The Outdoor Land

Ten Steps in Painting Your Plate Carrier

Painting your plate carrier

Most tactical vest aficionados have faced some color issues at some point in their lives, and you’re probably one of them. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here, right? That’s what I thought!
Maybe you wanted a camouflage plate carrier, but the only available color was Coyote. Or maybe you were expecting a camo plate carrier at your doorstep only to find out the wrong color was delivered.
For problem number one, you can wait for the manufacturer to restock, but it could take a long time. For problem number two, you can call the manufacturer’s customer hotline and ask for a replacement. But what if you can’t afford to wait for several weeks before the manufacturer can replace the wrong item with the right one?  No matter what your reason may be, there is a solution for your problem.Painting your plate carrier
Painting your plate carrier seems to be the best option. Don’t worry – it doesn’t require a degree in arts, nor a serious creative skill to paint your vest. It is a simple do-it-yourself activity. What’s left for you is to have the willingness and acquire the knowledge on how to paint your vest. So, enough with the chit chat and let’s get started!
In the picture shown above, the plate carrier is originally colored as Coyote Tan. In this guide, I will teach you how to convert this plain looking vest into a camo-colored plate carrier. This process of repainting a vest from coyote to camo is also applicable to other colors, as long as they’re at least close to Coyote. You can paint your vest wherever, be it in your lawn or living room, as long as there is sufficient light and, of course, good ventilation.

Step 1

Get some unused boxes. Most people have a lot of these things in their basement or garage. Spread them on any plain surface inthe location of your choice. Make sure the size of your carton box (when spread out) is larger than the size of your vest. This is to prevent the paint from getting sprayed onto surfaces you don’t want to get painted on.
Buy three different camouflage varieties of Rust-Oleum spray-paints.

#1 Light Khaki Color (on

#2 Green / Dark Green (on

#3 Brown (on

Top SalesProduct LinkPrice
Krylon K02754007 Fusion All-in-One Spray Paint Blackfrom $4.98
Rust-Oleum 327864 American Accents Ultra Cover 2X Gloss Clearfrom $3.96
Rust-Oleum 279178 Specialty Camouflage Ultra Cover 2X Spray Paint 12-Ounce Earth Brownfrom $3.96
Condor CS-001 Tactical & Duty Equipment Olive drabfrom $57.95
Rust-Oleum 249070 Painterinchs Touch 2X Ultra Cover 12-Ounce Satin Nutmegfrom $4.49
vAv YAKEDA Tactical Vest Military Chest Rig Airsoft Swat Vest for Men(Camouflage)from $69.00
OneTigris Multicam Tactical Vest (Coyote Brown)from $99.99
OneTigris Griffin AFPC Modular Vest (Multicam)from $129.98
Rust-Oleum 1917-830 1917830 Camouflage Spray Khaki 12-Ouncefrom $4.18
Rust-Oleum 211360 Paint for Plastic Spray 12 oz Dark Hunter Greenfrom $8.05
Rust-Oleum 214085 Stops Rust Spray Paint 12-Ounce Flat Brownfrom $4.27

Step 2

Spread your plate carrier how it’s spread on the picture shown. It will look like a capital letter “T”. The back carrier can be seen on top, while the front carrier is seen below. Make sure that you have the outer part of your carrier exposed and not the internal. (Just in case you might have overlooked this common mistake.)

Step 3

Before anything else, be advised that you shouldn’t paint the entire plate carrier. You need to cover ALL spots with Velcro (as pointed by the arrows).
Cut four smaller pieces of cardboard. Two must be sized to cover the belly straps (white arrows). The third one is cut into a size that can cover the top part of the back carrier (brown arrow). Lastly, the last cut must cover the top part of the front carrier (gray arrow). This is also to preserve the original look of the logo – that is if your vest has its logo at the front.
Tape these four cutouts to cover those parts with Velcro or logo. You can see the photo for reference.
Note: I didn’t put specific measurements because, as you may know, each vest can have different sizes of Velcro. You’ll need to figure out your own according to your carrier’s respective straps.

Step 4

Now it’s time to do the real deal! The sample plate carrier in Coyote already has a nice shade of brown, but it needs a brighter touch. Just like every canvas, there must be a light base color. Most painting activities require pure white, but in this case, we’ll use the light “Khaki” Rust-Oleum.
Now start covering the entire exposed area of the vest. This first coat will provide up to 80% coverage.

Step 5

Allow the vest to dry for about 15 minutes. For best results, it is recommended you put the vest in direct sunlight.

Step 6

While waiting for the vest to dry, you can start creating your camo template. Get another piece of cardboard and cut patterns according to your own preferences. An 8” by 8” cardboard will do. You can use an ordinary cutter or a razor blade to cut up to three holes with a camo pattern.
An optional  (but a recommended) add-on is a cargo net. The design of your vest becomes better when you use a cargo net because it enhances the initial design produced by your cardboard template.
Note: You will need two sets of cargo nets: one with bigger holes and one with smaller holes. In the next step you will use the one with larger holes.

Step 7

After the first coat has dried, the vest is now ready for the second one. This time you will use the Green Rust-Oleum as the second coat. But, unlike the previous one, you don’t need to paint the entire carrier. Just put enough that it will look like a camo pattern.
You can begin the second coat at the front carrier. Place the template on a desired spot, then layer the cargo net on top. Note: Use net with larger holes (e.g. 1 inch in diameter).
Spray accordingly and cover the holes in the template with your paint. Lift up the template and cargo net. You can now see the first pattern produced.
Now proceed to the next desired spot. Make sure that you don’t cover the same area twice or the pattern will look ugly. Repeat this step until the entire vest is covered with patterns with a gap between them.Think of the black spots of a Dalmatian dog.
Add more details by spraying untouched parts with the cargo net alone (without the template). This adds a different pattern design. However, do not overdo this step or your vest will look greener than it’s supposed to be. Ensure that you put just  enough. You should still see the khaki color.

Step 8

Allow the second coat to dry under direct sunlight for about 15 minutes. While waiting, you can prepare the brown spray paint and the cargo net with smaller holes (about a half-inch in diameter). You will use a cargo net with smaller holes because it makes the brown color denser and much cooler to look at.

Step 9

In the seventh step, you have been taught to place the template on the carrier then layer it with the cargo net. This time, it’s the cargo net that will be put on the carrier then layered by the template.
Gently start at one spot and work your way until you have painted the whole carrier. In the third coat, remember to put significant gaps between the patterns (or obviously the carrier will look brown). That way, you can have the right balance between the khaki, green, and brown.
Another option is to forget the template with the third coat and just use the cargo net alone. To know which you prefer, get two pieces of cardboard as samples. Spray one with the template and net layered together, and the other one with cargo net alone. It’s up to you to choose which one looks better for you.

Step 10

Allow the third coat to dry under direct sunlight for about 15 minutes. And voila! You now have your very own camo plate carrier! You’ll be surprised by the cool, renewed camo look of your carrier.
The next time a wrong color is delivered at your home, or when there’s no camo color available, you can just repaint it with these ten simple steps!

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