Plate carriers vs. chest rigs: what are the differences

In the world of tactical gear, both plate carriers and chest rigs are critical equipment for military, law enforcement, and outdoor enthusiasts. While they may appear similar at a glance, their purposes, designs, and uses differ significantly. Read on to explore the key differences between plate carriers and chest rigs to help you understand which is more suitable for your needs.

What is a plate carrier?

A plate carrier is a type of tactical vest designed to hold bullet-resistant plates. It is primarily used in high-risk situations to provide ballistic protection. Its key features include:

Protection Level: Plate carriers are specifically built to accommodate armor plates, offering protection against firearms.

Customizability: They often feature MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing, allowing users to attach various pouches and accessories.

Weight and Comfort: Generally heavier due to the armor plates, they can be less comfortable during extended wear.

What is a chest rig?

On the other hand, a chest rig is a lightweight harness designed for carrying essential gear without the added bulk of armor plates. Its key aspects include:

Storage Capacity: Chest rigs are excellent for carrying ammunition, radios, and small tools in an organized manner.

Mobility and Comfort: With a focus on lightweight design, they offer greater mobility and comfort, particularly over long periods.

Versatility: Suitable for various non-combat activities like hunting, hiking, or photography.

Comparing plate carriers and chest rigs

Purpose and Usage: Plate carriers are ideal for high-threat environments where ballistic protection is a priority. Chest rigs are more suited for situations where mobility and quick access to equipment are key.

Weight and Comfort: Plate carriers are heavier and can be restrictive. Chest rigs, being lighter and more flexible, are preferable for long-duration activities where comfort and mobility are priorities.

Customization and Flexibility: Both offer customization, but plate carriers have more capacity for additional gear, while chest rigs focus on carrying essentials efficiently.

Cost and training: Plate carriers can be more expensive due to their protective capabilities and advanced designs. Also, training is essential to effectively use a plate carrier in a high-threat environment. Chest rigs are generally more user-friendly.

Choosing between a plate carrier and a chest rig

If you anticipate the need for ballistic protection, a plate carrier is the right choice. Conversely, if your priority is carrying equipment with ease of movement, a chest rig is more suitable.

In situations where it’s important to be less noticeable, like in secret operations or when used by civilians, chest rigs are more subtle and less obvious than the larger, bulkier plate carriers.

In some cases, users may choose to wear a chest rig over a plate carrier, combining the advantages of both systems. This setup allows for the ballistic protection of the plate carrier with the additional storage and accessibility of a chest rig.


In conclusion, both plate carriers and chest rigs have their unique advantages and are suited for different situations. By understanding the differences between the two, you can make a choice that best suits your tactical needs and ensures your safety and efficiency in the field.

LQARMY offers a wide range of high-quality, durable plate carriers and chest rigs in different sizes, styles, and colors. We also accept customization. Contact us freely if you have any needs.