I have to admit, my experience with plate carriers is (was) somewhat limited as this is the first one I’ve ever owned. Over the years, I’ve used different kinds of weighted vests for workouts, but never a real plate carrier. In my defense, it never really became a popular thing until they did “Murph” at the 2015 CrossFit Games. Who really needs a plate carrier instead of a weight vest anyways? Isn’t it technically the same thing?
Well…yes and no.
To say that weight vests and plate carriers are the same thing is like saying oranges and apples are the same thing. The latter are both fruits, they’re both round, but when you eat them, they taste much different. The same things can be said about plate carriers v.s. weighted vests; except I don’t recommend trying to eat either of them.
All of the weighted vests I’ve used in the past have been bulky, cumbersome, didn’t fit well, got too hot, were uncomfortable after some time, or all of the above. Sure, most the ones I used don’t typically cost as much as a plate carrier does either, so I guess you get what you pay for. Plate carriers were designed for practical use, and other than looking really tacticool, they’re meant to be equipped in the most realest of scenarios, the ones where people live and die. When so much is on the line, you’re going to want something comfortable, and that you can move around pretty well in.
There are no options for sizing, but there are plenty of adjustments on the Invest carrier. The cummerbund is elastic, totally removable, and is accompanied by two buckles that are adjustable. If you feel like the carrier is too high or low, the shoulder straps are two adjustable buckles that are covered with some nice removable pads. I don’t foresee being comfortable doing “Murph” in this carrier, or any carrier or weight vest for that matter. Its just part of the workout I guess, but for the most part, I found the Invest carrier pretty breathable. Inside the vest, there are ventilated and padded sections that keep you as comfortable as you possibly could be wearing a plate carrier. Since it is a real world plate carrier, the sides have two pouches for side armor, but in the future I would like to see these removed for a little more ventilation. Also, some more color options would be nice! Maybe ACU or OD Green?
The plates that come inside of the Invest Fitness carrier aren’t designed to stop bullets, but they’re the same 11×10″ sized ones you’d typically find in a normal plate carrier. Normal weight vests have weight cartridges in various locations on the vest or bunched up in one spot, whereas the Invest Fitness carrier has just two plates that are pretty evenly balanced across your frame on the back and on the front. Each plate weighs 8.75lbs and the vest weighs 2.5lbs, totaling out at 20lbs for the male’s variant.
Most movements with the Invest plate carrier are fairly comfortable to do, as much as they can be while wearing a weight vest. Strapped down, the vest doesn’t bobble too much when you run, but in the future I would like to see an internal lockdown system to hold the plates in place better. When it came to doing gymnastics movements, wearing the Invest carrier didn’t hinder any of my movements; there’s a lot of range of movement for your arms to be dynamic. The only movement I really struggled with was bar muscle-ups, because of the inability to “wrap” yourself around the bar; you really have to pull close to your hips. Surprisingly, I could also do a few kipping handstand push-ups before gravity kicked in and the carrier clocked me in the chin.
Now the real reason I never bothered with a plate carrier in the past was because they’re fairly expensive, and typically don’t come with the plates included or shipping. Invest Fitness sells theirs altogether with carrier and plates for either $170/14lb or $180/20lb, with free shipping and a t-shirt! If you’re looking for a plate carrier, there is not even remotely close to this price point. Sure you can get a cheaper weight vest, but then you wouldn’t be reading this review either.
I’ve since gotten the 5.11 Tactec plate carrier, which is what they use in the CrossFit Games and probably is the standard (I had to compare to something). It’s definitely a little nicer, mainly because it’s smaller, but fully loaded from Rogue plus tax and shipping costs $280…and it doesn’t perform $100 better than the Invest Fitness one does. The Invest Fitness plate carriers are high performing and definitely the best value of all the plate carriers available. Unless you’re a Games athlete (in which case, you have a 5.11 already), I highly recommend Invest Fitness.