A chest rig and a plate carrier are both load-bearing equipment that military personnel, law enforcement officers, and other tactical operators wear. While both types of equipment serve similar purposes, there are some critical differences between them. So, in this article, we have gathered all the information about chest rig vs plate carrier.
Chest Rig vs Plate Carrier:
What is a Chest Rig?
A chest rig is a type of tactical vest that is worn over the chest and stomach. It is designed to carry ammunition, magazines, and other essential items. Chest rigs are typically made from durable materials like nylon or Cordura and are often adjustable to fit a wide range of body types. They can also come in a variety of configurations, with different sizes and numbers of pouches for specific equipment.
Pros of a Chest Rig
- Lightweight: Chest rigs are generally lighter than plate carriers, making them a good option for those who need to move quickly and stay agile.
- Breathable: Chest rigs typically have more mesh or ventilation than plate carriers, which makes them more breathable in hot weather.
- Low profile: Chest rigs sit lower on the body than plate carriers, which can make them less conspicuous in certain situations.
Cons of a Chest Rig
- Limited protection: Chest rigs do not provide as much ballistic protection as plate carriers, as they do not have built-in armor plates.
- Limited storage: While chest rigs can hold essential equipment, they often have fewer pouches than plate carriers, which can limit the amount of gear you can carry.
Check out our review on the Top 10 chest rigs of 2023
What is a Plate Carrier?
A plate carrier is a type of tactical vest that has built-in armor plates to provide ballistic protection to the wearer. They are typically made from heavy-duty materials like Cordura or Kevlar and are designed to carry a wide range of equipment. Plate carriers can also be adjusted to fit different body types and can come in different configurations to suit specific needs.
Pros of a Plate Carrier
- High protection: Plate carriers provide more ballistic protection than chest rigs, as they have built-in armor plates that can stop bullets and other projectiles.
- Large capacity: Plate carriers often have more pouches and storage options than chest rigs, allowing you to carry more gear.
- Versatile: Plate carriers can be configured in a variety of ways, allowing you to customize them for your specific needs.
Cons of a Plate Carrier
- Heavy: Plate carriers are often heavier than chest rigs, which can make them less comfortable to wear for extended periods.
- Less breathable: Plate carriers typically have less ventilation than chest rigs, which can make them less comfortable in hot weather.
- High profile: Plate carriers sit higher on the body than chest rigs, which can make them more conspicuous in certain situations.
Check out our review on: Top plate carriers of 2023
Main Differences Between a Chest Rig and a Plate Carrier
Level of protection
One of the main differences between chest rigs and plate carriers is the level of protection they provide. While chest rigs are designed to carry gear and small items, plate carriers are specifically designed to hold armor plates that protect the wearer from bullets and shrapnel. Because of this, plate carriers are generally larger and bulkier than chest rigs and are typically more expensive.
Another difference between chest rigs and plate carriers is their adjustability. Chest rigs are typically one-size-fits-all and are not adjustable. It is acceptable for individuals of similar build and allows for easy gear swapping between teammates. On the other hand, Plate carriers are typically fully adjustable, allowing the wearer to adjust the fit of the carrier to their body shape. It is an important feature, as a properly fitted plate carrier can help distribute the armor plates’ weight evenly across the body.
Attachment points for pouches
Chest rigs also typically have fewer attachment points for pouches. In contrast, plate carriers usually have a MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) or PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) webbing that allows for easy attachment of various pouches and accessories. They also lack the cummerbunds or side panels that plate carriers feature to add side coverage and pouches.
Regarding comfort, chest rigs are more comfortable to wear over long periods, as they are not as heavy and bulky as plate carriers. Chest rigs can also be worn with a much wider variety of clothing, as they do not require heavy outerwear to conceal them. On the other hand, Plate carriers are typically worn over a t-shirt, with the armor plates in between; hence are less versatile and are generally worn when there is a known threat of gunfire.
The weight of a chest rig and a plate carrier can vary depending on the materials used, the size of the gear, and any additional accessories attached. Generally speaking, chest rigs tend to be lighter than plate carriers because they are designed to be streamlined and minimalist.
A basic chest rig without any pouches or attachments can weigh as little as 0.5 to 1 pound, while a more advanced rig with added features can weigh up to 3 pounds or more.
On the other hand, plate carriers are generally heavier due to the inclusion of armor plates. A basic plate carrier without armor plates can weigh around 2 to 3 pounds, while a carrier with Level III or Level IV ballistic protection can weigh anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds or more, depending on the size of the plates and the overall design of the carrier.
It’s important to consider the weight of your tactical gear when choosing between a chest rig and a plate carrier, especially if you’ll be wearing it for extended periods of time. A heavier carrier can cause fatigue and discomfort, while a lighter rig can provide more freedom of movement and better overall mobility.
The cost of a chest rig and a plate carrier can vary depending on the brand, quality, and features of the tactical gear. Generally speaking, chest rigs tend to be less expensive than plate carriers because they do not have built-in armor plates. A basic chest rig can cost anywhere from $50 to $100, while a more advanced one with additional features like MOLLE webbing and pouches can range from $100 to $200 or more.
On the other hand, plate carriers are typically more expensive due to the inclusion of armor plates. A basic plate carrier without armor can cost around $100 to $150, while a carrier with Level III or Level IV ballistic protection can range from $200 to $500 or more. The cost can also vary depending on the type of plates used, with ceramic plates typically being more expensive than steel plates.
It’s important to note that the cost of tactical gear can add up quickly, especially when you consider additional accessories like pouches, hydration systems, and medical kits. When choosing between a chest rig and a plate carrier, it’s important to consider your specific needs and budget to make the best decision for your situation.
Chest rig with a plate carrier
A chest rig with a plate carrier is a type of tactical equipment that soldiers wear, law enforcement officers, and other personnel who may be involved in activities that require carrying a large amount of gear. The chest rig typically consists of a series of straps and pouches worn over the chest and shoulders and is designed to distribute the weight of the gear evenly across the body.
The plate carrier is a body armor that protects the wearer from bullets and other ballistic threats. It typically consists of a series of rigid plates inserted into the carrier, worn over the chest and back. The chest rig and plate carrier are often used together to provide maximum protection and functionality.
Which Should You Choose?
Choosing between a chest rig and a plate carrier ultimately comes down to your specific needs and preferences. If you need high ballistic protection and have a lot of gear to carry, a plate carrier might be the best option. However, if you need to move quickly and stay agile, a chest rig might be a better choice. Consider the pros and cons of each option carefully before making a decision.
Chest rig vs plate carrier: chest rigs and plate carriers have unique features and use. Chest rigs are lightweight, low-profile, and designed to carry small gear. They are comfortable and can be worn with a wide variety of clothing. On the other hand, Plate carriers are designed to hold armor plates and provide a higher level of protection. They are typically worn by military and law enforcement personnel and are bulkier but allow for a more customizable fit.