Best Tactical Vests
Have you ever stopped and thought to yourself just how useful a tactical vest could be for what you often struggle with on your outdoor adventures? Sure, this type of vest is ideal for combat situations (such as in the military) but it can also be used to assist you in carrying various types of tools.
Not only will the prototypical model be designed with a plethora of different compartments for all your gear but it will also allow access to said gear quick and efficiently. Whether you need the best tactical vests to hold your magazines or simply to hold some multi tools, they can be quite versatile.
Yet, you need to know how to find a model that will be most practical for your needs. While most designs will be similar, there will be subtle differences that will often play the most important roles.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 8.5 hrs of research
Features a sniper shoulder guard
The back loop system allows for more versatility
Designed with a mesh ventilation system
Our Top Picks for the Best Tactical Vests
1. UTG Leapers
Features a sniper shoulder guard
The back loop system allows for more versatility
Designed with a mesh ventilation system
The holster is not universally designed
Not the best for shorter users
Though this best tactical vest option is not exactly optimized for shorter users, it is one of the finest designed tactical vests that you will come across. From its heavy-duty build to its mesh ventilation system, it is ready to rock.Read more
In addition to the four adjustable mag pouches that have been integrated, this vest is also complete with two internal document pouches. And, as for the universal holster, it is not exactly comprehensive, so take note of that.
The mesh ventilation system that is on display here is quite impressive, and one of the better features of the entire design. Keeping you cool and well-ventilated, you will not feel too hot with this bad boy strapped on.
What separates this from inferior vests is the fantastic build quality. The heavy-gauge seam lines and dense stitching are mostly thanks for it, for the record.
If you happen to be short, you may find that this is simply not comfortable. The reason for this is the adjustment strap may force you to fold the material underneath of itself.
There are all sorts of additional features to speak of here, such as the back loop system and the drag handle. The former allows you to carry more gear, and the latter provides additional strength.
All around, few designs can compete with this bad boy. Unless you are short (under 5’8” or so), you will most likely fall in love very quickly with this tactical vest.
Equipped with foam padding for improved comfort
The quality of the craftsmanship is on full display
Ideal for many purposes
Not the most breathable option
Now, this is marketed as being a tactical vest that is ideal for paintball and other likeminded games. Yet, it is an all-purpose design that can be suitable in a wide range of scenarios.Read more
With this at your disposal, you will have access to a tool pouch, a flashlight pocket, two communication pockets, and three magazine pockets.
When compared to other models, this, admittedly, does not breathe extremely well. The material is also quite heavy and this does not really help matters any.
As many users will attest to, the quality here is superb. All the buckles, attachments, and stitches were executed with a lot of attention to detail. Also, the main shell consists of 600-denier polyester.
From chest sizes 37 to 51 inches, this is going to fit just fine. In regard to actual sizing, it is claimed that this will fit regulation men’s sizes from medium to XX-large.
On top of the fact that you can relocate the pouches in a manner you prefer, they are also MOLLE-compatible. Let’s just say that there is a ton of customizing that you can do.
Outside of its questionable breathability, this is utterly magnificent. It may seem too high on this list but its practicality is just too hard to ignore.
Ready to withstand intense conditions
Can accept MOLLE attachments
Designed with two quick-release buckles
Tends to run a little snug
In addition to the fact that this vest can account for different types of MOLLE attachments, it was engineered to perform in the most rigorous of conditions. About the only thing missing is a hydration carrier.Read more
Again, no hydration bladder compartment will disappoint some of you. However, what is present is heavyweight webbing (for attaching other gear) and hanging guides.
To improve the ventilation of this vest, it has been engineered with mesh on the back. When the weather begins to get a little hotter outdoors, you will come to love this feature.
As is noted in the product description, this sucker is ready to perform in the most rugged situations. Its craftsmanship is excellent, and it should hold up well to the test of time.
When it comes to the users, this will fit, it is not the most versatile. It comes in a medium/large size, and it will fit chest sizes up to 44 inches.
The webbing that has been implemented into the back allows for MOLLE attachments. This is a feature that is often coveted when it comes to tactical vests.
No, this vest is not overflowing with pouches and pockets for you to utilize. Outside of its quality, its primary function is its MOLLE compatibility, which is nice.
The shoulders can be fully adjusted
Made from durable and comfortable fabric
Complete with drainage holes
The holster is a little cheap
Many of you will come to appreciate the well-designed belt and mag pouches of this specific tactical vest. Its durable 600-denier polyester shell is also quite nice, along with the mesh that has been integrated.Read more
As with the best tactical vests on this list, there are several removable pouches here. This includes mag pockets, two internal pouches (which are zippered), and even a back mesh pocket.
Mesh has been incorporated, and it has been so in a considerable way. As you can see from the photos, the back encompasses the material, and it allows for improved breathability overall.
Even though the holster seems to be a bit cheaply-made, the vest as a whole is not. This is due to the high-density, 600-denier polyester shell.
From waist sizes of 35 inches up to 57 inches, this has been rated to fit. To give you an even better idea, it can fit adults sized from small up to 4X-large.
The elastic helps to secure your items more, and the drain holes are also a nice touch. This is not the most advanced design, but it gets the job done very well.
From the ground up, you have to appreciate the design of this caliber. Sure, the holster is not the best, but that is a minor blemish to an otherwise fantastic vest.
5. NC Star
Features a hydration bladder compartment
Includes a drag handle
The mesh keeps you cooler
The waist could expand more
The zipper can be a minor pain at times
Past the overall tough PVC construction of this tactical vest, it has also been engineered with a hydration bladder compartment. This is a feature that is not present on all tactical vests, so that is nice.Read more
In addition to the hydration bladder compartment in the inside back panel, this is also equipped with several other exterior pouches (such as two pistol pockets with quick-connect flaps).
The mesh material that has been integrated allows this to ventilate better. It will allow fresh air in a while, also releasing the heat built up from your body.
Even though you will need to be somewhat cautious with the zipper, as you can break it if you force it too much, the rugged PVC construction holds up well.
This is a fully adjustable tactical vest, and that is no surprise. However, one user noted that the belt was still tight for their 42-inch waist. Just something to keep in mind is all.
The included loop patch can be used for morale patches and name tapes. Additionally, this is also equipped with a drag handle.
Once again, this is another model that has been well-received by most. Its bladder compartment and drag handle complete what is an excellent design overall.
6. GZ XINXING
Backed by a 30-day full refund guarantee
Features elastic to hold your magazines tightly
Built with nylon mesh
Pretty darn heavy on your torso
Given the fact that this tactical vest is going to fit users anywhere from 100 to 350 pounds, it is safe to say just about anyone can get use out of it. In other areas, it also holds up well too.Read more
To give you a hint of what is in store, multiple mag pouches can handle normal-sized mags, multiple ammo pockets, and also two zippered document pockets.
Alright, so this is pretty darn heavy, but it has also been designed with nylon mesh. So, while this extra weight can be somewhat of a nuisance, the breathability is still excellent.
The combination of the high-quality shell and the well-designed zipper make for a tactical vest that is not likely going to break anytime soon.
Let’s say that the manufacturer accounted for just about everyone that they could have with this design. It is rated to fit adults who wear shirts from small to 4X-large.
As with others, this is equipped with drain holes to prevent water from building up inside of it. Also, the mag pockets are designed with elastic for enhanced security.
Looking past the fact that this sucker is quite heavy, it is a joy to have on your torso. Thanks to its plethora of storage compartments and mesh ventilation, it is a top option.
7. UTG 547
Engineered with a mesh ventilation system
There are four adjustable mag pouches in total
Equipped with drainage holes
The zipper has been known to have issues
Judging strictly off of popularity, this vest here may just be the best in the entire world. As you can see, while not quite the absolute best on this list, it still deserves a lot of praise and accreditation.Read more
You will have access to several different types of storage pouches with this vest. This includes four different mag pouches (three on the left), a universal cross-draw holster, and additional double-mag pouches.
Overall, this sucker is massive, and there is no reason to sugarcoat it. Past the somewhat excess weight, the mesh ventilation system that has been implemented does enhance the breathability.
A few users have had durability issues with the zipper, but it is not too big of a point all the same. As for everything else, you can tell that this will hold up well to your use.
The one size that this comes in is designed to fit most users. What is nice is you can adjust it both lengthwise and via its girth. This allows for a truly custom fit.
Past the back loop system, which will allow you to carry even more gear, this has also been equipped with drain holes.
The vast majority of buyers have agreed that this is a top-of-the-line option. It is one of the most reliable in the business, and for that alone, it is recommended.
Designed with a rear MOLLE panel
Sports a 600-denier polyester core
Equipped with D-rings
Could be easier to adjust
The holster sags with too much weight
Some users will say that this design has limitations, but it is still incredibly impressive overall. This is yet another option that is built extremely well and one that allows for the ideal organization.Read more
The pockets are a bit large, but this will not an issue for everyone. There are also a ton of different pouches for you to work with.
For more extended periods, the mesh material is going to be well-received. As you have seen, this is a typical design implementation.
The 600-denier polyester core is not a surprise, and it provides a solid shell. Also, the zippers were designed to be strong and durable.
This could be easier to adjust. Once you get it down, though, you will be good to go.
Thankfully, the back panel sports modular webbing and, because of this, you can add MOLLE accessories if you wish. Also, there are a couple of D-rings that are attached.
Even near the bottom of the list, this is still an extremely compelling model to go with. There are really only minor issues that come into play, which is typical with just about any product out there.
9. VooDoo MSP-06
Features a mesh body
It is MOLLE-compatible
Designed with an adjustable pistol belt
The holster does not secure incredibly well
There really is a lot to love about this design and while it is not flawless in every way, there is more than enough here to compel several of you to pull the trigger on it.Read more
The zippered map pockets, rifle magazine pockets (which are full-sized), and pistol holder make up the most important compartments of this garment. Admittedly, though, the same holster could stay snapped better.
Some thought was put into this design as the body is almost entirely made out of mesh. It is both comfortable and highly breathable as a result.
If you are not careless with how you store and use this, it should last you quite a long time. The craftsmanship is above-average. That is for sure.
Thanks to the side-release buckles and fully adjustable shoulder straps, you will be able to obtain a customized and tailored fit.
While the ability to fine-tune this is pretty much out of the question, the addition of the MOLLE-compatible pouches is fantastic. Adding gear will be a cinch as a result.
The design of the pistol holster does slightly hurt this design but not enough to warrant a pass. Unless it is that vitally important to you, you should like this one quite well.
The back loop system is a nice addition
The back has been designed with mesh
Multiple color options are available
Not the most rugged design out there
Right away, you can tell that this tactical vest is a combat-ready design. Sure, it does not have to hold these types of accessories and gear but boy does it ever work great for that kind of stuff.Read more
Part of the reason this is combat-ready is thanks to the wide array of pouches, which includes three for your magazines, two internal ones, and also additional sewn-on ones.
The signature mesh ventilation system that has been implemented into the back of this vest vastly enhances the breathability of it as a whole.
No doubt, the 600-denier oxford fabric makes for a durable and robust core. With that said, there have been some users who have somewhat criticized this aspect of the vest.
From small to XX-large, users should be able to fit into this vest with little to no issues.
Past the back loops system, which is a standard feature for tactical vests, this specific model is equipped with shoulder D-rings (which can account for other attachments).
For the price, you really can’t go wrong with an option like this. It may not survive through a war, but it should hold up well for most of you.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
You mainly need to worry about the storage compartments for this section.
Given the fact that tactical vests are useful for gaining quick and easy access to several different tools in a pinch, it makes sense that one of the most critical areas of analysis is their storage compartments. After all, not every single option out there is going to be the same, and not all of them will account for the tools and equipment that you plan to carry.
However, with that being said, there are quite a few similarities that most models will share. For one, most will come with specific pouches for your magazines. Now, not all gun magazines will be the same size, so it is crucial to find an appropriate option if this is the reason you want a tactical vest.
Best tactical vests will also implement pouches for maps and other such documents for navigation. Oh, and there are even vests that will come with hydration bladder compartments. You may even want the ability to mount your handgun on the vest itself, and some options will accommodate that, as well.
For sure, you will want to wear a tactical vest that can breathe quite well.
When you consider the outdoor elements and the amount of gear that some tactical vests can carry, they can get heavy very quickly and can become nuisances before you know it. One specific feature that can combat this is breathability. Sure, there may not be much you can do about the extra weight, but a vest that is designed to be breathable will be much more comfortable to wear in the long run.
Plus, there may be situations where the weather spikes outside, but you still need to wear your tactical vest. Any way you slice it, breathability matters, and that is why it is essential to look for models with mesh ventilation systems. This is why so many options on the above list implement such systems. As for what they are, it is pretty simple.
Vests of this nature will be designed with mesh backs (and even in the front), and on top of being comfortable, they will also allow heat to escape. Without this implementation, there will be no place for your body heat to escape, and it will build up and cause overheating. Because as you might remember, the mesh is merely a strand of different fibers (it is not stable).
It would not make a whole lot of sense to buy a tactical vest that was unable to withstand some abuse, right?
Whenever it comes to gear that is designed for tactical reasons like tactical flashlights, it is a safe bet to assume that they will be designed to take somewhat of a beating. This still does not mean, though, that you do not need to do a little bit of research beforehand. Specifically, let’s talk about what to look for in the main shell of the best tactical vest (or simply the exterior materials).
As seen on this list, many of the best tactical vests will be equipped with either polyester or nylon shells. Either one of these synthetic fabrics makes for a high-quality shell but out of the two, nylon is just a little bit stronger. Polyester is highly resistant to abrasions, though, and that is really nice.
Of course, you can also analyze the denier count of the fabric. Most often, you will see vests with right around 600-denier fabric, which is very solid. For the record, the higher the denier, the thicker and sturdier a shell becomes.
Additionally, you can check out some of the smaller details such as the quality of the zippers and stitching. Though “small”, low-quality stitching and zippers can quickly derail an otherwise high-quality tactical vest.
This is certainly up there with the most important sections of this guide. Fit is everything.
A tactical vest can have all the features in the world, and it can even be highly breathable and durable, but what good is it to you if it does not fit you correctly? That is a question that you do not need to think long and hard about, as it is meant to be rhetorical. The point is one of the most critical aspects to get right is the size, but how do you do that?
For starters, understand that most manufacturers out there will design their vests in just one size. While this would seem problematic at first, it is typically not an issue as most options out there will be adjustable to great lengths and widths. But, while most will be designed to fit the majority of buyers out there, that still does not guarantee that the one you go with will match you.
An excellent point of reference to look for is what chest and waist size-specific models will work for. Thankfully, these are measurements that will typically be provided for you. Heck, some sellers will even go as far as to inform you of what regulation sizes (such as small and large) their vests can be adjusted to.
There are some additional features here that you need to take note of.
As you would guess, vests of this nature will typically be somewhat advanced in their designs. So, this then means that there will be quite a few additional features that you can look out for. For starters, to allow you to carry even more gear, you will want vests with back loop systems and possibly even those that are MOLLE-compatible.
That last point is huge because once you bring the word tactical into the fold, MOLLE can become quite vital. It is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment, for the record, and when you buy a tactical vest that can account for such equipment, you can enhance its usefulness.
While this will mean you will need to carry more of a load, it can be beneficial if you have a ton of gear that you need to be accounted for. Of course, there are also some other features to make mention of here. Some models will come with drag handles, and these can be nice in emergencies where you need to be dragged out of the line of fire (mostly ideal for military).
Lastly, some engineers will incorporate drain holes into their vests. This is an excellent implementation to prevent water (such as if it starts to rain) from building up inside.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
This will be the most critical buying consideration that you will need to make. Not by much, admittedly, but it is going to be. What you need to figure out from the word go is what you need your tactical vest to be able to carry. From your magazines to essential tools like tactical watches, you need to ensure you get a model that will adequately fit all the gear you have.
Outside of its functionality, a tactical vest of this nature also should be breathable. Even if you do not plan to wear it on blistering hot days, it can still be hugely beneficial to buy a breathable one. And, most options will be equipped with mesh ventilation systems for this very reason. The addition of mesh goes a long way to enhancing the overall ventilation that you will experience.
It is not too extraordinary to expect to buy a tactical vest that is going to hold up well over time. When you think about it, anything that is made for tactical reasons should be able to withstand some abuse, and vests are no different. To err on the side of caution, though, you can look for specific features and such.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are they considered body armor?
Even though you could technically modify tactical vests to make them function like body armor, this is not what they are designed to be. They are simply vests that are used to allow you to load equipment and gear, and that is it.
However, if you are looking for body armor, these types of vests can fit over them. Yet, unless you want to perform modifications, look for this type of thing separately.
q: What is a ripstop tactical vest?
If you took the time to go through the whole list above, then you probably noticed that some tactical vests would be made with ripstop fabric. However, what exactly does this mean, and is this something that should be of importance to you?
To answer the first part of the question, ripstop fabric is merely any fabric that has been made with heavier threads and even double-stitching. It refers to materials that will resist wear and tear. And, this answers the other part of the question. Indeed, this type of fabric can lead to longer-lasting vests.
q: Alright, so what is the purpose of this type of vest?
Better than answering what the purpose of this specific type of vest is, how about we look at the situations where you could benefit the most from owning one? Clearly, in instances where you need quick access to gun ammunition (such as home invasion attacks or military situations), a vest of this nature will be helpful.
Yet, that is not their only usefulness. Hikers and hunters can even get great use out of it. It can hold general tools, too, so keep that in mind.
q: Will they be bulletproof?
No! Unless a manufacturer specifically claims that their vest has been designed to block bullets (which is likely not going to be the case), do not under any circumstance expect a tactical vest to protect you from them. This will result in severe injury and possibly even death (probably the latter). A bulletproof vest is entirely different, and that is what you are looking for to stop the penetration of bullets.
q: Do any come with hydration bladders?
While there may be a seller here and there that does include a hydration bladder with their tactical vest, it is not going to be very likely. You should account for buying one yourself, or maybe a hydration pack.
After all, a compartment needs to be dedicated to a hydration bladder for you to be able to attach one to your vest in the first place. Just go in expecting to buy a bladder separately.
q: What if you want your vest in different colors?
You are in luck if you would prefer a different colored vest from the rest as there are some sellers out there who will offer theirs in separate colorways. However, even such sellers will typically only do so in very basic colors.
Do not expect many tactical vests to be offered in bright pink or baby blue, in other words. Yet, you may see colors such as camo, black, gray, etc. This is not really that important, though, as you really just need to focus on investing in a model that will be practical for your needs.