MOLLE strips to allow you to customize your loadout to have quick access to your gear.

It is important to note that the MultiCam version costs an additional $29.99 than the base model.

The only difference is the color pattern.

It is available from 5.11 Tactical. Here’s where to buy the standard version: www.511Tactical.com

Here is the MultiCam version for $229.99: www.511Tactical.com

#3. Bigfoot GTPC Quick Release Lightweight Plate Carrier

bigfoot gtpc quick release lightweight plate carrier
Image: TacticalXMen.com
  • Colors Available: MultiCam, Ranger Green, Black, Gray
  • Material: 500 Denier Cordura
  • Sizes Available: One Size
  • Price: $159.99

Bigfoot GTPC Quick Release Lightweight Plate Carrier is designed to provide you with a durable rig that will last.

It includes 58 bar-tack points throughout the vest at stress points for extra durability.

Constructed out of 500 denier Cordura nylon, it is resistant against abrasion damage, rot, and color loss.

Even though the plate carrier is durable, it is still lightweight and comfortable.

Soft shoulder straps are built in to provide additional support while carrying a load.

The carrier is also fully adjustable to provide a customized fit for maximum comfort.

A unique feature of this vest is that it includes a front YKK zipper pouch to store personal items such as a cell phone.

The vest also includes a front Velcro identification patch for customization.

The side cummerbunds also include 3 compartments each for additional items such as magazines.

For an additional $179.99, you can also get front/back level IIIA plates or level III plates for $269.99.

It is available from Tactical X-Men. Here’s where to buy it: www.TacticalXMen.com

#4. Prime Plate Carrier

prime plate carrier
Image: 511Tactical.com
  • Colors Available: Ranger Green, Black, Kangaroo
  • Material: Not Specified
  • Sizes Available: S/M, L, XL
  • Price: $99.99

The Prime Plate Carrier by 5.11 Tactical provides a bare-bones system that has options to customize your loadout to complete your mission.

The base system is designed to be lightweight and comfortable.

It includes padded panels with stretchable materials to provide better breathability and comfort.

It has fully adjustable webbing shoulder straps and a waist belt for a perfect fit.

The plate carrier also includes a quick-release buckle to quickly take off your vest in an emergency.

The bare-bones design allows you to fully customize your kit how you see fit since it allows for easy installation of front/rear or hook/loop attachments.

With Gear Set compatibility, you can easily install a HEXGRID or MOLLE platform system for additional customization.

The carrier also includes attachments to combine the vest with an AMPC Pack.

5.11 Tactical’s Prime Plate Carrier may seem underwhelming at first, but it truly shines when you start to customize your loadout with whatever you want.

A downside is that every Gear Set attachment will roughly run about $20 – $40 each.

For a front/back HEXGRID or MOLLE set up with the carrier, you are looking at more like $140 for the vest, which is still an excellent price.

It is available from 5.11 Tactical. Here’s where to buy it: www.511Tactical.com

#5. Grey Ghost Gear – SMC Plate Carrier

grey ghost gear plate carrier
Image: Brownells.com
  • Colors Available: MultiCam, Black, Coyote Brown
  • Material: Laser Cut Laminate Nylon
  • Sizes Available: One Size
  • Price: $277.84 – $296.24

Grey Ghost Gear’s Shoot, Move, Communicate (SMC) Plate Carrier is lightweight and combat-ready.

At only 1.5 lbs. (without plates), this plate carrier is ultra-mobile and provides excellent protection.

It is constructed out of laser-cut laminate nylon that is abrasion, chemical, and water resistant.

The plate carrier can handle the standard 10” x 12” plates and most large SAPI plates.

The MOLLE/PALS platform allows you to customize your loadout, and the cummerbunds are also equipped with MOLLE webbing.

With a breathable mesh design, the cummerbund allows for maximum ventilation for your comfort.

The moisture-wicking design keeps you cool and dry in the hot summer sun.

An excellent feature is the front kangaroo pouch that allows you to easily store maps, pens, a cell phone, or other small items.

A unique feature is the ability to attach SMC back panels with the included YKK zipper assembly.

These attachments include an assault pack, assaulter panel, MOLLE panel, and a tall zipper adapter.

All of the attachments are sold separately.

The SMC Plate Carrier by Grey Ghost Gear may be more expensive than some of the other plate carriers on the list, but you get what you pay for, and this product is loaded with features.

While it’s one of the more expensive ones, it’s easily considered one of the best plate carriers on the market in 2021.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#6. Grey Ghost Gear – Minimalist Plate Carrier

minimalist plate carrier
Image: Brownells.com
  • Colors Available: Black, Coyote Brown, MultiCam
  • Material: 70 Denier Pack Cloth
  • Sizes Available: One Size
  • Price: $116 – $125

The primary focus of the Minimalist Plate Carrier by Grey Ghost Gear is to provide you what you need and nothing more.

A simple design provides a no nonsense approach to personal protection.

With lightweight materials, you can stay on the move without getting bogged down.

The 70 denier pack cloth provides extra protection against abrasion damage.

The vest also promotes smooth breathability and ventilation to keep you comfortable.

It has 6 rows of MOLLE/PALS webbing to provide you the ability to customize your loadout.

The MOLLE system will allow you to carry the essentials such as an IFAK, magazines, or a sidearm holster with ease.

The plate carrier can fit the standard 10” x 12” plates or the large ESAPI plates.

The inside of the plate pockets are lined to provide additional abrasion resistance.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#7. Velocity Systems – Assault Plate Carrier

velocity systems assault
Image: Brownells.com
  • Colors Available: Black, Coyote Brown, MultiCam, Ranger Green, Wolf Grey
  • Material: Not Specified
  • Sizes Available: S/M, L/XL
  • Price: $220.99

The Assault Plate Carrier by Velocity Systems is designed to provide you a high degree of mobility while giving you enough space to attach your tactical gear.

The MOLLE/PALS mounting system allows you to attach whatever accessory you want for a custom loadout.

You can store a serious amount of gear on you while still staying mobile.

It can carry ICW ESAPI, Stand-Alone, and Swimmer-cut plates.

With CBN3 plate pocket cummerbunds, you can equip 6” x 6” side plates and equip additional MOLLE equipment such as a dump pouch.

The vest is fully adjustable for a comfortable fit.

The cummerbund is adjustable up to 50” to provide an excellent fit.

Like any other Velocity Systems product, it is 100% made in the United States. All craftsmanship and materials are sourced domestically.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#8. TACLITE Plate Carrier

taclite plate carrier
Image: 511Tactical.com
  • Colors Available: Sandstone
  • Material: 500 Denier Nylon
  • Sizes Available: One Size
  • Price: $74.49

The TACLITE Plate Carrier by 5.11 Tactical is a simple plate carrier that comes with the quality 5.11 is known for.

The lightweight design is crafted with 500 denier nylon to provide abrasion resistance.

The adaptable design is fully adjustable to provide an excellent fit.

It is compatible with the standard 10” x 12” plates and includes a laser-cut MOLLE/5.11 SlickStick web platform.

You get a functional no-frill design with the TACLITE Plate Carrier, and it is perfect if you are looking for a basic plate carrier.

If you want more customization go with the Prime Plate Carrier for an extra $25.

It is available from 5.11 Tactical. Here’s where to buy it: www.511Tactical.com

#9. Velocity Systems – Scarab Light Plate Carrier

velocity systems scarab lpc
Image: Brownells.com
  • Colors Available: Black, Coyote Brown, MultiCam, Ranger Green
  • Material: Not Specified
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL
  • Price: $299.00

Velocity Systems’ Scarab Light Plate Carrier is designed to provide excellent shoulder movement while giving you excellent protection.

The plate carrier comes with a patented specialized swivel D-Ring shoulder straps to give you more mobility which accommodates for different neck and shoulder sizes.

The ULTRAcomp shoulder straps are also padded, making it the best plate carrier in terms of comfort.

A unique feature of the Scarab Light Plate Carrier is that it comes with a rear zipper to allow custom back panels.

The front of the vest includes an identification panel to allow you to customize your look.

You can completely customize your loadout with the installed MOLLE mounting system.

This vest is 100% made in the United States. All craftsmanship and materials are sourced domestically.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#10. NCSTAR Plate Carrier Vest

ncstar pcv
Image: PalmettoStateArmory.com
  • Colors Available: Black
  • Material: Nylon
  • Sizes Available: One Size
  • Price: $57.99

The NCSTAR Plate Carrier Vest is the cheapest plate carrier on the list and comes with standard features.

Constructed out of black nylon, the plate carrier is lightweight and flexible.

The plate carrier comes with PALS webbing for additional customization of your loadout.

The cummerbund is adjustable from 32” to 48,” and the shoulder straps are fully adjustable to provide a comfortable fit.

This plate carrier fits the standard 10” x 12” body armor plates and includes hook and loop panels.

The front identification panel allows you to add your name tape or other custom logos to your vest.

If you are looking for a bargain plate carrier that still has the options you expect from name brand companies, this may be the right option.

It is available from Palmetto State Armory. Here’s where to buy it: www.PalmettoStateArmory.com

Conclusion

And there you have it, the 10 best plate carriers on the market for 2021. As we mentioned earlier in the article, if you’re looking for an effective piece of body armor, all of these are a great fit.

They are military-grade, compatible with various accessories from dozens of brands, and are perfect for those on a budget.

See Also

10 Best Tactical Vests

5.11 Tactical Military Discount

10 Best Self Defense Knives For Concealed Carry

References / Resources

How To Setup A Plate Carrier

Body Armor is Legal in Which States?

Technical Manual, Operators Manual for Soldier Plate Carrier System (SPCS)

 
Rob V.
Best Plate Carrier

Best Plate Carrier

4.5 out of 5 (77 Ratings)

If you're looking for the best plate carrier for your money, you need to see our list. We reviewed 10 of the top-rated plate carriers on the market, all of which will help you get the job done.

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