Which utility vests are best?

Utility vests are such a versatile piece of gear that anyone with an active, outdoorsy lifestyle should consider getting one if they don’t have one already. Before getting a utility vest though, it’s important to know what makes a utility vest a good one. Things like size, closure, special features and even fashion all play a part in choosing the best utility vest, after all. If you’re looking for an all-around good utility vest that’s both stylish and durable enough for outdoor activities, check out the OU YA Wolf Men’s Utility Vest.

What to know before you buy a utility vest


Most high-quality utility vests serve multiple purposes. They’re great for activities like hunting, hiking and fishing. They’re also great for people who work a lot with their hands and need a lot of storage space within easy reach. With so many pockets and strong construction, they hold up to the elements without fear of tearing or otherwise ruining them.

Weather and environment

The type of utility vest you choose depends on a few other factors, besides just the activity or activities you plan to do while wearing it. The two biggest factors are weather and environment. In warm weather, you’ll want a lightweight vest that won’t weigh you down or cause you to sweat a lot while outside. In cooler temperatures, something that’s heavier and warmer may be a good option. That said, since they’re a type of vest, very few utility vests have long sleeves to protect you from the elements.

With that in mind, consider the environment when picking out a utility vest. Some are water-resistant. This makes them perfect for use in the forest, while fishing or when it’s raining. Others are quite thick and sturdy in their construction. This makes them more durable and capable of withstanding branches, rocks and other rough terrain.


Originally, utility vests were modeled off the waistcoat or simple vests. These days, most are somewhat boxy in their design with a zippered or button-down front. This is largely because they’re primarily meant for practical use rather than fashion.

However, some modern utility vests are much more fashionable. They come in different colors, designs and materials. Some may have buttons and zippers for added style. Others come with a high or low collar. It’s also not uncommon to find utility vests that have added design features like a brand logo or buckles.

How to wear a utility vest

To wear a utility vest, simply put it on over a base layer. This base layer can be a simple T-shirt or a long-sleeve shirt, depending on the weather and your own preferences. You can even wear a more fashionable shirt beneath if desired.

Once it’s on, adjust any straps or buckles as needed until it has a secure fit. It shouldn’t be too tight or it may restrict your movements. But it also shouldn’t be so loose that it swings while you’re moving around.

As for the bottoms, you can wear either shorts, full-length pants or capris with a utility vest. Most utility vests won’t be long enough to tuck in, but you may choose to tuck in the base layer shirt. For a modern look, wear straight-legged jeans and a pair of boots or heels. For a more casual look, try out a pair of looser jeans, leave the shirt untucked and wear whatever shoes you’re most comfortable in.

What to look for in a quality utility vest


One of the most important features in a utility vest is the pockets. Pockets are essential for carrying things like small tools, personal valuables and other items. That’s why most utility vests have multiple pockets in different locations on the front and sides. Some utility vests have four to six pockets, while others have a more militaristic look and feature even more pockets.

Usually, the pockets in a utility vest will have full zippers or buttons that allow you to close them and secure anything within. Sometimes though, the pockets may simply have a flap that goes over the opening. This flap may not be as secure as a zipper or buttons, but it can be useful and stylish.


Utility vests and jackets consist of many different materials. These materials range from the classic, durable fabrics like denim and wax canvas to more fashion-forward materials like cotton and polyester. Many utility vests, such as those made from polyester and synthetic blends, have a degree of water-resistance. Others are not water-resistant at all, but they may be lightweight and have a softer texture.

Some utility vests use mesh in their construction. Typically, the mesh material will be in strategic places in the front, back and up along the shoulders. Mesh is a great option if you need something that’s functional, breathable and reliable.


Utility vests follow a similar sizing convention to most shirts and jackets. They range in size from extra small (XS) to extra large (XL). Some come in petite sizes, too, while others come in extra-extra-large (XXL). In certain cases, a manufacturer may use a numerical measurement for the chest size as well.

If you’re not sure about the size, start by measuring the width of your chest with a tape measure. Some women’s utility vests are sized differently and also require you to measure your hips. Once you have these measurements, add an inch or 2 to each. Then you’ll have the right size for you.


Some utility vests are adjustable. Typically, it’s possible to make adjustments to both the length and the girth of the vest. Certain utility vests have adjustable tabs at the shoulders, chest and waist.

Front closure

When it comes to closing a utility vest, expect to find either a full zipper down the front and middle, a series of buttons or even both. Very few have a pullover design. Regardless of the closure type, the purpose of it is to keep the vest in place regardless of whatever activity you’re doing. Some utility vests, especially those meant more for fashion, may not have as durable a front closure as those designed for function.

How much you can expect to spend on a utility vest

On average, a utility vest will cost between $20-$45.

Utility vest FAQ

Who should wear a utility vest?

A. The great thing about utility vests is that anyone can wear them. Whether you’re working outdoors, hiking, fishing, camping, taking wildlife photos or spending the day in town, a utility vest has its place. That said, if you’re planning on working outdoors, you will want to go with a more practical design with strong construction.

What can I fit in a utility vest?

A. This is up to you. Utility vests typically have deep, secure pockets that are great for carrying small tools and things like fishing tackle or spare wire. You can also carry the essentials like a phone, wallet or keys in the pockets. If the utility vest is water-resistant, this is also a good option since the pockets will keep your valuables from getting wet or damaged.

What’s the best utility vest to buy?

Top utility vest

OU YA WOLF Men's Utility Vest

OU YA WOLF Men’s Utility Vest

What you need to know: Made out of denim with stretchy elastic, this is a great option for those looking for a fashionable utility vest that’s still got enough pockets to be practical.

What you’ll love: Great for various activities, such as hiking, daily wear and travel, this V-neck utility vest is a great, everyday item to wear. It comes with 16 pockets, several of which have a full zippered closure. It’s lightweight enough for year-round use, though it may be too warm in hotter climates.

What you should consider: It may be necessary to size up when getting it. Also, the stretchy pockets are a little more fashionable than they are functional since they can’t carry heavy items.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top utility vest for the money

Flygo Men’s Summer Outdoor Work Vest

Flygo Men’s Summer Outdoor Work Vest

What you need to know: This multi-pocketed utility vest is great for those who want something durable, water-resistant and highly functional.

What you’ll love: Made with a cotton and polyester blend, this utility vest is moderately water-resistant. This makes it a good option for use in wetter climates and for activities like hiking and fishing. It features 16 differently sized pockets that have a zipper or Velcro closure. It also comes in several solid colors and designs, with some of the designs being a combination of breathable mesh and fabric.

What you should consider: This vest is highly durable and comfortable, but the main, front zipper tends to stick.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Koodred Women's Casual Military Utility Vest

Koodred Women’s Casual Military Utility Vest

What you need to know: Available in several colors, this polyester utility vest for women is stylish and practical, making it great for everyday use.

What you’ll love: The vest has buttons and a zipper closure, which give it a lot of versatility. It’s also durable and comfortable enough to wear in any season. Plus, it has a drawstring that lets the wearer tighten or loosen it for a more precise fit.

What you should consider: The colors may fade in the wash. Don’t use high heat in the dryer or it may shrink.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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