Protector Fit / Equipment Review: 5.11 TACTEC PLATE CARRIER


About Andrew | Protectorfit

Andrew has been in the police since 2003 serving in both New Zealand and Australia in frontline and specialist roles. A tactical strength and conditioning enthusiast, Andrew is passionate about the overall health and well being of emergency services and the development of operational fitness and skills.


The 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier (PC) has been around a few years now, created for and used not only by members of the tactical community to carry ballistic plates but also by elite athletes in the CrossFit games to add weight to exercises during workouts.

I have been using 5.11 PC for exercise for over a year now so I thought it was a good time to let you know what I think of this product. First up, I have only been using the carrier solely for exercise and not it’s operational purpose of carrying ballistic protection but because of its purpose, it’s minimally designed, comfortable and made to handle the most arduous conditions so it’s also perfect to use for exercise when compared with traditional exercise weighted vests.

The 5.11 PC comes in two colours, black, and sandstone and with its adjustable waist and tension bands can fit people sized XS to XL, it also accommodates M to L sized plates. The 5.11 PC has a few unique features that I really like that make this item an excellent choice for exercise. Back yoke shoulder straps, these straps are similar to the 5.11 backpack straps and are extremely well padded, comfortable and designed to distribute weight evenly across the shoulders.


Oversized airflow channels, the raised padding allows more airflow throughout the body of the carrier and the wearer for added comfort.

Laser cut Molle and Velcro on both panels, this feature is normally used to add further pouches for tactical equipment, I’ve added a pouch for a water bladder on the rear panel so I can have easy access to fluids for those hot outdoor sessions. It’s also a great feature for adding patches and name tags that you’ve probably seen on athletes during the Cross Fit games.

A large admin pocket on the front panel, this is a great way to secure my phone and car keys during outdoor exercise sessions, a convenient option I didn’t have on my previous exercise specific vests.


Skeleton side cummerbunds, these can be adjusted easily to the size of the wearer and are made of a strong bungee material saving on overall weight and adding flexibility to the carrier when compared to taco styled vests.

Internal plate straps used to secure the plates inside the vest they are located horizontally and vertically at the bottom inside each panel. Once the plates are in and secured using the straps, they won’t be going anywhere.

Other features include an emergency release handle, located on the top centre of the front panel allowing the PC to be taken apart easily by releasing the cable wire and an extendable rear grab handle, located on the top of the rear panel. Essential for the tactical operation of the PC in critical incidents but not so much for exercise.

The PC fits SAPI or swimmer cut plates to allow for better mobility, these plates are a separate cost from the vest and come in different weights. I have 9kg blue Rogue Fitness plates in my PC. A number of other fitness companies’ stock similar plates to the Rogue version. LEGEAR stock a curve version and depending on body shape I believe fit better than flat plates.


So how does it perform during exercise? After a year of intense exercise sessions, in a nutshell, rate it as the best vest I’ve ever had for this purpose.

The Pros:

A lot of thought has gone into this product resulting in its unique features. It’s made tough with quality stitching and durable lightweight materials. It’s extremely comfortable due to the yoke strap padding and design and airflow channels throughout the PC. Its minimal design allows for greater mobility so it’s perfect for exercising in. Easily adjustable to fit the person with bungee-like cummerbunds that don’t compress your breathing. Fits plates securely with almost no movement.

The Cons:

It’s top of the line so it’s pricey at about $250 and that’s with no weight plates but you’ve got to remember its purpose is to carry ballistic protection so similar ballistic vests are around this price range if not more without the TAC TEC features.

The Last Word

If you are a fitness enthusiast and into collecting equipment for your garage gym like I am I believe a weighted vest is a great investment and would be one of my first purchases, unlike a barbell or other gym equipment you can take it anywhere and use it perform hundreds of exercises while constantly under load. If you are in the market for a comfortable, lightweight and durable weighted vest for exercise then definitely check out the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier. There’s a reason why professional Cross Fit Games athletes utilise these plate carriers as their weighted vest of choice and after using the PC for over a year it can definitely handle the abuse workout after workout. Finally, the choice is yours, there are a few weighted vests in the fitness industry now that are modeled to look like the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier, they will be slightly cheaper but I seriously doubt if they will last the same.

The Workout

Head to Protector Fit on Instagram to check out a short workout using the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier.