At a quick glance, most plate carriers look the same. And to many, who primarily use them for range use or lighter abuse situations, you may not notice the difference between the untold number of options out there. I have run most types of carriers you can imagine overseas where your choice of product very much makes a difference in your daily life. When you are out in the elements and terrain, having to perform awkward physical tasks while kitted up, running between cover and generally being awesome, for hours or days on end, you really start to notice the difference in carriers, quality, and thought put into them. Mayflower is one of those companies that I think got it right. So I am going to start this series of reviews with the Low Profile Armor Carrier.
Picking the carrier up, with soft armor included you will initially notice the weight. Or lack thereof. Which is impressive given the amount of sensitive areas the armor covers. The stitching is doubled or tacked where its appropriate which is a good indicator of what the manufacturer knows about wear and tear of their own product as opposed to stitching every fold, crease and corner for no reason whatsoever other than it feels more solid. Which of course makes it stiffer, heavier and less comfortable. There isn’t excess webbing where there doesn’t need to be and the 500D cordura it is made from is only double layered where the wear and tear requires it. I don’t need a kit that has ballistic protection properties before I even put the armor in.
You will notice it does provide substantially more IIIA coverage than a traditional plate carrier or even other low profile rigs. It has increased upper lung coverage for those pesky thoracic penetrations, side coverage (more than your standard cummerbund armor inserts) and a little bit lower than the cummerbund attachment on the front. Now usually that means bulkier and more uncomfortable. Believe me when I say I am very critical of the bulkiness and discomfort of kits as I am not a huge guy and I am a big advocate of streamlined kits, not this molle on molle circus I see around sometimes. (Get a gear shake out for Thor’s sake). When you put it on and adjust the elastic cummerbund, made of a very heavy-duty stretch material and simply connected via velcro under a flap in the rear, no wazoo 550 cord puzzles to curse your way through, you will immediately feel how snug and comfortable this carrier is. It is snug but not restrictive at all. The elastic band and rounded edges of the armor and carrier cuts allow for a great deal of articulation when moving about in the odd ways we are required to. Including inside a vehicle, where, you are welcome, I drove into town and sat in traffic for hours to check this with no annoyance or discomfort other than every one else besides me not knowing how to drive.
After miles upon miles of trekking, climbing, you name it, I did not identify any hotspots for rubbing, pinching, binding or general discomfort. It was actually very comfortable for the duration of testing. You guys all know most kits, even some of my favorites all have that ONE spot that drives you up the wall after a night of delivering freedom across the globe. The plates have their own standalone pockets external of the soft armor pocket which allows the carrier shape and cut, not the plate to dictate shape and mold to the operator’s body. It really does make the difference over the course of so many hours of wear. This also helps to smooth out those bulky plate corners from poking out, giving you away and ruining the surprise party.
The front panel has four total, two on each side, closed elastic loops for cable management, or string Christmas lights through on your way to the rave. Also on the body side of the front panel is two Swiftclip attachment points just like the exterior, to connect their Level IIIA armor groin protector. The clips are easily removable if unwanted. The carrier is designed to quickly clip your Mayflower chest rig or elastic/molle placard right into place just like their other carriers. The elastic placard is a great idea if you want to keep your primary weapon mags on your person without attaching an entire kit, while maintaining a low profile and the ability to deliver immediate hate and discomfort to the wrong side of your operation.
The front of the rig has velcro (because we all love our velcro) with a large section on the front of the chest and the rest allocated lower for the cummerbund attachment. It’s great for when a low vis op goes sideways and you want a nice big American flag on you to help differentiate between you and people who need their recommended daily dose of “pew”. Same goes for the rear of the carrier. The front also has two strips of Molle on each side of the velcro to hold the Swiftclip system allowing the chest rigs or placards to be quickly added or taken off. I will get into that later for the chest rig review, but it is a very simple and easy to use system I have really taken a liking to after using it.
The shoulder straps are as adjustable as you could need them to be, even for a smaller frame like me it adjusted down just fine. My large comrade had no issue adjusting my carrier and running it himself, so there’s no adjust-ability issues I could identify. It comes in the traditional small, medium, large and XL. If you cannot fit you are most likely ridin’ dirty on the little rascal scooters at the grocery store and have zero use for this product. Even without the padded straps I really did not have any mentionable rubbing or discomfort due to the design. The straps are not incredibly thick so it allows for nice wearing in and fitting to the sweaty user after not much time at all. However if you opt for the padded straps they are a bit wider to help distribute the heavier loads and is composed of 3D mesh, that unlike traditional pads, do not rub on one point because each layer is independent of each other and moves with your movements, not against. Just be cognizant they are wider if you have that “all natural” linebacker neck. There is also a flap over the top with two elastic loops underneath to facilitate your comms cable management to help keep you from looking like “that guy” and being choked out by your own radio while yelling at people through an interpreter.
Overall I think its an excellent carrier. It’s well built with the right materials, and put together in a way that instills confidence in your gear. The design is obviously driven by end users as I had no complaints of discomfort during the course of testing. It incorporates intelligent design additions such as the closed elastic cable loops and separate plate pockets and a very simple cummerbund adjustment in the rear.
The best part? All of Mayflower Research and Development’s materials and workmanship is made ONE HUNDRED PERCENT IN THE M-Fing U S of A. Take a knee, face out, drink water and drive on.
Stop by their website today: Mayflower Low Profile Armor Carrier