HRT Tactical Gear


In the world of tactical gear, choosing the right setup can be the difference between comfort and burden, or in extreme cases, life and death. This post delves into two prominent types of Load Bearing Equipment: the plate carrier and the chest rig. Each serves unique purposes depending on the situation at hand, shaping how one engages with their environment effectively and safely.

Understanding the Basics: Definitions and key differences between plate carriers and chest rigs

Plate Carriers

Plate carriers are tactical vests designed to carry armor plates. They are typically used in high-risk situations to protect vital organs against ballistic impacts.

LBE Showdown: Plate Carrier or Chest Rig? Uncategorized HRT Tactical Gear

Chest Rigs

LBE Showdown: Plate Carrier or Chest Rig? Uncategorized HRT Tactical Gear

Chest rigs, on the other hand, are lightweight with multiple pockets and pouches. They are used to carry equipment and ammunition, offering more accessibility than protection.

The key distinction lies in their primary functions: plate carriers are centered on protection, whereas chest rigs focus on lower profile mobility. 

It is also easier to wear a backpack over a chest rig than over a loaded plate carrier.

Utility in Context: Review of various scenarios where each is used

In military operations, plate carriers are predominant for their ballistic protection capabilities. Special Forces and infantry might opt for plate carriers in hostile environments. Conversely, chest rigs are favored by scouts or units who value speed and endurance over direct confrontation, needing ample equipment but less armor.

Law enforcement often utilizes plate carriers in tactical operations like raids or active shooter situations where additional protection is crucial. Chest rigs might be seen during prolonged surveillance when gear accessibility trumps the need for armor.

In civilian contexts, hunters and sports enthusiasts prefer chest rigs for their lightweight and flexibility, proving ideal for mobility and ease of access.

Importance of Choice: Why choosing the right gear matters

Selecting between a plate carrier and a chest rig can influence operational efficiency, comfort, and safety. The right choice allows for better performance and adaptability to respective scenarios, enhancing both protection and accessibility.

Comparison of Design

Materials and Build

Plate carriers are made from high-durability materials like Cordura with reinforced stitching to handle heavy ballistic plates. Chest rigs, being less burdened by weight, may utilize lighter materials like nylon, which provide flexibility and breathability but all HRT Chest Rigs are genuine Cordura for superior abrasion resistance. Optional Airpass Backers allow for airflow making them even more comfortable than other rigs on the market. 

Weight and Comfort

The inclusion of armor plates makes plate carriers significantly heavier. They can cause fatigue over extended periods. We designed the HRT LBAC Plate Carrier to address this concern. Chest rigs offer increased comfort due to their lighter weight, making them ideal for longer durations.  

Modularity and Flexibility

Plate carriers shine with their modular design allowing for various attachments and configurations. Chest rigs also offer modularity but focus more on the accessibility of carried items rather than armor.

Usability and Functionality

Accessibility Features

Chest rigs excel in this area with well-designed pouches and pockets that provide easy access to equipment. Plate carriers, being bulkier, might restrict accessibility but offer attachment points for additional gear.

Ease of Movement

Chest rigs allow for greater mobility compared to plate carriers. The latter’s weight and bulk can hinder quick movements and agility.

Protection Levels

Plate carriers provide high-level ballistic protection, essential in direct combat scenarios. Chest rigs offer minimal protection, focusing more on lower-profile equipment carriage.

Applications and Scenarios

Military Use

In military contexts, the choice often depends on the mission’s nature—direct engagement favors plate carriers, while reconnaissance operations may benefit from the lighter chest rigs.

Law Enforcement

Tactical teams often wear plate carriers for breaching or high-threat interventions, whereas beat cops might use chest rigs over soft armor for carrying essentials during regular patrols.

Civilian Use and Sports

For activities like the range or hunting, chest rigs are preferred for their lightweight and flexibility which provide ease of movement and accessibility.

LBE Showdown: Plate Carrier or Chest Rig? Uncategorized HRT Tactical Gear

Pros and Cons Evaluation

Advantages of Plate Carriers

Offers superior ballistic protection

Highly customizable for tactical needs

Advantages of Chest Rigs

Better comfort and less fatigue

Quick access to equipment and tools

Limitations and Cautions

Plate carriers are heavier and can cause quicker fatigue, potentially being overkill in low-risk scenarios. Chest rigs, while comfortable, provide little to no ballistic protection, which could be detrimental in high-threat environments.

Summary and Recommendations

Reviewing the differences and applications of plate carriers and chest rigs highlights the importance of situation-specific gear. Understanding each type’s capabilities ensures that users are both protected and prepared.

Final Thoughts

The debate between plate carriers and chest rigs is ongoing, but the best choice ultimately depends on individual needs and operational context. By carefully assessing the need for protection against the need for mobility and gear accessibility, one can select the most appropriate tactical gear.


What is the main difference between a plate carrier and a chest rig in terms of usage?
A plate carrier is primarily used for ballistic protection while a chest rig is used for carrying essential gear.

Can you wear a plate carrier over a chest rig?
Yes, it’s possible to wear a plate carrier over a chest rig for added protection and carrying capacity, though it might affect mobility. With the HRT Placard system, you can swap your placard from Carrier to Chest Rig in seconds.

What should I consider when choosing between a plate carrier and a chest rig for outdoor sports?
Consider the balance between the need for protection and mobility, the duration of the activity, and the type of equipment needed.

How much does a standard plate carrier weigh compared to a chest rig?
A standard, unloaded plate carrier can weigh between 2 to 5 pounds without plates, and unloaded chest rigs are typically under 2 pounds with placard.

AWLS, Tactical Gear, Plate Carrier, Chest Harness, Tactical Training, Weapon Mounted Light, Weapon Accessories, Tactical Light, Tactical Belt, Battle Belt, Gun Belt, First Line Gear, Load Bearing Equipment, Body Armor, Ace Link Armor, Ballistic Plates, magazine Pouches, Pistol Pouch, Rifle Pouch, AR Pouch, tactical vest, body armor vest, mlok, military, police, law enforcement, infantary