What do hunters, paintballers, and law enforcement personnel all have in common? You guessed it, it’s needing tactical gear. Tactical vests are an important part of many jobs and activities, and therefore there are thousands on the market to choose from! Whether you need a vest for fitness or to protect your life, investing in tactical gear should be considered carefully.
Lightweight, comfortable and protective is usually what people look for in tactical vests, and with everything from simple fishing vests for your hooks and flashlights to full SWAT gear available it can be hard to find the perfect vests for your needs.
Look no further, we have compiled the ten best tactical vest items to help you choose (and save you hours scrolling through websites!) We have brought together the best possible vests and chest rig vests available for the best price on Amazon, so whatever your needs, we can help you meet them!
10 Best Tactical Vests of 2020
1. GZ XINXING Tactical Airsoft Paintball Vest
Item Dimensions: 14.1 x 13.4 x 4 inches | Material: 600D Encryption Polyester
This is a lightweight adjustable tactical vest made of nylon mesh, zip fronted and includes a pistol belt, two interior zip secured pockets, and adjustable pistol magazine pouches and four rifle mag pouches.
This vest also features strips for another pistol holster and attachable camouflage. Fully adjustable shoulder straps and pouches can be disassembled for ease of use. There are six tension straps and two long Velcro strips on shoulders.
GZ Xinxing have created a lightweight and durable vest with with a one size fits most system, (S-4XL!) This tactical vest has pockets and pouches for everything, from documents to a hydration bladder.
This is a versatile choice for any avid hunter or sportsperson with cooling mesh technology perfect for lots of movement and long periods of use. If for some reason you aren’t happy with this tactical vest, the seller offers 100% risk free guaranteed returns.
2. GFIRE Tactical Vest Breathable Combat Training Vest
Maximum Waist size: 54 inches | Item Dimensions: 15 x 7.5 x 16 inches
This lightweight tactical vest comes equipped with an emergency drag handle, adjustable shoulder straps, and hook and loop webbing.
Made of 1000D polyester, this vest promises breathability and good protection, using the reinforced MOLLE system. The GFire tactical vest has side release buckles for ease, speed, and maximum mobility. Recommended highly for functional fitness training, as well as tactical situations.
With ample shoulder padding, Molle web for extra tools and attachments and a 2 year warrantee. The adjustable cummerbund also has pockets, just in case this tactical vest didn’t have enough storage for you. It is fitted with the best quality stitching and extremely strong Velcro so you can bet it is secure. It fits a wide range of sizes and looks great on all!
3. ActionUnion Airsoft Tactical Vest
Item Dimensions: 22.83 x 16.54 x 1.97 inches | Maximum Waist size: 45.28 inches
This vest is a serious piece of tactical gear! Made from Neoprene and EVA high density protective plate, these tactical vests are waterproof, shockproof and heat preserving.
It has D Rings for anything you may need to attach and boasts the MOLLE webbing system. It is lightweight, and great for outdoor shooting sports! This is another tactical vest that would work for fitness, or Airsoft! The reviews are written by a lot of cosplayers which indicates a great design.
The seller has included a video for ease of use and knowledge too. There is military grade zip for easy removal and access in a tactical situation. the D rings are string enough to hold the weight of a shotgun for all you hunters out there too!
4. MG Flashforce Tactical Airsoft Vest
Item Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.5 x 5.9 inches
If you’re the sort of person that’s looking for sleek, practical and protective, this is the tactical vest for you! It’s flexible, Molle compatible and even includes Magic Tape. Safety features such as emergency back handle are included.
Widely adjustable and fitted with 600D polyester, this is the perfect addition to any Airsoft aficionado’s collection. Made with the best quality materials and MOLLE webbing technology and highly customisable with removable and relocatable pouches, and your own can be added if the many included aren’t enough!
Adjustable up to a 50 inch waist, the spacious pockets allow these to also be used as functional plate carriers. If you’re looking for a tactical looking vest as well as one that does the job, this is it!
5. RUCKO Tactical Adjustable Molle Military Vest
Item Dimensions: 11 x 13 inches | Maximum Waist Size: 46 inches
This tactical vest is more like the more subtle chest rigs, featuring two large magazine pouches and loops for shotgun shells.
Adjustable waist straps make this vest a versatile choice. Complete with removable EVA this is a sturdy and strong chest rig that is still moveable and breathable enough for exercise and widely customisable.
Super strong Velcro and spacious plate pouches with foam plates make this a flexible choice for the sportsmen among you!
According to almost every review this is a high quality and well stitched product, and any collection would be lacking without it!
6. H2H Men’s Active Wear Outdoor Vest
Material: Nylon | Package Dimensions: 13.85 x 11.25 x 0.4 inches
Different from the other tactical vests, this garment is sleek, lightweight and more suited to fishing than AirSoft!
This vest is machine washable and very easy to take care of, and takes care of your valuables too with specialised pockets for your phone, tools and anything else you might need on your outdoor adventures.
Featuring plenty of large pockets for all your small equipment and detachable bottom section. This vest has a secret inside pocket for your documents, is fleece, and mesh lined and water resistant for protection and warmth in all weather.
Unlike plate carriers, this type of tactical vest makes up in comfort and storage for what it lacks in protective armor. The reviews are written by fishermen and photographers alike so versatility is the main strength of this vest.
7. Chief Tac Military Tactical Molle Vest
Item Dimensions: 12.87 x 12.13 x 2.76 inches | Size: One Size
With the lowest price on amazon in our line up, this tactical vest is hard to beat. Lightweight, breathable and one size fits all, these tactical vests are easy to travel with, for those who commute for their sport.
This model has streamlined magazine pouches and even a semi hidden pouch for a hydration bladder if you’re wearing it for long periods of time. Includes a ReadyPocket integrated into the chest and pistol holster attachments on the side.
With a ventilated mesh back and padded sides, as well as a Velcro front, this vest is a cool looking, strong and comfortable choice. All for the low price on amazon of under $30!
8. WarTechGears Tactical Fast Vest
Package Dimensions: 33.02 x 21.34 x 6.86 cm | Size: One Size
As Tactical vests go, this one is very aesthetically pleasing. All matte black and fully customisable, this vest is a great plate carrier and perfect for paintball and hunting too.
Compatible with most plates and one size, it makes for a great bit of workout gear, protective gear or even cosplay. Concealed pouches for versatility for body armor plates, for the price on amazon, this vest is a steal. This holds a variety of plates and is useful in emergencies or for everyday defence. This is also budget friendly at under $50.
The Velcro is strong and the garment is lightweight and breathable so beginners and experts would get on equally well with this vest.
9. ATG Tactical Expert Vest
Item Dimensions: 18 x 11.5 x 3 inches | Maximum Waist Size: 51 inches
Another good looking vest, the ATG tactical vest is made of water and chemical resistant PVC, and is fitted with very strong buckles and Velcro. ATG have also fitted this vest with reinforced cross stitching for absolute strength and comfort.
Available in a cool smokey grey PVC. This is a well designed vest with almost hidden pockets for plates and magazine pouches that are still convenient to access making storage and protection easy and sturdy.
It is a must have in both novice and advanced tactical gear collection. This product fits 11″X14″ plates on the front and sides. This is a popular choice mong law enforcement agents.
The best part? It’s under $70!
10. Condor Elite Tactical Vest
Item Dimensions: 19 x 14 x 1.5 inches
The Condor Elite Tactical Vest is fitted with shock-absorbing padded shoulders, quick side release buckles and the back of the vest is mesh ventilated. Heavy-duty Molle web technology is used to make these vests fully adjustable, customizable, and easy to use even in the most intense of situations.
Loved by hunters, paintballers, and armed security officers alike, The Condor Elite tactical vest seems to be the perfect addition to any gear collection. Compatible with a 2″ duty belt and has six built-in belt loops this vest is attachable, adaptable, and comfortable. Sturdy and practical
Strong zippers make this an easy and attractive choice, for anyone who needs to don and remove vests in quick succession. The reviews are written by happy law enforcement agents as its fully loaded and extendable and has reinforced shoulders.
Buyers’ Guide: Considerations for Buying Tactical Vests
A tactical vest is a diverse piece of equipment that can be used for fun activities, fitness, or in hopefully rare cases, could even save your life. With so much at stake, it is important you take into account a few things when choosing the right gear for you.
It is important the considerations you make for your needs and shape are met, so you have the most long-lasting and comfortable vest worth investing in.
Although this amount of research before even putting an item on can be overwhelming and confusing, we have compiled some of the most common considerations to help you make your choice!
Due to the advancement in body armor technology, tactical vests have become a lot lighter and easy to carry. As they are often used to carry equipment, weaponry, or weights so the vests themselves should be lightweight. So the first question you need to ask is: Why am I buying this?
If your answer is ‘to carry lots of heavy equipment’ – such as water, a rifle magazine, or other survivalist gear – you may want a lighter vest so that your frame can support this extra weight.
That being said, if you’re an avid Airsoft gamer needing padding and protection from a vest, naturally these are slightly heavier.
Another important question to consider is: How long will I be wearing this? For example, if you are only going to wear the vest for a few hours at a time, some of the heavier items may work for you.
Heavier vests will deplete your energy levels quicker, and insertable body armor and magazine pouches will add weight and should be calculated into this decision. Mobility will also be affected by weight so Airsoft gamers may need to consider this, and the terrain you’ll be playing in when choosing a tactical vest.
Pockets and Storage
The beauty of tactical gear is its ability to carry many things without hindering your movement.
Whether it’s devices, plates, pistols, or paintballs, most tactical vests will come fitted with pockets and mag pouches. However, as you can see from the list, most of the vests are fitted with MOLLE web technology to allow you to add your own mag pouches, and customize the vests for your needs.
The size of the pockets will be dependent on what you need to carry: for example, are you carrying rifle magazines, or looking for plate carriers?
All of these items are of different sizes, and this must be considered. For example, the same tac vest may require both rifle mag pouches and a pistol holster – but these require different storage solutions.
Some tactical situations may require hidden storage solutions like concealed inside pockets, and often the best tactical vests will have these as standard.
Only you know what you need to bring with you, so we suggest you make a list of all the equipment you’ll usually need before you start shopping.
Some general must have things to store in your tactical vest are:
- Flashlight: high powered LED flashlights are a must-have for any tactical situations, practical for vision as well as self-defense, they are lightweight and easy to carry in a tactical vest.
- Lighter or fire-starting device: something that can not only provide but create light will be important for hunters and military alike.
- Navigation Device: Compasses and maps are essential in survival situations, so you can always find your way home! Gamers would benefit too, making their pursuit of the opponent more swift and certain. Modern technology can fail though because it’s reliant on a power source. A map and compass might prove to be your savior.
- Multi-tool: These are a great way to save space in your tactical vest. They can be useful in so many situations and help you prepare for the unexpected. Lightweight, compact, and versatile, this makes them the obvious choice for hunters and military alike.
- Feed tube: Some of the high end vests come with these installed, however if this isn’t the case, a feed tube is a handy tool. It will connect to any hydration system you are using and give you access to water on the move, and while using minimal energy.
- Duct tape: As any good camper knows, a outdoors adventure isn’t complete without a roll of duct tape. If you need to repair kit or camping tools, clothing or tech duct tape can give you a very reliable short term solution.
The best tactical vests need to fit you perfectly; as a poorly-fitted vest can easily affect your mobility. That is why most of them on the market are widely, if not fully, adjustable.
In tactical circumstances this could be the difference between victory and defeat, so make sure your vest allows for your optimum movement. Vests might not provide you protection form the harsh winter wind, but you will need rear ventilation in the summer!
There aren’t many situations where you’ll be physically inactive and wearing your tactical gear. Therefore, you need to ensure that your assault vest ensures the most comfort in movement.
In short, is it comfortable to run and jump in? Could you wear it laden with equipment for long periods of time?
This is why it’s so important to be comfortable in the gear you choose. It’s worth wearing your vest in to get used to it, so you can make the most out of your investment.
Security and Fastenings
Security is an important thing to consider with the use of a tactical vest. If you’re using this equipment in a military context, it will be important that is easily removed by you – but not by someone else.
As most tactical vests are load-bearing equipment, making sure your fastenings are strong whilst keeping active with added weight is vital. If you don’t want to lose your equipment in the field, ensure that your straps, buckles, and clasps are all heavy-duty and secure!
Large vests with lots of magazine pouches are more easily caught on protruding objects, so its important to consider that in a woodland terrain, or while wearing one in a building. Storage is often sacrificed for agility – therefore it’s up to you what you need to prioritize.
Security and agility are going to be very important in any tactical situation, even if it is a game of paintball!
Unfortunately, sometimes the use of assault vests or tactical gear could be the difference between life and death.
Depending on the circumstances, you might need your vest to be concealed and unnoticeable under your clothing. For example, a law enforcement tactical vest is designed with this in mind. If that is the case, this needs to be considered with great care, as a noticeable vest might encourage your suspect to aim for other body parts.
If discretion is what you need, make sure you consider how the vest will fit your frame, both over and under your clothes.
What is the best tactical vest?
There isn’t a short answer to this one. There is no one vest that will be top performing for every need, so it really is subjective. Maybe the more important question is what is the best tactical vest for you?
Whatever your needs, here’s what the best tactical vest needs to include:
- Provide protection and be removed, and donned, quickly in military, law enforcement or home invasion situations.
- Provide quick access to ammunition.
- Provide lots of storage to carry heavy loads.
- Compatible with plates for fitness and/or armor.
- Strong Velcro and buckles for secure attachments.
- Comfortable and weatherproof with ventilation.
The military invented these and have been using them as standard issue ever since World War One. Even though they are compulsory professional equipment, they serve plenty of recreational uses such as hunting, fishing, safari or airsoft games. The best vest will be personal to what you’re using it for!
What tactical vest does the military use?
The tactical vest in synonymous with military and law enforcement, popularised during the Vietnam war, then better known as LBV’s (Load Bearing Vests,) the assault vest or tactical vest was perfect for any soldier to carry heavy duty equipment in the blistering heat.
Ever since then, The IOTV is the standard issue body armor provided by the US Army. This has been standard issue since 2006 and can be fully upgraded from a basic tac tactical system to include groin, neck and back protection. When ordered from the DLA, these are about $790 each.
It is rare that any recreational activity will need protection of this grade, though. That’s why our list of vests for public use offer a lot more in terms of storage and movement than showcasing heavy duty assault vests, because often you need storage and comfort over maximum protection.
The U.S Marine Corps use the UMSC plate body armor system. However it is important to remember that while the best tactical vests can be body armour, not all vests are. So please make sure that you keep that in mind when you’re choosing the best vest for you.
Law enforcement tactical vest standard issue does not exist, but it is noted that they mostly wear stab vests or ballistic armor under their clothes in order to protect from most bullets and knives. Law Enforcement personnel, including correction officers, require different levels of storage and protection from their vests.
It is important for law enforcement personnel to be comfortable and protected from a larger range. Correctional officers need close range protection and comfort, so the use of tactical vests in this case is dependant on the department and their requirements for gear.
What should be on a tactical vest?
Experts suggest that its important to consider vest layout when choosing the vest that is right for you. Generally they come in two layouts, fixed or customizable. Fixed layout vests come already fitted with pouches and designed to fit a single rifleman.
They have enough space for any soldier or police officer’s requirement. However fixed layout vests tend to be arranged for a right hand shooter, which is something to consider if you are left handed or differently abled. The other type of layout is the Customizable layout vest.
This is where MOLLE web tech comes in, giving the user full control of their products. Molle web is so important and widely used because it allows the user to add everything from patches to rifle mag pouches, protective plates or a pistol belt. Making it as useful on a paintball course as it is in a combat or combat training situation.
Recreationally though, you’re going to want something with lots of storage if you want to wear a tactical vest for activities with lots of tools, and padding in combat situations. You should ask yourself: What is comfortable for my body shape? What weaponry and ammunition will I be using? How much storage will I require?
We want to help you be your best in the situations that you’re preparing for, and for that reason there is a lot of different requirements for a tactical vest, and a wide range on our list.
More generally though, the best tac vests will share a few common features. Some of these common features on a tactical vest are:
- securable pockets for movement, agility and security.
- adjustable waist/cummerbund for maximum fit and comfort.
- rear ventilation.
- padding or some kind of shock absorption technology.
- built in compartments and pouches for plates.
- zippers, clasps and buckles for customisation.
- some weatherproofing.
- high quality stitching for longevity.
How much does a tactical vest cost?
The price of tactical vests vary from vest to vest, or rig to rig!
Tactical vests are mostly made from a nylon or polyester mesh, and fitted out with plastic, metal or Velcro fastenings in order to attach the necessary magazine pouches or other equipment to the front or side. In our list of the 10 best tactical vests, we have compiled plate carriers, vests and rigs alike, and all for under $100.
More specialist vests like the ballistic assault vest are a lot more expensive though, and the prices range a lot based on the capacity, weapon capability and grade of the materials used. These inexpensive options would not be suitable for military use. A plate carrier vest will generally be more expensive, and customizable layouts will be more expensive. Tactical vests can be anywhere between $10 to $1000 dependant on these factors, the country of origin and the seller.
Good luck on your tactical journey!