Load Bearing Equipment, Clothing, and Armor guide


This guide is for those trying to get into tactical gear but don't know where to start. It has been written to help you get started and is intentionally devoid of specific product recommendations to encourage you to discuss and research products to find the one that fits your needs/wants. If you're looking for specific recommendations on what to buy you won't find much of that here.

"Why is everything so expensive?"

It's not but gear is a "buy once, cry once" kind of hobby, don't cheap out.

"Which AR500 package deal should I buy?"

None, read below.

"Are ceramic plates fragile?"

No, most ceramic plates have to follow NIJ drop testing requirements.

"Is condor/Chinese made gear actually shit?"

Yes, pouches and the materials are decent, but the stitching is shit which leads it to fall apart.

"What size PC do I need?"

PC sizes are based on plate sizes, not your shirt size, see armor section on measurements

"I bought [insert thing] what buy next?"

In this order, exempt what you have

  1. A gun
  2. ammo, don't forget the mags you retard
  3. backpack and sustainment equipment1
  4. chest rig, plate carrier, and/or load bearing belt
  5. everything else

Plate Carriers, Chest Rigs, Harnesses, and Belts

Most people jump to buy plate carriers but contrary to belief, plates aren't some magical barrier that keep you from getting shot, proper cover and maneuver are definitely more important factors in preventing you from getting shot, real life isn't COD. Think about what you're doing and which form of load bearing equipment is right for you.

Plate Carriers

Fairly self explanatory.

When buying a plate carrier you have to think about the design, with choices like thinner straps to facilitate ease of shouldering your firearm or slick platebags for concealing.

Here are some things to think about: - Make sure the carrier fits your plates because 10x12 isn't SAPI M(9.5x12.5) and there's a whole slew of shapes from swimmers to gamma cut plates. - If you buy a slick, think about whether you want a complete slick or one that's capable of scaling up into a proper carrier via chest rig or placards. - Quick release, whether you want one or not, and what kind? Pull cable or First Spear Tubes. Cobra QRs are stupid because they lock under load.

On the topic of tubes, most carriers don't have cross compatible cummerbunds so think about that if you plan to buy cummerbund kits to add tubes or whatever.

Chest Rigs

Chest rigs are a simple form of load bearing with micro and full sized varieties. Questions to ponder:

How many mags/things do you plan to carry and can it attach to a plate carrier? Can it be scaled if desired?

Comfort with packs and rucks, preference of strap style, strap material, armor inserts/pockets, compatibility with assault packs, swift clips, etc are all things to consider.


The hot design choice these days is are two piece belts like the TYR Gunfighter. Two pieces, one velcro inner that goes into your belt loops and one outer to wrap around. Some with half PALS and some slick, for slick belts you'd use belt loops or velcro panels to attach pouches.

There are also the more traditional sleeve battle belts that you're probably more familiar with where it's a sleeve that wraps around you. However some sleeve type belts are similar to two piece belts where there's a velcro inner belt to prevent it from shifting.


Slightly forgotten since the times of ALICE harness but still fairly relevant. Harnesses carry everything you'd need for combat/patrols while dispersing the weight, great for carrying a huge combat load. Most belts can accept suspenders and function like like a harness, if you have a heavy belt load you should probably get a thin one anyways. For these consider the suspender style like how many contact points, suspension method, and thickness that might get in the way under a carrier or whatever.


  • Crye Precision

  • Mayflower/Velocity Systems

  • First Spear

  • Tyr Tactical

  • Advanced Warfighter Systems (AWS)

  • London Bridge Trading (LBT)

  • Eagle Industries

  • Spiritus Systems

  • Blue Force Gear

  • Safariland

  • Paraclete

  • R-Karbid

  • Ferro Concepts

  • Perroz Designs

  • Haley Strategic

  • Platatac

  • High Speed Gear, Inc (HSGI)

  • Esstac

  • Viking Tactics (VTAC)

  • Ronin Tactics (Outsources a lot of production to AWS)

  • Mystery Ranch

  • Linderhof Taktik

  • Gruppa 99

  • Roman Kurmaz (Custom LBE)

  • Modern military clothing and equipment (USMC FILBE, Older SOCOM issue Eagle stuff, etc)

  • NFM Garm

  • Protech

  • S&S Precision


From Uniforms to regular clothes, clothing to match your environment is pretty important, I'm sure you understand how to dress where you live.

Is that $300 jacket worth it? Diminishing returns but that $300 jacket is likely extremely lightweight and breathable.

Keep in mind fire retardant is not the same as "no melt-no drip" or fire resistant and may not be better despite the extra $300 on the price tag. For example Cryefires, which are Cryes with Drifire material and a few extra hundred on the price tag, fade and wear out faster due to the fire retardant material.


  • Crye Precision

  • Arc'teryx LEAF

  • Tyr Tactical

  • First Spear

  • Drifire

  • Modern military clothing and equipment (ACPs, FROGS, PCU, etc)

  • Wild Things Gear

  • Patagonia

  • Beyond Clothing

  • Prana

  • Outdoor Research

  • Vertx

  • Kuhl

  • Fjallraven

  • Platatac

  • Arktis

  • Roman Kurmaz (Custom combat sets)

  • Carinthia

  • 5.11 (clothes are fine but don't buy their LBE)

  • UF Pro

  • Linderhof Taktik

  • NFM Garm

  • SORD

  • Gruppa 99

  • ORC

  • Regular clothing and other outdoor brands like North Face

Armor Plates

How much is your life worth? Don't buy steel.

"Tested to NIJ standards" is meaningless. One screenshot of one test report is meaningless. NIJ Certification and listing (https://tims.justnet.org/Report/BallisticCPL) requires continued batch testing and manufacturing standards. Special threat certification from reputable manufacturers requires trusting the manufacturer. Tencate, Hesco, and Ceradyne are reputable, some jerkoff importing plates from China is not.

That being said lots of reputable manufacturers make non-certified plates for specific customers or specific roles like SOCOM, who doesn't give a shit about NIJ and has their own testing standards or low vis stuff with less/no padding that wouldn't survive drop testing requirements but have a place for certain users.

Literally all AR500 steel is trash

"But forreal, why is AR500 trash?"

Scrap steel is not armor and they constantly have recalls for their armor for whatever purpose. Don't trust them.

Also avoid RMA, NCstar, CPG, HHV, and anyone else who imports Chinese made armor.

  • HHV/CPG: Chinese helmet shells with no reliability about performance, knockoff hardware that breaks

  • NCStar: Chinese imported plates, mystery meat

  • RMA: Overpriced, too heavy, CTA strikeface construction, shady marketing and history

Buyer's guide

See below for sizing and brands to buy from. Buyer beware from brands not listed.

SAPI Plate Sizes Weight Measurements
Extra Small 1.27 kg (2.8 lb) 184 x 292 mm (7¼ x 11½ in)
Small 1.59 kg (3.5 lb) 222 x 298 mm (8¾ x 11¾ in)
Medium 1.82 kg (4.0 lb) 241 x 318 mm (9½ x 12½ in)
Large 2.09 kg (4.6 lb) 260 x 337 mm (10? x 13¼ in)
Extra Large 2.40 kg (5.3 lb) 280 x 356 mm (11 x 14 in)

Measure from nipple to nipple for width and collarbone to belly button for height


  • Ceradyne (3M)

  • LTC

  • Tencate

  • Highcom

  • bulletproofme

  • Hoplite

  • Hesco

  • Velocity Systems

Helmets (bump helmets excluded )

The ACH/MICH is currently the best helmet you can acquire for the cost. Be sure to check surplus stores near military bases for the best deals. Cheap imported helmets have hilariously bad BFD, NIJ rating are meaningless because NIJ doesn't account for necessary BFD requirements. Most helmets are tested to the Army's ACH standards and modified NIJ.

Issued ACH/MICHs were/are made by Gentex, MSA, ArmorSource, and a subsidiary of BAE

To use COMTACs, Sordins, or any electronic hearing protection along with your ACH/MICH, get your helmet one size up.

To find your sizing, consult the manufacturer of whatever helmet you're purchasing.


  • 3M(Ceradyne)

  • Gentex

  • Ops-Core

  • MSA

  • Team Wendy

  • Revision

  • Mtek

Some examples of good highcuts

  • Gentex TBH series

  • Ops-Core FAST

  • Ops-Core Maritime(MT)

  • Ops-Core SF

  • 3M ULW

  • Revision Caiman

  • Crye Airframe (Dated and heavy, would not recommend unless you're getting a really good deal)

Oldies but goldies

  • MICH2001

  • MICH2002

  • TC APH

  • DH-132B (CVC)

  • Gentex SOHAH

Where to acquire helmets and armor

  1. More of a practical suggestion for SHTF, camping, and other outdoors related activities. If you merely want to look cool at the range it's not necessary.