Progression of Knowledge- Plate Carrier Edition

Since this post is about Plate Carriers in particular I thought it belonged here as opposed to somewhere more general. Please feel free to move it or whatever.

A while back I realized that I really needed to have a plate carrier. At the time I didn’t really have a lot of money (still don’t really) because I have a family to feed. I thought I was stuck in the budget market, so I was looking at some of the offerings from a certain bargain brand that’s named after a bird and offers things that look like they might work like the good stuff.

Of course most online reviews were okay for the product because most reviewers aren’t pros that buy those products. It looked good ,cool, whatever, so I went for it.
I had it for a while and wasn’t using it for a whole lot so it seemed fine. Then last year I went to a weeklong leadership school where we spent the better part of a week out in the woods and moving with fighting equipment. The cracks started to show on about the 3rd day of wear. You see this particular PC doesn’t feature an elastic cummerbund or really even very good shoulder straps. I was rolling around with mags, and a small assault pack and my shoulders were starting to feel it. Finally, we did a ruck march with both fighting load and sustainment load. The march wasn’t too long at all, just a mile or two; my shoulders were really feeling the poor load bearing capability.

I thought- ‘oh well it’s just the crappy straps and buckles on the shoulders’. I decided that I was going to need to get something decent. I haven’t bought anything yet and I’m still rolling with this cheap PC. So here’s where the progression gets more interesting because it becomes a combination of someone else’s knowledge and I’ve just added some more experience of my own.
I’m Patreon supporting Presscheck. Meantime in my research I’ve noticed that the good carriers seem to have elastic cummerbunds, this seems like it would break down to me so I asked Chuck about the reasons for the elastic and he enlightened me that having it moves the weight to your hips and off of your shoulders. Oh. I just learned some sh*t.

Fast forward to today. I was doing my gym’s Crossfit workout for the day- 12 minutes of running with a set of burpees every minute. I just started training in the vest this week so I’m only running one plate and working towards using two in a couple weeks.
Today I just ran with the front plate in the carrier, something I hadn’t tried yet. In the first couple of runs I am holding the plate because I have the cummerbund a bit loose and the 12 LBS steel plate (yes I’m going to get composites at some point but I’ll do my exercises in the steel anyway) is bouncing all over which is making the run not so much fun. Before I start the third run I decide to try and crank down the cummerbund. Cool I don’t have to hang onto the plate any more. Great. Except for the fact that now I can’t get a good lung expansion which is something I like when I’m running and doing burpees. Now here’s what I learned today- in addition to moving the load to the hips- I have a feeling that having that elastic cummerbund I would have been able to both have the load distributed correctly AND not have the plate bouncing on my chest AND been able to breathe.

Lesson learned- do your research and if you can save up for what’s recommended by dudes you can trust. Also get some dudes you can trust.

So in furtherance of lessons learned. I am thinking of buying one of those Varusteleka Plate Carriers. Does anyone have any glaring reason I SHOULDN'T do that?
I like to support them due to their support of the shooting community, but I'm not stuck on that yet.

Thanks in advance for any more knowledge!


Network Support I
If you only have money for one thing (plates or new PC) you'd be better served by spending your money on quality plates. Good ceramic plates are going to weigh significantly less (generally 4-8lbs per plate) which will feel much better in your carrier and they will also do a much better job protecting you vs getting a new PC for your steel plates.

That said, are you ever planning to run side plate/soft armor? That's the major downside to elastic cummerbunds.
That's a good thought. I may invest in the new plates first. Although I admit that I don't always run plates in the carrier, sometimes I just use it for LBE. As far as the side plates go- it's a definite maybe. Of course I could also get a version of the PC that uses PALS webbing and is tied together in the back with bungee cords to get the weight transfer.

Oak City Tactics

I asked about your location because of the somewhat obscure European PC you chose. We’ve been in the tactical nylon based on lessons learned in recent wars for a while. While they make quality stuff, there much better for less right here in the US. Like a lot of folks here I jump right to Velocity Systems. The APC is hard to beat in quality, design, price, and comfort. Pair it with good or great plates and be done.