What Goes Into a Good Plate Carrier Setup?

What Goes Into a Good Plate Carrier Setup?

When it comes to outfitting yourself with the best gear for the job, a plate carrier is an essential piece of kit. But what goes into setting up a plate carrier that will work best for you? Here's a look at what you need to consider when putting together your own plate carrier setup.

It is important to have a proper plate carrier setup in order to maximize the usefulness of the equipment. There are some general guidelines that should be followed, but there is also room for personalization and experimentation. Remember to make sure that the plate carrier fits properly.

Plate Carrier & Body Armor Fit 

It's important to make sure that the carrier actually fits properly. This means that it should be snug enough to prevent the plates from bouncing around or moving too much, but not so tight that it inhibits your range of motion. Additionally, the shoulder straps and cummerbund should be adjustable so that you can find the most comfortable and secure fit possible.

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The fit of the body armor is one of the most important factors. This is something that has been refined over time by both individual users and those developing new gear. In the past, there have been a number of different trends when it comes to plate carrier setups. However, many of these trends have been replaced over time and are often directed by various military and police standard operating procedures (SOPs).

It's also worth mentioning that all of the different components of your setup - the plate carrier itself, the magazines, pouches, and plates - should work together seamlessly. Otherwise, you run the risk of everything jostling around and becoming uncomfortable, or even potentially causing injury.

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You need to decide what level of protection you need. A Level III or Level VI plate is designed to stop specific types of projectiles and can give you a distinct advantage in a violent encounter. Learn more about ballistic protection here.

Once you've decided on the level of protection that is best for your requirements, you need to choose the right size plates. The front plate should sit roughly in the center of your chest, covering the heart and lungs, while the rear plate should sit a little higher, covering the shoulders and upper back. You can also choose to add side plates for additional protection.


As a rule of thumb, loaded pouches should be as close to the body as possible. This may seem like a simple guideline, but it is often neglected - to the detriment of the wearer. The focus on minimalism has come a long way in recent years, but can sometimes be misinterpreted as cutting corners. Those buying their own kit have the advantage of being able to choose from a variety of equipment manufacturers, mixing and matching where they see fit.

There are four main types of gear worn by plate carrier users: ammunition, medical supplies, admin items, and mission-specific equipment. While lighter gear is usually preferable, it's not always the best option. Ultimately, the goal is to find the gear that performs well and meets your specific needs.

U.S. Kinetic carries a wide-variety of pouches that are perfect for your carrier setup. Shop now.


A plate carrier setup is not complete without the right ammunition. The 3-wide, single-layer mag pouch is the standard for many shooters today. This type of pouch is mounted on the front of the plate carrier with a speed reload pouch mounted on the non-dominant side. Some shooters have begun carrying magazines on their belts instead of on their plate carriers. This allows for a quicker speed reload.

3-wide, single-layer magazine pouch.

It is important to keep in mind that magazines should only be doubled up on the front of the carrier in very rare circumstances. This is because it can make it difficult to lay down behind low cover effectively. In general, it is best to keep gear to a minimum in order to maintain maximum mobility.

Medical Gear

You'll need to think about where you're going to store your medical gear. Ideally, you'll want to choose a spot that is accessible by both hands in case of an emergency. You want to be able to access it easily with either hand, in case you're wounded and can't use one arm. Tourniquets should also be within easy reach, distributed around your body so that you can grab one no matter which hand is free.

Individual First Aid Kit. Get yours now.

This IFAK Pouch is specifically designed to carry your Individual First Aid Kit.

Even if you're also wearing a duty belt, having a tourniquet attached to your plate carrier can be a lifesaver in the event that you lose your belt or don't have time to put it on. There are various products available on the market made for this purpose, but many people prefer to use a breakable rubber band or shock cord for added security. Whichever method you choose, just make sure that you have a tourniquet readily available.

Complete your medical kit with a North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet.

Have a secure way to retain your tourniquets with an Elastic Tourniquet Holder.

Admin Pouches

A good plate carrier setup will also include an admin pouch. This is where you will keep items such as maps, pens, and spare batteries. A Juggernaut case is a great option for this. It offers you easy access to a cell phone or small tablet. Having a dedicated pouch for smaller, miscellaneous items will save time and prevent things from being forgotten or lost in the shuffle.

Carry your small mission essentials in a compact flat pouch.

When it comes to radios, there's always a difficult decision to be made about where to carry them. On the one hand, carrying them on the front of your body makes them more accessible. However, this takes up valuable space on your plate carrier. On the other hand, carrying them on your back keeps them out of the way but can make it difficult to change batteries or frequencies if you need to. Ultimately, it's up to the individual to decide where to carry their radio, but it's important to be aware of the pros and cons of each option.

Wherever you place your radio, keep it secure with a radio pouch from U.S. Kinetic.

A good plate carrier setup should take into consideration how the user will be accessing their radio. The most common location to integrate a push-to-talk or PTT is on the front non-dominant side of the plate carrier to allow access while keeping a hand on the fire control of your weapon. This keeps the PTT within easy reach and eliminates the need to think about which radio you are activating in a stressful situation if you are carrying two radios.

The back of the plate carrier can be a bit of a problem for those who are trying to pack light. However, if you are carrying larger gear or preparing for a longer operation, you may want to consider using a backpack instead. Additionally, you can attach a water bladder to the back of the plate carrier, as long as it is protected by some sort of pouch.

Hydration Pouch. Perfect for carrying water on the back of your kit. 

Mission Specific Equipment

A good plate carrier setup is all about finding the right balance between functionality and comfort. Every piece of gear you add to your plate carrier should be tested for movement, to make sure it doesn't cause any uncomfortable rubbing or chafing. You want to avoid storing anything too heavy too far from your body - it will just cause you to fatigue faster and could potentially give away your position if it bangs against walls or other objects.

Make sure that all of your gear is properly secured. Shock cord or bungee cord can help ensure that gear is tightly fastened and that there is no excess play in any of the moving parts. You will want to dampen the noise of metal buckles by wrapping them with electrical tape or elastic sleeves. Be sure to trim any loose ends and tuck away any loose straps or cords – they can easily snag on something and cause injury or damage to equipment.


Your plate carrier setup depends on shooter preference and should be tailored to the individual. The user of the plate carrier should be honest about their capabilities. It is helpful to keep in mind that physical fitness is an important aspect of using this kind of equipment effectively. With these things in mind, building a plate carrier can be a rewarding process. Realistic training that closely mirrors the type of use you will get out of your gear is the best way to test your equipment setup and find ways to improve.

It is important to choose the right setup for your plate carrier in order to ensure optimal protection and performance. There are many factors to consider when choosing a plate carrier setup, but following these basic guidelines will help you get started.

Build your loadout with U.S. Kinetic.

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