So, as you may recall, not long ago, I authored an article on tactical plate carriers, in which my very top pick happened to be the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier.
All told, when I first drafted my article on tactical plate carriers, as I do in all my reviews, the whole idea is for me to provide you with my top picks of whichever tactical gear product I happen to be discussing.
Since my earlier article featured the 5.11 TacTec as my top pick, I figured it would be in our best interest today to explore this plate carrier in further detail, as I think it will be very much worth your while to give this system a priority consideration which absolutely warrants today’s review.
5.11 TacTec Details
The 5.11 TacTec carrier is made with rugged 500D Cordura Nylon, featuring padded yoke shoulder straps, perforated mech, front and back padded panels with built-in airflow channels.
The 5.11 TacTec is an innovative design for maximum range of motion.
The 5.11 Tactical® TacTec® Plate Carrier is constructed with superior standards to achieve the highest-level of performance.
This system offers ultimate lightweight and mobility.
Designed as a fully functional ballistic plate carrier or as a weighted fitness vest, the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier offers the best in terms of comfort.
It holds two ballistic armor plates [medium and large] and includes a low-profile Grab-Drag handle and a single-handed quick release cable escape system.
Secure, breathable, and exceptionally functional, the TacTec® Plate Carrier is ready for your next mission.
5.11 TacTec Features Summary
Fits 24mm wide medium (12.5" H x 9.5" L x 2" W) and large (13.25" x 10.25" x 2.25") SAPI plates.
Standard cummerbunds will accommodate a 52" circumference with the elastic relaxed, and up to 57" when fully extended.
5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier For Athletes
So, if you thought TacTec was meant exclusively as a tactical gear product, you are wrong.
The 5.11 TacTec has been used by many athletes at the CrossFit Games and is popular for the “murph” WOD.
The CrossFit Murph workout itself consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another one-mile run, all done consecutively.
The CrossFit Games are an annual athletic competition owned and operated by CrossFit, LLC.
Athletes compete in a series of events at the Games, which may be various standard CrossFit workouts consisting of metabolic conditioning exercises, weightlifting, and gymnastics movements, as well as a range of activities from other sports such as swimming and cycling.
The events generally are not revealed before the Games, can include unexpected elements to challenge the athletes' readiness to compete, and are designed to test the athletes' fitness using CrossFit's own criteria.
Winners of the CrossFit Games earn cash prizes and the title of "Fittest on Earth."
So, it is not sufficient to say that the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier happens to be the best there is when it comes to plate carriers out there.
Following is a review of some of the unique design features, which support my picking the 5.11 TacTec, as the best of the best in this product-line.
Laser Cut Molle/Velcro panel
The Laser Cut Molle/Velcro panel on the upper half of both sides of the plate carrier, offers a lot of space for adding ID panels or morale patches. The material is soft, felt-like, light, and strong at the same time.
Padded Shoulder Straps:
These resemble the yoke-style straps on 5.11 backpacks, which are amazingly comfortable with a lot of padding.
The airflow channels run through a quadrant of raised padding to allow for added cooling that adds to comfort.
The design of the 5.11 TacTec adds flexibility with bungee material that can be an attachment point for side plate pouches, or whatever you want to add.
Grab / Drag Handle
From my perspective, this has to be the forefront or best feature of this system. When deployed, the handle releases an extended strap, allowing for the person pulling/dragging the downed or injured person to stand upright.
Emergency Release Handle
So, the handle is located at the top center of the front plate, making it easy to find. Pulling it removes the cable wires integrated throughout the Tac Tec and releases the shoulder straps and cummerbunds. To be sure, this is meant to be used exclusively as an emergency.
Internal Plate Straps
There are four Velcro straps for the horizontal sides and two at the bottom. Once you have it tightened, those plates will definitely stay in their place.
Built-in Admin Pouch
There is a rather large Admin Pouch pocket behind the front laser-cut panel. Provides for effective use of otherwise empty space where you can easily accommodate quite a few documents, maps or whatever it is that you want to have with you.
Like I mentioned before, the 5.11 Tactical® TacTec® Plate Carrier is constructed with a uniquely rugged, lightweight 500d Nylon material, body-contoured weighing just 2.5 lbs., unloaded, yet capable of holding both medium and large ballistic plates, front and back.
5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier Set-Up
Always start by inserting the weight training or ballistic plates you will be using inside your plate carrier prior to putting it on.
Then, add any MOLLE attachments you need to the webbing on the outside of the vest.
Once you have your plate carrier loaded up, follow these tips to properly fit the load bearing gear to your body:
- 1Center the front plate on your torso.
- 2Adjust the shoulder straps so the top of the front plate aligns with your sternal notch, where your collarbone meets your sternum.
- 3Make sure both shoulder straps are even so the plates lie straight.
- 4Tighten the side straps for a snug fit.
- 5Use a mirror or ask a friend to check that the back plate's placement aligns with the front plate.
- 6Tug on your plate carrier to test its security.
- 7Move around, lift your arms in the air, twist your torso and bend over to make sure the carrier moves with your body without shifting.
- 8If the vest does shift, tighten the straps, and adjust any additional accessories you have attached that interfere with the weight distribution and fit.
The 5.11 TacTec fits 24mm wide medium (12.5" H x 9.5" L x 2" W) and large (13.25" x 10.25" x 2.25") SAPI plates.
The 5.11 TacTec vest weighs on its own and can be ordered as part of a package with a set of compatible plates—including your choice of the original Rogue Vest Plates or USA Cast Weight Vest Plates.
Assembly, Disassembly and Adjustment
So, I gave this section a lot of consideration and as the old adage says, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” never so true for describing the assembly, disassembly, and adjustment of the 5.11 TacTec.
No matter how good a job I could do detailing these functions, still, I could not come close to the many great videos you can find on YouTube showing how to deal with the 5.11 TacTec.
As such, I strongly urge you and recommend you watch some of these very explicative videos, which I am sure will allow you to learn much better and faster how to use these vests; much better than any narrative I may offer. Below is a quick video that shows you how to adjust the Tac Tec Plate Carrier:
The general rule of thumb is that its front plate pouch must sit at the width of two fingers under your collarbone.
You can use the shoulder straps to adjust the rear plate pouch to make it in line with the front instead of sagging lower on the back.
All carriers should feel snug and tight.
I will say this much though, this is an extremely user-friendly system, and, after a couple of times, you will master all necessary functions needed for a comfortable and snug fit.
Price and Availability
As for price, you can buy the TacTec Plate Carrier at a price point of approximately $210.
As you well can imagine, these vests are offered in multiple colors, each bearing different model numbers.
You have to be careful though as there are a number of models which are either unavailable and/or have been discontinued.
As such we are providing you with a link where you can check to see if your particular model choice is available.
Make sure to check this out as availability is always changing, depending on different unpredictable variables.
5.11 TacTec Pros and Cons
So, this is a vest with a rugged construction.
You can wash it, throw it in the dirt, rub it against a tree, and it will still hold its own.
If you really wanted to break this vest, you would actually have to cut it, or rip it at the seams, otherwise, again, these vests are made to withstand rough treatment, as well they should, considering what they are originally made to protect you.
From my very own personal perspective, the one key feature which I find makes this the best of the best is their comfortability.
This comfortability thanks to an abundance of strategically positioned padding.
Adjusting and fitting of these vests is absolutely superb, allowing for ease of motion and comfort at the same time.
What I also like about the TacTec Plate Carriers is the fact that they are offered in as many color options as you can possibly imagine. In addition, these carries have many weight options, which will satisfy literally all diverse needs. Last but not least is their durability.
When you buy a TacTec Plate Carrier, you are sure to be purchasing a system that will last you a long time, thus ensuring that you will have a great return on your investment.
So, again, I personally do not find much that is wrong with the TacTec line.
That said, however, if I had to pick some flaw or drawback, I could say that for a vest that goes only to 30 lbs., some may consider the price point to be on the high side and I will respect that.
It is true that there are cheaper vests around in the marketplace that will give you the same amount of resistance.
Will they look the same as the TacTec on you? More likely no, they will not.
Still, at a price point of $200 for a vest without any weights, may be a lot to ask for.
In addition, the design of the TacTec may not be for everyone.
So, if you are one that likes the military look, you will definitely love the TacTec. Vis-à-vis, their military design might be a turn-off for some folks – a matter of preference, as some other vests have less of the military look.
Our Final Verdict
5.11 TacTec - A Winner
Well, if you paid close attention to all I have said in this review to now, you can pretty much assume what our final verdict is on the 5.11 TacTec® Plate Carrier.
Our verdict is that this is definitely a great plate carrier for many reasons.
So, to begin with, this is a system which is proven in terms of ruggedness, reliability, and comfort.
The 5.11 Tactical® TacTec® is built to military standards, but, as I mentioned earlier, it will easily keep up to your workout routine, as is currently used by athletes – not coincidental that they are now being used by athletes at the CrossFit Games.
I personally feel this plate carrier vest is among the best weighted vests out there in the marketplace.
The TacTec was designed to be lightweight and minimalistic as far as actual plate carriers go.
For the same reason, TacTec was able to achieve this minimalism without having to sacrifice in their durability or comfort as usually happens with some of their counterparts.
Up on the top section you have a pair of robust shoulder straps which are, truly, the backbone of this vest.
The TacTec chose to go with wide, well-padded straps contoured to follow the shape of the body.
The design was made to adapt the shoulder straps to any body size and shape.
So, not to worry if you are out of shape, as the straps and the cummerbund are your best friends in making sure you get a perfect fit.
I attribute their durability mainly to their use of the 500D Cordura.
So, if you decide to buy one of these, you are making a long-term investment as, for sure, it will last you a long time and then some.
And I attribute their comfort to the mesh cummerbund designed so that it will no be packing your waist area with unnecessary material.
Instead, you are getting what is, essentially, a MOLLE webbing that sits flush with your body.
Summary and Conclusion
So, folks, overall, we have nothing but good things to say about the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier.
Notwithstanding the minor flaws noted earlier, I do not think you can go wrong with this system, which is why it is ranked among the best in its product-line.
Bottom line, this plate carrier is comfortable, breathable, and will definitely stand up to all the abuse of which you can think.
It is built just as good as some of the higher end carriers.
And like we said earlier, it gives you tremendous versatility in terms of the various uses and missions that may be in your line of interest.
Please, do yourself a favor and do not hesitate to add a 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier to your tactical gear collection.
You will be glad you did and so will we.