What is a Tactical Vest?
Well, if you have read and/or are familiar with some of my tactical gear reviews, by now you know that I always try to start-off with the simplest and most straightforward descriptions I can possibly come up with for all the products in the reviews.
Today, I will be discussing “the best tactical vests” - a subject or a product, which is, admittedly, one of my passions in the tactical gear world, don’t ask me why as I could not tell you.
Maybe a lust for protection, perhaps my yearning for practicality – who knows?
So, I define tactical vests as heavy-duty vests that can be worn over regular clothing to provide you with protection while at the same time allowing you to carry gear used for all kinds of mission assignments.
While this description may lead you to perceive tactical vests as a simple line of products within the tactical gear world, they are not – all the contrary.
Matter of fact, options for tactical vests are close to endless, and, fortunately for you, that’s where I come in.
To navigate through the web of best tactical vests, is important to understand some basic principles relative to this fascinating line of products, so like I always say, first things first and that is exactly how I want to approach my review today.
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About Tactical Vests
So, no surprise to anyone, like most other products in the world of tactical gear, these vests also began their lives in the military.
Tactical vests were developed from body armor and were first used by the United States Marines in 2006.
You may say that all tactical vests for public use, for folks like you and I outside the military, derived their design from the original Modular Tactical Vest [MTV] military version.
But what if I told you that today, tactical vests are prolifically used and worn by all kinds of people for all kinds of uses.
From hunters to Airsoft sports and Paintball aficionados, to law-enforcement personnel and everyone in between.
Let’s just say that there is an indisputable practicality and convenience associated with tactical vests which led their way in finding a niche within various universes of the tactical gear world.
What to Look for in Tactical Vests
Just as you would in any other tactical gear product, there are some important things to look for when purchasing a tactical vest and I would dare say, the absolute foremost consideration should always be relative to what your mission will be.
If your shtick is hunting or some outdoor hobby, obviously you want a vest which is totally different than one associated with some military or related activity.
I say that, all in all, your final decision on which tactical vest to get is ultimately related to what you are planning on using it for.
All told however, there are basically three areas or important features to look for when getting yourself the best tactical vest for your needs.
These are: mission objectives, flexibility of use, and security.
Common Types of Tactical Vests
Fixed and Customizable Tactical Vests
As I mentioned before, tactical vests come in endless styles and layouts.
For the sake of simplification, I have classified tactical vests into two main categories which are:
The fixed layout comes with pre-equipped tactical pouches, and they are, for the most part, designed to outfit a single rifleman.
Customizable layouts, as implied by the name, refer to tactical vests that utilize MOLLE or PALS webbing to accommodate the attachment of varied tactical pouches.
Other Common Tactical Vests
Like I said before, determining what you will be using your tactical vest for is critical in the decision-making process.
Assuming you have already made that decision, there are several types of vests commonly used by most of us who share a passion for tactical gear.
Among some of the most common layouts are the Cross Draw Vests.
These vests feature pouches everywhere and have a zipper for easy removal.
I have to say, this is probably the most popular type of tactical vest in the marketplace today.
The Cross Draw Vests are relatively easy to find online and/or in stores all over.
In addition, the Cross Draw Vests are quite affordable for entry-level buyers.
There is also the Harness Battle Vests which comes with a belt and have MOLLE pouches attached to it.
This is a lightweight layout that has suspenders designed for good weight distribution and balancing.
And then you have the Plate Carrier tactical vest, which are also covered with MOLLE pouches as well, making them somewhat more expensive if yet extremely popular among those seeking security and protection.
Besides all that we have discussed so far, I think there are some other important considerations worth looking into before I give you my list of preferred tactical vests.
Other than looking cool, we should all keep in mind that tactical vests have been designed to provide you functionality and safety on the battlefields.
In other words, some vests have been designed to protect you from enemy fire, others for easy access to your gear and yet others with both protection as well as access.
Again, your decision on which tactical vest to buy will be based mostly on issues such your usage and your pocketbook budget.
To that end, some important considerations include but are not limited to material construction, storage capacity, type of weapon and ancillary equipment you will carry, etc.
Whatever the case may be, remember, tactical vests are not a one-size-fits all type of product.
They, instead, run the gamut from simple rigs to carry your toothbrush and shaving gear to very sophisticated professional law-enforcement and military gear meant to protect you in life-threatening situations where tactical vests can make the difference.
That said, just want you to know that I have done my homework and have done some rather intensive research and looked at quite a diverse number of these tactical vests, finally choosing those which I feel are the best of the best in this unique product-line within the tactical gear universe.
What are the Best Tactical Vests?
1. One Tigris DOOM Tactical Vest
At the top of my list of best tactical vests I have the OneTigris DOOM Tactical Vest.
Made of durable 500D Cordura Nylon™, this one is ideal for training, airsoft, milsim, cs game, or other outdoor activities.
I have to say, this must be one of the lightest tactical vests I have ever come across.
The One Tigris DOOM Tactical Vest is all about comfort.
This is an ergonomic design with adjustable waistband that goes from 36” to 46” and it also has adjustable shoulder straps with anti-slip pads from 13” to 26”.
This modular system was also designed with lots of MOLLE webbings for all sorts of attachments.
If you, like me, at times, do some role-play and think of yourself as a member of the military, this tactical vest if for you.
If this is not enough, this vest comes and an adjustable plate carrier for bulletproof plating or airsoft plating.
Honestly, you will get your money’s worth for this one and, then some.
2. Blackhawk Omega Elite #1
At number 2 of my preferred tactical vests is the Blackhawk Omega Elite #1.
Designed by a Navy Seal veteran, you know what you can expect from this tactical vest.
Mostly used for hunting, this vest is made of heavy-duty nylon mesh which provides for maximum breathability.
The Blackhawk Omega Elite #1 is adjustable for up to 6” in length and 32” in girth.
Features a Padded HawkTex™ Sniper Shoulder, which makes this one ambidextrous.
The heavy-duty webbing on the back provides for attaching S.T.R.I.K.E® pouches.
Pouches feature adjustable flaps that can accommodate different size magazines.
It also has two horizontal, zippered map pouches and six M16/M4 pouches which hold 12 magazines.
Can’t go wrong with this one.
Do yourself a favor and check this one out please.
Here is a great video giving a full review of the Blackhawk Omega Elite #1
3. Barska Loaded Gear VX-100
At number 3 of my preference list, I have the Barska Loaded Gear VX-100.
This one is made of 100% Polyester and is fully machine washable.
This vest comes with 2 utility pouches, 2 double-section magazine pouches, 2 adjustable drop leg platforms, a radio / phone pouch, a double section pouch, a detachable dump pouch and a detachable right-hand draw holster.
Can’t get much more than that for the money, can’t you?
This vest is made of a tough mesh webbing designed with a MOLLE attachment system which makes it fully adjustable to fit most adult body frames.
The Barska Loaded Gear VX-100 is a highly functional design featuring front and back Velcro areas for attachment of ID patches.
Pouches on this tactical vest can fit up to 30 standard round magazines with quick-release elastic pull-tab retainers for quick reload and easy access.
Arguably, this one offers a lot for your money.
4. 5.11 VTAC LBE Tactical Vest
At number 4 of my preferred tactical vests is the 5.11 VTAC LBE Tactical Vest.
I really like this vest, which is constructed out of high-quality material using YKK zippers structured for maximum comfort and a lightweight configuration.
The 5.11 VTAC LBE Tactical Vest features fully customizable web and loop platforms.
This tactical vest is a heavy-duty carrying system featuring versatile MOLLE webbing and was especially designed for high mobility applications with an integrated ReadyPocket on the chest and a hydration pocket on the rear, which affords you ample storage and effortless access to all your mission gear.
When ready to make your final decision, you just must include the 5.11 VTAC LBE Tactical Vest among your considerations.
5. NcStar VISM Tactical Vest
Ranking number 5 is the NcStar VISM Tactical Vest.
So this one was designed specially for people with smaller frames therefore it is, implicitly, a lightweight system which weighs at only 1.65 pounds.
The NcStar VISM Tactical Vest is made combining high-grade PVC layered with thermal mesh material, making it an extremely durable and weather-resistant which can be worn in most all environments –winter, spring, summer or fall, this is your tactical vest for all seasons.
The NcStar VISM Tactical Vest includes a heavy-duty pistol belt and features 4 pistol magazine pouches, 3 rifle magazines pouches, 1 utility pouch and a fully adjustable cross draw pistol holster.
I was really impressed with this system, maybe you will too.
Check it out.
3 Best Tactical Vests under $50
If you are budget-conscious, in this review, as an added-value bonus, I could not resist including some bargain options of 3 of the best tactical vests you can buy for under $50 dollars.
1. Himal Combat Vest
My number 1 choice in tactical vests which offers the most for your money is the Himal Combat Vest.
At a price range of less than $30, this tactical vest is a comfortable, no-frills, user-friendly design.
Made from 600D polyester, this vest features pouches to accommodate a variety of uses.
If has adjustable shoulder belts for different waist sizes.
It also has four detachable parts:
1) Flashlight pouch,
2) Pistol Holder,
3) Removable bullet holder, and
4) Heavy adjustable belt, combined according to custom.
This one offers a multitude of uses, from mountaineering to air soft color ball and outdoor activities, this one has it all at a very affordable price point.
2. Yakeda Tactical Vest
At number 2 in the best and most affordable tactical vests is the Yakeda Tactical Vest.
At a price point of less than $40 dollars this vest has it all.
It is adjustable with shoulder and side straps.
Made of highly durable and comfortable 600D Polyester, it features a mesh design with plenty of removable pouches.
The Yakeda Tactical Vest was specifically designed for varied role-play uses such as CS Game, Army fan, mountaineering, target shooting, air-soft and paintball applications.
It comes with fully adjustable straps on the waist and shoulders.
Exceptionally well designed for water-resistance while being lightweight for ultimate comfort – a lot of value for your money.
3. Firepower Deluxe Tactical Vest
Ranking 3rd in my budget-friendly preferences of tactical vests is the Firepower Deluxe Tactical Vest.
This one is fully adjustable with reinforced shoulder and stabilizer.
Features a pistol holder and radio pouch and comes with 2 pistol magazine belt pouches as well as 2 chest pouches.
The ID pouch is external and has a hook’n’loop exterior.
Customizable with a Velcro patch for name and team, this vest also features a pocket for hydration pack.
At a price point of under $40, you cannot go wrong with this one.
As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to tactical vests, there are endless options available.
That said, do yourself a favor and structure your purchase around your mission, around which type of use you will be wearing your vest for.
Issues such as weather conditions, humidity, breathability, comfort, gear capacity, adjustability are all important considerations when purchasing your tactical vest.
Summary and Conclusions
Always define your usage before purchasing a tactical vest.
For instance, the best tactical vest for military and/or professional law enforcement personnel will not be the best tactical vest if you are playing Airsoft, Paintball or you are going hunting.
Keep in mind that tactical vests are not a one-size-fits-all type product.
Now, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to any products that I will wear on my body, whichever that may be, one of my foremost considerations has always been comfort.
When it comes to tactical vest, comfortability becomes all that more important in your purchase considerations.
You do not want a tactical vest to fit too tight to your body, which will impair your mobility and access to your gear.
Think of buying a size larger than your normal wear so that you can use your tactical vest in conjunction with your other garments.
Once you have settled the comfort and usage issues, narrow down your options relative to carrying capacity.
One common mistake made by many entry-level buyers of tactical vests is their oversight as to the gear-carrying capacity.
Depending on your usage, you will also need to anticipate which gear you will be carrying in your tactical vest.
Think ahead and narrow down your options considering important issues such as the number of pouches and/or pockets that will best suit your usage.
In conclusion, tactical vests are, by far, one of the handiest pieces of gear for everyone in the tactical gear universe.
Purchasing the best tactical vest is, at the end of the day, a very personal decision which ultimately can only be made by you.
That said, however, I really hope that this review will serve its purpose and objective meant to help you narrow down the options based on my long years of being familiar with tactical vests.
Wish you the best of luck when you do make that all-important final decision