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Home » Plate Carrier Setup: How Exactly Should Perfect Setup Look Like (+ Real Photos)

Plate Carrier Setup: How Exactly Should Perfect Setup Look Like (+ Real Photos)

Before I wrote this article, I’ve seen a lot of articles about the plate carrier setup. And you know what? 95% of them are total bullshit. Why? Because they don’t give any useful information related to the real-world situation. In those articles, I’ve seen tons of crap like “what is the plate carrier”, “how to choose ballistic plates”, etc. But there is nothing about the rules that help you create your plate carrier correctly and fits your needs. 

And here is one of the biggest revelations about the plate carrier setup: there are no perfect universal setups fit for all people, all purposes and all gears. That’s it. And you won’t find it anywhere. All we can do is to recommend you and give advice that helps you create your personal setup, depending on your needs and tasks.   

Don’t really want to waste your time, so think we should start it right now and here. There are only two main rules for the perfect plate carrier setup:

  1. Know your mission and goals;
  2. Comfort and ergonomics are first and foremost;


1. Know Your Mission and Goals

This rule is one of the most important in the field. Your final plate carrier setup TOTALLY depends on your mission and goals. Based on my personal experience in the Russian-Ukrainian War, this is a common mistake when service members create a setup that is completely inappropriate for his goals and tasks. 

Let’s take a closer look with a few examples:

  1. If you’re in the SR (recon teams), you shouldn’t use the setup designated for the assault teams;
  2. If you’re in the medical personnel (let’s say at least CLS, combat lifesaver), you don’t really need a loadout or equipment used by recon teams; 
  3. If you’re MOS 12B (aka sapper or combat engineer), you shouldn’t use the medical equipment in your plate carrier setup, like the medical personnel, as well as don’t really need to use GPNVG-18 (even if it looks very tacticool, though).  

2. Comfort and Ergonomics Are First

Speaking about the PERFECT plate carrier setup, you should care about the comfort and ergonomics most and foremost. Look, if you’re going to use your plate carrier by purpose (not for the 20 minutes flex and tacticool-ass photos for Instagram), you just HAVE TO care about your comfort. 

I must note it again, for the better understanding: my experience is based solely on real world situations. So if you won’t use your plate carrier setup for the real world situations – just close this article and look for something “tacticooler”. If you will, then…  

  1. Think about additional mag pouches;
  2. Think about places where you’ll place your additional mag pouches. Remember: additional mag pouches are quite bulky, so IF you’ll have to drop to the ground and crawl… pouches may be the problem for you;
  3. Place your tourniquet and IFAK pouch at the place that is the most comfortable FOR YOU. Remember: your tourniquet should be placed in the place where you can release it as fast as possible.
  4. Think about placement of additional gear. Don’t forget that the correct plate carrier setup isn’t all about ammo. As many soldiers say, any conflict is 90% about EDC, and only 10% is about shooting.
  5. Grimlocks and carabines (not carbines) are perfect options for the additional and comfortable gear setup and storage.
  6. Think about cummerbund from the “goals+comfort” point of view. Do you need a lightweight setup with no additional protection? Think about skeletal cummerbund. Need a heavy assault version with additional protection? Set for the plain cummerbund with the built-in side plate pockets. Need something in between? Think about skeletal cummerbund, but don’t forget about MOLLE-based side plate pockets. 

My Favorite Plate Carrier Setups (Incl. Minimalist Plate Carrier Setup)

I see, you’re also bored enough for all of the words above. And you probably want to see the setups. So I collected my favorite plate carrier setups I recommend you to use as the base and example for your personal setup. 

Minimalist Plate Carrier Setup

Again – I won’t say “do it as I write down below, my opinion is only one perfect and correct”. Also, really hate the phrase “minimalist plate carrier”. Speaking about plate carriers, we should take into consideration such things as functionality, usability and compliance with the goals and tasks. It’s not about design and flexing around. You CAN’T throw away the tourniquet because “it’s a minimalist setup”, right? 

So in before the shitstorm: my “minimalist” setups may not be such a minimalist, as you may want to see. I just would like to write down how I create a minimalist plate carrier setup, based on my personal service experience and knowledge of war conflicts. 

Minimalist plate carrier setup may include:

  1. Placard with triple mag pouch + admin pouch OR triple mag pouch; 
  2. Tourniquet pouch + TQ; 
  3. Additional admin pouch (fanny pack).

As an option, there may be an IFAK/JFAK pouch on the cummerbund or on the back side of the plate carrier (for example, like a Ferro Concepts Roll Trauma Pouch or any similar alternatives). But if your plate carrier seems uncomfortable or too bulky, you can place an IFAK/JFAK pouch on the battle belt.   

Plate Carrier Setup for Medics

One of the plate carrier setups for the medical personnel may be the next:

  1. Triple mag pouch – not necessary, but desirable;
  2. Trauma shears pouch + trauma shears;
  3. TQ + TQ pouch;
  4. Multitool/knife pouch;
  5. Admin pouch;

…and don’t forget about IFAK/JFAK (can be placed on the battle belt), and medical bag. 

Law Enforcement Plate Carrier Setup

As an option, you can use the next setup for your law enforcement plate carrier:

  1. Placard with triple mag pouch + admin pouch;
  2. Add. admin pouch (fanny pack with loop);
  3. Radio pouch;
  4. TQ + TQ pouch;
  5. Multitool/knife pouch;
  6. IFAK/JFAK – optional, can be set up on the battle belt;

Any other stuff like handcuffs + pouch, pepper spray + pouch, pistol mag pouches, can be set up on the battle belt as well. 

Assault Plate Carrier Setup

Let me note again: the setup I’ll show below isn’t the only option and the way to go. As I wrote above, all your setup depends on your goals and mission. 

Plate carrier setup #1

  1. Placard with triple mag pouch + admin pouch; 
  2. Add.admin pouch; 
  3. 2x grenade pouches;
  4. TQ + TQ pouch;
  5. Radio pouch;
  6. Multitool/knife pouch;
  7. Groin protection (yes, it can be also mounted to the plate carrier);         
plate carrier setup
Osprey Mk IV Plate Carrier Setup

Plate carrier setup #2: same as mentioned below + bigger square of protection. That means this setup will include additional elements of the protection – neck, shoulder protection, etc.

Conclusion: So How to Make Your Perfect Plate Carrier Setup?

There is no universal rule and magic wand that helps you to create perfect setup, remember that. All I can advise you is to create the setup considering the information above, and the few small hints: 

  1. Don’t run for the brands and names only. It’s quite weird to hear “Whoa, this plate carrier used by DEVGRU and SEALS, I saw tacticool photos in Instagram!”, or “Cool guys wearing Ferro Concepts plate carrier, Haley Strategic chest rig and Team Wendy helmet ONLY, so perfect is equally expensive”. No, it’s not. Your setup would be perfect just because you bought Scarab or AVS. It would be just a pricey build.
  2. Also, don’t ever look at the shit-tier quality equipment and gear. You don’t really need to buy a Strandhogg plate carrier base for over $500 to make a good setup, but cheap chinese knock-offs for $30-50 is a total crap.