I want to talk about survival vest today. Why? Well this actually started from a camping trip last weekend. I had my survival backpack with me for the outing and every time I needed something I had to open the bag. This is quite the hassle.
I have to solve this problem, hence the topic for today’s blog!
Aviators have long been wearing survival vest…
For emergency preparedness. The main purpose for the vest is that, in the event the pilot is ejected from the plane, they will still have emergency supplies with them. In the vest.
This is a good backup in case they are unable to get hold of the emergency kit. Survival vest is a popular item with preppers, who always prepares for the worst. And if you are looking for one for emergency preparedness, find our top picks here.
We will also guide you to choose a survival vest that is perfect for you.
Best Discretion Vest – 5.11 Tactical TacLite
Best Utility Vest – Blackhawk Omega Phalanx
Survival vests make a good bug out loadout that is not popularly mentioned, unfortunately. In a bug out situation they will help you to:
- Access your survival gear easily
- Carry extra gear
- Add flexibility
One of the biggest plus points is you’ll still have all your essential survival supplies with you even if you do get separated from your bug out bag…cos the vest is always on you.
Here are the…
Top Survivor Vest For Different Situations
1. 5.11 Tactical PacLite Pro Vest
Don’t let its discreet everyday wear look fool you. This is a lightweight Tactical vest that is made as tough as they come. Weighing at only 6 ounces, this is a very comfortable vest to put on.
Made with quad stitching and durable ripstop material it is made to hold up outdoor environments. Its longer cut design is intentional to provide a better cover over your arm.
The Tactical Paclite Pro Vest comes with 17 pockets that include a secret handgun compartment and mag pouches to boast. The price may be on the bit high side, but the functionality more than pays for it.
I love it and this is the best survival vest in market right now. Versatile and durable, you cannot go wrong with it. You are paying more for the 5.11, but you are really paying for the quality and you will not regret it.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- 17 practically designed pockets
- 2 concealed carry compartments
- Quality material and stitching
- On the pricey side
- Thin material that may wear down more readily
2. Blackhawk Omega Phalanx Survival Vest
A not so well known survival gear brand, Blackhawk has definitely produced some of the most impressive gears for military situations. Omega Phalanx Survival Vest is definitely made for hardcore use and if you are looking for one, this is it!
It is built with a reinforced drag handle, YKK zippers, sturdy nylon mesh and STRIKE webbing. That simply means it’s meant to withstand heavy duty abuse in every sense of the way. And with all this, it weighs only 2.2 lbs…pretty impressive I must say.
What I find most surprising here is, the vest is very comfortable to wear. No joke, I was not expecting this at all from a hard core survival vest. This is mainly due to the fully adjustable design of the vest. Its length can extend to an additional 6 inches and expands up to 32 inches wider from the girth.
My only complaint is that Omega Phalanx does not come with MOLLE attachments but absolutely love the sticking out pockets. They just make you look so cool, but forget about looking discreet here. You can’t!
- Tough built
- Internal pouches available
- Fully adjustable
- Convenient belt loops
- Adjustable mag pouches 2x
- Price on the higher end
- Armor plates not supported
3. Best Lightweight MOLLE Vest – Condor Recon Chest Rig
Condor Chest Rig is meant for the tough outdoors and real servicemen are currently using them. Made of Mil-Spec materials, it’s one of the most durable utility vests in the market.
The rig has 3 built in magazine pouches that can easily fit 6 pistol magazines and 6 M4 mags. But if that is not your thing, you can also use them to store small survivor kits or gears.
MOLLE webbing comes as standard for you to conveniently add extra gear pouches if you want to. You can also add extra MOLLE pockets, but that will be add-on purchase.
This vest is ideal if you are looking for utility of the vest without the bulk and too many pockets. And it’s great for use on hot days…thanks to its bare design.
- Durable and quality
- Highly customizable (MOLLE webbing)
- Affordably priced
- Hidden Pockets
- No belt attachment straps
- Fixed center pouches
- Takes getting use to
- No shoulder straps
4. Barska Loaded Gear Survival Vest
From the first look itself, you know Barska Survival Vest is perfectly made for tactical applications. You are spoiled for pockets here, there are pockets everywhere including hidden pockets as well as mag pouches. And the pockets are strategically located for perfect weight distribution.
High tensile strength, 600 denier ballister polyester material is used to construct this vest with webbing system to induce breathability. This vest is really a good bargain for your money.
We have found one main setback with the Barska though, and it’s with the pistol holster. The holster tends to stick out and because of its position, points the pistol towards your body. Now there could be a safety risk here so, do bear that in mind.
There is feedback that says the holster is only good for carrying smaller pistols, but anyway it’s detachable and can be replaced if needed. Not too much of a problem I’d say.
- Breathable & comfortable
- Good value
- Highly adjustable
- Rifle mag pouches
- Pistol holster not so practical
- Holster too small
- Small belt size
5. Best Affordable EDC Vest – Rotcho Uncle Milty Vest
Rotcho Milty Vest is not your typical tactical vest; there are no unlimited pockets here and gun holster is not available. Wait, then why did it make it to the list you say!
Well, this may not be your everyday utility vest but it makes a great companion for travelling, camping and even hiking out in the wilderness. You can wear this to practically anywhere without looking suspicious or raising eyebrows.
It still makes a good survival vest though, with its 17 pockets design (most on the outside). And at only 1.15 lbs it’s still on the light side! Though this vest is not made for heavy duty outdoor, it’s perfect for photography, travelling and even fishing.
Rotcho Uncle Milty is made of thin fabric and not ripstop so, heavy use is definitely out of the question. But if you’re looking for a cheap everyday vest, this is for you.
- Everyday use
- Reasonably priced
- Back pocket included
- Not suitable for a SHTF scenario
- Non ripstop material
6. Best MOLLE Vest – 5.11 Tactical VTAC LBE Military
5.11 MOLLE LBE is a sturdy vest made of nylon mesh with all around webbing. It’s also highly adjustable like any other military vest and it’s also Mil-Spec. There are also 2 map pockets and a large pocket that can hold a water bladder of up to 100 oz.
A proper Tactical vest, the 5.11 MOLLE Vest has its shortcomings too. It’s on the heavier side for the choice of weight and needs a lot manual customization for proper use. Any additional pouches need to be purchased separately.
The verdict is…
5.11 MOLLE LBE makes a good tactical vest, it’s even better if you enjoy customizing your vest.
Customization is great, but this can be a heavy survival vest with all the additional pouches and gears. But if you know what you are doing, then this vest is the one for you.
- Fully adjustable and can fit anyone
- MIL-SPEC quality
- Hidden pockets available
- Hydration pouch pockets provided
- Pouches purchased separately
- On the heavy side
- Tinkering required
7. Condor Tactical Ronin Chest Rig MCR7
Here’s another Condor in the list!
Why did this make it to the list? Well, it’s the same spec as the earlier Condor vest to be clear, but lighter, weighing at only 1.3 lbs. The Rig really falls between the MOLLE vest and the Recon (the first Condor vest).
Light weight is an important quality in a survival vest that is key in my books really. You will need to buy additional pouches to put this vest to work, but it’s all worth it when you know what you’re doing.
This vest is ideal for you if you are looking for a light MOLLE vest. Always remember that lighter is always better for survival.
- MOLLE webbing for customization
- Good price
- MILL-SPEC quality
- Hidden pockets provided
- Limited number of pockets
- Requires tinkering
- Pouches purchased separately
8. Bonus Pick – Packable Lightweight Down Vest
You didn’t expect this one to be in the list did ya?
Down vests certainly do not get enough love they deserve, and especially among the preppers community.
Well, I’m here to change your mind today.Why? Because it fits right into your jeans pocket and can save your life when you least expect it!
Eddie Bauer Lightweight Down Vest is made out of feathers…real feathers and it keeps you warm. I’m not joking when I say it fits in your jeans pocket, this is because they are made to be extremely compressible.
I could not belief it when I first saw how tiny they can become. Well, what this means is, you can literally store them where ever you like without worrying about space or weight.
You can one, or as many as you like in your car, in you bug out bag or carry one with you in your pocket wherever you go even. Can you see how flexible this is?
- Extremely portable
- Ideal for ad-hoc survival preparedness
- Not really survival vest
9. Best Tactical – Barbarians Tactical MOLLE Vest
This is a highly affordable tactical vest that can take all the gear you have and more. It’s highly customizable and looks really cool. You get 15 pockets, a rear MOLLE panel to cater for additional pouches and a belt.
Here’s the BUT!
At 3 lbs, Barbarians vest is one heck of a heavy weight. Fully loaded and you can be looking at 5 pounder. That is way too much weight for bugging out and not advisable for emergency preparedness.
Unless you have an idea for a specific use where you’ll need all that weight, I suggest going for something lighter. As I said earlier, lighter is always better when it comes to survival. Always keep that in mind and you will not go wrong.
- Eery competitively priced
- 15 pockets
- Feature packed
- Way too heavy
- Quality is average
Survival Vest – What You Should Consider?
The first thing you need to ask yourself when choosing a survival vest is; “what problems are you trying to solve?”
If you need a vest to flee an urban environment in stealth mode, a tactical vest will not help. You will stand a much better chance wearing a fishing vest with internal pockets or pouches to store your survival kit.
The first thing you need to do before deciding on the right vest of determine what you are wearing the vest for and what gear do you intend to include with it.
1. Types of Vest
This may not seem obvious, but below is a list of vests that can make a good survival vest for you:
- Air force vest
- Fishing vest
- Hunting vest
- Coast guard vest
- Photography vest
- Tactical vest
- Military vest
2. Vest Quality
Quality is an important factor to consider. There are vests that rip easily, normally the cheaper ones and there are those that do not fit properly.
But I’m not saying you need to spend a fortune to get a survival vest. A tip here is to not be too caught up with the fancy styling of the vest. Instead, look for the features below:
- Strong zippers
- Made by a known brand
- Positive customer reviews
- Ripstop or high denier fabric
- Reinforced tact or double stitching
3. Survival Vest Comfort
The comfort of the vest depends highly on how it fits. But you’ll also need to consider if you’ll be wearing a seat belt or a backpack with it.
Backpacks and seat belts might cross over gear pouches on the vest. This could cause discomfort with gear digging into your body. To avoid this, look for vests with more side pockets than the front. Back pockets are ok, just make sure you keep only flat gear in them.
Getting a vest with the correct fit is crucial. Too big and it may get caught on branches, too small and it may cause chaffing on your armpits or shoulders. So, a good fit is important here.
A good fitting tactical vest normally does not go over your belly button. This is to prevent gears in the lower pockets from digging into your waist when you sit down for a break.
5. Survivor Vest Adjustability
Get a vest that comes with adjustable flaps for best fitting. The vest may fit perfectly this summer, but come summer the following year it may not. Unfortunately this is not a common feature in survival vests, so take note to get one that has adjustable.
6. Types Of Pockets To Look For
- Holster (hidden pistol pockets)
- Magazine pouches
- Radio pouch
- Big back pockets (for carrying blankets, maps or tarps)
- Pouch for cell phone
- Canteen pouch
- Life preserver pocket
- Body armor pocket
I hope you see the critical role a survival vest has in your emergency preparedness and every survivalist should have one.
Think about it…
You get instant access to your gear in the vest. It increases your carrying capacity with a much better weight distribution.
Note: A survival vest is not a replacement for your bug out bag. It is there for quick access to essential survival kit and in case you are unable to get to your BOB.