With physical readiness becoming a more and more popular idea in the west, we’ve seen an influx of plate carries in the world of weighted vests. This has become true to a point where you can get an actual carrier and use it as a fitness requisite. Today we’ll show you one such model in our 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier review.
What you’ll see is a blunt but ultimately efficient tool that can help you become fitter and stronger. Indeed, this plate carrier vest is among the best weighted vests out there at the moment.
Let’s get started.
5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier Review at a Glance
Although 5.11 isn’t typically a fitness brand, their 5.11 TacTec plate carrier has proven to be a rugged and reliable piece of fitness equipment. Built to military standards, this carrier will easily keep up with your workout routine, offering Spartan durability and top-of-the-range comfort.
The vest is designed to accept Rogue’s Vest Plates and USA Cast Weight Vest Plates, thus giving you a solid choice of weights. Built to last, 5.11 combined their vast experience in making actual combat-ready equipment to create a comfortable and agile vest.
Those seeking a practical, utilitarian approach to weighted fitness should look no further.
5.11 is a brand dedicated to designing and manufacturing various gear and equipment for military and law enforcement professionals. One of the cornerstones of that industry are plate carriers. 5.11 plate carriers have proven their worth in battlefields all over the Middle East, surviving harsh environments and keeping their owners safe. 5.11 TacTec builds on all that experience and brings it into the world of fitness.
At its core, TacTec was made to be lightweight and minimalist as far as actual plate carriers go. The thing that 5.11 did so right with this model is achieving said minimalism without sacrificing durability or comfort.
They’ve done this by mainly using 500D Cordura, proven hardware and other quality materials. More on that a bit later. Let’s focus on the design itself for a moment. 5.11 TacTec delivers something that many weighted vests of this type rarely do – the complete range of motion in your upper body.
This is pretty important if you’re doing bodyweight exercises. It’s no accident that this rig is considered one of the best weighted vest options for CrossFit.
We can attribute this to a mesh cummerbund design that isn’t packing your waist area with unnecessary material. Instead, you’re getting what is essentially MOLLE webbing that sits flush with your body.
Up top, you have a pair of robust shoulder straps which are the true backbone of this entire vest. 5.11 went with wide and rather padded straps that are slightly contoured to follow the shape of your body. Speaking of which, this vest will adapt to any body size and shape out there. Finding the right fit comes down to adjusting the cummerbund, but also the straps.
The key here is the quick release cable that’s essentially holding the whole vest together. It runs through both straps and down into the cummerbund area where it weaves into the side panels. The whole process of finding the right fit is very easy and takes only a few minutes of your time.
As far as weights go, 5.11 has designed this vest to accept pairs Rogue’s Vest Plates or their newer USA Cast Weight Vest Plates. In other words, you’re working with fixed weight plates that range in weight from 3.75 lbs. to 13.75 lbs.
With the vest weighing 2.5 lbs. on its own, the max weight you can have on your body is 30 lbs.
Last but not least, you can get this vest in a variety of tactical colors including a few camo patterns such as Multicam/UCP.
Being one of the first and largest brands of tactical gear on the market, 5.11 is known for their quality. After all, their gear has been used and is still used in combat zones all around the world. That level of quality extends to 5.11 TacTec as well.
As we’ve mentioned before, this vest uses 500D Cordura as its baseline fabric. 500D of average ballistic nylon is capable of enduring a lot, but 500D of Cordura is something else. Let’s just say that you won’t have to worry about your new vest tearing or ripping anytime soon.
Since there’s a lot of Velcro involved, some might get the impression that 5.11 TacTec has a built-in flaw. This is where that vast experience from combat zones comes into play. The Velcro they’ve used for this rig is rock solid and capable of sustaining frequent use.
As far as hardware goes, it’s limited to the quick detach system, or more specifically the cable. Being a backbone of the entire vest, 5.11 made sure that it’s as solid as it needs to be.
Padding is impressive, to say the least. 5.11 went with ventilated sections of thick padding in all areas where this vest contacts your body. That alone is a massive plus.
Performance (How Well Does it Work?)
Unimpeded range of motion and the ability to securely lock down those weighted plates is what makes 5.11 TacTec vest a great piece of kit. Using a stretchy cummerbund might seem counterintuitive in this regard, but the system works.
It all comes down to finding the right fit. Thanks to the whole cable design we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s super easy to break this thing down and adjust everything just how you like it. Once you do, you’ll find that it stays in place even with heavier plates.
There’s no excessive movement even when you go for a jog or a run. However, there will be some shifting of mass which is more or less unavoidable.
Lastly, this thing is comfortable. All of that padding means that you’re getting plenty of cushioning that keeps away the creeping fatigue. You can go hard with this 5.11 tactical plate carrier and end the session with zero skin burns or rash.
This vest is perfect for jogging, running or walking as far as cardio goes. On the other hand, it’s a great piece of kit for general fitness as well as CrossFit.
It may be too light if you’re going for strength training / muscle-building via bodyweight exercises. The BOX weighted vest is a far superior option for this purpose.
If you’re into functional fitness where you’re preparing yourself for possible scenarios, this vest is for you. If you just want to spice your routine up a little with some weights, this vest is for you. There’s really no downsides to this thing other than the fact that it uses fixed weights. Even then you’ve got some leeway.
Lastly, you can always pop in some Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI) plates and turn this fitness accessory into a lifesaving piece of equipment.
- Simple design that is robust and utilitarian in nature
- Allows for the complete range of motion in your upper body
- Features durable, literally battle-tested materials
- Easy to adjust and fits all body shapes and sizes
- Comfortable thanks to an abundance of strategically positioned padding
The Not So Good
- It’s a bit on the expensive side of things, but well worth the investment
- Maxes out at 30 lbs. which may not be enough for particularly dedicated users and certain types of training (e.g., strength-focused bodyweight training)