There are many great Plate Carrier (PC) out there and they just seem to be getting better. Case in point: the HRT RAC plate carrier system. I first checked out the prototype during SHOT Show 2019, finding it both innovative and comfortable during the short time I was able to wear it at the HRT Tactical booth. Happily, I was recently afforded the opportunity to wear the rig for a much longer period of time and put it through its paces.
Enter the RAC
HRT Tactical Gear is a company comprised of members in Law Enforcement and the Military. Their objective was to make gear that is optimal for the environment in which they work where existing systems come up short. Just a few weeks ago, I received the production model of the RAC in Coyote Tan because that’s my color of choice (that’s the FDE of nylon). I got it in Large to fit my Highcom Level IV 10×12 plates (which are in “Shooter’s Cut”).
The RAC system that I received consisted of:
• HRT RAC Plate Carrier
• HRT 2-Band Molle Cummerbund
• HRT Maximus Placard
• HRT Zip-On General Purpose Pouch
• HRT Zip-On Medium Pack
• HRT Zip-On Dual Removable GP Pouches
After sorting through every piece that they sent me, I could see that each part was well thought out and the quality of the materials and stitching is top-notch. The RAC is scalable and modular to fit the needs of the current mission. Changing it up is a matter of a few seconds. The shoulder straps have a good amount of padding, though not too much, and have wire management velcro loops on each side.
The RAC Plate Carrier at the base is slick and minimalistic, with side straps with buckles for quick donning and doffing, which I prefer over a cummerbund. All the pouches are sold a la carte and if you want a cummerbund, just get one. On the body side of the carrier, you have two pontoons that help with the airflow. They also are lined velcro for optional, additional padding.
HRT RAC Optional Components
HRT Maximus Placard
This comes with swift clips to attach to the front of the RAC, although the Velcro is plenty secure by itself. With a triple AR 15 magazine insert, the placard will hold three magazines very snug. In front of the magazines are two small and flat pouches with retention bands in each for whatever small items that you may need to store.
Onto the back of the RAC, where it stands out over other designs. There are two separate mounting sections that utilize side zippers, velcro and molle like snaps. The proprietary system is called the MultiZip dual-zipper back panel.
HRT Zip-On Medium Pack
This pack attaches with all four zippers, Velcro, and snaps. It can be opened from either side and has interior stability straps.
HRT Zip-On General Purpose Pouch
This is a wide and flat pouch that attaches to either section on the back via two side zippers, Velcro, and snaps. It has a large velcro panel for patches.
HRT Zip-On Dual Removable GP Pouches
This has two separate pouches instead of one. It also attaches either portion of the backside just like the other pouches.
Modularity is the name of the game these days when it comes to Plate Carrier and the RAC system executes it well; no other carrier that I have experience with gives you this amount of flexibility, especially with the rear panel on a carrier.
All the features are great to have but that is only part of the equation, armor carriers need to be comfortable and allow for movement with it on. In an ideal world, you would order your plate and carrier based on your body build and shape. I am on the smaller spectrum range when it comes to armor and should be running small or medium plates and carrier. The reality is that small and medium-sized plates are harder to source and are not as common as the large plates. The only downside is more weight and added bulk: on the plus side, you’ll have more coverage, which I’ll take and with curved and plates in shooter’s cut, mobility is increased.
I have a set of Highcom Armor level IV plates that are in shooter’s cut and multi curved, therefore the RAC is sized in Large. While setting up the RAC, I needed to adjust the shoulder straps as much as possible to have the proper placement of the plates to cover my vital organs. The carrier empty is very lightweight, which is great because my level IV plates weight in at over seven pounds apiece. Since I usually don’t ever run side plates, I am not in favor of cummerbunds on my carriers. When I need rifle plates in a fight, I need it on quick and the simplistic side straps help with that.
Since I didn’t have the time to go to the range to run drills before the time this publishes, I did what I could to test the comfort level and durability.
For this, I ran laps with the RAC loaded with the level IV plates and also did some sprints. With the side straps tightened down, the plates’ movement was down to the minimum.
The weight didn’t bother me much with the padding on the shoulder straps, which is just enough to spread the weight without digging into the shoulders.
Every bit of heat management features is much appreciated with armor and the built in pontoons create natural channels for air to flow through; I was still sweating from the workout but having that air going through helps.
With the time I have had with the RAC system so far, I found that it is very comfortable and is full of practical and useful features. Other designs may have a few, but not all of what this system has to offer. It is very user-friendly and can adapt to the current task quickly. It has exceeded my expectations of a plate carrier and I plan of making it my primary armor system for rifle threat situations.
Is it a “best plate carrier” contender? I’d say so — but your experience may vary.
• Looking for more? Read very plate carrier article we’ve published.
For more information and where to purchase check out HRT Tactical Gear or check it out below (description via the manufacturer):
HRT RAC Plate Carrier
The HRT RAC Plate Carrier is a multi role versatile plate carrier that is designed to be extremely modular allowing users to navigate obstacles. The base model is easy to don and doff, while holding life-saving plates. The carrier is made from 500 Denier Cordura treated with DuPont Teflon and has an integrated Duraflex Buckle attachment system on the chest to instantly don/doff additional equipment based on your operational needs.
Our proprietary dual back panel design features dual zipper sections to allow users to configure the back of the carrier with a multitude of panel options based on your specific tasks. Our optional cummerbunds expand real estate for additional pouches, side-plate pockets, or whatever else you might need to fulfill your mission.
- Proprietary Dual back panel zippers for user configuration
- 500 Denier Cordura placard Double Stitched outer carrier
- Ultra light-weight yet comfortable base system for every day deployment
- Dual YKK zipper sections to add mission specific panels
- Duraflex Buckle attachment system for modular design to add additional equipment
- Secure, easily adjustable shoulder and waist straps allow for comfort fitting.
- Air flow channel keeps wearer cool. Optional Velcro pontoons or spacers can further extend comfort to long period of use.
- Carrier fits Size plates 10”x12”
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