Options For Light[er] Weight Plate Carriers- Buyers Guide
April 29, 2017 at 6:32 pm #108026JustARandomGuyParticipant
Having been through the whole “I want a lo-pro/light weight plate carrier” thing a number of times myself, in light of some of the overall concepts and discussions here, I thought I’d take some time to go over some lightweight plate carriers, for folks that aren’t familiar with what’s currently available on the gear market.
Now, obviously “lightweight” can simply be *any* carrier loaded with less than the kitchen sink, but I think that we can also agree that there’s a significant weight difference to be had between a JPC at roughly 1.5 Lb., versus an AVS/CPC/Aero at 3.5 lbs (give or take), before you mount a single pouch….
The other thing that will kill a lightweight PC concept fast is either lots of extra pouches, or pouches made of heavy material… But that’s a topic for another thread, since this isn’t a “lightweight theory” post.
I’m using a maximum 2 Lb or less criteria to categorize this- the good news is there’s a LOT of PCs these days in that weight range…
Also, some of these are maybe more suited to a “covert” role than an overt “operations” use, however, all of them DO have the option to be plussed up in various ways if so desired, so I’m counting them in.
Crye JPC / JPC 2.0
The obvious solution to the “lightweight but still capable” PC conundrum, especially in the 2.0 option, which with the new AVS-compatible interchangeable front flaps, means you now get a choice of which front panel you want to run (or none if using a swiftclip placard).
The downside is the 2.0 is significantly more expensive than the original JPC, so if cost is an issue… you may want to track down an original.
The other possible downside of the JPC, at least for the original option, are reports of a lack of longterm durability.
The third downside is well-confirmed fact that they do not bear heavy weights well, so if 6 mags, 2 radios, and a fully loaded back panel are what you want… this is NOT the PC for you. But this is a lightweight PC thread, so… I’d think y’all know that. ;)
[If you need a link to find this I can’t help you]
Crye Airlite EK01 and EK02
Crye’s answer to the Ultra-ultra minimalist/lightweight PC market, this consists of a simple slick “sleeve” that the plate sits in (sized exactly to the plate size), and a lasercut “harness” that carries the plates. This thing is SO stupid light, you’ll probably wonder if there’s anything in the package when you get it…
The EK01 is a very simple front and rear plate carrier only, with a basic webbing side strap buckle, the EK02 features wings for side plates.
Potential downsides- questionable longtern durability of the plate sleeve material, the shock cord and Velcro tab adjustment system on the rear interior of the plate “bag” can potentially be uncomfortable, the shoulder straps may run a little long.
I could not get the shoulder straps adjusted to get the plates to ride at the right height on a Medium EK01, and even though I’m a smaller fella, most Medium PCs fit me. Either they sent me a Large by mistake, or the shoulder straps run long. YMMV.
Velocity Systems/Mayflower Scarab Light
Probably the second best fully-featured (ie, molle everywhere) carrier on the market after the JPC in the lightweight category, it’s also slightly cheaper than a JPC 2.0.
The 3D mesh backing on the plate bags is extremely comfortable, while still plenty breathable, and there’s a surprising amount of options to configure the thing, if you’re creative, and the massive kangaroo pocket was designed with .308 users in mind, if that’s your thing.
On the flipside, the downsides can be many, depending on how specific your needs are.
The main sticking points are the narrow shoulder straps are pretty meh with weight on them, the huge “kangaroo” pocket with the removable flap can make for a floppy front end, the lack of a full Velcro panel under the front flap (it’s got 3 rows of Velcro-topped molle instead. Come on…) can lead to not-so-secure closure, depending on what you’re doing with it, and the individual side slots for the factory cumberbund instead of 1 open slot means you’re more or less stuck with the factory ‘bund – it’s a good c-bund, but if you wanted to switch to an elastic bund, or one with side plate options, you’re screwed.
That being said, they offer a “quarter flap” option to address this, albeit you need a smaller size of their c-bund to use it so, do take that into consideration before buying…
However… Velocity is somewhat open to customization of their gear, and so if you share some of those dislikes, some of that is fixable if you can get them to do it for you. As long as your requirements are not ridiculous (think superficial changes to factory options) I know people who have had work done on these carriers when ordered direct from VS. Cost was not absurd either.
Just making the 2lb mark, the APC is probably the most widely used PC on the civi market after the JPC…
And for good reason, being a fully featured PC that can accept side plates (or any other c-bund option you can dream up, really) and Swiftclip placards/chest rigs out of the box with no need for extra mods or accessories. By far one of the best “do all” PCs ever.
However, there’s still a couple sticking points, those being the non-removable front flap (which is lame if you’re planning on running anything swift-clip, although at least on current gen versions they’ve added soft Velcro to the Molle for the placards/chest rigs to stick to), bare cordura plate bag backs (Sooo 2000-and-late, you’re going to want to invest in either an Armorvent kit, or SKD PIG Pontoons), narrow-spaced shoulder straps that can end up riding uncomfortably high on the shoulders/ close to the neck (especially if adjusted for smaller folks), and said shoulder straps sewn to the back of the plates bags for some reason with a plastic slider for adjustment.
Now let me explain that last sentence- there’s a good chance most folks won’t notice this, and that’s great. Good for you.
However… depending on where you have it adjusted to fit you, the accursed corners of the doubled-over webbing sewn to the back of the plate bags *can* potentially dig into your shoulder blades (you’ll know when this happens by the sudden and irresistible urge that will overtake you to rip the thing off as fast as possible…) and the plastic slider *can* potentially dig into your shoulder with a pack on.
I’m not saying it WILL… just that it *can* depending on how it fits you.
If the APC ends up being your 90% solution, this specific issue is totally fixable with the addition of an Armorvent or such.
The neck-riding shoulder strap issue however, is not…. YMMV
Velsys/Mayflower “LE” PC
Basically a stripped down APC with 3D mesh plate bag backing instead of bare cordura like the APC has. If you’ve seen or owned an APC, you know what features you’re getting. I feel like with a full MOLLE back (again, you’d need VS to customize it) this may actually be better than an APC… but maybe that’s just me…
Downsides- see previous on APC.
Velocity/ OP Tactical Special Edition LWPC
Velocity Systems used to offer a slicked down PC, called the Lightweight Plate Carrier (ie, LWPC), since discontinued, but the design was picked up by OP Tactical (a very excellent retailer of top quality gear that you should totally buy stuff from), and slightly redesigned with some changes and improvements over the original.
Downsides- non-removable front flap (not that big a deal, as it’s quite slim as is, although totally useless as a non-removable flap without Molle… go figure), permanently sewn on ten-speed c-bund inserts (otherwise, interior ten-speeds are a great idea), slick 400D[?] plate bag backing material (hello wet-t-shirt effect, you’ll want an Armorvent to counter this), plastic shoulder strap slider.
As you can see, the downsides are pretty minor, which means that for the price… it’s a very hard to beat design, given the features.
Ferro Concepts Slickster
Probably the best “slick” or concealable PC design on the market today (or maybe 2nd best, either way… it’s damn good), and for the price, very hard to beat, considering it can be run slick as designed, or plussed up with Swiftclip options to a full load.
They also have a couple of factory plus-up options, like FC’s “Apple Turnover” pouches.
Very few downsides as well- the lack of a rear flap cover for the bare Velcro of the c-bund (or having it run inside the PC) is mildly annoying, and the 3D mesh could definitely be a little thicker. The build overall could potentially be a little “light” in the long-term durability department, given the Velcro isn’t sewn on top of cordura, but sewn into the plate bags as part of the design by itself, but I guess time will tell…
SKD Tac has a great price going on these:
Ferro Concepts FCPC
Basically an APC re-design done right. 3D mesh backed plate bags, interchangeable front flaps (like an AVS/JPC) including one featuring an excellent Kydex lined option that every damn gear company producing a PC should use, and ability to accept a number of aftermarket cummberbunds.
However… the Gen 3 version, no longer produced (and good luck finding one used) was the heyday of the design. The Gen 4 version, while still featuring some of the same goodness (and better 3D mesh coverage) had some changes that were… not so good.
The new laser-cut First-Spear-ish design (NOT the icky open-square Crye Airlite style design of the Gen 3.5) is actually not bad, given the inherent loop-onewrap Velcro backing of the material lends itself well to attaching aftermarket Velcro pouches (like First Spear Ragnar pouches, or BlueForce Gear Ten-speed “dapper” M4 inserts). However being one layer of the material, it can get floppy, and does not bear weight well towards the rear without flopping out a bit (so, radios or double-M4 pouches there are out). It also does not flex at all, and you need to run it fairly tight to fight the flop… #tacticalcorset
Also, the Hypalon Molle matrix on the back of the Gen 4 plate bag, replacing the original Molle webbing on the Gen 3 is useless. If you plan to attach nothing to your back, it’s overlookable, but it sags out badly with, say a 2-liter bladder attached.
I have not included a link, because for some reason this carrier has ceased to exist on FC’s website- I do not know it if has been discontinued, but I really hope that perhaps they’re just making some re-designs for the better… If they fix the easily fixable issues mentioned above, this could be a real APC/6094 killer again…
Blue Force Gear PlateMinus V1 and V2
Blue Force Gear’s answer to the Crye JPC/EK carriers. And in all fairness, the Plateminus is simply a JPC with a lasercut outer shell, instead of cordura and webbing.
The V1 is like the EK01, with a simple side buckle webbing strap, the V2 has an elastic cummberbund, very similar to the CEC Slickster ‘bund with inbuilt M4-sized slots, as well as lasercut side plate wings.
Frankly, the V2 is a little pricey for what it is, considering all the other options in this thread alone that do the same thing, but… it is stupid light, so if shaving every ounce you can is a really pressing need… maybe it’s for you (although logic dictates you won’t be wearing side plates in that case anyway, so…)
Cons- same as the Crye EK line, minus the potential discomfort of shock cord digging into your spine. The BFG may also be worth a look if you had issues fitting an EK for your stated size.
A small Canadian company, they currently offer 3 interesting plate carrier designs (as well as a couple other nice items).
Their Minimalist Slick (MSPC) is what it says- a basic codura slick front and rear bag PC with 3D mesh, an Elastic ‘bund and Swiftclips.
The Low Profile (LSPC) version has the same front as the Minimalist, but the option to add a full-MOLLE rear bag, and a Lasercut c-bund, so basically if you don’t need a dedicated front flap, you can get a nice JPC 2.0 style PC for considerably less $$.
Tweave Plate Carrier- A dedicated concealable/low-vis option made of…. tweave (duh) with 3D mesh backed plate bags, swiftclips, and an elastic ‘bund. It’s not cheap for what it is… but it’s a pretty sweet option of concealability is a high priority.
There is one specific downside to all the Perroz carriers, and that is cummberbund compatibility. All are sized for the perroz 4” Elastic or Lasercut cummberbunds only, and generally aren’t going to fit much else, as literally any 3-band C-bund is taller than 4”…
Yes, their darn Lasercut option is only really going to fit 2-row high Molle pouches well.
The upside is Perroz is very much a custom-oriented company, so you can probably talk them into making it fit other c-bunds. But it will not be cheap…
So, there you have pretty much the long and short of quality lightweight PCs on the market today.
There are a couple others that could have been added, but as they offer no real functional difference or design superiority than what’s here, I didn’t add them.
Hope this helps those in the market looking for lighter PC options.
May 1, 2017 at 10:27 am #108027Joe (G.W.N.S.)Moderator
I am definitely looking at that Slickster, seems just what I am looking for.
May 1, 2017 at 11:03 am #108028JohnnyMacParticipant
I haven’t tried it, but there’s also the Pig Brigandine PC from SKD. It’s .9 lbs and $90.
I’ve been eyeing it up recently, but can’t justify it when I already have an APC.
May 1, 2017 at 9:59 pm #108029JustARandomGuyParticipant
I haven’t tried it, but there’s also the Pig Brigandine PC from SKD. It’s .9 lbs and $90.
I’ve been eyeing it up recently, but can’t justify it when I already have an APC.
I had one a while back.
It’s an interesting idea, and kind of the fore-runner of concepts you see like the Slickster with the velcro-on M4 pouches.
That being said, I kind of feel like with current options on the market, it’s a little outclassed now.
I was also not a huge fan of the way the design of the straps causes even a triple-curve plate to stick up and away from laying flat against your chest.
From a general-purpose standpoint, it can get a little frustrating because the plates sticking up make it to obvious to wear concealed (My old APC was lower profile under a shirt…), and it’s a PITA to try and throw a chest rig over it, if it’s an H-harness, as the cross-strap slides right into the gap between the rear plate and your back, stopping the chest rig from seating fully.
So, you kind of have to use their accessories (although it *may* be able to take swiftclips up front, instead of G-hooks. I did not try this, so you’d need to call them)
May 3, 2017 at 10:52 pm #108030dave37Participant
I have the pig brig, and like it pretty well, although I have no standard for comparison other than the safariland external armor carriers which is really apples to oranges. I have the chest rig that is designed to be part of the system, and wore that through the Texas CTT/Mobility. I never had any complaints. Be sure to get the pads for the shoulder straps or they will cut into your shoulders pretty bad though.
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May 4, 2017 at 2:25 am #108031TCParticipant
Good hands-on info! Wish I had read this when I started shopping for PCs a couple years ago.
Btw, another option is the ATS Aegis V2. It’s like an improved Mayflower APC in that it has wider shoulder straps, mesh backing, and no kangaroo or admin pouches. I had an APC and sold it because of these factors.
Currently I have the TYR Pico Rough Low Vis Carrier. It’s a lightweight, slick carrier where you can change out the front flap to an optional MOLLE panel or Tyr’s triple M4 pouch system (the ones with kydex inserts). It comes with both a pair of elastic cummerbunds and non-elastic side buckle straps. There’s no proper webbing for attaching QASM buckles for a chest rig, as the ones on there are 1/2 inch webbing, but I removed those and sewed 1″ ones in. The only caveat is that the plate sizing is strict; for example Medium SAPI cut 1″ thick or under. The SAPI sized ultralight III plates sold by bulletproofme.com, which are manufactured by armour-wear.com, fit without issue. (Those plates, btw, are now thankfully finished in Cordura instead of that faux carbon fiber vinyl).
May 4, 2017 at 4:39 pm #108032HitsCountParticipant
As an addition, the JPC and ATS Aegis lack elastic on the cummerbund. I feel like this is a fairly significant comfort factor, personally. My JPC is ok with a really light load, but if you add any weight (even just topping off a camelback) it starts to feel like a sandwich board sign smooshing you together. I find the elastic-style cummerbund from the APC to be a lot more comfortable.
The ATS Aegis has an upgrade option with elastic and quarterflaps, but that upgrade lacks any side plate option like the Mayflower cummerbund has. So if you want to run side protection that’s a limitation.
It looks like the ATS will take a Mayflower cummerbund (which offers elastic and side plate pockets) but I haven’t verified that personally.
May 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm #108033ffhounddogParticipant
http://www.gearzonetactical.com/Paraclete-Advanced-Releasable-Hard-Plate-Carrier_p_3255.html I’ve used this plate Carrier since 2010, first one in ACU I was shot in the back, plate stopped it and sent a thank you to Paraclete. They sent me a free one and have been running that for a long time. I already have backers and got a pair of Esapis this year so my Safariland 9812 plates could go into something more Lowe profile. Still looking and I like the OPT LWPC. Seems nice and low profile for what I want.
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