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7 Best Plate Carriers: Minimalist to Heavy [Guide]

If you have plates, you need a plate carrier. And we have the details on the best plate carriers we recommend -- from minimalist to full load!

Do you know what’s amazing? Armor and armor carriers and how awesome they’ve become. It’s a fascinating world.

In 2009, I was issued my first plate carrier on my first deployment to Afghanistan. The Eagle Plate Carrier was my first experience…and it wasn’t a good one.

Travis M240B Machine Gun Military
Lugging a M240B

It was not comfortable, lacked durability, and took some hacking to make work. Fortunately, that’s changed significantly over the last few years.

1. Original Ferro Slickster with Spiritus Microfight
Original Ferro Slickster with Spiritus Microfight

Since 2009, the plate carrier game has changed dramatically. These nifty pieces of gear got smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable.

Designed for modularity, they come in handy for a variety of mission sets.

Ferro Concepts Rig White Claws
They carry important things…like White Claws.

The market is also massive, and we know that can be a bit overwhelming when you’re shopping.

As such, we’ve put together a list of the best plate carriers on the market.

While I would love to insert my own bias into what I think is the best, I shoved that aside and collected models serving alongside police and military forces worldwide.

So keep reading if you’re in search of the perfect plate carrier to pair with your plates.

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Best Minimalist Plate Carrier

    Crye Precision JPC 2.0

    Lightweight, high quality

  2. Best Low-Profile

    Ferro Concepts Slickster Carrier

    Lightweight, low-profile, thin.

  3. Best for Heavy Loadouts

    Velocity System Scarab LT

    Handles heavier loads, comfortable shoulder pads

  4. Best for Simple Setups

    5.11 All Mission Plate Carrier

    Easy to use, Hex Grid webbing mounts accessories at different angles

  5. Best for Beginners

    Mayflower Assault Plate Carrier

    Simple and easy to set up, durable

  6. Most Options

    Spiritus Systems LV-119

    Lots of options, build it like you want it.

  7. Best Full-Size Plate Carrier

    Shellback Tactical Banshee Elite 2.0

    Full-size, premium design.

Best Plate Carriers

1. Crye Precision JPC 2.0

Crye Precision, the favorite brand of all tactical hipsters, creates some of the best stuff on the market.

Hipster
Ohh you hipsters…

They charge a premium for it, but it’s well worth the money.

And it’s often the choice of America’s most elite troops.

JPC 2.0 in the wild
JPC 2.0 in the wild (Photo: Crye Precision via Facebook)

There are lots of impressive things to say about the JPC 2.0Jumpable Plate Carrier.

But to me, the most impressive part of the JPC 2.0 is the fact it weighs just a little over a pound.

In the armor world, that means it’s a minimalist plate carrier that prioritizes mobility over bulk.

As a guy who wore a plate carrier professionally, I can appreciate the lightweight design.

JPC 2.0

Users can easily customize the JPC 2.0 and outfit it with numerous accessories ranging from mag pouches to side plates, zip-on panels, various flaps, and more.

A personal favorite is the side pull mag pouch setup.

Regardless of how it’s used, the JPC 2.0 provides an extremely high-quality plate carrier. It’s my personal favorite and probably one of the most vetted plate carriers on the market.

Good thing
Good thing

(But man, is it tough to shove a plate in these things.)

Best Minimalist Plate Carrier
240
at Evike

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

And ironically…Evike (a huge airsoft ecommerce store) has the best access to real JPC 2.0 carriers.

Have you tried the JCP? If so, let us know what you think by rating it below.

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (346)

Your Rating?

2. Ferro Concepts Slickster

Remember how I was impressed by the JPC weight? Well, I was blown away by the Ferro Slickster.

It weighs just 0.8-pounds. That’s it.

As the name implies, Slickster means the carrier comes slick. As in, it’s not covered with MOLLE, at least until you want it to be.

1. Original Ferro Slickster with Spiritus Microfight
Ferro Slickster with Spiritus Microfight

You can run it slick with a gear belt for a minimalist setup, or you can go whole hog with all the accessories for the ADAPT line of gear.

Users can add all sorts of sweet stuff like cummerbunds with built-in mag pouches, MOLLE panels, and the like.

Advanced Slickster with mags

That said, the Ferro Slickster might be best used for low-profile stuff.

It’s small, lightweight, and relatively thin. So, maybe toss on the cumberbund with pouches and call it a day.

You can run it heavy, but that’s not where it shines.

If you need a covert carrier that can occasionally go overt, then you’ll be quite happy with your selection.

Spiritus Microfight Attached to Ferro Slickster

With the AXL AVP and MOLLE ADAPT chest panel, you can run placards from Haley, Spiritus, and most other placard styles.

This slick carrier provides the lowest profile option possible while still retaining hard armor capabilities.

Best Low-Profile
159
at Tactical Distributors

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Read our review on the Ferro Concepts Advanced Slickster and the Ferro Concepts Slickster & Spiritus Systems Micro Fight Chest Rig for more on this rad carrier.

3. Velocity System Scarab LT

If you want an overt plate carrier that doesn’t harp on minimalism, then the Velocity Systems Scarab LT is the one.

This plate carrier is a full-sized kit designed for extended missions. It’s not as sleek and sexy, but it’s a big boy and does big boy things.

Velocity Systems Scarab LT
Velocity Systems Scarab LT (Photo: Warrior Poet Society)

The Scarab LT handles heavier loadouts better than your minimalist designs, granting more room to fit a real combat load, IFAK, comms gear, and beyond.

NPCs are great until you’re packing a SAW and carrying several drums worth of ammo.

All that extra size allows the Scarab LT to feel quite comfortable. The shoulders, in particular, provide a lot of freedom.

The unique swivel shoulder straps make moving your upper body easy. And they work well when shooting in weird positions. 

Speaking of, and this might be the big guy in me talking, but I find shouldering a rifle in this kit very easy.

Like most modern plate carriers, you get an abundance of options for stripping the kit down and dressing it up as needed.

Scarab LT in the wild

Remove or add front and ABC panels and cummerbunds when necessary. Zipping on a back panel provides a good degree of convenience as well.

When you need a full-on, infantry-ready fighting kit, the Velocity Systems Scarab LT checks that box.

Best for Heavy Loadouts
329
at Velocity Systems

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

4. 5.11 Tactical All Missions Plate Carrier

Plug-and-play can be invaluable for those who want a simple option.

If you just want a plate carrier without choosing piece after piece for it, then the 5.11 Tactical All Missions Plate Carrier provides an option.

5.11 Tactical AMP Plate Carrier loadout
5.11 Tactical AMP Plate Carrier loadout

The AMP offers you a package that strips down or builds up for a versatile mission set.

Reduce it to just two plate bags or tack on an internal and external cummerbund for carrying a fighting load.

5.11 Tactical AMP Plate Carrier all parts
5.11 Tactical AMP Plate Carrier

It’s quite modular, providing users an entirely new type of webbing.

The Hex Grid webbing allows you to mount accessories at a variety of angles for optimized access.

And the kangaroo pouch and cummerbund bring a wide variety of pockets to carry a half dozen magazines, tourniquets, etc.

5.11 Tactical AMP Plate Carrier kangaroo pouch and mag pouches

This carrier also provides plenty of room to mount all your goodies — from admin, pouches to drink holsters and beyond.

Internally it’s quite comfortable with big pads. You can remove the panels, but man, they make a big difference comfort-wise.

Adjustments can be made, but it takes some effort to do so.

Shooting with the 5.11 Tactical AMP Plate Carrier

The good news is the shoulder straps won’t fail. Plus, those thick and wide shoulder straps provide tons of comfort, even when the weight of the carriers starts to ratchet up.

It’s a complete plate carrier option that makes it easy to set up out of the box.

Best for Simple Setups
280
at 5.11 Tactical

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

To go more in-depth with the 5.11 Tactical AMP, read our full review here!

5. Mayflower Assault Plate Carrier

Let’s line up another plug-and-play option for those not looking to pick and choose pieces.

The Mayflower Assault Plate Carrier allows you to click add to cart and buy it now — all that’s left to do is add the plates!

Mayflower APC (Photo: Mayflower via Facebook)

It’s a simple but well-made platform.

You can choose between three options of cummerbund when ordering. One gives you three pockets for mags with standard MOLLE, another is a low-profile elastic, and the final is low-profile elastic with pouches.

The front kangaroo pouch provides three pouches for mags, while the generous MOLLE ladders make it easy to add your goodies.

Though the APC might be considered jumpable…it’s a little bigger than your average minimalist plate carrier.

Mayflower Assault Plate Carrier in the wild (Photo: Mayflower via Facebook)

But it provides plenty of protection. On top of your front and rear plate bags, you can have optional side plates. With four plates, you do feel like an APC.

You can feel a little more comfortable loading down the Mayflower APC with gear.

The velcro material doesn’t feel like it will easily separate from the kangaroo pouch when loaded down.

You can also add placards if you so choose — but the vest is more than enough.

The Mayflower APC delivers an excellent plug-and-play option that’s extremely well made, durable, and comfortable.

Best for Beginners
259
at Velocity Systems

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

6. Spiritus Systems LV-119

The Spriritus Systems LV-119 is not what I’d call plug-and-play. In fact, it’s pretty far from it.

You see, Spiritus likes to do this thing where they sell the things they make piece by piece.

No “Buy It Now” option here.

The good news is the LV-119 receives constant updates with new pieces and parts that keep the kit modern and evolving.

Also, you get the chance to build the LV-119 of your dreams…choose the front plate bag, the rear plate bag, and a cummerbund option.

Spiritus LV119 Front View
Spiritus LV-119

Your options include overt, covert, and assault options, and you can opt for various flaps, cores, mag pouches, and cummerbunds for multiple setups.

Users can mix and match overt, covert, and beyond to get the setup they need for whatever their mission requires.

Maybe you need to be sneaky…maybe you need to go fight in Fallujah…basically, it’s like the AR-15 of plate carriers.

The LV-119 brings an extremely modern design that makes it easy to route wires for comms, antennas, and other fun stuff.

Spiritus LV119 Superman
Sneaky!

You can also use aftermarket placards like the Haley D3CRM Micro, the Spiritus Micro Fight Chest Rig, and more.

Spiritus LV119 Loaded
Spiritus LV-119 Loaded

Like most modern plate carriers, it’s jumpable or minimalist in design.

So, you can move and groove without having to fight your plate carrier along the way.

Most Options
285
at Spiritus Systems

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Do we have a review of this…of course we do! Check out our full look at the Spiritus Systems LV-119!

7. Shellback Tactical Banshee Elite 2.0

The Shellback Tactical Banshee Elite 2.0 offers a premium-grade plate carrier with a full-size that still allows for mobility.

It’s well designed for use in and out of vehicles, and users can ditch the cummerbund for a strap system creating a minimalist style carrier.

Shellback Banshee Elite 2 Grey
Shellback Banshee Elite 2.0

Side plates are optional. The 2.0’s redesigned shoulders provide a bit more support for all that extra weight.

Unlike the older design, the new shoulder straps are wider and padded. This means your shoulders don’t die in the first 10 minutes of wear.

The Hypalon shoulder straps also make it easier to route cables for comms.

(Photo: Shellback Tactical via Facebook)

Shellback Tactical eliminated the older hook-and-loop admin pouch with a zippered pouch. This provides easier access to your admin gear.

It also kills the tell-tale noise of hook and loop going squicchhhh.

The cummerbund provides three M4 mag size pockets on each side. And you can carry a fighting load without attaching a pouch!

However, you won’t want to…they’re nice, but reaching the rearmost pouches will be a little challenging when you need a speedy reload.

Luckily, you have plenty of MOLLE ladders.

The MOLLE is quite tough and can support the weight of your fighting load.

Not to mention, 3D padded internal mesh provides plenty of comfort for long-term wear. After eight hours of wear, you’ll love that padded mesh.

Shellback Tactical took the feedback on their original Banshee, and the Banshee Elite 2.0 shows the value of experience.

It’s a fantastic option ready for nearly any mission set.

Best Full-Size Plate Carrier
286
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Conclusion

In 2009, no one owned armor on the private level. But since then, armor and armor carriers have become massively popular.

Most gun enthusiasts likely own some form of armor or are at least thinking about it.  

5.11 Tactical AMP Plate Carrier

If you fall into the latter category, our selections should help you narrow down your search. But remember, once you buy everything…Go out and shoot with your armor!

Test how the armor and your setup work on the range before you rely on it. Kit means nothing if you can’t use it!

What’s your armor setup? Let us know in the comments below. We love to shoot things, and body armor is no exception. So, check out our results after days of shooting Hard Plates & Soft Armor as well as Ceramic & UHMWPE.

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11 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    John

    I mostly shoot CZs. Does that mean I should get the Crye Precision rig?

    August 1, 2022 11:38 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ryan

    Educate me. Sorry noob question here, but figured I’d make a fool of myself here before emailing a dealer. So looking at Esstac’s chest rig. Will this be compatible with their plate carrier? As in just sort of plug and play? Thanks, I’ll go back and sit in the corner quietly.

    December 24, 2021 3:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Ryan,

      Compatibility is a tricky question. You could wear one of their chest rigs like the Triple Piggy if you kept the plate carrier slick, though that's not an optimal solution. Usually, a placard setup will be more "plug and play" if that makes sense.

      While you could wear the chest rig over the plate carrier, it's not strictly attached to it. Whereas a placard (called panels on the Esstac website) are designed to attached to a plate carrier with clips and Velcro. This is a much cleaner setup (fewer straps) and much more secure.

      December 24, 2021 9:14 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mike

    You guys try out the T-Rex Arms carrier yet?

    September 11, 2021 7:08 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mars

    First Spear is a big name in the industry if just a little pricey. Marine Core opted to go with them and their tubes system.

    Direct Action Tactical also makes some good sturdy gear.

    Bottom line is the industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 10 years and we have a plethora of excellent choices.

    It’s not enough to wear the stuff. Has to stand up to running, gunning AND being used as a drag handle if you go down. Sorry gents. Even though they have improved, Condor doesn’t have the QC for all that. See double bar tack stitching. However, if it fits your use case, stay deadly.

    August 29, 2021 9:16 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robb

    I own a condor for a fullsize rig. For what I want its durable enough and just fine. Iv run about 50 miles in it so far and its held up.

    I keep my plates in a 5.11 Prime next to my bed. Its all velcro. Made some adjustments to it though. Used industrial sewing machine to sew the velcro cumberband straps into one piece so that the cumberband now only comes on and off from the buckles. That way when its buckled im not just relying and the velcro to keep my carrier on my body bc its one tight circle around me attached by the buckles on each side. Keeps the fit right overtime putting on and off. And I sewed a simple plate carrier “sack” or cover if you will thats cordura that can cover the whole carrier and protect the velcro if i want to run it slick but protect it from crawling around etc.

    August 29, 2021 8:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Robb

      I’ve also just sewn my own carriers from start to finish with ballistic 1050D and industrial nylon thread. Takes a while. But if you got patients and a little experience its not to hard. Fun and you get to make it however you want.

      August 30, 2021 6:47 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mike

    I run a Velocity LWPC from OP Tactical, and I feel like it does light but sturdy very well. It handles the weight of what I want to carry better than any of the minimalist designs I tried.

    August 29, 2021 5:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Alternator

    I'll kick your sissy butt while wearing a CONDOR, boy!

    August 29, 2021 4:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Andrei

      HELL YEH, BORTHER! CONODOR BEST BRAND!

      August 29, 2021 7:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris

    No Agilite? You need to get out more!

    August 29, 2021 3:26 pm
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