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Published Mar. 24, 2021

If you’ve hunted turkeys long enough, you know that no two ornery gobblers are alike. The same probably holds true for most turkey hunters when it comes to their tactics, calling strategies, and even their clothing or gear. While some hunters might view turkey vests as equally important as their calls, others opt for fanny packs or no vest at all out of minimalism or downright rebellion. With that in mind, I tested the best turkey vests (and non-turkey vests) to suit a wide range of hunters and hunting tactics. Regardless of your preference or hunting style, this review should help you find an option that best fits you for chasing longbeards this spring. 

Best Turkey Vest Overall: SITKA Equinox Turkey Vest

Key Features

  • Water resistant
  • Magnetic storage for calls
  • Vest adjusts from S to XXL
  • Hydration bladder compartment

Why It Made the Cut

With magnetic call pouches, silent fastening clips, and a seat that doesn’t deflate, the SITKA Equinox is designed with everything you wish your old vest did better. This vest maximizes its minimal design making it the best overall for any style of turkey hunting. 

Pros

  • No wasted space
  • Seat doesn’t deflate after long sits
  • Silent 
  • Large back pocket for storage or water bladder

Cons

  • Premium price
  • No traditional game bag

Product Description

While the SITKA Equinox was designed with running-n-gunning in mind, this is the best turkey vest for any style of hunting. This minimalist design ensures that there’s no wasted space, yet there are plenty of pockets and pouches to store every call in your arsenal. The magnetic pouches are one of the best features on this vest. Instead of snap buttons, Velcro, or zippers, these pouches open and close silently, so you can retrieve any of your calls without worrying about spooking a bird. On the left side of the vest, I was able to store two slate calls and several mouth calls in the magnetic clamshell pouch and the right side has two slots to fit a small and large box call. I loaded the call pockets with a total of two slates and strikers, three mouth calls, a box, and a locator call, and I found the location and design of the pockets intuitive and easy to access.

Best Turkey Vests of 2022
Magnetic pouches make accessing your calls or other gear easy and silent. Adam Moore

A lot of vests have seats that tend to deflate after sitting for a few hours, or others try to overcompensate for this by using a bulky cushion. This isn’t the case with the Equinox vest. SITKA uses a dual-density foam in this seat that deflates minimally even after hours of sitting, and it’s compact so it doesn’t get in the way if you’re trying to slip through thick brush or trees. This is by far the best vest seat I’ve used, and you’ll be hard pressed to find one that works better without the bulk.

Sitka ditched the original game bag and went with a backpack instead. While other competitors offer similar options, SITKA’s includes a compartment to store a water bladder for the all-day or deep public hunts. The pack offers an adequate amount of storage but nothing like a traditional game bag that some hunters may use to store decoys or their kill. Still, the vest comes with a detachable turkey sling that clips into the shoulder strap if you’re lucky enough to pull the trigger on a longbeard. 

Best Budget Turkey Vest: RedHead Classic II

RedHead

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Key Features

  • Two large front pockets
  • Snap-on seat
  • One size fits most

Why It Made the Cut

At $40, the RedHead Classic II is great for hunters on a budget or first-timers testing the turkey waters. 

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Large game bag
  • Packs down easily for travel

Cons

  • Not a ton of storage

Product Description

If you’re looking for a turkey vest that doesn’t break the bank or you’re new to the sport, the RedHead Classic II is a great option. Other than added back support, this vest has everything you need and nothing that you don’t. Two main pockets on the front allow for adequate storage and a place to store a slate call and striker, and there’s a box-specific pouch that holds most size box calls and doubles as a water bottle holder. These pockets are loose, however, and I found that most of my calls rattled against other things in the pockets as I walked—but you might remedy this by stuffing your mask, gloves, or a spare shirt in them. If you’re a hunter with a smaller stature, you might find that the shoulder straps bunch up while you’re sitting down even if they’re adjusted all the way.   

Most turkey vests look like they’re designed specifically for turkey hunting for obvious reasons. However, the RedHead Classic II looks and feels like more of a traditional game vest, so you can continue using this one when your small-game season rolls around. And with a price that you won’t balk at, this vest is hard to beat.

Best Turkey Vest for Long Sits: ALPS Outdoorz Grand Slam

Alps OutdoorZ

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Key Features

  • Removable kickstand frame
  • Large game bag
  • Multiple call and storage pockets
  • Memory foam seat

Why It Made the Cut

Sometimes you have to hang tight for hours because gobblers hang up or you don’t have the option to stalk them without getting busted. With a large memory foam seat and adjustable kickstand that allows you to set up without a tree, the Grand Slam is built for long sits and stubborn toms.  

Pros

  • Sit-anywhere kickstand
  • Comfortable seat
  • Tons of storage

Cons

  • Bulky
Turkey hunter sitting in some brush
The ALPS Outdoorz Grand Slam’s kickstand allows you to set up without a tree. Adam Moore

Product Description

If you’re an old-school turkey hunter that doesn’t budge once you’re on a gobbling bird, the ALPS Outdoorz Grand Slam turkey vest can get you through the long haul. The adjustable kickstand and memory foam seat is a little luxury in the turkey woods, and if you’re prone to mid-day naps this vest might be dangerous for you. While the seat and kickstand make for hours of comfortable sitting, the overall vest feels a bit bulky, and slipping quietly through thick woods with the Grand Slam might prove challenging. However, both components are fully and easily removable, so if you have to run-n-gun or get mobile, it’s possible. 

Hunters who use their game bags for storing decoys or dead birds will find plenty of room in this one, and there’s no shortage of storage space for calls either. I tested this vest with and without the kickstand and left the seat on for both. While the magnets are convenient for quickly deploying the seat, they’re not the strongest. Anytime I ducked under limbs or tried to scoot around brush the seat would come undone. There are clips that attach to each side of the seat to the vest, but these snap loudly, and they’re definitely not convenient if you’re quickly trying to sneak closer to a turkey. I am a huge fan of the kickstand, which provides back support when you can’t find a tree. This might not seem like a huge issue, but if you’re hunting a strut zone on the edge of a pasture where the nearest tree is behind a wall of brush, you can tuck into smaller vegetation comfortably with your gun at the ready. 

Best Versatile Turkey Vest: Nomad Convertible Turkey Vest 

Key Features

  • Stowable game bag
  • Traditional vest converts to fanny pack
  • Thermacell specific pocket

Why It Made the Cut

Because of the clip attached components, the Nomad Convertible gives you three different options in one vest at a reasonable price.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Convenient storage
  • Seat fully detaches

Cons

  • Seat comes off easily

Product Description

The Nomad Pursuit Convertible turkey vest changes with your desired hunting tactics and preferences. Wear it as a traditional turkey vest or detach the pack portion for a fanny pack and easily deployed seat. If you want to shed even more weight, drop the fully detachable seat for an easily accessible fanny pack. You can also just use the pack portion as a game bag or pack. This versatility not only makes it a great option for turkey hunting, but a great pack/fanny pack for other game, as well.

Like most turkey vests with magnetic seat attachments, this one comes off easily when it’s caught on limbs, or you bump it off trying to change your position. Yes, there are clips that attach the seat to the vest, but I’ve always found these redundant, since the point of the magnets is to make it easily deployable. One thing I appreciate about the Convertible is the strategically placed pockets. The Thermacell pocket is located on the shoulder strap. And the rest of the pockets are mainly located on the sides of the fanny pack portion, which wraps around the front of the waist instead of sitting at the back like other fanny packs. If you’re on the fence about turkey vests and fanny packs, the Nomad Convertible allows you to have the best of both worlds, and if you end up preferring a fanny pack, you still have an extra pack/game bag on your hands.  

Best Turkey Vest Turkey Calls: ALPS Ambush Sling Pack

Alps OutdoorZ

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Key Features

  • Multi-position shoulder strap
  • MOLLE compatible
  • Silent, call-specific pockets

Why It Made the Cut

At chest height, the Ambush Sling Pack holds all your calls (plus more) in a convenient location for stealthy movement or quick set-up changes.

Pros

  • Easy access storage
  • Minimalist design
  • Lots of pockets in a small space

Cons

  • Carrying a front pack might feel awkward

Product Description

The Ambush Sling Pack is a creative and convenient option for hunters who prefer not to use a vest. Stationed in front, the pack places everything at chest level, which makes it easy to access calls or even binos without making a lot of unwanted movement. The zippers are fairly quiet, especially if you open them slowly, and the front pocket stores your slate or glass calls behind two mesh pouches. If you find the front design appealing, especially if you’re a mobile hunter, keep in mind that it’s not ideal if you need to crawl. You may even have to dump the pack entirely if you have to belly crawl to get a shot at a gobbler. The Sling Pack fully adjusts but still felt front heavy with all of my gear, and I had to continue to adjust the strap occasionally while walking. Despite those drawbacks, the Ambush Sling Pack carves out a unique niche for conveniently storing gear and calls, and it shines for hunters who want extra storage without the added bulk or weight.

Best Fanny Pack for a Turkey Vest: Cabela’s Speed Seat

Cabela’s

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Key Features

  • Padded seat
  • Single large pocket
  • Fits most sizes

Why It Made the Cut

The Cabela’s Speed Seat offers the convenience of a fanny pack with a padded seat for comfortable and lightweight hunting.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Seat deploys quickly
  • Single clip makes it easy to drop

Cons

  • Seat doesn’t fully detach

Product Description

With a padded seat and minimal storage space, the Cabela’s Speed Seat offers the best of both run-n-gun convenience and wait-em-out comfort. The extra padded seat makes it easy to sit for hours and doesn’t deflate as much as others. You can run the seat tucked between your back and the fanny pack or already deployed for quick set ups. The seat might feel a bit bulky for some, especially hunters who prefer minimalist setups, and the seat doesn’t fully detach, though you could easily modify this. Unlike traditional fanny packs, this one is committed to your back, so access to the back main pocket isn’t the easiest. Though, there is adequate storage space, and the two cinched pockets are great for storing a Thermos or Thermacell. And if you’re just running mouth calls and have minimal gear, the Speed Seat is worth serious consideration, especially if you’re opposed to vests.  

Best Minimalist Turkey Vest: SITKA Mountain Optics Harness

Key Features

  • Magnetic front flap
  • One main and two side pockets
  • MOLLE compatible

Why It Made the Cut

The quiet and easily accessible SITKA Mountain Optics Harness is the best minimalist alternative to a turkey vest for hunters who just need their binos and a couple calls. 

Pros

  • Convenient access
  • Minimal weight
  • Plenty of call storage
  • Dual use

Cons

  • Lacks extra storage
  • Price is higher than most vests

Product Description

If you prefer a minimalist approach to the turkey woods, the SITKA Mountain Optics Harness is a great option. Most hunters carry a pair of binos, so the dual purpose is worth investing in anyway. The front main opening has a magnetic flap that makes it convenient to silently access your binos or turkey calls. Without my binos, I stored a Lynch’s Fool Proof box call in the main compartment and still had room to add mouth calls, and the lens cloth holder on the inside doubles as storage for your box chalk. Even with my Leupold BX-4s in the main compartment, I still stored a slate call in each of the side pockets with room to stow multiple mouth calls. The side pockets, which you can detach for an even more minimalist approach, comfortably store most size glass or slate calls, and the side pouches on the main pocket work better than most turkey vests for holding strikers. 

A turkey hunter with a bino harness
The Mountain Optics Harness can easily store your binos and any slate call in the side pockets. Adam Moore

The natural position of the bino harness is way more convenient than the side pockets on most turkey vests, and you don’t have to fumble for your calls or other gear because everything is in front of you at chest level. The downsides, such as the lack of a game bag, seat, and back support are obvious, but if you’re the type of hunter who prefers minimal gear, you’re probably not worried about those anyway. You can also add other pieces like a pack or clip-on seat for a DIY vest approach. 

Best Turkey Vest for Run-n-Gun: Slumberjack Pursuit Vest

Slumberjack

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Key Features

  • Four chest pockets
  • Snag-free adjustment straps
  • Ventilated mesh for temp control
  • Hydration bladder compatible

Why It Made the Cut

The Pursuit Vest was designed for spot and stalk hunting, and all the features that make it great for stalking bulls, also make it the best turkey vest for run-n-gun hunting.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable for snug fit
  • Convenient pocket placement
  • Great for other game

Cons

  • No seat

Product Description

One of the best things about the Pursuit Vest is that it isn’t designed for one specific purpose, but it excels at several things. One of those is turkey hunting. The four large pockets can hold most calls, even a box if you’re okay with part of the lid sticking out of the zipper. And the main compartment on the back easily houses a 70-ounce reservoir. This feature and the overall minimalist design of the vest make it an excellent choice for all day run-in-guns. It doesn’t include a seat, but if you’re bent on having one, any clip-on seat would make a great, easy addition to this vest. 

Best No-Buy Option: The No Vest

Limb Hanger Turkey
Turkey hunters have been around a lot longer than turkey vests. Scott Einsmann

Key Features

  • Weight: 0 pounds
  • Has as many pockets as your shirt and pants
  • One size fits all

Why It Made the Cut

Long before there were turkey vests there were turkey hunters, and they did just fine without them.

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • Zero added weight
  • Can buy more tags with the saved money
  • Packs down easily

Cons

  • No vest 

Product Description

When it comes to necessary gear, turkey vests don’t exactly check the box. They might make your hunts more comfortable and hold your gear easier, but they’re not going to call-in and bag a turkey for you. Before turkey vests were designed, turkey hunters killed loads of longbeards in nothing more than army fatigues, hand-me-down camo, or old Levi’s. My grandfather killed more turkeys than I probably ever will, and I’m willing to bet the first time he saw a turkey vest was when I showed him one I picked up in high school. If it didn’t fit in his pockets, he didn’t take it. Even if you do prefer a vest or some type of pack, maybe challenge yourself to bag a turkey with only the convenience of your pockets this spring.    

If you decide to go the no-vest route, wear some pants with cargo pockets and a shirt that has chest pockets. You can easily access a slate call from your cargo pockets or a box if they’re big enough. A couple mouth calls easily slip into one chest pocket and you can store extra shells in the other. If you do stash a box in your cargo pockets, make sure you wrap it with a rubber band so it doesn’t make unwanted noise while you’re walking through the woods.   

FAQs

Q: What is a turkey vest for?

Turkey vests typically have three main purposes; they have pockets specifically designed to hold turkey calls, an attached seat for added comfort during long sits, and a large gamebag for storing extra gear or an unlucky gobbler. Essentially, a vest is made to hold your calls, keep you comfortable while you battle it out with tom, and bag your bird. Not all turkey vests have these three components, but most of them have at least one or a combination of some.   

Q: What gear do you need for turkey hunting?

The main and minimum gear you need for turkey hunting is a shotgun, a turkey call, and some camo. Some old school hunters might even argue that you only need a gun and a call. While you can successfully kill turkeys with these three pieces of gear, there are other products (like turkey vests) that can make turkey hunting more efficient. Of course, I would also add some type of insect repellent or a Thermacell to this list, too. Unlike many other game pursuits, turkey hunting requires minimal and relatively inexpensive gear to get started.    

Q: What gear do you need for turkey hunting?

The main and minimum gear you need for turkey hunting is a shotgun, a turkey call, and some camo. Some old school hunters might even argue that you only need a gun and a call. While you can successfully kill turkeys with these three pieces of gear, there are other products (like turkey vests) that can make turkey hunting more efficient. Of course, I would also add some type of insect repellent or a Thermacell to this list, too. Unlike many other game pursuits, turkey hunting requires minimal and relatively inexpensive gear to get started.    

Q: What should you carry in a turkey vest?

Aside from your turkey calls and extra shells, there are other pieces of gear that you’ll want to carry in a turkey vest. Springtime ushers in those coveted morning gobbles but also mosquitos, gnats, and noseeums, so a Thermacell or another type of insect repellent is a must. The temps also rapidly change this time of year, too, and depending on what part of the country you hunt, it could be freezing before first light and 75 by midday. I either layer up or keep an extra lighter one in the gamebag to swap when temps start to rise, and the extra layer can be used for added cushion or back support. If your gamebag is large enough, you can stash decoys in it or a turkey fan for fanning (where legal). It also never hurts to keep an extra pair of gloves and a facemask in your vest. Sometimes camo works too well, and if you tend to get mobile, you’ve probably left a thing or two in the woods.    

How to Choose a Turkey Vest

Personal preference plays a big role in choosing the best turkey vest for your own hunting strategies. There are some vests or fanny packs better suited for different hunting tactics and scenarios, but a lot of it has to do with comfortability. Personally, I prefer a traditional turkey vest. They’re versatile, comfortable, and I don’t have to worry about fitting several calls in a limited amount of space. The built-in cushion allows me to comfortably hang tight when a gobbler goes rogue. I’m also a fan of the game bag that’s included on most traditional turkey vests. Sure, there are plenty of turkey totes and slings out there but stuffing a bird in the built-in game bag makes for a less cumbersome walk when you bag one on a deep piece of public. 

If you have a similar approach to the turkey woods, buying a vest like the SITKA Equinox that allows you to wait out a stubborn gobbler or run-n-gun at a moment’s notice, might not be a bad investment. But if you’re a less-is-more type of hunter, the Slumberjack Pursuit Vest is a great minimalist option, and when turkey season’s over, you can use it for everything from small game to backcountry elk hunts. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best turkey vest for your hunting style and tactics doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you’re new to turkey hunting, try on some of these options when possible to see what best fits you. You don’t want to wait until you’re in an hours-long battle with tom to figure out that your vest just doesn’t cut it.    

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