Choosing the Best Chest Rig
Chest rigs or tactical vests are an essential part of your tactical gear as they make it easy for you to carry around necessary equipment. They also provide easy access to any item that you may require instantly.
Chest rigs are lighter and easier to handle as opposed to plate carries, which are designed to hold ballistic plates along with your equipment. If you do not need any armor, the chest rig is ideal.
Factors to Consider
When you’re getting a chest rig, you need to look at several different features to ensure that they fit your requirements:
We’re not talking about getting a chest rig that matches your unicorn jumpsuit. The color of your rig determines whether you stand out from the crowd or mix into the background. In other terms, it determines your visibility.
If you’re using a chest rig, you most likely intend to keep a low profile. This is why colors such as coyote brown or olive drab are the popular options for those out on the field or stuck in the middle of the forest. Even though black is a neutral color, it sticks out too much and should be avoided.
Chest rigs may either feature MOLLE webbing or pockets or both. Although ultimately the MOLLE chest rig is considered to be the best, it is not ideal for beginners. This is because it’s more expensive with the added cost of purchasing separate pouches. It also takes some time to get the hang of them since initially, you’ll be struggling to figure out which pouches you need with it and why.
Pocket rigs are a win-win because they will have an element of MOLLE in the straps and back support and pre-made pockets. In addition to that, you can attach more pockets if you need extra space.
There are two types of harnesses: the X and the H harness. Both work well and can be worn by anyone. While the X-harness fits a small frame better, it has the tendency to ride up a bit when you run. The H-harness distributes the weight of the rig evenly, but can be too much to handle by someone with a small body frame.
The pouch sizes on chest rigs vary based on weapon size. The standard space in chest rig pouches is for 5.56mm magazines or less. For larger weapons, you might need custom-made pouches.
Factors That Shouldn’t Influence Your Decision
Often, we end up making the wrong decision because we consider the wrong features as being the most important. When you’re buying a chest rig, you don’t need to worry about:
- Capacity – chest rigs are generally light with a little bit of storage space. Don’t go looking for one with too many pockets.
- Comfort level – since chest rigs are adjustable, you don’t need to go by fit. Any chest rig can be tweaked around to fit you properly so that it doesn’t ride up when you run.
- It’s okay to start with a rig that has fewer pockets. If needed, you can buy more separately and attach them when required.
Popular Chest Rig Brands
Condor rigs are pretty popular on the market these days. Although there is a group of people who won’t accept it, Condor rigs have been used by thousands of people over the years. Although they’re really meant for intense battle, these rigs are great to start with. Not to mention, the price point is perfect if you’re buying your first rig. Unlike some of the other common rigs on the market that retail at USD 100+, Condor rigs may be as low cost as USD 30.
How to Load Up Your Chest Rig
It’s important to remember that all your pouches don’t have to be full at all times. Only pack what you really need and your chest rig will feel much lighter and more comfortable when you’re out on the field. Even the smallest bit of extra weight can feel like a lot on a chest rig.
The Best Chest Rigs to Choose From
With so many different brands and different types of chest rigs on the market, choosing once can be a frustrating task. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of some of the better options on the market to help you make your decision:
1. The D3CRX Chest Rig
Designed by Haley Strategic Partners, this chest rig has made it to the top of our list. The D3CRX can be found in black or coyote brown and has an X-harness, which is a good choice for petite people. It has plenty of storage space with 4 rifle magazine pouches and 4 other pouches for other pistol magazines, tools or flashlights. There are also 2 multi-mission pouches to hold any other gear so that you can move around hands free.
It is considered to be one of the more expensive options for chest rigs, but is still favored by professionals. The MOLLE webbing makes it a lighter and better option for any type of job.
- Available in camo colors
- Plenty of storage space
- MOLLE webbing
2. Condor MCR6 Tactical Rapid Assault Chest Rig
This one is suitable for both beginners and seasoned professionals. It fits into anyone’s budget and is perfect if you want to experiment with the type of chest rig you feel comfortable using.
This particular model provides added comfort with the help of a padded X-harness and MOLLE webbing. It also has 6 open magazine pouches as well as a front pocket pouch with a hook and loop panel inside. There is even a special hydration bladder pocket at the back of the chest rig.
Furthermore, you get the opportunity to choose between 3 color variants. The quick release button makes it easy to remove the chest rig in an instant.
The layout of the 6 magazine pouches is something that anyone can get used to quickly and will instinctively know what is in which pocket.
The rig does have some plastic parts that are not of the best quality and may be damaged easily. That being said, they are also affordable and easy to replace, so it’s not really a deal breaker.
After some adjustments, the rig can fit most people comfortably. Even if you have a small waist size, just pull the straps to the tightest setting and you’ll be fine. The rig is a bit stiff and tight to begin with, but once you break it in, it’ll be a snug fit.
- Great value for money
- Easy access magazine pouches
- Plenty of storage space
- MOLLE webbing
- Padded straps for added comfort
- Range of colors
- Doesn’t fit larger magazines (such as AK mags)
- Not ideal for waist sizes below 30 inches
- Plastic parts may need frequent replacement
3. Condor MCR5 Recon Chest Rig
This model also features a padded X-harness and shoulder strap with MOLLE webbing and a D-ring. It also features a quick release rig for easy removal. There is also plenty of storage space with 3 kangaroo style magazine pouches that can fit up to a total of around 12 mags. There is also an open mag pouch on each side of the rig. There is a front pocket pouch with a hook and loop panel on the inside. On the inside of the rig, there is another mesh pocket for more storage.
Since the mags are stacked on top of each other, the weight of the rig is concentrated on the front and not evenly spread out. However, it offers more mobility since there are no mags on the sides.
Similar to the previous rig, this one also has some cheap plastic parts that may require frequent replacement.
Although the rig is a good fit for most waist sizes, for those with a 30-inch waist, the rig will need to be tightened to its fullest.
- Great value for money
- Plenty of space for mags
- MOLLE webbing
- Padded straps
- Quick release straps
- Doesn’t fit AK mags
- Not suitable for waist sizes smaller than 30 inches
- Cheap plastic parts need frequent replacement
- Weight not evenly distributed.
4. Condor MCR7 Ronin
We know what you’re thinking, another Condor on the list! But we can’t get over how many features they offer at such a reasonable price! This one features heavy weight webbing and a button release buckle.
It has an H-harness (the first one so far in the list) and 2 mesh map pockets (one on each side). The shoulder and girth is adjustable. This one is different from the others because it doesn’t come with pouches and you’ll have to buy them separately.
The H-harness really sets this one apart because of the added comfort. It provides for even weight distribution and you can attach more pockets and keep more equipment without worrying about it becoming out of balance. This does, however, add a little extra weight.
This one is not for the complete novices since it takes some getting used to and you really need to know what types of pockets you’ll need. Consider this the Condor model for the pros.
- Comfortable H-harness
- Option to add the pockets you want
- MOLLE space
- Not suitable for waists smaller than 30 inches
- No pouches (added expense)
VTAC Assault Chest Rig
Consider this to be the premium option on this list. Its ultralight material and durability make it a great option for professionals who need it for daily use. It offers plenty of space with 4 magazine pouches, 2 radio pouches, 2 pistol magazine pouches and 2 general purpose pouches. It doesn’t have any MOLLE webbing, but I mean with all those pouches, you don’t really need it.
You can choose between the coyote brown and the olive green (camo) options, both of which are perfect if you want to reduce your visibility when you’re out on the field.
The rig can be easily adjusted so that it doesn’t ride up when you’re on the go. it features an X-harness, which isn’t as snug a fit as the H-harness, but is still quite comfortable.
- Plenty of pocket space
- High quality, durable material
- Lightweight design
- No MOLLE webbing
- Not suitable for a waist size smaller than 30 inches
These are certainly not the only chest rigs on the market, but we’ve provided plenty of options across all price ranges, styles and designs to give you an idea of some of the decent options available in the market today.
Regardless of which one you go with, remember not to load your chest rig with large or bulky items that can slow down your movement or prevent you from quickly taking out what you really need. Keep any storage pockets around your shoulders empty for free movement and always make sure that any first aid items, such as band-aids are easily accessible, even if you are injured.