There are so many things to look for in a chest rig—so many options to choose from. Where do you begin?
First of all, you need to have in mind the types of tactical requirements you’ll need. For some, these will vary from operation to operation.
1. How many magazine pouches? If you will be in the field for an extended period of time and expect heavy action, you’ll likely need more magazines.
2. How many large, multi-use pouches? Will you need to carry extra equipment, supplies, rations, or will you need to acquire and store articles on your mission?
3. Does it contain a large, internal map pocket? When traveling through unfamiliar terrain, a map may prove critical to your survival, both in tactically maintaining the high ground, and also in determining the best evacuation route, when needed.
4. Can you wear the chest rig over body armor? In situations where you will more likely be exposed, body armor can be critical to your survival. Will the chest rig fit comfortably over body armor?
5. Can you wear the chest rig covertly underneath a jacket? In undercover operations, you may need to blend in. Many a chest rig will prove too bulky to wear underneath a jacket. Some are specially designed for it.
6. Will it accommodate additional pouches? Having a chest rig that allows pouches to be added or taken away depending on your needs can prove helpful and less costly in the long run, especially if your tactical needs vary greatly.
7. Does it have interior rear pockets for armor plates? Such plates could give additional protection without the extra bulk and discomfort of body armor.
8. Does the chest rig have a quick detach system? In an emergency, can you easily shed your chest rig? When seconds count, a quick detach system could mean the difference between life and death.
9. Is it easy to shoulder your rifle without the rig interfering? The last thing you need is a chest rig that interferes with you carrying your rifle or un-shouldering it for fast response to enemy fire.
10. Is there an allowance for a handgun? In close quarters, a handgun may be preferred. Will your chest rig interfere with you wearing one?
11. Do the pouches have dividers to prevent magazine clatter? In order to maintain a stealth approach, you don’t want your magazines giving you away.
12. Is the rig a base model design to accommodate optional, modularized add-ons depending on your tactical needs? Wouldn’t it be really cool to have a chest rig that changes with your tactical requirements? Options could include a side medical pouch, internal admin pouch (pens, notepad, etc.), a non-slip butt stock retention pad, or even a hydration system for desert work.