Chest Rigs and You: What to Look for When Buying a Chest Rig

What kind of load bearing equipment do you buy when it’s too hot for a plate carrier, but you need more storage than you can get on a belt? You buy yourself a chest rig, that’s what!

Chest rigs are perfect for summer time airsoft play because they are light weight and allow for a ton of airflow! Picking the right one for you can be difficult though, so we recommend following these simple steps.


Step 1: How Modular Do You Need It To Be?

Chest rigs are relatively unique in the tactical gear world, as they often come pre-equipped with pouches, but that’s not always the case. Much like a plate carrier, chest rigs can also come sans pouches, and instead be smothered in MOLLE webbing.

This is important, as it gives you a choice between modularity, or a one-and-done setup that you don’t have to think very much about. If your chest rig is going to be the rig you utilize all of the time for every scenario, we’d recommend investing in one with MOLLE webbing, so that it can be as versatile as possible. However, there are plenty of merits to a pre-built set up as well.

Often times, a chest rig is something you only pull out in the summer, and it can be much more cost effective to utilize a pre-sewn setup to avoid the extra expenditure that comes from buying even more pouches or the time sink that is moving your existing pouches back and forth from your other setups. Often times, because the pouches are pre-sewn on these sorts of rigs, they can also squeeze in a few extra items that you’d be otherwise prohibited from carrying if you went with a modular MOLLE setup.

Step 2: Straps and Harnesses

Chest rigs can come with a variety of harness choices in the rear that can both negatively and positively impact your user experience. From the broad shouldered H-harness, to an X-Harness that is friendlier to smaller users, there are all types you can choose from.

The H-Harness provides the most comfortable dispersion of weight, but it isn’t ideal for everyone. Smaller players, or players with less broad shoulders may find the H Harness is simply too wide for their body type, and it sloshes around or comes loose during play. However, if the H-Harness fits you well, it is ideal, as it avoids a common tendency to ride up that you see with other styles.

The X-Harness features a pair of adjustable straps that form an X on your back which give it the name. This harness is excellent as it sizes up or down well for a much wider selection of players. However, from experience, X harness setups can bunch up, ride up, and cause issues when utilizing secondary storage like a back pack or a two point rifle sling. The upside is that this X harness is perfect for smaller framed players who need to lighten their load for the summer!

Lastly, you may find an older vest with a Y-Harness. These are an older style (and more common on old ALICE gear than chest rigs). We’d recommend avoiding these at all costs (unless you’re building an ALICE set up). They tend to not distribute weight evenly across your body, instead pulling on your shoulders and causing strain. There’s a reason these fell out of favor, and we strongly urge you to consider the other type.

You may also find chest rigs that replace these straps with a hydration harness, armor plate bag or other supplemental options like a backpack. These are great options as well, so long as they fit your needs.

Step 3: Carrying Capacity

The last thing to consider when buying a chest rig is carrying capacity. Your new set up does you absolutely no good if it can’t carry your mission essential items. Make sure you consider the items you wish to carry with you and try to pair down to the essentials to get the most out of your chest rig. This means carrying spare magazines, speed loaders, or a pistol may be a high priority, but loading up on things like grenades, radios, and bolt cutters would be a waste of space.

Some chest rigs accomplish this very well. If what you want is magazine storage, the Condor Barrage is built to carry nothing but magazines. Some of Lancer Tactical’s offerings are a bit more versatile with carrying space for additional items like your dead rag, or a grenade or two. Analyze your typical loadout for a game, pair it down to the bare essentials, and work from there. If you can squeeze a few extra items in, and still be light weight, that’s just icing on the cake!


Lastly: Choose What Works

Ultimately, everyone’s gear choice is about personal preference. Much like the harness styles, or MOLLE vs Pre-sewn gear, you’ll just need to try some stuff out, and see what fits your needs. Hopefully, our excellent selection of tactical equipment at Airsoft GI can help you find what you’re looking for, and this article has enlightened your thought process about buying gear!

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