The Best Plate Carriers of 2024

The Best Plate Carriers of 2024



By nature, plate carriers are literally a matter of life and death. The decision about which plate carrier is best for you should reflect the gravity and magnitude of making such a decision. Life and death decisions are obviously the most important decisions we make. Our lives literally depend on them.

If you’ve been following our technical overview series, you’re probably wondering: “What is new for 2024?” First, we added a new test called Dry/Wet Gain. Second, we eliminated the Unique Features and Sizing Adjustability categories. Unique Features could not be objectively measured to a high enough standard for the series and all of the plate carriers in the series are adjustable to levels that exceed their sizing profiles, negating the value of comparison.


Click here for The Best Plate Carriers of 2023


The best way to make any decision, especially one this important, is to gather as much objective data as possible, remove emotion as much as possible, and then make a decision based on all of the facts available, using intuition as your tie-breaker. In this framework, pursuit of pure, objective truth, is quite literally, mission critical and should be prioritized accordingly. 

For those of you who have seen our Best Plate Carriers of 2023 video or article, you know that until now, there has been almost no empirical data collection on plate carriers with most purchasing decisions driven by subjective opinions and hype trends provided by paid “influencers” rather than hard facts. As we stated last year, our goal with this series is to not only bring both objectivity and transparency to plate carrier decision making, but also to bring precision and discipline to the framework. The vast majority, if not all, gear reviews done prior to our series involve the use of vague descriptors: “Very heavy", “Super comfortable,” “Jank,” “Awesome,” and all kinds of other imprecise nonsense that while common in casual vernacular, lacks any precision whatsoever. This technical overview series discards this soft, fluffy and lazy framework permanently. 

In this video and article, we’ll share all of the data we have compiled on the leading plate carriers in the market today. The plate carriers we covered this year are the:

- Shaw Concepts ARC V2

- T.REX Arms AC1

- Defense Mechanisms MEPC

- Agilite K-Zero

- Blue Force Gear PLATE6 MOLLEminus

- Haley Strategic Thorax


This article will combine the data of those covered this year with carriers covered in Best Plate Carriers 2023.



We include a number of important criteria, most of which we pioneered in our technical plate carrier overview series. We’ll then show the best and worst objective performers in each of those categories. As always, we will only be presenting data. No qualitative or subjective information will be shared in the interest of maximum objectivity.

Just like we did last year, we wanted to address a question many of you have been asking since we started this series back in May 2022: “Where is your ICEPLATE EXO® Ultralight Ventilated Plate Carrier?” While many of you continue to ask us to do a dedicated technical overview video on our own ICEPLATE EXO® and even include it in this video, we’ve intentionally omitted it both from the technical overview series and this Best Plate Carriers series. Our goal is education. It isn’t to just shill our own plate carrier. Though a strong seller which we can barely keep in stock, ICEPLATE EXO® makes up less than 1% of our unusually diverse business. 

Format

For those of you who are new to Qore Performance, we live for Building A Superhuman Future. It is why we exist. We help customers be the greatest version of themselves, to create competitive advantages where none previously existed. We design, build, and manufacture thermoregulation and hydration solutions that weaponize temperature to improve performance and survivability for military, law enforcement, prepared citizens, pilots, outdoor enthusiasts, and industrial professionals at America’s greatest companies. If you’ve purchased chicken or coffee from a drive thru in the United States, there is a high probability you’ve seen our ICEVEST HiVis Safety Vests, our ICECASE iPad Cooling cases or both in use while rolling through one of these corporate powerhouses.

Check out our SAFETY + DEVICES Collection.

Transparency Disclosure

Despite us recusing our own plate carrier, y’all know we are no strangers to transparency. To that end, we’ve included all of the testing data for every plate carrier in this series and ICEPLATE EXO® in this article rather than in the video.

Now that we have all of our transparency disclosures complete, let’s find out what is the Best Plate Carrier of 2024?

ICEPLATE EXO plate carrier

Above: A fully kitted up ICEPLATE EXO® plate carrier, alongside a duty belt equipped with ICEVENTS® Inner Belt and ballistic helmet setup.


IceAge Ecosystem Integration

Thermoregulation is the next night vision and IceAge Ecosystem integration is the genesis of this video series, so this is where we’ll start.

The BEST plate carrier for IceAge Ecosystem integration is the ARC V2 by Shaw Concepts. The interior of the ARC V2 plate bag is lined with a hook-receptive loop material by First Spear called 6/12 Soft Loop, this makes the ARC V2 compatible with the entire IceAge Ecosystem without modification or augmentation. Like the Crye Precision AVS which it seeks to replace, the Shaw Concepts ARC V2 works with both ICEVENTS® Aero and ICEVENTS® Classic plate carrier shoulder pads, the ICEVENTS® Classic Ventiled AVS Harness Pad Set, IMS for external hard cell hydration, IMS Pro Combo for internal or external cooling/heating/hydration, and IMS Versa for dedicated internal ICEPLATE® Curve cooling, heating, hydration. 

In a repeat performance from 2023, with the ability to smoothly integrate only CATAMARAN, IMS Combo, and IMS Versa, the WORST plate carrier for IceAge Ecosystem integration is the Agilite K-Zero. While ICEVENTS® Aero and ICEVENTS® Classic plate carrier shoulder pads can be used, the integration is sub-optimal given the “thickest in class” shoulder padding found on the K-Zero. 

IceAge Ecosystem Integration Comparison Chart

ICEVENTS® Aero ICEVENTS® Classic ICEVENTS® Classic Ventilation Pontoons IMS
Combo
IMS Versa IMS Pro Combo CATAMARAN
Qore Performance ICEPLATE EXO®
N/A
Crye Precision AVS  
Ferro Concepts FCPC V5
 
Crye Precision SPC
 
 
Crye Precision JPC 2.0
 
 
Spiritus Systems LV-119
 
 
Velocity Systems SCARAB LT
 
 
Agilite K19      
 
Shaw Concepts ARC V2
Defense Mechanisms MEPC
LBT 6094
Blue Force Gear PLATEminus 6
Haley Strategic Thorax
T.REX Arms AC1


Weight:

Dry Weight

Before we get started on both wet and dry weight, it is important to note why weight is so important. Other than the environment, no external factor impacts human performance more than weight. To learn the quantifiable impact and science of how even a few ounces of weight negatively impacts your performance in the field let’s take a look at some of the performance science pioneered by legendary University of Oregon Track and Field Coach and Nike Co-Founder Bill Bowerman.

The AC1 by T.REX Arms beat the Thorax by Haley Strategic Partners by 3.75 ounces to take home the 2024 title of BEST plate carrier in the Dry Weight  category. Tipping the scales at just 17.05 ounces, the AC1 by T.REX Arms is the lightest plate carrier in this group, but if you want to see the full spectrum of test results from both 2023 and 2024 to see how the AC1 stacks up, click on the INSIGHTS article link in the show notes below or we’ll try to link up here in the on-screen card if YouTube will let us.

Despite its early win in the IceAge Ecosystem integration category, the ARC V2 by Shaw Concepts is the heaviest plate carrier in the 2024 class with a dry weight of 39.75 ounces.

Weight Dry (ounces)
Qore Performance ICEPLATE EXO® 16
T.REX Arms AC1 17.05
Haley Strategic Thorax 20.80
Crye Precision SPC 21.15
Ferro Concepts FCPC V5 21.6
Crye Precision JPC 2.0 22.95
Spiritus Systems LV-119 23
Blue Force Gear PLATEminus 6 23.4
Defense Mechanisms MEPC 23.9
Agilite K-Zero 30.65
Velocity Systems SCARAB LT 33.25
LBT 6094 38.85
Shaw Concepts ARC V2 39.75
Agilite K19 41.6
Crye Precision AVS 48.35


Wet Weight

When it comes to wet weight, the AC1 by T.REX Arms takes home another win to come out on top as the BEST plate carrier for wet weight at 26.65 ounces.

The Shaw Concepts ARC V2 is the heaviest plate carrier in the Wet Weight category also, coming in at 60.70 ounces.

But these numbers don’t tell the whole story, and that is why we’ve added a new category to analyze weight: Dry/Wet Gain. Yes, the ARC V2 by Shaw Concepts might be the heaviest plate carrier in the 2024 lineup in absolute terms, but is that the whole story? 

Weight Wet (ounces)
Qore Performance ICEPLATE EXO® 26.5
T.REX Arms AC1 26.65
Ferro Concepts FCPC V5 31.5
Spiritus Systems LV-119 32.4
Crye Precision SPC 34.9
Crye Precision JPC 2.0 39.6
Defense Mechanisms MEPC 40.25
Haley Strategic Thorax 45.40
Agilite K-Zero 47.50
Shaw Concepts ARC V2 60.7
Agilite K19 62.8
Velocity Systems SCARAB LT 66.3
LBT 6094 68.75
Crye Precision AVS 70.95


Dry/Wet Gain

This year we are introducing a new category: Dry/Wet Gain. This new measurement category looks at the weight gain for each plate carrier going from dry to wet conditions in both absolute and percentage terms. The new measurement provides us greater insight into the efficiency of each design for moisture retention, regardless of whether that moisture is from maritime operations, sweat or both. 

On an absolute basis, the T.REX Arms AC1 wins again and is the BEST plate carrier in dry/wet gain with just 9.6 ounces added from dry to wet state. The HSP Thorax is the heaviest plate carrier for dry/wet gain in absolute terms with 24.6 ounces gained.

In percentage terms, the BFG Plate6 MOLLE minus is the BEST plate carrier in dry/wet gain, picking up just 46.15% going from dry to wet state. The HSP Thorax is the least efficient plate carrier in dry/wet gain percentage terms, adding 118.27% more weight in the dry to wet transition. 

For context, a 30 round magazine fully loaded with 5.56 NATO ammunition weighs approximately 16 ounces or one pound. That means for every 16 ounces of additional weight in your plate carrier, you are losing the ability to carry 30 rounds of 5.56 NATO ammunition. Here is what that looks like for each of the aforementioned plate carriers in terms of Dry/Wet Gain:


Materials:

Dry/Wet Gain is a particularly useful metric when it comes to evaluating plate carriers based on Materials. The Blue Force Gear Plate6 MOLLE Minus is clearly the BEST plate carrier in 2024 when it comes to materials as it gains the least amount of weight in percentage terms, picking up just 46% of its dry weight when wet. On an absolute basis, the T.REX Arms AC1 edges out the BFG Plate6 MOLLE Minus by just 1.2 ounces, but it picks up 56.3% of its dry weight when wet. The use of their proprietary UltraCOMP laminate clearly gives Blue Force Gear an edge here.  

On a percentage basis, the HSP Thorax picks up 118.27% of its dry weight when wet. In absolute terms, the Thorax also picks up the most weight in absolute terms as it gains 24.6 ounces when going from dry to wet. These numbers are due largely to the use of conventional materials that absorb moisture like foam and spacer mesh. The use of high-tech, proprietary materials clearly gives Blue Force Gear a competitive advantage that is difficult for the Thorax to match with regular materials. If you’d like to learn more about the use of spacer mesh in plate carriers and the science behind it, click here.

 

Thermal Transmittance: 

Before we get into the BEST and WORST plate carriers for Thermal Transmittance, let’s talk about what Thermal Transmittance actually is and why it matters.

Thermal Transmittance is the transfer of heat through matter. In our case, that matter is the body-facing section of a plate carrier plate bag. Plate carriers are insulating by nature, so finding plate carriers with the highest possible Thermal Transmittance will help maximize your performance in the field. In other words, you want to find plate carriers and body armor with minimal insulation.

Learn more about Methods of Heat Transfer here.

In the data we are about to present, the smaller the Thermal Transmittance number, the worse the carrier is at expelling heat from the interface between your body and the plate carrier. The larger the Thermal Transmittance number, the more efficient the plate carrier is at expelling heat from your body/carrier interface. In other words, smaller numbers mean you run hotter; bigger numbers mean you run cooler. When it comes to Thermal Transmittance, big numbers are good.

When it comes to the BEST plate carrier in our 2024 line up for Thermal Transmittance, the T.REX Arms AC1 hauled in another win Thermal Transmittance of 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The WORST plate carrier for Thermal Transmittance in the 2024 lineup is the Agilite K-Zero at just seven degrees Fahrenheit. 

 

Thermal Shift
(Big Numbers = Good, Small Numbers = Bad)
Qore Performance
I
CEPLATE EXO®
18.0-38˚F
T.REX Arms AC1 28˚F
Blue Force Gear PLATEminus 6 25˚F
Crye Precision JPC 2.0 20.9˚F
Spiritus Systems LV-119 18.0˚F
Haley Strategic Thorax 18.0˚F
Crye Precision SPC 14.0˚F
Defense Mechanisms MEPC 13.0˚F
LBT 6094 11.0 ˚F
Shaw Concepts ARC V2 10-30°F
Ferro Concepts FCPC V5 8.8˚F
Crye Precision AVS 4.0-9.0˚F
Velocity Systems SCARAB LT 7.0˚F
Agilite K-Zero 7.0˚F
Agilite K19 4.7˚F


Attachment Mechanisms:

With the ability to use seven different types of Attachment Mechanism, the Shaw Concepts ARV V2 wins this category hands down by using Velcro Hook and Loop, First Spear 6/12 Soft Loop, First Spear Tubes, MOLLE, Shock Cord, SwiftClips and G-Hooks. 

The BFG Plate6 MOLLE Minus has just Velcro and MOLLE, making it the plate carrier with the fewest attachment mechanisms in the 2024 Best Plate Carriers lineup. 

Variety:

With nine colorways, five sizes, two Rear Panel options, and an absolutely staggering seven cummerbund choices, the MEPC by Defense Mechanisms absolutely crushes all comers in the 2024 lineup when it comes to Variety:

Defense Mechanisms MEPC Variety Chart



The T.Rex Arms AC1 has the least variety with just five color offerings.

Plate Bags

When it comes to plate bags, it is difficult to objectively apply “BEST” and “WORST” labels because of the variability in making this determination. What we can tell you, definitively, is that the T.REX Arms AC1 will give you the greatest peace of mind in your purchase because T.REX Arms gives specific product to armor plate pairings on their website, leaving no room for doubt or interpretation. You know exactly what armor plate goes with each size of the AC1. By contrast, while Shaw Concepts does not provide nearly the same level of fidelity and granularity in their plate bag compatibility data as T.REX Arms does, their ARC V2 with its spider system provides the most plate bag flexibility during ownership.

SAPI ESAPI Swimmer Additional Notes
Qore Performance ICEPLATE EXO®
9.5" x 12.5" up to 1.1" for Medium ESAPI armor plates.
10" x 12" and 10" x 12" Shooter Cut up to 1.1" thick for Medium SAPI plates*
Ferro Concepts FCPC V5
M & L plates up to 1" thick
Crye Precision SPC
  Specific Model S-XL
Crye Precision AVS
  Specific Model S-XL
Crye Precision JPC 2.0
    S-XL
Agilite K19
  All 10x12 plates up to 1.5" thick
Agilite K-Zero
Accommodates 10x12, SAPI Medium, or SAPI Large armor plates.
Spiritus Systems LV-119
    M-XL up to 1.2" thick
Velocity Systems SCARAB LT  
  S-XL up to 1" thick
Shaw Concepts 
ARC V2

 

S-M size fits Small and Medium SAPI Plates while the L-XL fits Large and Extra Large SAPI Plates. 

Defense Mechanisms MEPC

S-XL 

LBT 6094
S-XL up to Level IV Thickness
Blue Force Gear PLATEminus 6
S-XL. Cut for ESAPI or SPEAR armor plate geometries.
Haley Strategic Thorax
M-L
T.REX Arms AC1
For sizes, the AC1 is available for Small Plates, Medium Plates and Large Plates. T.REX Arms breaks this down on the AC1 product page with both SAPI sizing, Single or Multi-Curve Shooter or Swimmer Plate Sizing and a separate chart for various HESCO Plate sizing.


*Use of 10" x 12" Medium Shooter Cut Armor Plates thinner than 1.1" may require sewing additional Velcro fields to the bottom plate retention flap.

Country of Origin:

As with all things Haley Strategic Partners, the Thorax is made in America from American materials.

Country of Origin Comparison Chart

USA Outside of USA
Crye Precision SPC
 
Ferro Concepts FCPC V5
 
Crye Precision JPC 2.0
 
Crye Precision AVS
 
Spiritus Systems LV-119
 
Velocity Systems SCARAB LT
 
Qore Performance ICEPLATE EXO®
 
Agilite K19  
Agilite K-Zero
Shaw Concepts ARC V2
Defense Mechanisms MEPC
LBT 6094
T.REX Arms AC1
Blue Force Gear PLATEminus 6
Haley Strategic Thorax

Price:

There is far too much nuance and subjectivity in price for us to pick a BEST and a WORST. Quality, craftsmanship, innovation (or lack thereof), value, etc. all play a role in price. Rather, we can easily identify a LOWEST price plate carrier in the T.Rex Arms AC1, which starts at an unbelievable $85.90 as T.REX tries to clear out the largely obsolete MultiCam Arid colorway. The HIGHEST price plate carrier is the Shaw Concepts ARC V2.

Price Extras
T.REX Arms AC1 $85.90 - $160.00
Crye Precision JPC 2.0 $241.90 AVS Detachable Flap MOLLE $41.10
Crye Precision SPC $252.00 AVS Flap M4 $101.00, Airlite Detachable Flap MOLLE $29.60
Agilite K-Zero $279.00
Spiritus Systems LV-119 $283.35 Placard 5.56 $59.95
Agilite K19 $289.00 Pincer Placard $69.90
Blue Force Gear PLATEminus 6 $299.95
Defense Mechanisms MEPC $300.00 Cummerbund options priced from $50 to $175
Velocity Systems SCARAB LT $338.00 Quad SwiftClip Placard $90.00
Haley Strategic Thorax $369.00
Ferro Concepts FCPC V5 $385.00 Kangaroo Front Flap $50.00
LBT 6094G
(Modular Plate Carrier)
$573.28
Crye Precision AVS $661.40 AVS Detachable Flap M4 $60.80
Qore Performance ICEPLATE EXO® $500.00 IMS Pro Combo $165
Shaw Concepts ARC V2
$500.00
ARC Placard V3 $55, RAM Elastic Insert $30


Conclusion:

That is all the testing data we’ve got for the Best Plate Carriers of 2024. Now that you’ve had a chance to evaluate two years of objective, technical plate carrier testing data, which plate carrier do you think deserves the title of Best Plate Carrier of 2024 and why? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on IG via @qoreperformance and subscribe to our LaunchPad emails to keep up with the latest in All-Aspect Thermoregulation.

Until next time: #StayFrosty 

 

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2 comments


  • Sym

    What do you think of the new plate carrier from crye precision, the JPC R series assault configuration?


  • Mike

    You guys need to go over versatility of the carriers and different ways of being able to buil/kit from placards, cummerbunds, hydration and shoulder pads


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