What is a Tactical Vest? (Types, Purposes & Factors to Consider)

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

what is a tactical vest

Ever seen a member of the armed forces or a police officer carrying a vest with several pockets in addition to his or her uniform? That’s what they called tactical vests.

What is a tactical vest? It’s recognizable as a military vest that is durable and has a lot of pockets that can hold handy tools and equipment, and it is worn on top of decent clothing or uniform.

There are many different sizes of a tactical vest, and also a number of pockets, designs, and more. In the article below, let’s explore the designs and other tactical vests’ functions.

What to Know About a Tactical Vest?

A tactical vest is a type of garment used by law enforcement and military personnel to carry additional tools that need to be accessed immediately. Therefore, they are sometimes called army vests.

They are extremely durable and are frequently made of water-resistant materials such as Oxford fabric and Kevlar fibers. Furthermore, these vests often have a steel wire to stabilize its form in case of carrying heavy loads.

Many tactical vests nowadays are designed not only for police or military but also for people who love to do extreme outdoor activities. There are multiple vest designs, often featuring pockets and loops for storing belongings and important tools.

With these, you will be able to carry many accessories essential for your work or leisure activities. As they often come with buckles that allow free adjustment.

A tactical vest is an essential part of a military uniform. It is considered one of the tactical gear that military personnel must wear.

For example, the U.S. Marine Corps uses a modular tactical vest with other functionalities made only for the marines.

Types of Tactical Vest

To spot the best tactical vest, it must have outstanding qualities known for tactical vests. Most common tactical vests are made from the best nylon and mesh fabrics. These materials make your vest durable and breathability.

Moreover, a tac vest should be treated as a personal item made specifically for the job that requires wearing one and most importantly, your size.

Here’s a list of common tactical vests and their features:

1. MOLLE Vest

MOLLE vest stands for Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment, and it is one of the best tactical vests in the market. Its premium stitching offers the wearers the best comfort and many pockets that they can easily navigate through it.

Moreover, MOLLE vests have a MOLLE attachment system, the SlickStick system. In this system, you can align your MOLLE loops in any way you want and lock them as it is.

Most law enforcement uses these kinds of military tactical vest. Examples of MOLLE vests are UAG tactical vest and tactical vest army.

Features of MOLLE vest:

  • All around zippers
  • Quick release system in the front and back
  • Padded recoil shoulders
  • Mesh inner and outer utility pockets with zipper
  • Hanging loop for duty belt, accessories, and firearms
  • Emergency drag handle at the back

2. Tactical Plate Carrier vest


A tactical plate carrier or plate carrier vest is a type of tactical vest with plates. The plates used are soft and act as added protection in the vest. It may not be as efficient in protecting from bullets as a bulletproof vest.

Plate carriers are common tactical vests with compartments to carry certain loads and ballistic injuries. An example of a plate carrier vest is the US army tactical vest.

Some features of a plain carrier vest:

  • It has hook and loop fasteners that locks plate in its place
  • Elastic straps
  • Adjustable bands on the waist
  • Quick release system
  • Uniform weight distribution
  • Comfortable shoulder pads

Purpose of Tactical Vest


Tactical vests are designed for men and women that want to carry more items than their pants can hold. When you wear a tactical vest, you can have more accessibility to carrying important things wherever you go.

Examples of what can combat vests hold in their pockets:

  • First-aid kits
  • Radio
  • Cellphones
  • Tactical knives
  • Ammunition
  • Magazines
  • Guns
  • Flashlight
  • Keys
  • Notepad
  • Light snack
  • Water Bottle

It depends on how the tactical vests are constructed, you can put a lot more of the things that you need in your job or activity.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tactical Vest

Here are several considerations to think about when choosing a tactical vest:

  • State Your Purpose

You have to determine why you want to buy the tactical vest. Is it for a job? Or for outdoor activities, or simply for everyday personal protection? The purpose of a vest will result in a different choice of design, including the layout and number of compartments.

It is important to buy the right kind of tactical vest that fits your body perfectly. Wearing a tactical down vest is also not a fashion statement; it is not streetwear.

  • Right Size, Weight, and Material

If you want to be comfortable wearing the vest throughout the day, you should consider checking if the size and weight of the tactical vest suit you. Most tactical vests are lightweight because they are made to carry a lot of things.

You can find different sizes in the market from small, medium to large.

  • Functionality and Durability

What is the point of a vest if it is not durable and can’t be used in a lot of ways? This is important to note when you are looking for a tactical vest.

When you wear the tactical vest, it should not break easily and can be worn for a long time. Consider these top brands, such as Oxford and Kevlar, for their durable tactical vests.

  • Pricing of the Tactical Vest

Besides the quality of a product, you must check if the price is right. There is a tactical vest that costs less than $100, such as the brand 5.11 tactical vest.

It does not mean it’s cheap, and you save more than compromising the quality of your tactical vest. In fact, expensive vests are guaranteed to be high-quality and last longer than cheaper ones.



What is the difference between a tactical vest and a bulletproof vest?

A bulletproof vest, or Ballistic vest, just like a Call of Duty vest, protects the wearer from firearm projectiles in dangerous situations, compared to a tactical vest worn to carry multiple tools while in combat or the workplace.

Are tactical vests legal?

It is legal to have tactical vests, but it depends on where you will use them. Tactical vests are made for a specific purpose, such as carrying tools and other equipment that is usually made for military and law enforcement personnel.

If you are not involved in a military operation, you could be questioned about purchasing a tactical vest.

What tactical vest do police use?

The tactical vest that is commonly used by the police force is the brand Kevlar and it is the bulletproof type. Since we know that there are a lot of troubles that police officers face, there are specific clothing such as bulletproof vests that they should wear.


A tactical vest can be used for military men and a military womens vest. Even if you are not affiliated with military and police forces, you can buy and wear a tactical vest when you are training, adventuring, or even playing airsoft with your friends.

With different types of tactical vests in the market, make sure that you can reach your things easily and won’t have a backache from uneven pocket distributions.

Since you know “what is a tactical vest”, you can now weigh your options and find the best tactical vest that fits your size and carries all of your important things!

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