Best Tactical Vests | Reviews and Buying Guide

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have everything you needed in a handy vest packed with all the necessities for camping, photography, sight-seeing, hiking, or even a walk around town?  Nothing critical would ever be forgotten.

A tactical vest is essentially a lightweight, durable garment that provides quick access to all the necessary and critical supplies needed for your intended activity. Don’t forget face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.

In an emergency situation, you could grab your survival vest, pre-packed with all the gear you would need to survive your ordeal or mission.

Top 7 Tactical Vests

In general, there are two types of survival vests: Military tactical grade and everything else. By everything else, we mean any other indoor or outdoor activity. This runs the gamut from camping, hiking, fishing, climbing, combat training, airsoft games, paintball, cosplay, photography, fishing, doomsday scenarios, natural disasters, home defense, and of course, emergency preparedness.

We have put together a list of the best survival vests, including military-grade and lighter outdoor versions that can work great depending on the intended use.


1) Yakeda Tactical Military Vest-VT-1063

Yakeda is a popular tactical brand because it takes the user into consideration when building one of the best lightweight tactical vests on the market.

Yakeda Tactical Military Vest-VT-1063

The overall material is a durable, comfortable high-density 600D polyester. In terms of multi-functionality, it is built with plenty of removable pouches, Adjustable for adults, S-XXXXL: the maximum waist is 145cm, with the smallest waist being 89cm. The longest length can be adjusted to 57cm, with the shortest length being 52cm.

These size considerations are important to the fit and weight distribution of this vest, so please pay attention to sizing before ordering.

Pros
  • Weight is 1.29 kilograms
  • Can fit a Kevlar insert!
  • Adjustable fit
  • Durable material
  • MOLLE webbing on back for added gear
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Teeth in front zipper can break off
  • Quality and durability issues

2) The 5.11 Tactical Poly-Cotton Taclite Pro Vest

Lightweight and discreet. This tactical vest is highly functional, while maintaining a lower profile that provides a subtler look that blends in with everyday use. This vest does not scream military weaponry. Instead, it provides hidden holsters for conceal and carry weapons and accommodates various ammunition in hidden interior pockets.

The 5.11 Tactical Poly-Cotton Taclite Pro Vest

Now, more than ever, vests can combine purpose and function and be just as tactical as heavier military style vests. This particular company is exceptional in their understanding that lightweight designs can be more advantageous. With exactly the same compartments, this 65% poly/35% cotton “taclite” vest is much lighter than its “paclite” counterpart, which is 100% cotton.

Pros
  • Weight is an incredible 0.17 kilograms
  • Discreet
  • Ripstop material with a Teflon finish provides superior resistance against stains, spills, and soil
  • 17 Pockets to accommodate varied sizes of gear
  • Perfect for concealed carry
  • Cut long to conceal sidearm
Cons
  • Can run small
  • Not covert enough in lighter color

3) Rothco Uncle Milty’s Travel Vest

Available in khaki, black and olive green, the emphasis here is on travel. Perfect for traveling through airports, since it holds no holster or concealed weapons pouches.

Rothco Uncle Milty’s Travel Vest

It is made with sturdy 55% cotton/45% polyester and comes with no less than 17 inside and outside pockets and pockets in the back. The big zippered pocket in the back is large enough to carry a small laptop or an iPad!

Imagine the convenience of air travel with this particular vest.  All those pockets can carry snacks, glasses, noise-cancelling headphones, wallet, boarding passes, cell phone battery packs, and all sorts of additional items that can be accessible in flight without struggling with bags located under the seat or overhead in carry-on bags.

Pros
  • Can carry a small laptop or iPad in the back pocket!
  • Weight is 0.25 kilograms
  • 17 pockets in varied sizes
  • Well thought out design
  • Great at airports
Cons
  • Pocket sizes not suitable for larger equipment or heavy objects
  • Stitching not reinforced

4) UTG Law Enforcement Tactical Vest

This vest wins the top spot for the best tactical vest overall. It makes it on the list for both its fixed and customizable compartments and its heavy-duty pistol belt, which can accommodate even more ammunition. It offers everything you need in a piece of combat equipment, including holsters and mag pouches built into a versatile platform that allows for quickdraw and fast reloads.

UTG Law Enforcement Tactical Vest

The UTG Vest is designed to be used with a rifle-based system. It’s double magazine pouches are fixed, with MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing covering the vest’s backside for limitless added gear. While still an entry-level tactical vest, the adjustability, and variety of tactical pouches are outfitted in a way that makes the vest completely adjustable and uniquely customizable.

Pros
  • Weight is 1.95 kilograms
  • Provides a more unisex look along with right and left-handed versions!
  • The stitching is strong and adds to durability
  • Ideal for airsoft games or paintball
Cons
  • The straps are a bit difficult to adjust
  • Too heavy for some
  • Vest must be aired out prior to use

5) ProCase Airsoft Tactical Vest

This popular Airsoft tactical vest made the list because it combines quality and durability with adjustable sizing. Particularly for hefty men, finding the proper fit is an issue. This is especially true for men with large girth in the stomach, chest, or belly area.

ProCase Airsoft Tactical Vest

With a few pulls and stretches the vest can be adjusted to fit the shoulders and waists of men of different shapes and sizes.

Pros
  • Weight is 0.057 kilograms
  • Holster is detachable for convenience
  • Great for Airsoft or mag-fed paintball games
  • Flexibility in attaching more gear
  • Excellent for shooting, airsoft, paintball
Cons
  • May not fit large larger weapons like the Taurus PT24/7
  • Strong smell after unpacking

6) Lixada Mens Vest Military Tactical Army Polyester Waistcoat

The tactical vest offers a large number of pockets for large storage capacity. Unlike other fixed vests with smaller pockets, the larger storage size makes the Lixada vest amazingly customizable, for all types of environments. It keeps you protected, comfortable, and ready for any situation.

Lixada Mens Vest Military Tactical Army Polyester Waistcoat

There are several Velcro sections to add your own patches and give the vest your own personal touch.  Airsoft users swear by the snug fit, which keeps everything secure, whether crawling through jungle floors, diving onto the ground, or working different terrains.

Pros
  • All straps are adjustable to avoid loose fittings
  • Included pouches will accommodate most loadouts
  • Military Coat
  • Equipped with a zip, easy to use and easy to wear
  • Excellent Pistol holder included
  • High quality Velcro strapping keeps everything in place
Cons
  • Does not provide complete upper body protection
  • Prioritizes storage over protection

7) Barbarians Tactical Airsoft MOLLE Vest

Military and law enforcement tactical vests are outfitted to carry and store weapons, ammunition, handcuffs, magazines, flashlights, radios and multi-tools. In these situations, the size of your weapon must be taken into consideration, as weapon choice guides the size of pockets needed for storage for the appropriate size ammunition.

Barbarians Tactical Airsoft MOLLE Vest

More importantly for gameplay, this multi-purpose vest is made with a high quality, durable nylon that is flexible, yet strong enough to protect you by absorbing some of the shock if you get hit.

Pros
  • Weight is 1.26 kilograms
  • Great for first time airsofters
  • Breathable and well-ventilated
  • MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing on back allows for customization
Cons
  • No additional pouches to switch out with the pistol holder
  • Buckle clip can snap; zippers not durable

What to Look For When Choosing a Survival Vest

While survival vests share some of the same features, there are a few things to consider before settling on the ideal vest for your needs.

Purpose

The most important consideration for any survival vest is its intended use and ultimate purpose. The answer to that question will lead you into the four categories listed below that will help guide your ultimate selection and purchase.

Purposes for a survival vest can include a wide variety of activities like outdoor activities like camping and fishing to combat training and emergency preparedness.

Are you planning to travel to an urban area and need stealth more than a bold military grade vest?  Do you need the construction to offer dirt, water, and abrasion resistance? Do you need MOLLE webbing all around to attach your custom pouches, equipment, or hydration pack?  Or do you need a holster and a quick release function?

Purpose will guide your choices.

Lightweight

Every vest comes with a certain amount of weight all on its own. Think about all of your gear, lay it all out if you can, and consider what is truly needed. Imagine all the items you would want to organize and carry on your vest.  Consider the weight of all those items in addition to the weight of the vest itself.

Fabric is a key component adding to weight. Some fabrics are more breathable, offering detachable mesh padding for good airflow during game play. Some vests will be better in hot or cold weather, depending on the weight of the fabric. With this in mind, some vests offer different versions of their vests in different weight categories.

Ultimately, your specific intended use will determine the weight of the vest. For combat training or tactical military uses, the vest must by its very nature weigh more, because it is  meant to carry heavy necessary gear.  There are a number of vests on the list that offer a combination of tactical use in an everyday package that is still lightweight.

Plenty of Pockets

The most versatile features of a vest are the number of pockets.

Pockets can be made with mesh lining or from the same material as the vest itself. The enclosures can use a zipper, Velcro, or a flap. Some vests have hidden pockets inside, some have pocket holsters, and some have a useful pocket on the back for flat items like a map, tarp, a down jacket, or an emergency blanket.

While not an actual pocket, some vests offer panels at the front and back for name patches and morale patches. Others offer detachable front designs that allow for a removable front MOLLE flap.

Keep in mind that MOLLE vests have incredible versatility and usefulness, but only if you know exactly what, where, and how, to place pack pouches and increase your ability to carry more items. This versatility increases weight significantly, but will make you feel as if you had extra pockets built in just for you.

Durable

No matter the purpose of your vest, the quality and durability are crucial. At a minimum, there should be double-stitching, with strong zippers and Velcro enclosures. It should be made out of high-denier material or ripstop fabric, which lasts as long as traditional fabric by using a weave pattern. Also bullet-proof vests are made of highests-quality materials.

The lighter the vest, the less durable it will be, and the more easily it can show wear and tear. As soon as there are signs of wear, get the vest looked at and repaired, if possible. At the worst possible moment, you don’t want to find you can’t unzip something or a pocket fails due to ripped threading, etc.

Affordable

The last thing to consider when buying a vest is its price. When you find one that fits your intended purpose, and carries all of your gear, go for it!

It’s true that survival vests can differ significantly in price, especially a MOLLE vest which requires the purchase of pockets to add on the vest itself. In some instances, utility can match affordability. Just remember your primary purpose and select accordingly.

Final Thoughts

With plenty of options on the market, finding a durable, versatile vest that is comfortable and affordable has never been easier. Define your purpose and gather your gear. If possible, try the chosen survival vest fully loaded out in the field or for the activity of your choice.

The best outdoor vest will be lightweight and tactical, allowing for multi-functional customization and enough pockets to carry all your gear.


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