Gear Review: 5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier

I have quite a few weight vests, and quite a few plate carriers–many of them have been reviewed here on SGPT.

From the HighCom Security R.A.K Body Armor to the Ironwear Fitness Uni Vest  , we’ve put our fair share through it. Now, all of that being said, the 511 plate carrier is my favorite to work out in. There, I said it. I’ve done workouts in my true body armor, like with the Spartan Armor with Condor Plate Carrier, but given the spartan (pun intended) nature of that and lack of cinching around my midline, the plate carrier would always rise and fall on the run during Murph for example, giving me a 20 lb reminded with every step I took that I was wearing plates.

Now, by contrast, I found that when I did half-Murph the day I got this (What else would you do when you have a new plate carrier to break in?), the carrier hugged my torso all the way through the run, into the pull-ups, pushups, and squats. Now that’s just an anecdote, but I think a noteworthy one. Let’s get into the stats.

The TacTec Plate Carrier is exceptionally well made. Everything, from the stitching to the internal velcro hook and loop closures that hold your plates in place, is well done.
There are even nuances that I never in a million years would have thought of, so you know 5.11 took the product through a robust QC period. As i said, I was floored by the fact that the Lynx weight plates I picked up to go inside were secured in several places by velcro to stop the from sloshing around internally. The MOLLE webbing all around is stitched exceptionally well, and screams “strap some heavy gear to me.” There are cables that run front to back to add more rigidity to the rig, above and beyond the 500D nylon that it’s made from. And the coolest part, to me anyway, is the drag handle.

I thought it to be just another hyper-reinforced drag handle like the one on my High Com Security plate carrier, but no. The drag handle velcros into place, and when you tug it a piece of plastic injected nylon is exposed, roughly 2 feet in length, to serve as a drag handle. Something that well designed and thought out you know came from research and conversations with operators, LEO personnel and SWAT teams – and is an authentic and utilitarian touch.

If you’ve ever dragged someone behind you from a drag handle, you know that just a couple extra feet of distance would stop you from tripping over yourself. So that shows how this isn’t just a workout vest, despite you seeing athletes crush workouts with these on at the CrossFit Games.

The vest is very well padded all around, with the shoulders, front, and back having ample padding to make it comfortable for a grueling workout or all day on the body. There are also hook and loop closures for hydration packs. The waist straps have a bungess type feel to them, and are incredibly comfortable. After a few minutes, you forget you have this thing on. That is, until you start racking up some pullups. Then you remember you have an extra 20lbs on.
If I had to tell someone to buy one vest to serve as both a workout vest and tactical plate carrier, it would undoubtedly be this vest.
While there are amazing plate carriers that are devoted to just stopping bullets and being combat effective, the TacTec is the best weight vest in my book. It’s well made, comfortable as all hell, and outstandingly designed. You can tell there is care and detail in every feature and stitch, and I appreciate that. They care about their products, and it shows.

Pros, what we like:

Extremely comfortable, rugged, well-engineered, and innovative. The attention to detail is profound, and it’s almost a pleasure to work out in this thing…almost. Best vest out there to WOD in. Period.

Cons, what we don’t like:

Wish they themselves made plates, but you can source them from Rogue or put some ballistic plates in that bad boy.

Update: May 2019:

I wore this plate carrier for Murph this year, and it performed extremely well. One can see why they use these at the games. While all plate carrier “bounce” when running, due to the extremely sturdy and snug side bands, this stays in place much better than other carriers.

What’s more, the padding is helpful when running, or hitting the deck drenched in sweat, as Murph will do to you. Overall, one of the best plate carriers I’ve ever used just for comfort and performance, not to mention sturdiness and aesthetics. 10/10. 

Alex Castiglione lives in Atlanta, and is an avid outdoorsman and competitive shooter.

Where-abouts include getting after it in his garage gym, practicing martial arts, hitting the trails, or running CrossFit and Strongman competitions for his non-profit which holds fundraiser fitness competitions dedicated to aiding Bully breed rescues, dog rescues, or other non-profits with similar missions.

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