by Matt in the Midwest
To begin, ask yourself: Why wear a vest at all? What purpose does it serve? While looking good, extra layer, low bulk, and style are all fair answers, for me, it’s the equivalent to a women’s purse. I’ll admit it. There are times I envy women and their purses. Daily there are many items that are handy to have within easy reach.
Guys don’t have an easy fallback other than our pockets. I don’t like carrying a bag unless I have “enough” stuff to justify it. I usually do one of three things; go light meaning without, fill my pockets of whatever clothing I’m wearing at the time, or wear a vest.
What I like about the vest option is that I can dedicate certain pockets for certain things and (hopefully) know where each item is located at any time. There are times I wear a vest under a jacket as mine is always “loaded.” It hangs on a hook in my closet and contains a notepad, pen, small LED flashlight, pepper spray, handkerchief, and a folding knife.
When I grab it, I just add a spare mag to the left outside pocket, keys to the right outside pocket, phone to the left exterior chest pocket, and wallet to the right exterior chest pocket. Good to go. Depending on what I’m doing or where I’m going I might add a water bottle, snack, gloves, or other items. (I usually carry IWB).
Vests are just one solution to carrying multiple items. There are other alternatives, each with their own benefit and drawback. Some options include going without or only the bare minimum, filling your pockets, fanny pack (don’t knock ‘em), sling bag, daypack, or shoulder/messenger bag. Each fits a certain situation and depending on that, I decide what to carry.
An all-day trip with the family with a number of stops? A daypack with room for all. A two-hour shopping trip for me? My vest or fill my pockets. Many options, you decide what works for you. This can change day to day, season to season. It’s nice to have options.
As a person interested in taking care of myself and my family, having tools and supplies close at hand is important to me. I have a number of vests that vary in style, warmth, fashion/fitting in, and durability. For outdoor cold weather work, I love my Carhartt as it’s warm and durable. Just need some extra warmth? Any of my fleece vests. Hunting? Maybe a down vest or camo fleece vest with pockets.
But my favorite, go-to, casual EDC vest is the Scott eVest Travel Vest. I have no vested interest in this company. I just like their stuff, particularly this vest.
I own the men’s Travel Vest which can be seen at www.scottevest.com. This company makes a variety of products mostly clothing geared towards travel. But many would fit the needs of EDC well. Their clothes come at a high price but I think in this case you get what you pay for.
As I think of this vest, a number of words/phrases come to mind; pockets, zippers, attention to detail, options, choices, and versatile. This vest is loaded with pockets of all shapes, sizes, and locations.
I admit I don’t use them all and sometimes have trouble finding which pocket something is in. This may be a downside of the vest but only a small one to me. Options are good. It fits well, true to size. I’m 6’ 195 lbs and the large fits me fine. Plenty long to cover my waist and my IWB or OWB holster.
While not designed or marketed as a concealed carry vest, it works for me since it covers my waist and has pockets for those extra items I like to have on hand. There is not a specific pocket for carry use. But there are two pockets, one lower internal and one external chest pocket where I have carried but the weight of the pistol creates too much sag in my mind.
This was with an M&P Shield in a soft holster to conceal its “printing.” I want my pistol where I put it, not where it slides to sit. Might work for a small lightweight pistol but not for one with more weight or size to it. The fabric is thin nylon. This isn’t a criticism of the vest as it’s not designed for concealed carry, just an observation.
There are many other pockets for items large and small. The website has photos and an x-ray view of what each pocket it purpose built for. Very good descriptions, better than I can offer so just check out the website. I like that all the pockets have zips so nothing can fall out accidentally.
And while I’ll never use some specifically for their intended use such as the iPad pocket, they do appear to be well designed. Another nice feature is the main side pockets have small magnets sewn in that “shut” the pockets and keep them from billowing open. There are small vents on each side so the vest doesn’t bunch up when you sit. As with many of the individual features, this whole vest is well thought out.
This is not a vest designed for warmth or rough work, but it does provide a layer of nylon that can cut the wind and hold in some core warmth. I don’t wear it for warmth or for hauling wood. I wear it for the pockets and organization it gives me in a garment versus carrying a bag. This vest is well made and I don’t see myself wearing it out.
When I ordered this vest, I actually ordered two different models; the Travel Vest and the QUEST Vest. Both have many features. The difference for me was the weight of the fabric. The QUEST Vest would likely print less visibly and be warmer.
I went with the lighter weight Travel Vest as a personal choice. Both are solid, multi-featured, quality products, and come in various colors. Nice to have options depending on your needs. The cost listed on their website is $135-145. (I think I had a 20% coupon which helped, search the web).
While writing this article, I looked at their website and see they have a dedicated concealed carry coat called the Enforcer. Looks like the arms zip off converting it into a vest and it has many of the features of the Travel Vest. Nice product, another option to consider.
Two more vests I would recommend are the 5.11 Tactical Range Vest or 5.11 Covert Vest. The range vest is visibly more tactical with exterior pockets. Thick fabric, durable, many pockets, and features. Useful for handgun and AR practice. I’ve used it at the range when a molle vest is not warranted.
It would pass as tacti-cool as much as I hate that phrase. Their Covert Vest is even better in my opinion for an EDC vest. It doesn’t scream “tactical,” looks stylish and comfortable, and has specific concealed carry features. Might have bought it instead of the SeV Travel Vest if I had known about it at the time I bought.
There are many other vests out there. Especially with concealed carry becoming more popular and accepted, even traditional clothing companies are designing EDC models. Some vests are designed specifically for concealed carry and offer an internal holster or velcro/straps to attach a holster.
Some companies offer ambidextrous or convertible vests. Some are plain-jane, others full featured. A quick search came up with: Rothco, Woolrich, Carhartt, Rivers West, leather biker vests, and travel/safari vests and I’m sure there are many more available.
Good luck and I hope this article was informative and helpful. Stay safe!