For all intents and purposes, a hard armor vest is an extremely valuable piece of equipment. Its primary function is to offer the user some sort of defense from their chosen mission or enemy. This typically consists of a Kevlar reinforced polymer or high density carbon fiber reinforced polymer and sometimes offers up to two or even three layers. These models are capable of handling a large amount of weight or impact without any significant deterioration and they provide superior protection than other similarly sized backpacks.
The heaviest backpack carriers on the market come with one layer of hard armor, which is simply a thick heavy gauge nylon plate carrier with a number of small holes in it. This type of equipment is completely useless against most impacts except possibly for an extremely strong impacting weapon. This is because these plates are so heavy that they will not break or deflect in the event of an impact. If you are going to be fighting a tough opponent who throws or shoots at your equipment, this type of vest is not worth your time or money.
Another issue with most soft-skinned hard armor carriers is that they are typically too heavy or big for their user’s height or build. They also cannot be used by the average Joe, carrying the same gear as a commando or Green Berets. These models are often called “over-the-shoulder” gear or “special use” gear, but the only thing that they can be used for is to conceal your gear from your opponent. They do not offer the same degree of protection that overt carriers can offer. Because of this, you should only carry them if you are planning on using them in a combat situation or if you plan on using them against enemy personnel or if you plan on wearing them in a combat situation.