Let me let you in on a secret. Your plate carrier, or IOTV, MTV, or whatever they call the thing you likely refer to as your ‘flak,’ is full of plates that are not designed to be used for physical fitness. Those bulletproof plates are made with ceramic, and ceramic can crack and break and weaken over time. That’s why training plates are often issued, but not always. It’s important that you become accustomed to the heavyweight of your vest, especially when engaging in physical fitness. With that in mind, I point you to a company called Uncommon Breed who designs a plate carrier and steel plates made specifically for physical fitness.
Get After It
This allows you to train for the weight of your vest and plates without risking compromising your plates themselves. The plates each weigh ten pounds, and you can add up to 40 pounds into an Uncommon Breed vest.
You can order Crossfit approved 8.75-pound plates for various companies, and they’ll fit perfectly in this vest as well if you wanna compete.
As you’d expect, the Uncommon Breed vest and weight plates offer no ballistic protection, and they make sure you know that by printing it everywhere. This is purely for exercise, so do not think it’s a cheaper way to achieve body armor.
The Uncommon Breed Option
The Uncommon Breed vest is very simple and works as a more minimal plate carrier design. This gives you a breathable design, but more importantly, allows you to maximize your movement. Doing a burpee without maximum freedom of movement is pretty tough to do efficiently. This kind of freedom of movement makes it easy to do pull-ups, push-ups, and other calisthenics as well. The same goes for bending over and standing up. Nothing is ever preventing you from achieving maximum movement.
Tossing my tractor tire around was never painful or difficult. Outside of the weight, I never felt any hassle in my protocol. The same goes for swinging a sledgehammer, box jumps, and my attempt at agility drills. (I’m more like a semi than a race car, so agility is relative.)
Donning and ditching the vest is quick and easy to do. Unlike a plate carrier, there is no heavy emphasis on retention. The vest stays on with a hook and loop cummerbund, and that hook and loop material is exceptionally well done and very strong. It won’t come undone as you move and groove and sweat. However, if you are hitting pull-ups hard with the vest until failure and want to continue with just bodyweight, you can ditch this thing fast and get back at it.
It’s also nice to be able to easily remove the vest when you are completely gassed and just want to lay down and pass out. You’ll appreciate being able to toss the whole thing off to continue with your workout. I’m big on momentum and hate losing it, but sometimes you have to toss some equipment off to move on.
The vest is also adjustable and will easily fit a multitude of different body types. Most plate carriers don’t offer the same level of versatility because they are tasked with protecting your vital organs. The Uncommon Breed doesn’t need to provide protection, so adjustability is part of its design. When properly adjusted, the vest won’t smack you in the face or chin or bounce up and down.
The shoulder pads are very thick and very comfortable. They spread the weight of the vest well and never feel like the vest is causing your traps to scream in pain. Uncommon Breed did a fantastic job of designing these pads, and honestly, they should look into adapting these for actual plate carriers because I’ve never felt anything more comfortable shoulder pad wise.
You can tighten this vest down, and it’s still quite comfortable. The internal padding prevents much pain, prods, or pokes as you workout. You can comfortably wear the vest to hike or hump, as well as jog without worrying about getting beat up by the vest itself. I don’t do long runs in the vest because of my knees, but short sprints are very comfortable with the vest, and honestly, that’s the type of movement you’ll do in combat with a vest.
Flak Jacket Fitness
The Uncommon Breed allows you to mimic the weight of your ballistic protection vest and put yourself to the test. Learning to move with extra body weight is important, especially if you find yourself in the combat arms field.
There are lots of different types of weight vests out there, but this is easily the most modern. It’s also the most like a modern tactical vest. It better mimics what you can expect to feel with a ballistic vest, especially in how weight is distributed. The Uncommon Breed vest is a top-notch piece of gear and can help push your fitness to the next level. Fitness and readiness are directly related, and you owe it to your platoon, your unit, and yourself to be competent and ready for the next mission.