That was the initial thought that went through my head when I picked up the “J-Tech / SOCOM Gear Mesh Plate Carrier”. It is made up almost entirely of nylon mesh. I was stuck on the question “why would someone make a plate carrier almost entirely out of mesh?” But, I quickly came to a realization that I often forgo the use of a plate carrier and use a chest rig because frankly plate carriers get hot, especially in the summer. The use of mesh will certainly allow the vest to “breath” more easily and allow for better airflow. Additionally the use of mesh will result in overall weight savings.
My mind then moved to the next important question, “what about durability?” A light weight material like mesh will not hold up as well as 1000D Codura but it doesn’t need to. There is already precedent for the use of lighter weight materials being used to save weight. More recently many high end U.S. gear manufacturers have begun producing their products in 500D Nylon instead of the coveted 1000D Cordura to save weight with a decrease in long term durability. J-Tech just takes that a step further.
Aside from nylon mesh the remainder of the vest is made up of 1000D Nylon and uses YKK buckles. All MOLLE webbing appears evenly and properly spaced. The edges of the carrier are reinforced to prevent wear and fraying. The features of the “J-Tech / SOCOM Gear Mesh Plate Carrier” breakdown as follows:
Front and Back Panel:
The front and back panel have an internal suspension system for holding a plate. Instead of letting the plate bottom out in the pocket as many plate carriers do the suspension system ensures the plate is raised to the top of the pocket regardless of its size. That also has the added benefit of creating dedicated space for soft armor plate backers. The rear panel also has a drag handle for buddy aid.
The external cummerbund is made up primarily of mesh like the rest of the vest and attach conventionally, under a flap in the front. The cummerbund has 3 rows of MOLLE nylon webbing for the addition of MOLLE pouches. Also, the cummerbund has an internal pocket for 6×6 or 6×8 side plates.
The internal cummerbund allows for a tight and secure fit. I have found an internal cummerbund useful as weight added to the front of a plate carrier in the form of magazines and equipment can cause the whole vest to shift as you move. The internal cummerbund allows the front of the vest to move “somewhat” independently. I would however prefer an elastic cummerbund as I like to have the inner cummerbund tight but I also like to breath.
The adjustment for the cummerbund and the primary adjustment for the plate carrier is located on the rear panel. The adjustment is quite simple. Just open the flap and tug on the ends of webbing shown to make it smaller. The center straps are for the internal cummerbund.
Shoulder Pads / Straps:
The shoulder pads are also made of mesh albeit unnecessarily as they are wrapped around pieces of 2″ wide nylon webbing. Each shoulder pad, unlike many on the market, has some padding so the width an padding of the shoulder pads will help comfortably distribute weight. Although each shoulder strap has adjustment it is realistically almost non-existent.
So, if you are looking for the modularity of a plate carrier without the draw back of being sweaty then the “J-Tech / SOCOM Gear Mesh Plate Carrier” is an option worth considering. For airsoft the mesh will not be a large drawback in terms of durability but it saves weight and the user from heat stroke.
P.S. “J-Tech / SOCOM Gear Mesh Plate Carrier” is a tentative title as this item is not yet listed on our website but expect to see it in the near future along with other J-Tech / SOCOM Gear products.