How to Use and Set Up a Plate Carrier Vest - CHK-SHIELD | Outdoor Army - Tactical Gear Shop

How to Use and Set Up a Plate Carrier Vest

How to Use and Set Up a Plate Carrier Vest

When it comes to combat and ensuring your safety, your plate carrier is your number one friend. Not only is it important to wear and use during any mission, combat, or time where weaponry is being fired towards you, but it is also utterly important to ensure that it is properly and efficiently set up.

In a recent blog, we went through the various types of body armour, the NIJ Protection Levels, and when each type of body armour should be used (to view this blog post, click the link here). Today, we are going to be going through how to properly set up and use a plate carrier system so that you can rest assured knowing you are well prepared for combat or any other uses in your line of work.

What is a Plate Carrier Vest?

Before diving into the rules and regulations that are essential when it comes to setting yourself up with your plate carrier vest, it’s important to first know what one is. Plate carrier vests are loosely classified as body armour but are also known as ballistic plate carriers. These pieces of equipment are tactical gear that when used with ballistic plates become bullet proof vests, equipment, or one’s entire body armour set up.

Oddly enough, these pieces of equipment are becoming quite popular in the fitness and health industry, as many citizens are using them to add weight to their cardio workouts. However, it is truly the military and policing industry that use this equipment appropriately for its intended causes, which is to keep those in combat or in harm’s way, safe and prepared.

Young man wearing a plate carrier vest to do squats in

Why Does Set Up Matter?

When it comes to body armour and plate carrier vests, set up matters, and it matters for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is due to safety and security. Given that this piece of equipment can help protect those on the front lines and those who are in combat, it is essential that it is set up appropriately so that the gear can carry out its intended job.

The second reason as to why set up matters is related to comfort. As one can imagine, the higher level of body armour you’re carrying, the heavier it is going to be. For those who have to walk, fight, move around, and carry things with the carrier vests on, it is essential that the armour is put on properly so that it is comfortable and so that the wearer is able to move (even with pounds of heavy weight added to them at all times).

Plate carrier vest and military gear lined up against a wall

The last thing that anyone wants to encounter is the inability to move around or move comfortably, especially while in combat, due to their vest being set up inaccurately. Yes, this equipment can help save lives, but it can only do so with the proper set up.

Pros and Cons: The Good and the Bad of Plate Carriers

Like every piece of equipment, or even like everything in life, there are always pros and cons. Plate carriers are no different! Of course, in military and policing, this type of equipment is incredibly valuable and has helped change the game in many ways. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some disadvantages to wearing the vest. Let’s take a further look at the good and the bad when it comes to plate carriers:

The Pros:

  1. Increased carrying capacity: As you can imagine, the additional space and pockets that carrier vests provide is incredible. This allows the wearer to be able to carry more weight and items while out on the field.
  2. Quick Access to Gear and Critical Gear: When things are stored all around your body properly, it becomes easier to be able to grab important gear that will help keep you safe.
  3. Traveling is Easier: Given how the weight is distributed (up on the torso, rather than lower on the body), traveling on foot becomes a lot easier. Therefore, the wearer can add more critical gear into the vest and be able to travel around comfortably, for a longer period of time.
  4. Movement is Easy: The ability to crouch, jump, walk, crawl, and move is not hindered because of plate carriers. This is important as although those in combat will need to be able to carry things, they also still need to be able to fight and carry out their missions.

The Cons:

  1. Reduced Agility: While yes, the wearer can move and jump around, it is important to note that some aspects of their agility will be compromised. This is only to be expected when more equipment and gear is layered on.
  2. Reduced Body Heat Dissipation

 As you can see, even though there are cons, the good heavily outweighs the bad. With proper sizing and set up, the pros become even more prominent. So, let’s now get into how to properly size oneself for a plate carrier.

Plate Carrier: Everything that Must Be Considered for Sizing and Fitting

Fitting for one’s plate carrier is a very serious matter. As mentioned before, when fitted properly the plate carrier vest is not only comfortable and provide safety, but it also makes all elements of fighting and moving around in combat or on the field a lot easier.

Military man carrying his plate vest in one hand and his gun in the other

When fitting for a plate carrier vest, there are many things that you should consider. The first item is choosing the right vest during the shopping and selection phase. Trying on multiple variations and versions will help you decide which vest fits and feels the best.

Next, it’s important to ensure that your gear and plates are never forced into the carrier vest. Everything should glide easily and without a great deal of effort. If you’re having to push and show or even jerry-rig plates into the vest, it is not a good fit! Remember, if it doesn’t go in easily, it won’t come out easy either.

You should also have a friend or an additional person available to help you with your fitting. A lot of vests have straps and buckles that should be properly set up for you and your size. Having a friend handy helps to ensure that everything is adjusted comfortably, so you can get a good feel for the vest.

Lastly, be sure to walk and move around with the vest and the plates on. While it may feel comfortable standing, it could feel entirely different while crouching, laying down, moving around and so on and so forth. Take time during your fitting to really get a feel for your vest so you can ensure that you are selecting the right one.

Another note that should be considered is that you are trying on the vest with the appropriate armour plates for you. If your company is issuing that you use Level II or Level III plates, then try on the vest with the corresponding equipment. The last thing you want is to have a vest fitted for the wrong plates, and only to realize that while in motion.

Back of a police plate carrier vest

Take your time with the fitting! It may seem like a long and lengthily process, but this is something that is working to save your life and make your life easier in the long run. That should not be rushed.

Placing Your Gear in the Vest

Okay, so you know what a plate carrier vest is, you have it fitted correctly and are using the right type of body armour plates. That’s great! Now it’s time to add on your gear so you can set out.

Military man wearing his plate carrier vest and all his tactical equipment

While ever wearer of the vest will have different places to put their gear and different areas as to where they want it, we have a couple of tips that will come in handy across the board:

  1. Always distribute items evenly on your front and side so that you are not too heavy on one side and too light on the other. Balance is key!
  2. Ensure that all your gear is properly spaced out so that you can easily grab each item.
  3. Don’t allow any items or gear to get in the way of pulling out your weapons
  4. Try and limit what you carry on your torso. Extra weight will always make movement and combat harder
  5. Try and stay light! This will help you from tiring out too quickly
  6. Pistol mags are best stored on your belt rather than your chest! It becomes difficult to grab when on your chest (even for experts).

 At the end of the day, your vest becomes almost like your lifeline. It keeps you connected, comfortable and safe, which is why proper fitting and sizing is so crucial! If you need to wear one of these vests for combat or for your line of work, take time to do some research and find the vest that is right for you. Once that’s said and done, it’s then time to get comfortable and to know your vest extensively! That way you can rest assured knowing how to wear it, move with it, and add your gear to it easily.

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