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three gamehide upland vest wearing hunters in field

3 tips for buying the best upland bird hunting vest.

Whether you are a new bird or small game hunter or a seasoned pro, you still may have questions on what features to look for in a brand new vest. Every hunter and hunt is different, so I have put together a quick list of things to think about before you make your next investment!


#1 Durability

When a hunting vest isn’t durable, you are wasting your time and money. Buying a bad product always reminds me of the quote from the movie Tommy Boy – “Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of sh$@.

  • Fabric: Be aware of the fabric in the garment. Does it meet you needs? Will it hold up in the cover you hunt? Will I feel comfortable all day hunting?
  • Stitching: Is it well stitched? Are the pocket corners and stress points bar-tacked? (I feel bar-tacking is the most important feature in a well-built item of hunting clothing)
  • Zippers: Are the zipper solidly stitched to the vest. Does is zip well?


#2 Features

Much like buying a truck, ATV or firearm, once we know the bones are good it’s all about the features! Different features speak to different people, so find what suits your needs from most important to the- meh, cool but not a must have.

  • Front loading: This is probably the best feature on a vest. Having to ask a buddy to come over and put a critter in your game bag because you have alligator arms and can’t reach the rear loading bag…well, you might as well have him brush your hair before bed. - just sayin’...
  • Pockets: Look for pockets that fit your personal style. Some prefer a cleaner, more minimalist look, while others like long zippered pockets to dump boxes of shells. 
  • Shell Holders: There have always been lovers and haters of the elastic shell holder. Make sure they fit 12 and 20 gauge shells and have a reputation for holding them securely.
  • Game Bag: Blood-proof is always a plus. Some vests have zip down game bags for convenience, but if not I don’t see it as a deal breaker.


#3 Color

“To orange, or not to orange.” Sometimes blaze orange it is required by law or recommended by some hunting outfits.  Upland vest options usually offer full orange, orange tipped (shoulders and game bag) or no orange at all. The choice is up to you! Some prefer the safety of full orange, some the traditional two-tone look, while others like the solid earth tones so they can also hunt doves and ducks.


Hopefully you learned a few things that will help you score the best upland vest to fit your needs. Good luck in the field this fall!

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