Top Tactical Vests for 2017

5 minute read

A tactical vest can be a critical piece of kit for a soldier, providing one of the first lines of defence for vital organs. In a modern day army, tactical vests are combined with plate carriers, as well as with load bearing vests. Vests are now made with modern materials, which makes them both long lasting, versatile and user friendly. You’d be hard pushed to find a modern military or security force that doesn’t utilise and equip their forces with a tactical vest, and for very good reason.

Tactical Vest

A soldier on the ground would need a tactical vest in order to carry body armour such as SAPI plates, and steel plates. These protective plates are critical for protecting vital organs from rounds and shrapnel, often the plates are enough to stop a potential lethal round from entering the body. Additionally, the vest will stop the protective plates from moving around, ensuring consistent protection is in place, keeping the soldier protected as he or she performs duties in potentially hostile conditions.

A tactical vest will allow the spread loading of magazines and other tools on the vest, which is useful for the wearer to distribute weight evenly and keep vital tools within easy reach. A modern vest is made with ripstop nylon, and can come in a huge array of camo patterns. A typical example of camouflage include Kryptek patterns, as well as urban grey patters, which are ideal for city deployments, allowing for the wearer to blend in well with the typical city colours. The Krytptek style of camouflage are popular as they work with vegetation as well as other environments, such as desert.

The Vietnam war saw the rise of load bearing vests in combat situations. The LBVs prove to be popular as they were cooler than flak jackets, but also provided a good deal of practical applications. An experienced soldier would often prefer to only carry what was absolutely necessary, the intense heat and conditions made carrying excessive weight difficult. Moving on a few years to the OIF and OEF combat theatres, and we again have soldiers working in excessively hot locations, but are required to wear thick uncomfortable body armour. LBVs are again a popular choice, however, due to the risk of IEDs, soldiers were required to wear full vests in order to maximise protection.

A modern tactical vest will be made of modern synthetic materials in order to handle the harsh conditions to which they are exposed to. Nylon material, as well as over engineering of seams and joins ensures the products remain functional throughout a lifetime of use, this ensures critical equipment failure is less likely to be an issue.
Any accessories or pouches that an operator chooses to wear are equally made of hard wearing materials, providing a reliable, sturdy and dependable tool which can take the abuse of harsh combat situations.

Modern Tactical Vests Features

  • Quick release mechanisms.
  • Camouflaged.
  • Multiple pouches.
  • Molle webbing.
  • Plate carrier accessibility. 
  • Hydration options.

Side plates are an essential component for protecting against directional fire coming in from the side. A tactical vest needs to be modular in design, this allows for the operator to customise the pouch placements and types to meet their specific requirements. For example, one operator may wish to have all pouches at the front of the vest, while others may prefer to stagger their placement close to their non-dominant shooting hand.

Non Military Applications

For anyone that’s not involved in military or security forces, a tactical vest can still be a welcome addition for a wide range of activities. For example, many outdoor activities benefit from the extra, readily available storage offered by a vest.

Fishing and Hunting

Anyone that’s fished or hunted knows that having easy access to a range of specialised tools can make not only make the difference when landing fish, but it can also just make life that much easier when preparing a rod or when dealing with bait. This is where a tactical vest comes into its own, with a range of configurable pockets and pouches available within easy reach, it’ll make you think about how you ever managed without one previously.

Hiking and Camping

Much like the previously scenario, having access to conveniently accessible pockets and pouches while hiking or camping is a core benefit of a tactical vest. Additionally, a vest can be surprising warming or indeed cooling, depending on the additional layers worn. Being comfortable while pursing outdoor activities is closely linked to the enjoyment factor, at least for this author.

War Games and Airsoft Tactical Vest

If you have ever been involved in an intense and hectic Airsoft battle, you’ll know the value of having additional pockets, pouches and compartments. For this reason alone, it’s worth planning and ahead and equipping yourself with an Airsoft Tactical Vest. The vests are worn by militaries security forces all over the world, and for good reason. Most vests come with several pouches and slings as standard, which means there’s ample room for carrying your Airsoft arms, BB’s and much more besides. Some vests come with hydration systems and even foam plates, which help to protect you for BBs shot with too much FPS. So, if you want to protect yourself and have the ability to carry multiple accessories, then a Airsoft vest is wise investment.

What is Molle Webbing?

MOLLE is actually an acronym, and stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It is used to describe and define the new generations of load-bearing equipment and backpacks utilised by many of the NATO armed forces, especially the United Stated Armed forces and British Armed forces. The system is designed to be modular, which is accomplished by the use of the PALS webbing. Rows of heavy duty nylon are stitched into the vest which allows for attachment of various MOLLE compatible pouches and accessories. This method has been widely accepted and is now the de-facto standard for modular tactical gear. The MOLLE system has replaced the ALICE system used in many of the earliest tactical vests.

Quick Release Mechanism

A quick release mechanism was originally designed to allow for the vest to be removed quickly in case of a soldier requiring triage and medical attention. The quick release mechanisms available in commercial vests tend to lean towards convenience rather than life and death situations.

What to Look for in a Tactical Vest

As with many consumer products, there is often a certain amount of sales talk and marketing mumbo jumbo that goes into creating a product descriptions. This is not unexpected, the purpose of making a products is to have someone buy it, so why not maximise the chances of a purchase with some creative sales writing. Fortunately for us, it’s relatively straightforward to read between the lines and understand the features offered by a tactical vest and then understand whether or not they will suit our purpose.

Your first priority should be establishing a budget and sticking to it. Your budget should include the vest itself and any additional accessories you might want, for example, extra pouches or a hydration system.

A budget friendly perfectly respectable vest will start at around £40 and will go all the way up to £200 for a top of the line model. If you’re not sure what you want, I would suggest getting a basic model, you can always upgrade at a later stage once you have a better idea of the features and style that suits your requirements.

ACU Molle Tactical Vest

ACE Molle Tactical Vest
As you might expect from ACU, this vest has been wholly embraced by the tactical community. The chest rig is great value for the price.
This piece is an ideal purchase for anyone that does not require the addition of body armour. The vest is brilliant for training, hiking or competitions. There’s ample storage space and capacity for everything you might need to carry in your vest.
By design this vest is not modular, any pouches or compartments are sewn in into the vest. However, the setup is still incredibly practical and has plenty of scope to add additional pieces of kit if you desire.

Molle Khaki Camouflage Tactical Vest

This vest has a strong reputations in the security force communities, and it’s due to the strength of its products, such as this one, that make it easy to understand why. The Molle Khaki vest is very well made and is testament to the manufacturers commitments to making products that will last. The seams are well made and provide you with the confidence in its ability to get through rough treatment in once piece.

Additionally, the pouches and hydration system give you plenty of options for storing tools and accessories securely, the three main pouches can even be removed for easy access.
The manufacturers have considered your comfort throughout the design process, air flow is kept at a maximum and movement of the operator has been kept as a priority. At no time when wearing the vest did I feel that my movement where restricted, nor did I feel that the vest was moving around unnecessarily.

If you want a vest that meets your accessory needs but is also well made, then we can thoroughly recommend this vest as a great option.

TMC Plate Carrier Tactical Vest


This rig is simply put one of the most comfortable vests we’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to wear armour, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that comfort is a cornerstone of a good plate carrying vest. For this very reason, this vest gets a very big thumbs up from us. This TMC Plate Carrier Tactical Vest is made from 500D nylon, which is very high quality for the price range. You might be able to find higher quality nylon vests out there, but they will likely cost three or four times as much as this gem. The 500D weight feels extremely durable, and also means that this vest is significantly lighter than a comparable vest made from 1000D nylon. This vest is designed to fit a range of plates, which gives you plenty of options for your particular requirements.
Stability of this vest is top notch, it fits snugly, comfortably and did not move around at all when we were using it.

The quick release mechanism of the vest means you can completely remove the vest in a matter of seconds.

In summary, load the best up with plates, a hydration system and you’re all set and ready for almost anything. The durability and build quality of this vest are top of the range. We have absolutely no concerns about this vest and we’re positive it would put up with harshest of conditions unscathed.

EG Sports Assault Plate Carrier

This system is used by law enforcement specialists from around the worlds. The designers have worked with spec-ops teams directly to develop a tactical vest which meets all of their strict requirements for an effective combat vest.

The vest I made from high quality 500D nylon, which is made even more impressive when we consider that the vest material has been chosen in order to minimise its infrared signature.

The vest is kept comfortable and appropriate for all weather conditions due to its clever 3d spacer mesh lining.

There’s plenty of options or kitting out the vest with additional pockets and pouches and the Molle system is cleverly positioned and well made.

Overall, it’s a brilliant system, one which deserves to well respected and put to good use.

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