Best Plate Carrier Features and Accessories
Ballistic body armor plates are inserted and worn in plate carriers, but plate carriers are also responsible for a lot more than just carrying plates. Modern plate carriers have a variety of options for customization and are important for carrying other tactical gear that may be critical for mission success or survival.
Of course, features and attachments vary from plate carrier to plate carrier. Choosing and configuring your ideal plate carrier setup is an important piece of the puzzle that could mean the difference between mission success or failure, or even the difference between life or death.
As body armor technology and R&D continue to advance, so do plate carrier construction and features. Let’s take a look at some of the best plate carrier features and accessories available today.
Many users want a plate carrier that is customizable enough for different situations. Sometimes a situation may call for a light, stripped, slick kit with soft body armor. Other heavy-duty situations may require a completely loaded hard armor kit with tactical gear, mag pouches, holsters and more. With most vests nowadays, users have the ability for complete customization. Plate carriers should also be sustainable enough for upgrades and future body armor advancements.
The Spartan Armor Systems Swimmers Cut BCS Plate Carrier is designed for maximum versatility, with MODULAR web attachment points on entire vest as well as a full cummerbund for extra equipment.
Detachable cummerbunds are easily removable pieces of equipment, with velcro or MOLLE webbing, for mounting extra tactical gear and equipment. Plate carriers use cummerbunds for multiple configuration ability and quick access. As an example, you could have a cummerbund with tactical equipment that is only essential in case of a fire or medical emergency. In case of that particular situation, you could attach the cummerbund for a completely customized configuration.
For a heavy-duty, versatile premium plate carrier, check out Spartan Armor Systems Leonidas Plate Carrier, featuring a removable cummerbund. This is one of the hottest plate carriers on the market.
Plate carriers are advantageous to keep you in the fight, but what about if you’re hit or wounded? A common feature of most plate carriers is a drag handle, which is typically placed on the back neck of the plate carrier, although some carriers may have the drag handle attached to the waist or chest. The drag handle is a strap on the exterior of the vest that allows another person to hold and drag the wearer to safety. This is one of the simplest features of a plate carrier, but if ever needed, it may also be the most important.
A plate carrier is worn as a method of protection, but there are situations when you need to get out of it as soon as possible. A quick release is designed to break down the plate carrier, removing it from the torso of the wearer. To remove the vest with the quick release, the wearer pulls tabs or unclips buckles, which separate the panels of the carrier. This feature is critical if your plate carrier ever gets caught on something or if you need to lighten your load for a quick getaway.
MOLLE Webbing System
The MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) system is now the golden standard for attaching necessary tactical equipment and accessories to plate carriers. MOLLE provides modern modularity using webbing equipment and heavy nylon straps that allow the wearer to customize their kit with tactical gear, pouches and accessories. It can also adjust well, like when attaching pouches and other add-ons.
A loaded plate carrier can place a lot of weight on the wearer’s shoulders, especially when loaded with hard body armor. This load can be uncomfortable, particularly when you’re wearing your vest for extended periods of time. As a result, many plate carriers now include integrated shoulder pads. These shoulder pads are usually made with foam or gel with breathable layers of mesh fabric for maximum comfort. Some plate carriers contain detachable shoulder pads that can be fastened to the shoulder straps, while others are attached at the top interior of the shoulder area.
Hydration / Communication Compliant
It’s not often that you’ll find a plate carrier that has a storage compartment for a hydration bladder, but most quality carriers do shoulder straps for clipping in an external bladder, along with webbing and straps that are specifically designed for running drinking tubes and comms wires. This is something that many users forget to look for when selecting a plate carrier.
Pouches and Attachments
So now that you have identified your optimal plate carrier system, what attachments are going to be the best for your unique needs? These attachments are for quick access on your person, as opposed to tactical gear that doesn’t need to be at the ready and can be placed in your bag or pack.
If you’re going to be carrying any type of firearm, you’re going to need pouches for additional magazines should you find yourself in harm’s way. Mag pouches come in all different sizes and materials, depending on your weapon, circumstances and preferences.
The HSGI® Double-Decker TACO™ Mag Pouch holds a pistol magazine and rifle magazine. This is the perfect mag pouch for streamlined kits that want the most impact in the least amount of space.
A pistol holster is the container which holds and sometimes conceals a pistol. Many holsters have a hook or other means to be attached to the wearer’s belt or plate carrier.
It is also essential for the holster to let the user quickly draw their sidearm whenever needed. It is up to the user which holster they are comfortable with, as some users are okay with holsters that gradually loosen when a gun is intently pulled out. Others involve special locks or techniques of drawing.
The Condor HT Holster mounts horizontally on the MOLLE system with a wrap-around design that fits a pistol with mounted laser or flashlight.
For military, law enforcement and more, a flashlight is a piece of tactical gear that should be on your kit. Many plate carriers have the ability to mount flashlights, but that may not always be the best configuration for your needs or environment. Versatile pouches like the HSGI® Extended Pistol TACO™ MOLLE can be used in a variety of different ways, like holding a flashlight or a pistol mag.
Zip ties can be donned on any plate carrier with MOLLE system, but if you’re carrying actual handcuffs, you’re going to need a pouch specifically designed for your needs. The Condor Handcuff Pouch stores two pairs handcuffs and includes a pull tab flip-open design for quick access.
Spartan Armor Systems carries a wide variety of premium, configurable tactical plate carriers that are trusted by law enforcement, first responders and military members. For more information about plate carriers, attachments or to find the carrier that is right for you, contact us by calling 520-396-3335 or write to us online using our contact form.