The 10 Best Tactical Vests

Updated April 15, 2018 by Jordan Melcher

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We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. This selection of tac vests has been prepared specifically for those in the army, other branches of the military, law enforcement personnel, and airsoft competitors. Designed to provide a lightweight and breathable carrier for all the gear you will need in the field, these rigs include multiple storage pouches on the chest and other areas for magazines, maps, flashlights and more. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best tactical vest on Amazon.

10. Blackhawk Omega Phalanx

9. Rothco Cross Draw

8. Barska Loaded Gear VX-200

7. Voodoo Tactical MSP-06

6. Blackhawk Omega

5. Condor Elite

4. UTG Ultimate

3. NcStar VISM

2. UTG Leapers PVC-V568

1. UTG 547

The Many Uses Of The Tactical Vest

While the modern tactical vest was designed for use by military and law enforcement professionals, they can actually be used by anyone for a wide range of applications. At its core, a tactical vest is nothing more than a series of pockets logically laid out for easy access and even weight distribution. And while many vests are indeed limited in their use beyond martial applications, being specifically designed to hold ammunition and weapons, many are modular and adaptable.

For the soldier or policeman, the tactical vest is the ultimate way to distribute the weight of the gear necessary for safe and effective performance in a tactical situation. A good tactical vest reduces the time needed to retrieve a magazine used to reload a weapon or the communication device needed to stay in touch with the team. Every second counts in a fight or an emergency situation, so it's imperative that you choose the right vest to suit the gear you'll use and the situations in which you will find yourself.

Many tactical vests have slots and pouches specifically designed for ammunition, or ordnance like shotgun shells or flash-bang grenades, which are frequently used in strike types of operation, while others are more oriented toward longer-term missions and have compartments for hydration systems, rations, maps, and more.

A tactical vest is also a great choice for first responders who need ready access to various types of bandages, diagnostic tools, and other medical supplies, as well as for the journalist or photographer covering combat or other fast-moving scenarios where quick access to recording devices, cameras, and notebooks means the difference between capturing or missing the moment.

Beyond those tense, fast-paced scenarios, tactical vests are simply convenient tools for the fisherman, the hunter, the hiker, or even the construction professional. A fisherman can bring all the bait, lures, hooks, and other supplies he wants along without the need for a tackle box thanks to a tactical vest. With the right vest, hikers or climbers can distribute the weight of energy bars, water, first aid gear, and other sundries across their torso, making mobility easier and reducing fatigue. As for the construction professional, a vest distributing tools and hardware across the body means freedom from that cumbersome tool belt.

Choosing A Tactical Vest

When choosing a tactical vest, always look first at the gear, medical supplies, weaponry, and/or other equipment you are likely to need in the course of your work or hobbies. Choosing a vest based on its own merits and without thinking of how it suits you will invariably lead to choosing the wrong option.

Once you know everything you need to carry, next consider the fit and adjustment potential of any vest that seems like it will serve you. An ill-fitting tactical vest might do more harm than good, hampering your ability to move quickly and safely. If a vest can't be made to properly fit your body, then it won't be the right choice for you no matter how much its layout appeals to you.

Next consider what additional attributes are important to you; consider elements like breathability, hydration system incorporation, modular customization options, and even color and appearance.

Only once you have identified which tactical vests will adequately house your gear and will properly fit your body should you consider price. While some tactical vests cost nearly $200 and others less than a quarter of that amount, you can't well put a price on safety and performance, so be ready to spend the cash for the right unit.

Tactical Vest Use And Maintenance

Unlike that favorite pair of blue jeans or your old baseball cap, a tactical vest does not improve with age and wear. Especially if you are an active duty professional soldier or law enforcement officer using a tactical vest in the line of duty, it's important to replace your vest frequently.

In fact, a tactical vest should be replaced as soon as it shows any sign of being compromised, from a zipper that sticks to a tear in a panel of fabric to something as seemly mundane as velcro that has worn down a bit. The first time your vest hampers rather than heightens your ability to perform in the field may well be the first time you find yourself in a seriously dangerous situation.

While your tactical vest is still in good working order, though, its upkeep and general maintenance should be relatively simple. Clean the vest regularly, especially when it comes into frequent contact with the oils and residue associated with proper gun care or with fluids leaked from medicines or antiseptics. Even mundane substances like sun block and insect repellent can seep into a vest and impact the way it performs, so keeping the vest clean is part of keeping it in good working order.

As for the proper use of your vest, make sure to load and wear your vest exactly as you would in the field many times before you ever bring it along for the real deal. You should know where each item is housed as second nature before the first time a given item is ever needed in action.

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Last updated on April 15, 2018 by Jordan Melcher

Born in California, Jordan moved all over the country before deciding that maybe he should just come back to the Golden State and stay for a bit. He’s a writer and musician who holds strong opinions about most things.

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