The Best Plate Carriers for Workouts and Murph WOD Training

man working out with plate carrier

People use plate carriers in very different ways. Some use them for protection in live combat, while others use them like a weighted vest. As a fitness tool, they allow you to increase your body weight while maintaining athletic mobility.

To be clear, the plate carriers we're reviewing here are NOT intended for combat. They’re best used in fitness and training settings like the "Murph" Memorial Day workout. With the right weight plates and a few other key accessories, they can help build the type of unstoppable toughness, conditioning, and endurance that can help you conquer every type of real-world challenge.

If you’re ready to upgrade your training with the best plate carriers on the market right now, read on!

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The Best Plate Carrier - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Plate Carrier - 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier Vest

5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier Vest


  • Weight: 2.5 lbs.
  • Sizes: 1 adjustable size
  • Colors: 6
  • Features: functional MOLLE webbing, airflow channels, front and back plate loading, emergency drag handle


5.11 is a respected tactical company with legions of loyal fans. They’ve been the official plate-carrier provider of the CrossFit games for years, and their equipment saves lives on a regular basis. As a workout tool, their products can help you build fitness to prepare for seriously hard activities, like Division 1 practice or a Murph workout.

If you’re looking for a tool that simulates the next-level fitness challenge of running, breathing, and shooting while wearing real body armor, the 5.11 TacTec vest will provide it. The heavy-duty stitching, 500-gram nylon construction, and MOLLE tactical straps are built to last. And the TacTec moves well. With yoke shoulder pads, adjustable tension bands, and airflow channels, this product is comfortable to wear, even with heavy weights.

What We Like

  • Can hold medium and large plates
  • Works with ballistic-style vest plates and Rogue Echo cast plates
  • Moves well despite burly construction
  • Can be ordered as a package with customizable weight options

What We Don't Like

  • Trickier to adjust for all body types than other options
  • Packed with advanced features that many users won't need
  • Definitely a pricier option

BUY: 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier Vest

Best Budget Plate Carrier - Condor Sentry Plate Carrier

Condor Sentry Plate Carrier


  • Weight: 1.5 lbs.
  • Sizes: 1 adjustable size, fits waist sizes 30–46”
  • Colors: 4
  • Features: functional webbing, airflow channels, front and back plate loading, emergency drag handle


If you're not preparing for actual combat, it can be hard to justify the cost of a combat-grade plate carrier. Luckily, Condor's Sentry Plate Carrier provides much of the same functionality and features of higher-end equipment, but for less than half the cost.

Like more expensive options, you can use the modular MOLLE attachment points to build a realistic replica of body armor for your training. The breathable padded mesh interior and quick-adjust cinching will help minimize wear and discomfort. If discomfort’s what you’re after, just load this vest up with Rogue's Cast Weight Vest Plates. Misery incoming!

What We Like

  • Similar weight and loading capabilities as far more expensive options
  • Works with ballistic-style vest plates and Rogue weight plates
  • Moves well despite burly construction
  • Can be ordered as a package with customizable weight options

What We Don't Like

  • Not the choice for smaller frames or many women
  • Not designed for use with Rogue laser-cut vest plates
  • Some reviewers find it hard to find the perfect "snugness" level
  • Some reviewers complain that it can be loose and bouncy on users upwards of 190–200 pounds

BUY: Condor Sentry Plate Carrier

Best Minimalist Plate Carrier - Rogue Plate Carrier

Rogue Plate Carrier


  • Weight: 1.12 lbs.
  • Sizes: 3 (Under 34”, 34–42”, 42–50” waist)
  • Colors: 4
  • Features: lightweight design, padded front and back, adjustable straps, reinforced stitching


This simple, no-nonsense vest was co-developed with former CrossFit programming head Dave Castro, so you can be sure that it's a match for high-intensity training and multi-planar movements. It weighs just over a pound empty, hugs tight to the torso, and is made of the same heavy-duty cordura fabric as higher-end options. If you've used other plate carriers that "bounced" painfully when loaded, this snug, athletic product solves that problem.

This plate carrier pairs well with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and pull-ups, enabling you to make the most of any small workout space. In a larger gym, it can enhance GHD sit-ups, Nordic curls, or posterior-chain exercises on a glute-ham raise. If you've ever disliked the bulkiness of plate carriers, this product could be for you.

What We Like

  • Simple, snug design moves with your body
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Tough 1000D and 500D Cordura fabric

What We Don't Like

  • Upcharge for medium and large sizes
  • Shoulder pads cost extra (and are pretty necessary)

BUY: Rogue Plate Carrier

Best Plate Carrier for Women - MiR Women's Weighted Vest

MIR Women's Weighted Vest


  • Weight: 3 lbs.
  • Sizes: 1, but with adjustable weight increments
  • Colors: 1
  • Features: designed for women, adjustable shoulder and abdomen straps, 10–50 pounds weight added


A common complaint about weighted vests and plate carriers is that they are designed with a very specific body in mind. Namely, a man's body! The MiR Women's Weighted Vest is designed to fit women's frames, decreasing pressure on the chest and allowing you to "breathe easy and train hard.”

This vest comes with weight increments from 10 to 50 pounds, which is more than enough to increase the intensity of your workout.

What We Like

  • Designed for women's bodies
  • Can be as light or heavy as you need
  • Easily adjustable for different bodies

What We Don't Like

  • Not a simulation of a plate carrier (if that's what you need)
  • Dialing in the fit can be tricky for smaller women

BUY: MiR Women's Weighted Vest

Best Slick Plate Carrier - Hyper Vest Elite

Hypervest Elite


  • Weight: 10, 15, or 20 lbs.
  • Sizes: 4
  • Colors: 1
  • Features: unisex design, open side panels, wicking Cordura fabric


In tactical circles, a "slick" plate carrier is a protection vest that's so slim, you can wear it under normal clothes. Hyper Vest's smooth-fitting Elite vest brings this idea to the fitness realm with a weighted vest so slim, no one except you will know you have it on. Its open sides and elastic straps are more like an old-school corset than a military vest, and many reviewers find they barely notice it's there.

The Elite comes pre-loaded with one of three "tiers" of weight: 10, 15, or 20 pounds. These make it well-suited for endurance work, high-powered explosive exercise, and other workouts where bulkier vests simply aren't an option.

What We Like

  • Slim, athletic design
  • Versatile enough for strength training, walking, running, or many other activities
  • Simple pre-loaded design with no weight adjustments necessary

What We Don't Like

  • The side laces can dig into the skin when strapped tight
  • Pricier than most other fitness vests

BUY: Hyper Vest Elite

Best Plate Carrier for Beginners - GoRuck Plate Carrier 3.0

Goruck Plate Carrier 3


  • Weight: 10, 15, or 20 lbs.
  • Sizes: 3
  • Colors: 2
  • Features: Lumbar padding


The GoRuck Plate Carrier 3.0 is designed to fix many of the complaints that prevent people from sticking with weighted vest training. It has improved lumbar padding and a wider sternum strap than the 2.0 model, making it less likely that you'll feel strain in places you shouldn't, like your lower back and neck.

The interior of the 3.0 is also made with a less abrasive fabric than previous models, so it's comfortable to wear without an undershirt. And the plate pocket has thicker padding to keep the weight from jostling while you're working out. If your previous Murph experiences were unpleasant for all the wrong reasons, this could make your next one unpleasant for all the right ones.

What We Like

  • Extra padding where it matters most
  • Handles light and heavy weights with ease
  • Weights stay in place during dynamic movements

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive for a beginner option
  • Weight options start at 20 pounds total, perfect for a men's Murph WOD but too heavy for women's version

BUY: GoRuck Plate Carrier 3.0

What to Look for in a Plate Carrier


Wearing a weighted vest or plate carrier during workouts isn't supposed to be comfortable. But if you're wearing a vest that's the wrong size for your frame, it can be more painful than necessary—or even downright dangerous. Don't risk injury or leave yourself with abrasion wounds from a mis-sized workout!

If you're a 180-pound man with an athletic build, most off-the-shelf plate carriers will probably provide a "good enough" fit. But those men aren't the only people doing tactical-style workouts at home or in the gym anymore! Women, people with smaller frames, or people with larger frames should consider models with multiple sizes or watch the sizing videos from the manufacturers to help dial in your straps.

Weight Capacity

Many people only use plate carriers or weighted vests for a handful of workouts a year. If the Memorial Day Murph is on your calendar, then it makes sense to own a vest that matches the Murph standards: 20 pounds. for men, 14 pounds. for women.

But if you're using your plate carrier to prepare for the rigors of combat, consider plate carriers that allow heavier loads. Models like the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier can go up to 70 pounds and contain MOLLE-style accessory straps to help you simulate tactical settings.

Insert Materials

The main difference between a weighted vest and a plate carrier is the type of insert materials they use. A plate carrier is meant to replicate a bullet-proof vest and fits snugger to the skin than a weighted vest. Some weight options, like Rogue's Echo Vest Plates, are even contoured to help them stay close to your body during dynamic and athletic movements.

FAQs About Plate Carriers

Is a plate carrier worth it?

A plate carrier is a hands-free way to increase the intensity of bodyweight exercises, and it can be a worthy addition to a home gym. They’re also easy to store. If you're training for Murph, an annual tradition where weighted vests are mandatory, it's a no-brainer to invest in a plate carrier to help you prepare.

What plate carrier does the army use?

The United States Army uses the Soldier Plate Carrier System (SPCS) in infantry combat settings. You don't need the Army's official plate carrier to get in the best shape possible, though. A slimmer model like the Rogue Plate Carrier would allow you to experience the benefits of weighted vest training without feeling restricted.

What is the difference between a tactical vest and plate carrier?

In military and law enforcement, tactical vests are lighter weight and used in quick missions, while plate carriers are heavier and provide more protection. In workout and fitness settings, however, the two words mean basically the same thing.

About the Author

Nick Collias

Nick Collias

Nick Collias is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience working in health and fitness. Before that, he spent a decade as a print and online journalist, book author, ghostwriter, and editor.

See More from Nick

Nick Collias is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience working in health and fitness. Before that, he spent a decade as a print and online journalist, book author, ghostwriter, and editor.

See More from Nick

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