Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Load bearing vest/ chest rig?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ray Bailly
(tempestv) - F
Load bearing vest/ chest rig? on 04/05/2011 15:35:29 MDT Print View

I'm trying to find a good way to carry gear that I use while hiking in such a way that I don't need to stop or take off my pack to access it. Stuff like map, compass, monocular, camera, food to last me through the day, sheath knife (mora or similar, roughly 4" blade), compact rain poncho, basic first aid kit, ect. Also, considering the bear threat around here, I've been considering getting a 44 mag, which would also need some sort of holster. Finally, I'd like the more important survival stuff to be carried separate of the backpack, so that if the pack gets lost, I still have food, water, map, first aid kit, fire starter, space blanket, ect.

I've looked around quite a bit for something ready made to meet these needs, and haven't found it. A Molle vest could be made to work, but it would be really heavy compared to a custom setup. Therefore, I think my best bet is to sew something up myself. I'm thinking some sort of chest rig/vest for the stuff that I want to keep separate from the pack, and maybe a couple pouches on the shoulder straps for the other items. Has anyone seen anything like what I am describing? Have any ideas for designs that ride well, but would allow these items to be carried? Good ways to carry the dedicated survival items off the pack, but out of the way?

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Chestpack on 04/05/2011 16:11:38 MDT Print View

Radical Design makes a chestpack ( which might be interesting for you.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Here's a home made one on 04/05/2011 16:34:58 MDT Print View


I use a front pack on a daily basis (gym and grocery store) as well as backpacking. I have carried most of the items in it that you mention. Here's a link to a post showing more info.



Edited by lyrad1 on 04/05/2011 16:41:04 MDT.

Ray Bailly
(tempestv) - F
Chest packs on 04/05/2011 17:18:26 MDT Print View

The radical design pack is cool, but I'd prefer something that doesn't hook to the pack, and I'm not seeing a way to make it work without a pack.

Daryl, does that bag require a pack to hook to?

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Ray Question on 04/05/2011 21:20:07 MDT Print View


Yes, it requires a backpack. Sorry, I was off the mark a bit.


John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Chest Pack on 04/05/2011 21:30:53 MDT Print View

Check this site out. I have one and it works pretty well. I use it for downhill skiing under my jacket as I had the fanny pack often catching on the lift and got tired of hearing, "hey dude, watch your pack" as I boarded the lift.

Carl Holt
(Sundown) - F
Re: Load bearing vest/ chest rig? on 04/06/2011 04:50:36 MDT Print View

The weight thing will catch up to you every time because the chest rig needs a decent suspension to be comfortable and that means dedicated straps and a structure. I have a Tactical Tailor chest rig that I picked up in last year's sale for $60 ( .

It came with way more pouches than you need but it is modular to allow you to swap them out.

Several of their larger pouches could handle long telephoto lenses, large nalgene bottles and so forth.

Just keep in mind the more you put in, the heavier it will pull you forward - especially if you are off trail.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Re: Chest packs on 04/06/2011 06:59:50 MDT Print View

"The radical design pack is cool, but I'd prefer something that doesn't hook to the pack, and I'm not seeing a way to make it work without a pack."

I've actually seen people use this one without a backpack. They simply added a strap/sling to turn it into a shoulder bag. I have to admit though, that there are probably better solutions out there.

Instead of a chestpack you could maybe use cargo pants. That way the straps of your backpack don't get in the way and you can still carry a lot of essentials on your person.

Ray Bailly
(tempestv) - F
Cargo pants on 04/06/2011 09:10:21 MDT Print View

I think the cargo pants might be a partial solution. It would work good for stuff like the map, and maybe a thin first aid kit, but add very much weight or bulk, and with it moving as you walk, it gets real annoying real quick. The survival gear that I don't really need access to while walking could ride in my slash pockets. The waist belt blocks access, but if I need my emergency blanket, then I probably wouldn't have my pack on anymore anyways.

The Ribzwear pack is the best thing I've seen yet, Thanks for the link.

Carl, I know that the pack should be built sturdy to work well, but I'd like to avoid Molle if I can. Compared to a well designed dedicated setup designed for what I need, a Molle setup would add unnecessary weight. The problem that I was running into was finding a dedicated chest rig designed for camping, not carrying ammunition into battle.

So, assuming that the map, first aid kit, and any extra survival gear could be carried in cargo and slash pockets, and the camera and monocular could be carried in pouches on the backpack shoulder straps or waist belt, that leaves food, compass, GPS, knife, rain poncho, and handgun, and maybe some sort of "admin" pouch for mulitool, flashlight/headlamp, note paper, pen, ect. This stuff would need to be carried on my person, rather than the pack, and must be easily accessible with the pack on.

John Smith
(jcar3305) - F

Locale: East of Cascades
Load bearing vest/chest rig on 04/08/2011 18:49:57 MDT Print View

I have used an old banana republic photographers vest for years. It is not ultra light but it is unbelievably comfortable. I can't find a picture online of it anywhere since BR does not make them anymore but an almost identical one can be found here:

I will occasionally use them with a very light pack such as the GG whisper if I want a sleeping bag and insulation clothes with me as well.

enjoy finding what works for you

rick mccoll
(rgmccoll) - F

Locale: East Tennessee
all in one on 04/13/2011 15:06:32 MDT Print View

Ray Bailly
(tempestv) - F
All in one won't work on 04/13/2011 21:36:13 MDT Print View

I'm not looking for an all in one setup, I want the front load to be separate from the main pack so that I end up separated from my pack, I still have a map, compass, rain protection, first aid, food, means of collecting water, ect. Besides, I have several packs that I use for different purposes, and this system would have to work with all of them.

Right now, I'm thinking a combination of cargo pants and a vest. I can carry the map in one cargo pocket, a thin first aid kit in the other cargo (a more extensive first aid kit is in the pack), and survival items I wouldn't expect to need in the course of a normal day in the slash pockets. The vest would be built custom to carry food, handgun, rain poncho, knife, ect. I'm thinking fairly thin nylon (220D- 400D?) pockets on a light mesh vest, with some sort of elastic to keep it tight and swing free over a variety of clothing thicknesses. There would be a mesh pocket on the back to fit a hydration bladder in case I want to leave the pack behind and still have water.

If I have to, I can move some items that aren't potential survival tools, like the monocular or camera onto pouches on the shoulder straps of the pack.

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
Re: All in one won't work on 04/13/2011 22:53:51 MDT Print View

If you want to carry a piece, why not do it right? My suggesstion is that you get a police duty belt add the light suspenders ( and then you can add any number of accessory pockets and pouches to the mix to include a holster. You can get pretty low profile stuff that won't interefere with your pack.

Additionally you could always go with the old military LBE and add any number of pouches to that as well, since they were designed to be used in concert with a Alice pack. If you want I can take a picture of an old one that I have to show you what I am talking about.

You can always get a fanny pack designed for carrying a pistol and accessories. I have a friend that is a police officer and he carried his .357 backpacking this way.

Finally, check out this offering from Alps is somewhat modular

Also, look at Cabelas and Bass Pro shops, they have hunting style equipment that may be what you are looking for.

Edited by FlytePacker on 04/13/2011 22:57:25 MDT.

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Molly MacPack on 04/14/2011 08:34:55 MDT Print View

Throwing this out there as an option. Haven't used, but there are quite a few over at HF that do, and the owner is a member there.
If you look under the "order" link, Mac has a variety of options including the angry sparrow pack (lighter), and a front pack Molle array. Not a separate wearable piece, but Mac could probably find you a solution. He's very easy to work wilth.

Rusty Griswald
(Haggis) - F
Chest rig on 04/17/2011 17:40:19 MDT Print View

You should also check out the Kifaru Koala or the Kit Bag by Hill People gear, both bags were designed for what you want to do.


Hill People


Troy Henderson
(Abbott) - F
Load bearing vest/ chest rig? on 04/19/2011 09:50:15 MDT Print View

The Koala is a sweet pack.

Also, you should consider the True North Aero-vest. It consists of two vest panels in the front to store your gear. It is very comfortable to use once you get the straps adjusted and doesn't get in the way. A lot of folks on our area SAR teams use these.

In keeping with MYOG, this pack was designed and made by a friend of mine in SAR and then given to True North. He and I still use home-made versions.