So I made another plate carrier

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

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RonnyRonin
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So I made another plate carrier

Post by RonnyRonin » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:34 pm

I've made a few plate carriers in the past, but mostly focused on cheap and easy, I still cut a few corners on this one but I am getting much closer to the kind of nuance I want in a final product.

I've been using a BALCS cut TAG brand plate carrier for the last little while, but the ventilation and shoulder padding where quite lacking, and with the right plates I really believe soft armor backing is a waste. I got a USMC cooling vest (google it!) which uses the craziest, heaviest spacer mesh you've ever seen. decided I would try to make a whole PC with this on the interior to see if I could boost ventilation and if it had enough padding to eliminate foam from the design all together.

My goal was similar to the First Spear Sleeper PC, I wanted ammo carriage in the sides of the cummerbund and a very low overall signature. I know you can never get concealable vest kind of low-signature, but I figured this was probably the sleekest you get get SAPIs and 6 AR mags so it was the route I would take.

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At the early phases I had dreams of fully shaped, pleated plate pockets that perfectly matched the double curve SAPIs. Very quickly decided that is was far too much work despite my Draping schooling (oh if my apparel design profs could see how I was using their teaching).

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here is the USMC cooling vest and the last of my coyote hypalon. the crude velcro strap that came with the vest turned out to be all the loop velcro I would need for the whole project.

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cut the back plate and shoulder straps as one contiguous piece.

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very simple hypalon cummerbund, shock cord for adjustment and flex. simple cordura sleeve to keep it mounted to the back plate pocket.

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cool cummerbund cutouts I stole from First Spear, loop velcro on the front from the cooling vest. I had 4" loop I had planned to use but it was "sand" and not "coyote" so I had to do the ghetto layers of 2" strips technique.

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added 4" elastic webbing to the cummerbund to retain 3 AR mags per side. I decided this is a better use of bulk and weight then side plates, and keeps the overall bulk on my body pretty even all around.

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spacer mesh alone turned out to not be enough cush for this project (maybe if I'd made the straps wider it would have been enough) so I shoved some 5/8ths EVA foam in there with it, nicely matches the plate contours.

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behold my shame, I did not have color matching hook velcro so I used what I could scrounge. But it does show you my success with contiguous shoulder straps that I believe are more comfortable, lighter, stronger and lower bulk then the typical removable pads-over-webbing of most PCs.

Verdict is still out on how successful the thick spacer mesh is for ventilation, early tests are promising. It does seem to be just enough padding to prevent my spine digging into the rear plate as it tends to do. Since I have no soft armor or foam backers in this I am relying on the spacer for back-face deformation protection to a certain extent; while you can compress the spacer mesh easily with a finger even over just the surface area of a hand it provides quite a bit of resistance.

Turns out despite my desire for sleek, plate-hugging pockets, that the integrated shoulder pads on the back and hypalon wings on the front meant I could have went with a very rectangular plate pocket design rather then the traditional hexagonal pocket. Once you go with a rectangular plate pocket you have the option to load the plates in from the top, eliminating the bottom velcro flap for a much stronger over-all design, probably what I'll go with next time.

The magazine placement is pretty good in my mind, I have the placed for a downward draw which would let me get at them even with a sweater or jacket on. They aren't the best under a backpack strap but I can still get at them and they don't dig in too bad. 4" elastic seems to be plenty of retention but time will tell how long the elastic lasts. The cummerbund design makes this a fairly replaceable part, but I'm sure I'll be on to Gen II long before anything wears out. Because of the the hypalon material though the cummerbund has much less flex then I had hoped for, which mostly only becomes noticeable when you are breathing hard. Otherwise the whole carrier really is GLUED to you which is quite nice.

My long-term goal is still an INCH focused PC with ultimate long term durability as the main thing, meaning no velcro, no foam, and no elastic if possible since these are all consumable components, but that is more a fun design project then a serious need of course.
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by Stercutus » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:33 am

Nice job. I have been thinking about making one myself to go over my duty gear. I can't find a commercial one large enough to go over top of me and the vest I already wear.

How much do you figure you have in materials? Not including the plates of of course.
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by RonnyRonin » Wed Sep 14, 2016 10:53 am

probably less then 1 yard of 500d cordura ($5ish)
cooling vest was about $14 (eBay)
webbing and buckles was <$5
hypalon is the expensive part but I probably used less then 0.25yd ($5?) (eBay)
$1 or two in elastic (rockywoods)

so $30ish?

cheap and easy way is two cordura rectangles with loop velcro on the inside surface to add or remove padding, and 3" webbing for straps. If you are wearing it over a vest padding is just wasted bulk so you can cut a LOT of corners.
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by Stercutus » Wed Sep 14, 2016 5:55 pm

Yeah, it would just be to throw on top of my duty gear in case of a call with an increased threat so padding would not be needed. Our current level II stuff covers most of the torso but won't stop any CFR threats and performance vs certain other bullet is sub par.
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by Tobias05 » Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:14 pm

Sweet!

$30 bucks in materials, how many "hours of love" did you labor through do you estimate? Time or money, spend one!

I really like the streamlined built-in mag carrier idea, props!
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by RonnyRonin » Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:33 pm

Not much time this go around, I started with a doodle and did all the pattern work and sewing over two evenings after work. Maybe 6 hours total. Next one I probably will simplify a bit more and probably get it down to just a few hours. One way to cut a lot of time is to purchase the shoulder pads premade, they can be had fairly cheaply and will cut out a huge chunk of the build time.
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by Woods Walker » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:42 pm

Great job!!!
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by Beowolf » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:48 pm

That is very cool. Love seeing people practice those less-common skills!
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by doitnstyle1 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:09 pm

We got to get together to look at this. I also need to look at your heavy duty sewing machine too.
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by Dogan » Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:52 am

Pretty slick man. Nice work!
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by ashwednesday » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:17 pm

That is amazing looking. I've modded existing carriers but never made one from scratch.

I do think you'll need to close off the bottom of the mag carriers if you want to move fast without them dropping out. Loaded mags are pretty heavy.
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by RonnyRonin » Fri Dec 02, 2016 12:34 am

4' elastic with the grippy hypalon is a lot of retention. Add Pmag ribs in and they are pretty solid. Upside-down BFG 10-speeds aren't unheard of either, even with aluminum mags. I'm kind of counting on the bottom-out draw for certain concealment garments so I don't want to seal off the bottom.
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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by ashwednesday » Fri Dec 02, 2016 1:19 pm

I guess I forgot it was hypalon on one side.

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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by ashwednesday » Fri Dec 02, 2016 1:21 pm

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I sewed this bit (by hand, obviously. It looks awful) to be able to hang a shingle onto the front of an old slick DBT Victory.

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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by ashwednesday » Fri Dec 02, 2016 1:25 pm

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Looks like this with the shingle mounted, and the buckles are easily removed.

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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by ashwednesday » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:25 pm

My sewing machine is down right now, but I want to try something like what you made. Otherwise, I might try and buy a "minimalist" carrier (like just two plates bags with straps) and sew on additional velcro and just make the cummerbund.

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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by ashwednesday » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:09 am

RonnyRonin wrote:4' elastic with the grippy hypalon is a lot of retention. Add Pmag ribs in and they are pretty solid. Upside-down BFG 10-speeds aren't unheard of either, even with aluminum mags. I'm kind of counting on the bottom-out draw for certain concealment garments so I don't want to seal off the bottom.
Thinking about your elastic cummerbund, have you seen the three bungee cummerbund on the Ares Armor Derma? I was thinking about buying some thick flat bungee by the foot and trying to make a cummerbund with two hook and loop panels up front for the flap, transitioning to three bungees spaced like pals webbing and wrapping around the back.
ashwednesday wrote:My sewing machine is down right now, but I want to try something like what you made. Otherwise, I might try and buy a "minimalist" carrier (like just two plates bags with straps) and sew on additional velcro and just make the cummerbund.

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Re: So I made another plate carrier

Post by Asymetryczna » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:40 am

Simple. Practical. Functional. Made in the USA. I like it.
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