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Hunting vests are essential, versatile pieces of hunting gear. By leaving your arms unencumbered, they allow you freedom of movement. Wear them alone in mild weather, or layer them under or over other hunting clothing to help keep you warm in the cold. They can carry your ammo, calls, water, snacks and other hunting accessories. An orange hunting vest can help keep you safe by making you visible during firearm deer seasons, while a camo hunting vest can help you blend in to hide during archery, duck and turkey seasons. A hunting vest can keep you warm or help you stay cool. Choose the right vest, or vests, for the types of hunting you do, and you’ll find yourself reaching for it every time you put on hunting clothing.

Features to look for in a hunting vest

Different types of hunting demand different clothes. The most versatile vest will be the one you can wear alone when you need to ward off chill on cool days, or layer under a coat when the weather turns very cold. Vests warm you effectively by keeping your body core warm. If your torso stays warm, your body is able to send more blood to your extremities. And, because they lack the bulk of coats, vests are easy to stash away in a pack or pocket when you don’t need them.

Upland hunting vests and turkey hunting vests are made to carry gear and, when you’re successful, game you’ve bagged. Turkey vests often include cushions and backrests to make the long wait for a bird more comfortable. 

No matter what type of vest you buy, think about how you will wear it when you choose a size. If you’re buying a vest for layering under jackets or waders, find a vest that fits closely. For optimum versatility, be sure any vest for upland hunting, turkey hunting, or a blaze orange vest for deer hunting is big enough, or adjustable, so that you can wear it over light clothing in warm weather and wear it over bulky layers late in the season.

What to look for in a camo deer hunting vest

A camo vest is one of the most useful layering pieces a bowhunter or crossbow hunter can own. Because you might wear it as an outer layer on mild days, camouflage is important. A soft, quiet material will help you remain undetected. Sizing is important, because a vest that’s cut too loosely will get in the way of drawing a bow or lifting your crossbow to your shoulder. Choose a vest that’s cut to fit snugly (but not tightly) so it will move with you.

Best Camo Hunting Vest: Primos Hunting 65732 Gen II Bow Vest

Customized Fit

It features an adjustable fit and is backpack-friendly. Primos Hunting

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The Primos Gen II Bow Vest features an easily adjustable fit, so you can change the sizing to accommodate whatever you’re wearing beneath it. Slots in the waist area allow you to run your backpack belt through it, so the vest won’t ride up when you’re drawing your bow or raising your crossbow. It comes in Realtree Xtra Green camo.

What to look for in a turkey hunting vest

A turkey hunting vest serves as a gear organizer. Turkey hunters take all kinds of things into the woods: calls, shells, chalk, snacks, water, clippers, extra layers, even mesh blind material and decoys. It all fits into the right vest. Load up your vest and leave it that way, and as long as you top up the snacks and water, you’ve got all your hunting gear in one place so you can grab it and go in the morning. Almost every turkey vest comes with a seat cushion, so once you’re in the woods, the vest provides a place to sit. Some have backrests, and a few turn into comfortable chairs.

Best Turkey Hunting Vest: Primos Rocker Vest

Front Row Seat

No tree needed—a built-in chair allows you to sit anywhere, and plenty of pockets make this vest the best seat in the house. Primos Hunting

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There’s no need to find a tree if you’re wearing the Rocker Vest. A self-supporting seat lets you plunk down anywhere and still have a solid backrest so you can wait out a bird in comfort for as long as it takes. It has dedicated pockets for your box and pot calls, a padded backrest, and a roomy game bag that can hold decoys or extra layers. It has a hydration bladder pocket as well.

Upland hunting gear

Upland hunting is an active sport, and a vest gives you much freer range of motion than a coat with sleeves that can bind your arms. A vest also holds your essentials: ammo, water, and your birds, plus any accessories like gloves or leashes you might bring along on a hunt. A vest has an important safety function, too. Many states require blaze orange clothing, and it’s always a good idea to wear an orange hat and vest so everyone in the group can locate each other instantly when a bird flushes.

Best Upland Hunting Vest: Wildfowler Upland Hunting Vest

No Frills

This vest has everything you need—and nothing you don’t. Wildfowler

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Upland vests shouldn’t weigh you down with bells and whistles, and the Wildfowler Vest has all the storage you need for birds, ammo, and nothing extraneous. Spacious front pockets with shell holders accommodate up to a box of shells, and it has a roomy gamebag. As a bonus, the gamebag loads from the back or from the front, which comes in handy when you hunt alone. Orange shoulder pads, back and pocket flaps keep you visible.

What to look for in a hunting dog vest

Dogs get cold just like we do, especially when they get wet. A neoprene vest is a necessity for late season duck hunting, and it can keep an upland dog in the field longer on wet, cold days, too. When you’re measuring your dog for a vest, measure around the deepest part of your dog’s chest while it’s standing up. Measure the neck, too, at a point closer to the shoulders than you would when measuring for a collar. The chest measurement is the most important because a vest has to fit closely, but not tightly, around the dog’s chest so it can retain the dog’s body heat.

Best Dog Hunting Vest: Browning Camo Neoprene Dog Vest

Trim to Fit

Heavy stitching and bar-tacked seams help this vest hold together after you trim it to fit. Browning

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Made of 3mm neoprene to hold in warmth, this dog hunting vest has a chest plate to protect your dog from sharp sticks and a handle to help you hoist the dog into the boat. Straps on the back allow more custom size adjustment and Mossy Oak camo keeps your dog hidden in the blind. It can be trimmed in areas that might chafe a dog.

Shopping for hunting gear on a budget?

If you’re on a budget, think about what single feature you most need in a vest. For firearms deer hunters, both the law and common sense dictate blaze orange for safety as the number one priority when choosing a vest. Rather than buying several blaze garments to suit weather conditions, it makes more sense to pick up one orange vest that you can wear over anything.

Best Cheap Hunting Vest: Outdoor Cap and Vest Combo

Comes with a Hat

This simple vest slips on over any outer layer so you can be seen. Outdoor Cap

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An orange hat-vest combo assures you will be highly visible in the woods. Elastic side straps and a hook-and-loop closure in the front help this one-size vest fit almost everyone. The material is fairly quiet.

FAQ:

Do you have to wear an orange vest when hunting?

Blaze orange requirements vary from state to state. Many states require blaze orange garments during firearms deer seasons and other big game seasons, and some have blaze orange requirements for upland hunters as well.Some states allow orange camo, while others stipulate uninterrupted orange, meaning only solid blaze is permitted. Regardless of state laws, any time you will be hunting where there is a good chance of encountering others, it’s a good idea to wear orange, or have an orange garment with you. Mammals don’t see color well, so blaze orange won’t stop you from filling your tag.

Can a dog sit when wearing a hunting vest?

Yes, dogs can sit if they are wearing a properly sized dog hunting vest. It’s very important to measure the dog properly around the chest and neck, and also to buy a vest that is made to be trimmed to fit so you can cut away any material that might bind or chafe the dog and make it uncomfortable.

What should I wear with a hunting vest?

The beauty of a hunting vest is that you can wear a vest over or under almost anything. If it’s extremely cold out, wear a thin, warm vest under a jacket or parka, or a large vest over a heavier garment. Many hunters will wear a vest over a hooded sweatshirt or windbreaker. Be sure the garment you wear underneath the vest won’t pick up burrs if you’re hunting in brush. It should be quiet fabric if stealth matters. In cold weather, a garment that blocks the wind will keep your arms more comfortable.

A final tip to find the best hunting vest for you

Choose a hunting vest according to the amount of gear you have to carry with you in the field. It’s a good idea to lay out all the gear you’ll have with you, and make sure the vest can accommodate it all. Then be sure the vest is either big enough or adjustable enough to fit over any clothing you might wear from the beginning of the season to the end. Once you choose the right vest you won’t want to hunt without it.

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