EDC/Concealed Carry Vest – Philosophy and Product Review

by Matt in the Midwest

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest

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 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 a 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 conceal 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 review, 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 a 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!

Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of  TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, and a 4″ Heavy Duty WaterBoy Well Bucket a $106 value and a WaterBoy Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products for a total prize value of over $867.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason Farms.com and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.

Comments

  1. I wear a vest most days. I have light weight ones for late Spring through early Fall and a Carhart for colder weather. With me, my arms can take more cold than the middle of the back. I discovered this working in a gun shop. When I put on a wool vest, my chills went away.

    I wear it with a pocket “T”. a sweat shirt, or a long sleeved “T” depending on the weather. I works for me.

  2. This article comes at an interesting time for me. I’ve always thought a vest was the way to go for a concealed carrier,but as a fat guy, your clothing choices are somewhat limited. This morning I pulled all my 4x shirts out of the closet. I tried on a 2x and while it is snug when I sit,very soon, I’ll be ridding my cliset of the 3x shirts and replacing them with 2x. I can see myself wearing a vest when I’m in a loose fitting 2x vest without looking silly.

  3. I have a vest I wear when I’m out and about. It’s just a converted fishing vest, but has oh-so-many pockets. With the exception of extra clothing, I actually made it into a three-day kit, and if necessary, can wear this with my pack. I tried it, and the straps and all fit where there are no pockets.
    As a girl, I have a bit more options for vests for concealed carry, though few with pockets. I’m not a purse girl, so if it don’t fit in my pants pockets, I have to carry a bag (not a purse–it’s more like a smaller cloth grocery bag) or backpack.
    This was a good article, and it’s nice to see I’m not nuts for loading up a vest.
    Good job BC, on working down to a smaller size. Been working on that myself.

    • I used to wear a down vest . It was a 2 pocket green vest that I wore hunting and cold days when I was in junior and hi school.The 2 big pockets were pretty handy for school stuff and the field.I am going to look into vest. I will check the local thrift stores and walmart in the sporting goods section.

  4. I love vests, the only problem is that it just screams “carrying a gun here!”. I quit using one a long time ago.

    • I had vests described to me one time as…”shoot me first” clothing. But, I love a good vest. Early fall and spring and sometimes during the winter here in SC, a vest is all you need. They are comfortable. Plus there are a diverse item that can fit your particular requirement.

      • West of the Big Chicken says:

        When I see someone with a Columbia fishing shirt with shirt tails out, I scream, “CWC!!!”

    • Curley Bull says:

      Dang Fellas,
      According to ya’ll, it’s a miracle I’m still alive for sure. I’ve been wearing a vest of one sort or another for over 50 years (FIFTY YEARS). Not only that, but fat boys tend to wear their shirt tails out.
      Every year as a substitute with a new crop of freshmen, I get asked; “why do you always wear a vest”? My standard reply is:
      1. for the pockets
      2. I wear suspenders and was raised by an older generation. Suspenders were considered “under wear” and you did not go out in public with out a vest or jacket.
      Truth is I rarely carry. Makes me use my head more and rely on some old teachings.

      • OhioPrepper says:

        Curley Bull ,
        It’s not a miracle you’re still alive. As I stated in my main reply to Matt, the only folks who see a tactical or cover garment, are those who generally already carry and don’t use a vest themselves. In most of the civilian world, folks are more likely to see a fisherman or a photographer, and when anyone asks, I tell them it’s a cargo vest, which often matches my cargo pants (long or short) and serves as my “purse”. In about a decade of wearing vests, I”ve never had an issue with anyone.

  5. I think a vest is a very good option also. I really don’t like carrying a purse if I can help it, so a vest works out well for me at times. Some time back, I bought a photographers vest for a photo trip I went on with a group of photographers. It came in very handy on the trip, but I never wore it much back home until recently. I think it is a good option for anyone. I really like the Carhart vests for winter because they are extremely warm. IMO, I think the photographers vest is more durable than a fishermans vest. The one’s I’ve seen at Chinamart are really cheaply made.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      Jean,
      The tactical vest is more durable and I think more versatile than either of the other vests you mentioned. While a bit more expensive, the durability makes it well worth the cost. My two are about 10 years and 4 years old respectively.

  6. The first drawback is….it is made in China. 2nd, How many people are going to carry 3 different electronic devices on their person at once? Seriously; an ipad, cell phone and a tablet? 3rd, I want my firearm a little more accessible than fussing with a zipper pocket.

    The concept is nice, but too many pockets and priced too high. I can make a custom vest for a lot less. The nice thing about being able to sew…you see something, you can make it.

    • I really like that idea Izzy. It would be extremely easy to place a pocket on the inside. I see also, so thanks for that idea.

      • oldalaskan says:

        I have a winter coat with a pocket inside just under my left arm, it holds my 9mm Sig nicely and doesn’t print.

      • Jean; Check out trap shooting vests. Those are easily modified. I did my own thing for my shooting vest and the first time I wore it, I could have taken orders. I didn’t use the web mesh like most have. I put vent slits in the back and had detachable shell and hull pouches. But, because I didn’t use the same old dreary fabric, my vests didn’t look like something utilitarian.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      Izzy,
      I agree with you on carrying electronics. I typically carry a flip phone on my belt, and a handy talkie in one of the magazine pouches. As for use with a firearm, I don’t keep a firearm in a pocket, although I do keep extra loaded magazines. The firearm is carried in a paddle holster on my right hip; although a side holster or IWB would also work. In this case the vest is only used as a cover garment and with practice can be easily swept away as part of the acquisition and draw stroke of the strong hand.

  7. mastertrooper says:

    I chose the 5.11 Tactical #80008 Poly/Cotton TacLite Pro Vest which I ordered from Amazon. It has an inside CC pocket with a velcro panel to which you can attach the optional tactical holster.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      mastertrooper,
      I started with the heavy cotton version of that vest and received the poly/cotton for Christmas a few years later. They are identical except for weight and warmth. I normally switch them off for the cold or warm season, and find it to be a very comfortable, versatile, and functional vest. IMHO it’s a good choice.

  8. I have a few vests, most are fleece as I like to layer my clothing and the vest fits the bill nicely. I like longer vests as well as coats instead of jackets. But then, I still carry in a fanny pack 80% of the time. Old guy with a fanny pack is even more obvious than an old guy in a vest, ROFL!

    • OhioPrepper says:

      PatrickM,
      When you state that an Old guy with a fanny pack is even more obvious than an old guy in a vest. I wonder what the perception is with both. Although not often, you can sometimes see me wearing a vest AND fanny pack.
      Perhaps the most amusing thing was something my wife pointed out one summer. We were headed from the vehicle across the parking lot into the grocery, and she just busted out laughing. It just dawned on her that I was carrying two knives, a firearm with extra ammunition, and have a pretty good martial arts background, but somehow the cargo shorts and flip flops just didn’t scream dangerous, and in fact to her seemed hilarious.

      • ” carrying two knives, a firearm with extra ammunition, and have a pretty good martial arts background, but somehow the cargo shorts and flip flops just didn’t scream dangerous”

        ROFL! That is hilarious OhioPrepper.

        It reminded me when a friend of mine from back east came to visit and when we got ready to leave, I started loading up. Left rear pocket – 3 stars, right rear hip – taser, left front pocket – bear spray, right pocket – keys & money. Gun tucked in an inside pant holster. Extra clip in a leather pouch in small of back. Threw on my “big shirt” and my old straw. The straw hat did it. She just stared at me and said ” who would think a little old lady could probably take out a dozen people”. Hey, it was dark out and I don’t carry a bag at night. Don’t like anything in my hands.

        Whatever it takes…..:)

        • OhioPrepper says:

          Izzy,
          By Stars I assume you mean the Shuriken. Although I have a few, I normally don’t carry them; although I do generally keep Han Bo (Short Staff) and NunChaKu close at hand.
          When you state “Extra clip in a leather pouch”, I assume you actually mean Extra magazine. Sorry for the correction here; but, I’ve been a firearms instructor for more than 25 years, and proper nomenclature is IMHO, important.
          When you state “Hey, it was dark out and I don’t carry a bag at night” I totally understand. I often tell people that as I’ve gotten old, I don’t have the stamina I had as a youth, and can’t go 5 or 10 rounds with anyone; therefore, I just have to kill you quick and get it over with.

          • Yes OhioPrepper I am referring to Shurikans. But, MANY are referred to stars. I carry “Ninja stars”. I bought my sets when I was in Japan. I am still pretty darn good with them.

            Now the “num-chuks” have proven almost fatal to me. Okay maybe just painful. For some reason I conked myself more than I care to remember. I just couldn’t get the hang of ot them and I don’t know why. Even my Sensei gave up on me.

            I don’t own a short staff per se, but I made a Tambo (similar) out of my bamboo some years back. Also a “switch” which hurts like hell. When I do carry my bag, my Kubotan is also in it.

            All these “toys” are legal in my state which is why I carry them. Seriously, who is going to suspect an old broad with an old straw hat on of being well armed?

            I did mean “clip” btw. I carry at least one speed clip. When I carry a revolver, I have at least 1 “quick load” aka speed load with me.

            Getting old sure reduces our options, but keeping up a regime of exercises sure helps with staying limber.

          • OhioPrepper says:

            Izzy,
            Perhaps I was a bit ineloquent in my post. My comment on the Stars vs. Shurikens was simply a clarification since I’ve seen all kinds of things called Stars. I’ve been shooting for 50+ years and a firearms instructor for 25+ years and the clip vs. magazine comment was meant as a correction, for which I not only stand corrected; but, very impressed. Good to know that some folks actually know the difference and then use the correct terminology. Most of the misuse of terms I blame on Hollywood, who generally always get it wrong.
            As for any BO (staff) defensive tool, knowing how to use any of the whole mix are generally a great skill to have. I originally trained on the Bo (full sized 6 foot staff) which was a little cumbersome with my 5’6” height, and is also a bit hard to inconspicuously carry on a daily basis. So the Han BO (half staff) was a better tool for me, with everyone keeping in mind that any cane or umbrella may be used effectively with those techniques. Even a rolled up newspaper with some training and practice can be used as a similar effective defensive tool. The shortest staff of all, the KuBOton techniques can even be used with something like a pencil in a pinch. My main point of this paragraph was to educate those non martial artists in the Pack, noting that the Japanese BO is part of the names of all of these tools. Each being a staff with a different length.
            As for NunChaKu, My training started on them as a teen nearly 50 years ago, and over the first few years I had what I suspect is the large standard number of bruised body parts, for anyone learning that tool. I have used throwing stars and was pretty good with them; but, I hadn’t considered actually carrying any as a defensive tool. Not sure if they are legal to carry here; but, it’s probably worth looking into. They would be relatively lightweight, and can inflict a lot of damage on an attacker, without being lethal like a handgun. Thanks for bringing up the subject and making me think again.

          • TPSnodgrass says:

            My wife likes to tell our friends I am her “bag at night”.,,,

  9. oldalaskan says:

    When I was in the Army I was a “crewmember” on Huey UH-1-H Helicopters. We all had vests because if you were shot down and survived the crash all that you would have with you is what you were wearing. Our vests had pockets and pouches all over them filled with all sorts of items, Compass, Pocket Knife, First Aid, Ration bars, Signal mirror, Side Arm, some had a survival radios. If you make your own vest you can customize it as an EDC vest.

  10. Vests are a really good way to go for some situations.

    When I was bumming around the Middle East and Central Asia in the mid-1970s I tried a photographer’s vest instead of a pack, plus a sleeping bag in a stuff sack to which I had sewn loops so I could attach -or detach- an adjustable cross-chest strap made from seat belt webbing. Any cobbler can sew one toether if you don’t want to do it yourself.

    The nice thing about the photo vest specifically were the back pockets: one into which I could stuff clothes, and the tripod pocket outside that, into which lots more stuff like boots could go.

    I wouldn’t recommend one as loaded as mine was for EDC, but for a GHB or possibly a BOB it might be something to consider.

    When you use one long enough, things find their own places, which is generally not where they start out. All the pockets in various sizes and places are really good for that.

    Later on I kept it on the far right side of my bedroom closet, as my Grab & Go bag, with a .38 in a pocket. My thinking was that I could find it quickly in the dark, but a burglar would be unlikely to rifle it and find the gun.

    It worked, too: several weeks after I set it up, my place got burgled and the guy didn’t bother with the clothes. He did rifle the dresser drawer I had previously been keeping the revolver in, though.

  11. OhioPrepper says:

    Matt,
    I’ve been using a vest for nearly a decade, and the woman’s purse analogy is one I’ve used for years, and is in fact, mostly true. I wear mine nearly every time I leave the house. Mine is always either under a coat or over a T shirt or layered with a sweater and sometimes a long sleeved fleece, generally depending on the temperature. Dedicating certain pockets also works well for me. Mine always contains several loaded magazines, my wallet, and keys. The keys are in a pocket with Velcro that has a handy clip for just such a purpose. In the past I’ve used a fanny pack for both gear and concealment; but, I’ve pretty much standardized on the vest. I always carry two knives and a cell phone on/in the pants and most often carry a multiband two way radio for the local ham repeaters. Between the phone and the radio, I can nearly always contact someone if need be.

    I use a 5/11 tactical vest which fits my 5’ 6” 150 pound frame well and the vest fits comfortably, while covering my paddle holster. An example can be seen at: 511tactical.com/511-tactical-vest.html and the vest with most of its EDC contents can be seen here: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/survival-kits/ in its winter configuration. I now have two versions of the vest that are identical in design, with one being made from a lighter material for less weight in the summer.

    As Matt suggested, one might think that the vest screams tactical; but, except when hanging around my gun culture crowd, it simply doesn’t. Some ask about it, and the woman’s purse analogy seems to always work. Others have asked me if I was going fishing or if I was a photographer. All of those questions were pleasant surprises.

    A choice of an EDC/Concealment vest, is like a firearm and holster, meaning you get what fits your lifestyle, budget, your body, and I think Matt has given a great start for anyone considering this piece of attire as part of your kit.

  12. TPSnodgrass says:

    I carry an Uncle Mike’s “murse”. In reality, it’s one of their belt pouches, that I’ve camouflaged with a National Park patch. If, anyone asks, I tell them it’s for my personal hygiene supplies to aid in my colostomy bag. That usually ends any further discussion and foolish questions. Carries my BUG quite nicely and unobtrusively.

    • TP:

      Well, I have to say that’s an original answer. LOL

      May have to find a way to use it…..

    • OhioPrepper says:

      “I tell them it’s for my personal hygiene supplies to aid in my colostomy bag”
      That is great. Not terribly gross; but, gross enough to stop people in their tracks. It’s one of those where I ask myself, Why didn’t I think of that?
      Cool!!!

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