Top 11 Best Plate Carriers in 2021

Plate carriers have become more and more popular, and now are a great safeguard not only for military personnel but also for civilians. If you're looking for the best ballistic vest to add to your tactical gear, you've come to the right place! Bulletproof Zone sells the best plate carriers for your needs as well as Plate Carrier Accessories on the market today.

We'll take you through our picks for some of the best plate carriers you can buy plus teach you the basics of plate carriers, and how to choose the best one. Let's go!


A fully loaded plate carrier and a black ballistic helmet

What is a Plate Carrier? How is it different from a Ballistic Vest?

If these two categories confuse you, you're not alone! That's because plate carriers are a type of ballistic vest. Ballistic vests are a type of body armor that encompasses all sorts of protective vests, such as bulletproof vests and kevlar vests. A plate carrier is unique as it allows a wearer to load plates of various protective levels into different pockets and pouches on the vest. The plates also come in a range of materials to offer lighter weight or higher-grade safety to a wearer depending on the danger of the environment. A wearer can optimize the plate carrier to fit their specific needs in each situation. They can be more adaptable but also heavier compared to other types of ballistic vests. Good plate carriers offer a wearer versatility, without sacrificing protection, especially when integrating MOLLE systems.


Bulletproof Zone's Top 11 Plate Carriers

From a military-level tactical plate carrier to a lightweight, high-quality vest, Bulletproof Zone has the carrier that can get the job done at a price you can afford and the comfort you need. Here are our top selection of plate carriers as chosen by you!


1. Spartan Armor Systems Level III Shooters Cut Plate Carrier Package

 Spartan Armor Systems Level III Shooters Cut Plate Carrier Package in Black

Whether for on-the-job safety gear or just being prepared for a life-threatening event, this Spartan Armor Systems plate carrier package was one of the top products for 2020. As an all-in-one package, the set comes with four lab-certified Level III Omega plates: two 10x12 plates for protecting the chest and back as well as two 6x6 side plates. Also included in this special package is a free set of shoulder pads. This vest was designed to give professionals the best protection with 860 Denier Poly construction without compromising the fit. Adjustments can be made with the MOLLE and Velcro system so that the carrier fits sizes medium to XL, ensuring quality and comfort for you or when shared with loved ones. The MOLLE system makes the carrier completely customizable and features an emergency drag handle. Wear over soft armor or uniforms for the best safety tactical gear can provide!


2. Protection Group Denmark U.L.V. Plate Carrier



One of Protection Group Denmark’s latest designs, the U.L.V. plate carrier (which stands for Ultra, Low Visibility, and Versatile) and coincidentally also means wolf in Danish. This carrier is made with Honeywell Spectra Centurition™, making it 35-40% lighter than traditional MOLLE plate carriers. In addition, it is abrasion-resistant, cut-resistant, and water-resistant, making it great for a variety of situations and environments. The cummerbund is made of Milliken Tegris™, a lightweight fabric designed for heavy duty, high performance work even at -40°C, to increase stability and weight distribution without causing the belt to "sag." This means improved protection and longevity for the vest. The plate carrier also features a standard free placard and shoulder sleeves made with NYCO Cordura fabric, a modular quick release which can be added in either side of the shoulders, and 10mm removable foam for added comfort. 100% designed and manufactured in Denmark, this innovative and high-end body armor won't break the bank and is definitely one to check out.


3. Spartan Armor AR550 Level III+ Shooters Cut Plate Carrier Package

Spartan Armor AR550 Level III+ Shooters Cut Plate Carrier Package in Tan

Third on the list of best plate carriers is the AR550 Level III+ Spartan Armor Systems package. Built to handle long days of wear, free of discomfort, this MOLLE system plate carrier easily adjusts between medium and XL and accommodates Steel Core armor plates. Many users are impressed with the level of comfort this plate carrier provides. Cummerbund holds the two 6x6 plates for the side that comes in the set along with the two AR550 Level III+ 10x12 Shooter Cut Plates for safeguarding the chest and back. Ready to wear straight out of the box, this plate carrier package is 10% more effective at handling ballistic threats than other Spartan body armor, like rifle threats. Designed with a core hardness of approximately 545-560 BHN, higher velocity threats are taken care of. This plate carrier is made in four stylish color and size options and comes with free shoulder pads for durable comfort.


4.AR500 Armor Veritas Plate Carrier & Armor Loadout

AR500 Armor Veritas Plate Carrier & Armor Loadout in Multicam

With the AR500 Armor Veritas system, you get quality protection with a modular plate carrier that is both finely crafted and affordable. The design of the plate carrier provides a minimalistic approach to survival gear, with a smaller size for tactical gear that does not compromise important function and carrying capabilities. Perfect for security personnel, the soft material choices make sure you keep a low profile while being lightweight and ventilated for comfortable long-term wear. In addition, removable mesh padded shoulder pads and broad 2” side buckles securely attach adjustable straps with the option of removal should the wearer want extra comfort with the Veritas cummerbund. The construction of the plate carrier is made up of genuine 500D Cordura nylon, allowing for survival in any situation with weight reduction and durability construction components. Ordering options, like the addition of a deluxe pouch kit or ultimate pouch kit, make it unique with features like tactical multi-caliber magazine pouches for pistols, rifles, and shotguns as well as general pouches and IFAK accessories.


5. Spartan Armor Systems Level III Swimmers Cut Plate Carrier Package

Spartan Armor Systems Level III Swimmers Cut Plate Carrier Package in Tan

The Spartan Armor Systems Level III Swimmers Cut Plate Carrier Package offers one of the most useful plate carriers for users who need to get tactical gear with weight for use during fitness or recreational activities, such as at the shooting range. The set includes an adjustable plate carrier that is quick and easy to use right after purchase. Two Level III 10x12 Swimmers Cut plates cover the chest and back while two Level IIII 6x6 plates offer side protection. Customers also have the option to get a base coat on their AR500 armor plate products that aesthetically modifies the plate carrier and offers corrosion resistance. Choose between four colors to meet any need or weight, whether for low profile or easy-to-spot situational preparedness, with this black, tan, olive drab, and gray adjustable size plate carrier.


6. Spartan Armor AR550 Level III+ Body Armor and Sentinel Swimmers Plate Carrier Package

Spartan Armor AR550 Level III+ Body Armor and Sentinel Swimmers Plate Carrier Package in Spartan Green

Wondering if a plate carrier will fit just right? The Spartan Sentinel Plate Carrier offers unbeatable benefits and a range of customizable features to provide the best plate carrier protection on the market for all sizes. The AR550 III+ Omega Swimmers Cut body armor plates come with a base coat and can be ordered as a single curve or the upgraded triple curve design. Built to last and provide solid security for years to come, the soft plate carrier adjusts to meet chest size needs from 38” to 48” in the color of your choice. Anti-slip shoulder padding with Velcro, side release buckles on the internal wait strap, and emergency drag make sure you are ready for any serious encounter. There are also several areas with Velcro for attaching accessories or patches and a removable cummerbund with side plate pockets capable of holding 6x6 or 6x8 plate armor. More importantly, this bottom loading plate carrier weighs just over 2lbs. Explore the upgrade options for the curve, coating, side plates, and trauma pads to see just how versatile and accommodating this lightweight plate carrier is for all your tactical gear needs.


7. Spartan Armor AR550 Level III+ Body Armor & Sentinel Plate Carrier Package

Spartan Armor AR550 Level III+ Body Armor & Sentinel Plate Carrier Package in Black

When freedom of movement and cool technology is key, the Spartan Sentinel Plate Carrier offers the best of both worlds. Padded mesh separators on the interior of the plate carrier give the wearer more airflow and comfort when wearing. The 1000 denier material allows for prolonged wear that is sure to stay in place and provides strong AR 550 Level III+ protection. Included in the package are two 10x12 single curve body armor plates and two 6x6 plates for sides, each containing a base coat. Full coat fragment mitigation can be added as an upgraded to ensure the highest quality for risk prevention. The anti-slip shoulder padding using Velcro keeps the carrier in place while side release buckles on the internal waist strap ensure quick release for critical situations. A durable emergency handle is another safety feature of the plate carrier. Velcro can be found on the chest and back of the carrier as well as removable cummerbund with side plate pockets.


8. Chase Tactical Lightweight Operational Plate Carrier (LOPC)


Did you know that today's US ground troops, on average, carry 27 lbs. of personal protective equipment (including their body armor and helmet)? When it comes to body armor, weight is an ever-present issue. It means less mobility, more fatigue, and an overall decrease in the wearer's performance. Enter the Chase Tactical Lightweight Operational Plate Carrier (LOPC). With a total weight of just 2.5 lbs., it is one of the lightest and most comfortable plate carriers available. The vest is made of Mil-Spec IR treated 500D Cordura and has a breathable cummerbund with MOLLE webbing for mounting and routing any tactical equipment you want for a full loadout setup. It can also be worn with hard body armor or soft armor making it very versatile for your needs.
This is one of the most popular plate carriers among body armor fans and law enforcement officers, and it's easy to see why. With its flexible options, lightweight, and affordable price, this is a great choice for your first armor loadout!


9.Shellback Tactical SF Plate Carrier

Shellback Tactical SF Plate Carrier in Coyote

Need something combat-ready? The Shellback Tactical SF Plate Carrier is the one piece of tactical gear that will make sure you are prepared at home or overseas in any number of critical situations. Made for SAPI plate sizes, this carrier provides high-quality protection while being comfortable despite load carriage weight. 3D mesh pads for shoulders, spacer mesh comfort flaps for the rib cage, and a mesh interior extend the comfort and fit to the whole carrier. Users love its smaller design and great accommodation to different sizes! The carrier is designed to support several tactical pouches for magazines, soft armor inserts, side plates, and LE radios or MBITR. If these aren’t enough, there are several versatile PALS web attachment points on the front, back, and shoulders of the vest as well as chest and back loops for placard identifiers. Reinforced with heavy-duty bar tacking at key stress points and reverse stitching, the Shellback Tactical SF Plate Carrier has a lifetime warranty on the construction of its 500 denier Cordura nylon design, compatible with all MOLLE systems. Whether you plan to keep a low profile or wear over other soft body armor and uniforms, this plate carrier offers top performance without sacrificing mobility or MOLLE gear.


10.LBX Tactical Armatus II Plate Carrier

LBX Tactical Armatus II Plate Carrier in Black

Another popular low-profile plate carrier professional security personnel prefers is the LBX Armatus II Plate Carrier. Useful for lower-level threats, this vest offers modularity through different panels adjustable to your size and weight needs. A fast-clip front panel guarantees you are ready to go as soon as possible. A unique component of this tactical vest is its adaptability. The back modular panel, padded shoulder straps, and modular mesh rib cage cummerbund are all removable or adjustable. Also included is the Triple M4 panel. Security personnel will find this particular plate carrier a staple part of their work attire with a front zipper admin pocket and loop ID front and back. The 500D Cordura works with medium or large ESAPI plates, dependent on the size of the vest. Accommodate any workplace need while prioritizing your security.


11.Spartan Armor Level IIIA Soft Body Armor & DL Concealed Plate Carrier

Spartan Armor Level IIIA Soft Body Armor & DL Concealed Plate Carrier in Black

Looking for a tactical vest that is not only light, but also effective at stopping a pistol bullet at Level IIIA threat levels andat an affordable price? Our users found the Spartan Armor Systems Flex Fused Core Soft Armor to be one of their top choices of lightweight equipment for its price. They also told us how the plate carrier is easy to wear and durable. Made from top-quality American material, the vest is tested and passed following both NIJ-STD-0101.06 and MIL-STD-662F standards but still comfortable. Best of all, this soft armor can be used either as a standalone tactical vest or as a backer to any hard armor system to provide extra peace of mind. The concealable design comes in sizes medium to x-large and the choice of 10x12 or 11x14 plates. The only other decision you have to make is whether to choose between black, white, tan, olive drab green, or MultiCam options!


Alternative Picks

Legacy Tactical Plate Carrier with Cummerbund

Legacy Tactical Plate Carrier with Cummerbund in OD Green

As an alternative to heavier plate carriers, the Legacy Tactical Plate Carrier with Cummerbund is a lightweight vest. Padded and adjustable shoulder straps combined with the removable cummerbund and pockets, this tactical vest can provide base-level safety without the limits that come with heavy gear. The carrier and cummerbund have MOLLE webbing for attaching pouches and accessories. Front and rear plates can be added to the carrier for additional ballistic protection. One size adjusts from small to 2XL. Shoulders and waist adapt to accommodate various heights and weights. When no plates are worn on the sides, empty pockets provide additional room for tactical and workplace equipment and tools. Get down to the basics of what you want with a plate carrier you can design how you like!


LBX Tactical Modular Plate Carrier

LBX Tactical Modular Plate Carrier in Black

Civilians wanting protection can also find a plate carrier designed for everyday life. With this tactical vest, the loadout choice is completely decided by the wearer. The Modular Plate Carrier from LBX Tactical is an effective solution to a variety of gear and tools. Practical for easy reach, this plate carrier vest comes in medium or large and contains modular webbing on the front panel, back panel, and cummerbund. The cummerbund is adjustable to fit 32” to 46” while the adjustable shoulder straps provide the best comfort for any wearer. Straps also include comfortable padded coverings. Hooks allow for the use of identification patches, GRG, and other necessary equipment. Both front and rear panels come with guides for hydration and communication accessories. Select three sizes for plates and between eight modern colors.

Once you have chosen the best plate carrier for your needs, learn how to set up your plate carrier!


A Buyer's Guide for Plate Carriers

Plate carriers are versatile for a wide range of activities, from everyday safety during recreational activities to high-grade security risks. There are several significant factors beyond price to consider when making your purchase.

Breathability and Ventilation

Wearing a tactical vest for a long time can lead to dehydration and heatstroke. Definitely not the best circumstances if personal protection is the goal! Ventilation systems built into the plate carrier are crucial, especially for those in hot climates. The ability to add hydration systems into the carrier can also be a useful feature to maintain health and safety.


Mobility is another critical component when shopping for a good plate carrier. In almost any situation in which a plate carrier is involved, movement and speed are key. A bulky or heavy plate carrier can be detrimental and possibly put your life at greater risk. When assessing the quality of a plate carrier, consider how much additional equipment is essential to carry to decide a good weight limit to get the most advantage in flexibility and durability. Sometimes a good solution is to settle for a lightweight plate carrier.


If you want lower-level threat protection, like against shotguns or thrown objects, soft armor or lighter plate carriers are enough to provide the safety you need. For higher-level threats, like rifles, then hard armor and Level III or IV plate carriers are required to repel rounds. The type of material that the ballistic plates are constructed from will also determine their suitability in assorted situations.


Although not always an issue, being discreet with your ballistic protection may be important to consider. This is often true for law enforcement or armed forces personnel who want to take measures to prevent being targeted in unprotected areas of the body. When an attacker sees you wearing body armor, they may try to attack you at another part of the body, creating a greater safety risk. In these cases, a concealable plate carrier is a good choice that may make the difference in a life or death situation.


Frequently Asked Questions about Plate Carriers

Should I be worried if my plate carrier is too noticeable?

Plate carriers can be bulky and more difficult to conceal due to the need for plates. However, there are some discreet options on the market and many adjustable options which can limit the heaviness and width of the plate carrier vest when used with other tactical equipment.

Is a bulletproof vest a better option?

Bulletproof vests can provide greater coverage than plate carriers in most situations. However, vests, like plate carriers, come in varying degrees of safety standards. In general, many vests are designed for low-level threats, whereas plate carriers are good for a variety of threat levels given their ability to swap plates.


Pro-Tip for Law and Security Professionals

While armed forces tend to use external plate carriers, police and private security personnel rely more on concealable body armor. Moreover, these kinds of vests tend to see longer wear times. Therefore, comfort should be a large priority for individuals in these professions.


Did You Know?

Did you know that plate armor, historically made of heavy metal, was considered obsolete with the military invention of the musket? That is until technological advancements in the tactical gear market in the modern centuries revised the concept to be safety dependable, yet easy to wear.


Which Plate Carrier is Right for Me?

Man inspecting a multicam plate carrier in a body armor shop

Get a plate carrier that has the ability to save you crucial time in serious situations and can carry everything you require without compromising good comfort and movement. The addition of pouches or pockets can help you carry necessary tools while advanced material can ensure your plate carrier is durable and effective for a long time. The greatest plate carrier is the one that is there in the times you need it the most!

Have a favorite plate carrier or brand? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience or check out our huge collection of plate carriers! Let us know if you have any other questions about plate carriers!

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