- Best OverallA highly-functional lightweight tactical vest with adaptive load carriage.
- Runner-Up Best OverallA Navy Seal veteran-developed tactical vest with high functionality and storage capability.
- Best MolleLeg platforms for added functionality and exceptional MOLLE storage make this vest fully-adjustable.
- Best for GameA versatile tactical vest for anyone who wants to up their airsoft or paintball game.
- Best for Heavy DutyA heavy duty carrying system, highly-functional and practically designed vest with great Molle.
- Best for Smaller FramesA fully-adjustable tactical vest with excellent storage for people with smaller frames.
- Best BudgetA lightweight combat vest for those on a budget with plenty of extra features.
When you’re in the field, whether using an airsoft gun or an actual firearm, there’s a lot of gear you need to carry. From ammo clips, sidearms to any essential equipment, a backpack just doesn’t cut it. For easy access and maximum storage, a tactical vest is the thing for the task.
All publicly available tactical vests derive their design from the original Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) used by U.S. armed forces since 2006. Today, many people, from hunters to SWAT members, buy tactical vests for personal and official use.
The options for tactical vests are nearly endless. To save you the trouble, we’ve compiled a list of the best tactical vests that you can buy today. Each vest is unique and optimally suited to different situations you might find yourself in. Read on to find out which tactical vest is the best for you.
Best Overall: OneTigris Tactical Vest
- Extremely lightweight
- Breathable materials
- Great MOLLE system
- 3 color options
- Won’t fit waist sizes under 36 inches
The OneTigris is one of the lightest tactical vests we’ve ever seen. It weighs only 2 pounds/940 grams, allowing you to load up with whatever accessories you need.
The materials are no joke, giving the vest extreme durability while affording its lightweight quality. It’s made from a 500D Cordura Nylon, a mil-spec synthetic material that is the industry standard for waterproofing. If you’re in a situation that’s about to get wet, this is the tactical vest you want to be wearing.
Being lightweight isn’t the only thing that makes the OneTigris Tactical Vest comfortable. It has an ergonomic design that makes it easy to slip on and off in seconds. Since you’ll be wearing the OneTigris for extended periods of time, the shoulder pads are designed to be highly breathable, allowing water from sweat or rain to evaporate quickly through the porous material.
While 500D Cordura Nylon isn’t the softest material, it isn’t meant to be. You’ll probably wear this combat vest with a shirt or sweatshirt under it, so this likely will not be a concern.
The OneTigris Tactical Vest comes with a highly-efficient MOLLE system. You can attach almost any tool you have, provided you have a MOLLE pouch for it, and the vest has enough space to fit it with ease. While the velcro isn’t quite enough to hold everything in place, the straps are so durable that even a knife would have a hard time getting through them.
Comes with some notable extra features, essential for any tactical vest worth its weight, this vest has an adjustable plate carrier for bulletproof plating or airsoft foam plating. There are also quick-release straps added for increased speed for taking off the vest in case of emergency.
The OneTigris Tactical vest comes in black, coyote brown, or camouflage patterns, all of which will make you look like you’re a member of the military. If you’re an airsoft enthusiast, the potential for role play here is immense. If you’re an actual member of law enforcement or the armed forces, then this will give you the official look you need to get the job done.
Runner-Up Best Overall: Blackhawk Omega Elite #1
- Multiple magazine pouches
- Ergonomic MOLLE system
- Ambidextrous sniper shoulder pads
- S.T.R.I.K.E. webbing
- Nylon mesh isn’t the most water-resistant
This tactical vest is incredibly light. Even with all of the pre-attached pouches, it only weighs a single pound. You can load up with whatever equipment you need and won’t have to worry about it getting too heavy because of the vest itself.
It’s constructed from a highly breathable nylon mesh material, perfect for hot environments. However, this nylon isn’t waterproof, so you might consider using this vest only if you’re in a dry area.
The breathable nylon material is great for keeping you cool. The vest sits nicely on the body, and the sniper shoulder pads don’t weigh you down at all.
The vest also features heavy-duty YKK zippers, which are extremely durable and unlikely to break except under the most intense pressure. However, they don’t hand awkwardly, so you don’t have to worry about them cutting into your side or arms.
If you plan to wear different types of clothing underneath the vest, the belt loops can adjust for size to ensure the perfect fit.
The most notable feature on the Black Hawk Omega Elite tactical vest is the STRIKE webbing located on the back of the vest. While most tactical vests have MOLLE webbing, STRIKE webbing is an upgraded version of the adjustable storage system. This was implemented after the founder of Black Hawk, a Navy Seal veteran, experienced a failure of his tactical vest in the field. He committed himself to make sure that would never happen again with a newly designed vest.
One way to ensure operator safety in this vest is the inclusion of a reinforced drag handle. If the vest-wearer is injured or incapacitated, their team members or reinforcements can drag them using the handle without fear of the vest coming apart. This is a big concern for many spec-ops members because once the vest has broken, there isn’t often a good way to extract the injured party without directly carrying them.
This is a special operations vest through and through. The tactical STRIKE webbing, with multiple magazine pouches and ambidextrous sniper shoulder pads, gives the impression of no-nonsense infiltration. The vest comes in black and coyote tan, so it’s slightly less customizable than other options in this ranking.
Best Molle: Barska Loaded Gear VX-100
- Multiple color choices
- Leg platforms allow extra storage and easy sidearm access
- Fully-adjustable MOLLE webbing
- Magazine quick-release tabs
- Heavier than others
The Barska VX-100 is an impressive piece of mil-spec equipment. The fabric is a highly durable 600 Denier Polyester, a thick synthetic material that is water and tear-resistant. This type of polyester is preferred over many forms of nylon because of its relative strength and affordability.
The 600D Polyester is thicker than other polyesters or nylon synthetics. Combined with the amount of storage you get, you have a vest that’s pretty heavy… 6.5 pounds to be exact.
In terms of comfort, this vest is a tight fit. It comes in all sizes up to XXL but is designed to not move around too much as the operative moves around. It may be slightly less comfortable due to its secure fit, but that comes with the territory of needing a vest that stays put.
The Barska is designed for right-handed users. Lefties can probably still use it but will definitely have less functionality and range of motion, especially with a rifle attachment.
Storage is the area in which this tactical vest excels. Almost every pouch is fully-adjustable. The MOLLE system is extremely high-quality, providing massive tensile strength in both the straps and velcro components. There are four rifle mag pouches with quick release tabs for easy access, but you can remove or add more if you so choose.
The leg platforms are exceptional as well. They have a sidearm holster, additional accessory pouches, and MOLLE webbing for added customization.
The aesthetic appeal of this vest can’t be denied. The leg platforms give a professional look, and the dark earth tone is adaptable across multiple scenarios. While you don’t have options for different colorways, most users are quite happy with the impression the dark earth gives.
Best for Game: MGFLASHFORCE Tactical Airsoft Vest
- Highly-adjustable straps
- Great storage versatility
- Durable materials and stitching
- Not good for smaller people
MGFLASHFORCE is known for making vests with high-quality and durable materials, and this vest is no exception. As we’ve mentioned previously, 600D polyester is one of the best materials you can hope for, providing excellent weight distribution and water resistance. The pouches are made from the same material, so they are effectively shock-resistant and waterproof as well.
This vest only weighs 1.6 pounds, one of the lightest tactical vests on this list.
One of the main draws of this tactical vest is that the waist and chest straps are highly-adjustable. According to one customer, “There are plenty of points for adjusting the fit, so it fits my teenage son and I both, even though there is 100 lbs difference between us.” That alone tells you that this vest is versatile for sizes in ways so many other airsoft vests fall short of.
Although the MOLLE system allows you to move every pouch to the area you prefer, the standard setup evenly distributes weight throughout the vest. For airsoft and paintball, you’ll often have several clunky and awkward attachments and accessories to help you play proficiently. The weight distribution is especially helpful in this regard because it doesn’t restrict your range of motion and prevents jostling and noise as you run around.
You have a variety of color patterns to choose from for the MGFLASHFORCE Tactical Vest, including black, tan, green, and camouflage. The color variety makes it versatile enough for any setting you plan in, including deserts, forest, or urban paintball and airsoft arenas.
Best for Heavy Duty: 5.11 VTAC LBE Tactical Vest
- Versatile MOLLE webbing
- Fully-adjustable sizing
- Deep pockets
- No gear pouches included
This 5.11 VTAC LBE is the middle of the road in terms of weight in the tactical vest market, weighing 2.65 pounds. It’s not so light that you won’t know the vest is there, but it’s also not so heavy that it will restrict your movement.
The vest is also composed of a stiffened nylon mesh ventilation system, amazingly breathable in even the hottest situations.
It’s not totally wrong to say this is one of the most comfortable tactical vests on the market. The MOLLE design’s versatility, combined with the fully-adjustable waist and shoulder straps, gives bigger guys the freedom of movement and storage customization that they lack with other products.
While this vest doesn’t come with all of the pouches that others might, the versatile MOLLE webbing is present throughout the cut, maximizing potential storage space for all your gear. If you’re a big guy like me, you can attach your own pouches wherever you want, mixing and matching various sizes to come up with the best combination possible.
To extend the vest’s lifespan, the VTAC LBE is equipped with high-tensile strength and durable fastening clips that are impact and corrosion-resistant. It has a heavy-duty back loop system to facilitate quick teammate extraction in emergency situations. The vest stays tightly secured to the person’s body as you drag them to safety.
As with the GFIRE Tactical Vest we reviewed above, the 5.11 VTAC LBE is also a simple and ergonomic design that is adaptable to several roles and situations. There are a few color options to give you some choice in terms of aesthetics, including black, sandstone, dark green, and dark earth. Once you add your own pouches to the mix, you’ll have a vest that implies a fearless approach to any tactical situation.
Best for Smaller Frames: NcStar VISM Tactical Vest
- Secures nicely to smaller frames
- Wide range of storage options
- High-quality stitching
- Magazine pouches are slightly small
This tactical vest is necessarily lightweight because it’s made for people with smaller frames, only 1.65 pounds. Any larger and it wouldn’t tightly fit the user’s body and would run the risk of slipping off in a sticky situation.
Combined with high-grade PVC layered along the thermal mesh material, you have an extremely durable and weather-resistant tactical vest that can be used in almost any situation. Whether you’re operating in the cold rain of a forest or the dry winds of the desert, the vest remains breathable and relatively dry.
For people with smaller builds, you won’t find a better tactical vest, especially since so many brands design their products with bigger guys in mind. The adjustable shoulder straps allow for a little extra room if you need it, while the waist remains tightly secured to your core. You can also customize how low the vest hangs on your torso, giving you the extra chest or shoulder space you need for maximum range of motion.
Like most other tactical vests, the VISM features a well-designed MOLLE system for pouch securement and storage maximization. This is especially important for people with smaller frames, as you might have less space for fixed storage and need to swap certain pouches to increase your mobility.
The vest also comes with a heavy-duty belt for a sidearm holster and extra storage. It is able to be secured to your torso to keep the rest of your gear in place as you move from cover to cover.
If you’re looking for a vest that screams professionalism, then this tactical vest is perfect for you. The cut and material give off the impression of a special operator, and the color scheme can match the rest of your tactical gear flawlessly.
Best Budget: Yakeda Tactical Vest
- Hydration tube
- Various options for sizes and colors
- Below average stitching quality
- Not suitable for actual tactical operations personnel
The vest is made from tear and water-resistant 600D polyester, preferred by many tactical vest manufacturers for its strength and lightweight qualities. While this vest is suitable for role players or airsoft gurus, the stitching quality makes it fairly unreliable for tactical operations or law enforcement personnel.
Like other models on this list, the 600D Polyester is very breathable and exceptionally water-resistant. It also has drain holes to accommodate extra water that may accumulate in the pockets of the vest. This becomes useful, as any extra water would make this vest much heavier than others.
Fully-adjustable straps on the waist and shoulders make this vest very comfortable for a wide range of body types. In fact, according to one customer, the one-size-fits-all cut is great, saying, “Bought one for my 4’11” fiance who weighs around 100lbs and one for me at 5’9″ 226lbs, and it’s so easily adjustable that it fits us both comfortably, even with all I am carrying.”
One noteworthy, uncommon feature is the hydration compartment. Similar to a Camelbak, there’s a tube that runs from the back to the shoulder that can transport water efficiently when you need it. This is a great feature for extended missions or airsoft games and saves you the extra storage space usually reserved for a water bottle.
The Yakeda Tactical Vest looks like it comes straight out of a Counterstrike game. For airsoft or paintball, you’ll look way more prepared than most other players, and they’ll probably be jealous of the extra features you have. You have more options than other products in terms of color, with more variety in camouflage patterns specifically.
Tactical Vest Ultimate Buying Guide
Before you decide on a brand new tactical vest, there are a few things you need to consider first. Every vest has unique qualities that make it more or less suitable for different kinds of people and situations. Using the buying we’ve outlined here, you’ll learn what features to look for in any tactical vest. If you keep all of these things in mind, you will be certain to have the right vest for your body type and your mission.
Weight is one of the most important factors when choosing tactical gear. A good tactical vest is ideally lightweight, but not to the extent that it doesn’t provide proper protection. You will need to have the proper range of motion to complete whatever task you may have while wearing the vest. If it is too heavy, you won’t be able to move as quickly or efficiently as necessary.
The materials a tactical vest is made from will often dictate how heavy the equipment is. For example, vests that are made from nylon synthetics are typically lighter than something with Teflon-coating. However, you shouldn’t compromise the durability that heavier materials afford by picking a product strictly for its lighter lightweight.
Tactical vests often have a lot of straps, clips, and pockets, which may painfully rub against you if they are unable to be adjusted or not suited to your frame. Since you’ll likely be wearing your vest for extended periods, be sure that it fits securely and comfortably, accessories included. Some companies don’t manufacture their vests in all measurements, while others might have adjustable straps to change size on the go. The vest shouldn’t be so large that it could slip off, and it shouldn’t be so small that it limits your range of motion or is unable to be quickly removed. Brands often list sizes in exact measurements, so it might be useful to know yours offhand.
While a tactical vest won’t necessarily be able to keep you warm, it also shouldn’t make you overheat. The material should be breathable enough to keep you cool in a hot area.
Tactical vests are meant to maximize utility with their numerous pockets and compartments for various kinds of tools. Before you decide on a tactical vest, make a note of everything you’ll need it to carry. Do you have a big or small pair of binoculars? What about a combat knife? Should the vest have a holster for an airsoft gun or for a firearm? Almost every tool you plan on using should have its own spot on your tactical vest.
One term you should familiarize yourself with is MOLLE, which is a system on interlacing straps optimized for accessory attachment. Accessory pouches will have clips and straps to thread through the vest’s MOLLE exterior, allowing you to mix and match different tools depending on the job at hand. Most tactical vests incorporate MOLLE in some way, but the best ones are designed with maximum utility and versatility in mind.
In addition to storage, some vests might have unique features that help them stand out. Is the material water-resistant? Does it have velcro mounts on the shoulders or chest? Is the vest recoil-padded for additional firearm support? These are just some of the things you can look out for when shopping for a tactical vest.
Almost as important as a vest’s utility is how it looks. Flashy vests might not be the best choice for a covert operation, just like a black vest might not be the best for hunting. You may need reflectors if you’re operating in public at night. Is the vest camouflaged? Are you acting in an official capacity? If you’re rolling as a team, does the color scheme between group members need to be uniform? Remember to consider what you’re going to be doing while wearing the vest and match the optics to the task.