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Webtex Tactical Vest - A Realistic Carrying Alternative? - by Bob Gill

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Steve Williams

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Webtex Tactical Vest - A Realistic Carrying Alternative? By Bob Gill (bgit)



Web-Tex Tactical Vest- Could this be The Answer?

Having owned a number of rucksacks, fishing vests and other luggage, I have often observed that no matter how I try to cut down on the bits I carry, the capacity of the items of luggage invariably gets used to almost to the limit.

Several years ago I thought I had the answer - if it wouldn't go in a small trout bag then it didn't go fishing. Fine, but this often meant that sacrifices had to be made in my personal payload - out went the SLR camera, and the quantity of drink, food and bait was radically cut down. In times of need then an additional bag got pressed into service - partially defeating the object.

I was quite happy with the excellent Nash Nomad 35 litre Rucksack, together with it's detachable 'Mini Speed Pouches' but reckoned that I still needed something else to use as an alternative to a bag or rucksack.

My Cotswold Aquarius Quiver would still figure in the equation - it's been with me a fair number of years, has taken quite a bashing and is useful for carrying some extra kit - like an unhooking mat, jacket etc.


My 'Old Faithful' Cotswold Aquarius Quiver - Still Going Strong

In an attempt to be ruthless, I decided to try a couple of sessions with just a fishing vest loaded up with the necessary kit.

This experience taught me a few of things I should have already known:

1. Your average fishing vest/waistcoat is not intended to carry too much in the way of weight - as the pulls in the stitching after a few 'loaded' fishing sessions testified.

2. The lower down and more even weight distribution felt more comfortable than either rucksack or fishing bag.

3. Most fishing vests/waistcoats are not that waterproof in a downpour or 'uppour' (aka falling in) - but in the latter case not many garments are!

After many days of pondering during the Close Season, I decided that a robust, waterproof vest would probably fit the bill. This would ideally replace my rucksack - a sort of 'Ruckvest' - leaving me with just rods and landing net pole as additions - but my Cotswold Aquarius quiver would take care of these.

After doing quite a bit of research, it seemed that a military type tactical (also known as an assault vest) may just fit my requirements.

The problem was there were quite a few types around of varying quality, versatility, capacity and price.

I decided that it would probably be best to make a list of all the required points and where possible have a look at some examples locally.

Briefly, my requirements were:

Waterproof - so it could be worn outside as well as inside a waterproof coat.

It should be capable of carrying a small amount of fishing tackle together with adequate food and drink, a digital camera, weighing scales and have a number of useable rainshielded secure pockets.

Ideally, there should be some form of versatility in the way of additional capacity (but not too much!) in the form of additional pouches or pockets.

Lastly, it should be comfortable to wear, not too bulky and be quick, easy to put on and take off - as it was not my intention of wearing this throughout the fishing session.

After spending a lot of searching around over a few weeks, I thought I was becoming a bit of an expert (sad). So reminding myself I had more of a life to lead, I came to a decision......

Enter The Web-Tex Tactical (aka Classic Assault) Vest


Rambo Moment Anybody?

Let's start by saying this is a well made bit of kit and I suppose it should be at the high recommended price of £75.

However, a bit of searching around can get you around a third off to a more reasonable (but still substantial) £50 for a new one.
The model bought and shown above has a mesh back, with fully adjustable straps on the shoulders and front. Front zip access to internal large 'dump or map' pockets, two triple ammo pouches and six other external pouches. The new models feature all the fittings to connect either one or two PLCE (Personal Load Carrying Equipment) side pouches or Web-tex water bladder holder. It's a so-called 'one size' garment with all the adjustments to accommodate most builds and sizes.

Some further points of clarification concerning some of the features offered by this vest.

The so called 'dump or map' pockets are pockets accessible by two very chunky zips n the front of the vest and are storage areas between the front camo material and mesh backing. Also in these pockets are located two mini pockets (one per side) - one intended to carry a pistol (or not).


Unzipped Map or Dump Pocket - One on Each Side

There are a total of eight external pockets comprising of two chest pockets, two side pockets, two front pockets and lastly two magazine pockets with internal triple compartments.

All pockets are fastened by plastic quick release buckles with adjustable straps, together with adequately sized rain flaps to keep the rain out and drainage holes to the bottom of each pocket should wet find it's way in! Four of the pockets (the two front and two chest) have also a ripstop 'expander bellows' which is closed by a draw string and plastic fitting - good for secure increased capacity should it be required. There is also a knife or torch pocket at one chest position.

The remaining two side pockets have combined velcro, buckle and strap fittings.

Fastening the vest is accomplished by the three front quick release buckles and there are various adjustments for size and height.

Made from 1000 denier waterproof Cordura. Currently available in DPM camo or black.

Filling It Up and Capacity Expansion

Quite a lot of capacity here for various bits and bobs and I eventually decided that digital camera and accessories could reside in one of the front pockets, tackle (two medium Magic Boxes and Rig Wallet) to another front pocket. Fishing licences, torch, weights Mini First Aid, Line spools, PVA went into the six compartments of the two triple compartment ammo pockets. Bottles of drink, food and bait would find a home in the remainder of the jacket's pockets along with a small set of scales.

At this point I thought that a bit of extra capacity (Ooooh Noooo!! - note to myself - please remember how this started) might be nice for waterproofs, baitboxes and a rainhood on the days they might be required.

Fortunately, I'd done my research and the vest, as well as offering extra fittings for additional webbing belt and pouch attachments also offered expansion in the form of one or two attachable/detachable 'PLCE side pouches' of roughly 10 litre capacity each. These packs could be easily aattached to the quick release fittings on the back of the vest. Some cheaper vests offer no expansion capabilities.


Web-Tex Side or Back Pouch

I opted for just one which could be added or detached at will. It is also may be worth mentioning that the particular add-on pouch shown can accommodate a water bladder (of up to 2.5 litres) in an internal compartment at the rear of the pouch. Drinking from the water bladder is through a tube and bite valve. But back to reality - this is fishing in England - so maybe the bladder is a bit OTT for my intended use. Additionally, cleaning the bladder could be a bit of a problem too- although there is a purpose made cleaning kit available.


Back of Vest - With and Without Single 10 litre Pouch Attached​

Some Other Alternatives

After delving around during my research phase, I found that there were lots of possible alternatives available ranging from PLCE webbing (where different pouches could be added to a basic webbing belt or yoke), various patterns and qualities of tactical vest - ranging from the £20 mark - such as the good value so-called South African Assault Vest and chest rigs to name a few. Colours are usually somewhat limited, and mostly come down to black, green or some form of camo. If you are looking for a 'vest' with two main pockets then I believe that Shimano still do one at around £30 to £35.

Summing Up

The vest I have reviewed appears very good quality and quite a versatile item. There are a quite an extensive range of add-on packs and fittings. My two additions to the vest was a single detachable pouch of approx 10 litre capacity and a lighweight rain cover which could give extra protection when the vest was not being worn.

The vest is comfortable to wear and my worry that the pockets when full may get in the way proved mostly unfounded.

Cost: As I said costs can vary quite a bit - the Internet and Ebay could be a good starting place for a bargain - I paid £50 for a brand new item. The add-ons (pouch and raincover) put an extra £13 and £5 on the bill. There are cheaper and more expensive options.

If you search around I have no doubt that bargains can be found - either in new or pre-used.

So, if you are looking for an alternative way to carry tackle, food, drink and bait this type of garment may warrant consideration.

Long live the 'ruckvest' - SWAT or Paintball Anybody?

Bob Gill (bgit)

July 2005
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