If you are a serious photographer then you are looking for a high quality photography vest. My vest is one of my most used and favorite pieces of gear. I can keep everything I need right at hand so that I am ready for any shot without having to dig around my camera bag.
For this article I have reviewed the most popular photography vests and jackets on the market and after reading it you will know the top recommendations. Check the quick list below or read on for the entire review.
- Gihuo Men’s Reversible Outdoor Travel Vest
- Rothco Uncle Milty Travel Vest
- Flygo Zhusheng Men’s Mesh 16 Pockets Photography Travel Vest
- THE VEST GUY Wedding Photographer Mesh Photo Vest
- Beat The World Men’s 9 Pockets Work Utility
- Domke PhoTOGS Vest
- Gihuo Men’s Casual Cotton Summer Outdoor Photo Vest
- The North Face Men’s McMurdo Parka III
- Gihuo Men’s Outdoor Utility 16 Pockets Summer Vest
- Humvee By CampCo Safari Photo Vest – Best Overall
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Why you need a Photographer Vest or Jacket?
There is no better solution to the drudgery of carrying gear around than having a great photo vest or jacket. They are great for so many situations and are much more versatile than just a standard camera bag.
While they are much like any other vest, you wear them as a top layer, they are specifically designed to safely and conveniently carry your camera gear. A photography vest is an indispensable item for the nature photographer, the photojournalist, and the traveling photographer. They come in tons of styles and you are sure to find one that fits your personal tastes in the top recommended list below.
Benefits and Drawbacks of a Photo Vest
The biggest benefit you will enjoy with a vest or jacket is the massive increase in carrying space it provides you. One of the top models will allow you to go with either a small camera bag or no bag at all when out shooting. They are designed with the specific needs of the mobile photographer in mind meaning you can carry a lot of gear.
Not only can you carry the lenses, filters, batteries and more that you need they are also right where you need them. A well designed vest puts your most important gear right at your fingertips so you don’t have to stop and rummage through a bag to get what you need.
This will allow you swap out gear faster resulting in more shots and fewer missed opportunities. I particularly like how I can keep my eye on my subject while reaching for a lens. A vest or photography jacket is a real game changer for such a low cost investment.
Another benefit I noticed is that a vest makes it much less likely that I will set something down on the ground and forget it. The rush of getting that shot can cause us to forget we just placed a lens on the ground, but with a vest it is quick and easy to place it where you won’t lose it. Avoiding replacing forgotten gear has paid for my vests many times over!
I also love the pro look of wearing my vest while out shooting. There is no questioning that I am serious about my photography when I am decked out in my favorite vest or jacket.
On the flip side, if you are the type of photographer who does not want to be pegged and prefers to blend in to their surroundings, like with street photography, then a vest may make that more difficult.
Another downside can be the added weight. Since the gear is now right at your fingertips that means you will be carrying that added weight as long as you have the vest or jacket on. If you are carrying a lot of heavy lenses it can be a decent amount of added weight. A bonus is that the top rated models below are well designed to evenly distribute that weight but it is something to keep in mind. I have also found that I need multiple different vests and photo jackets as certain situations call for a different style which means a little more cost if you need more than one like me.
Best Photo Vests and Jackets Top Rated Picks
- Cotton Construction
- Easy Care, Machine Washable
- Outdoor Vest Designed for Multiple Functions
- Has 10 Pockets for Gear, 7 Exterior Pockets and 3 Interior
I like this vest due to it’s low cost and versatile design. It is made with the general outdoor enthusiast in mind. It comes in a number of different colors and even camouflage in case you are a nature or wildlife photographer. It also comes in a more traditional look, such as black and khaki. It is well constructed and made of a durable cotton weave. The look works for many types of photography but the pockets are not as big as some models on the list. This is a bonus for those who are looking for a more streamlined design. The pockets offer zippers and buttons for securing your gear when not in use. This one comes in at a low price point making it a solid overall value.
- Constructed of Polyester and Cotton
- Has 13 Pockets on the Front and 3 Pockets Inside
- Offers an Expandable Back Pocket
- Has 3 D Rings for Gear
- Includes A Belt Loop A Front Zipper and Single Snap Closure
This photo vest offers a durable military design that is capable of carrying all of your lenses and memory cards making this a great vest for those who want a lot of capacity. It also has a large back pocket that is expandable that is perfect for stowing a jacket or rain gear. One of my favorite features are the D rings that are perfect for latching clipable gear or what I do, which is clip on a top loading lens pouch. This is an awesome way for making quick lens changes. It comes in multiple different colors including khaki, olive and black. This is a great vest for the photojournalist, wildlife photographer and traveler. There is even room for field notes and pens, which I always bring with me when shooting in nature. Not the most stylish option but it offers great functionality at a low price point.
- Offers Strong Zipper Closures
- Features 16 Pockets Coming in Multiple Sizes
- One Large Back Mesh Pocket
- Durable Construction and Quick Dry Material
The Flygo is an excellent choice for the adventurous photographer who needs to carry their gear off the beaten trail. With a large capacity this 16 pocket vest offers most photographers enough space where there is no need for an additional camera bag. You can fill it with camera cables, lenses, memory cards and much more. It is a large vest and can be a bit on the bulky side when fully loaded but that is to be expected. The mesh design is very breathable making this vest ideal for wearing in hot weather. It is quick drying too. This versatile model is ideal for most any style of photography but really shines when being used outdoor and in rugged terrain. It also comes in a number of color options.
- Numerous Features Designed for Professional Photographers
- Fits a DSLR and up to 3 Lenses
- Touch Fastening and Zippered Pockets
- 2 Divided Cargo Pockets
This vest offers one of the largest carrying capacities on the market with space for a ton of gear. You can fit your camera and up to three lenses along with memory cards, cords and more. Most photographers will not need an additional bag when using this photo vest. It is marketed as a vest for wedding photographers but it is definitely a great option for other styles as well. Be sure this large vest will make it known you are a photographer but unless there is a strict dress code where you are shooting that shouldn’t be a problem. With all the pockets and space this is a seriously versatile model. The tablet pocket is a great feature allowing you to bring yours along for your shoots. It only comes in black but it is otherwise one of the better options on the market.
- Lightweight yet Durable
- Constructed of Polyester and Cotton
- Features a Left Side Zipper
- Sleek Design
This is a great option if you are looking for a more sophisticated design than the bulky Vest Guy. With nine pockets this utility photographer vest is ideal for high end photography jobs that require a less outdoors look. It comes in a dozen different colors, the black is my personal favorite as it works well in dressier situations. The slim pocket design is not ideal for large lenses but your smaller ones like a 50mm will fit just fine. It will also stow away memory cards and other smaller gear no problem. You will most likely need your camera bag if you are looking to carry multiple lenses though. But this vest will allow you to keep the most used items right at hand. This vest is very popular with wedding photographers who shoot higher end ceremonies.
- Durable Cotton Construction
- Features Mesh for Good Ventilation
- Offers 18 pockets with Weather Tight Closures
- The shoulders are Padded for Added Comfort
- The Zippers are Double Pull for Durability
Unlike some makers on the list, Domke is a photography company. They are best known for their camera bags, which are of excellent quality. This vest holds up to that reputation of quality photography carrying gear. As a number of the outdoor style vests are designed with multiple function use in mind, this Domke is for photographers and it shows. It offers 18 versatile pockets ideal for your photography gear. The larger pockets are ready to handle most lens sizes. The pockets are padded to ensure they are not damaged as you move around. The style is well designed, and the vest looks good unlike some others you have probably seen before. It is very comfortable and the quality justifies the price. This is a solid all around photography vest.
- Lightweight Cotton Construction
- Ideal for Outdoors Shooting
- Features 2 Inside Pockets and 12 Outside
- Offers Button and Zipper Closures
- Measures from 24.8″ to 26.77″
This is one of my favorite minimalist style photo vests. The design is very slim and it does not look bulky even when loaded. This is a great option for those who want to avoid the bulky look. It is a great hot weather vest even when worn out on a hike. Even when worn all day, it offers great breathability. I like the way it looks too, it has a real classic adventurer look to it. I prefer the green but it also comes in khaki which looks good as well. I find it capable of carrying enough gear where I did not need a camera bag as well. Great overall vest at a reasonable price point.
- Ideal for Cold Weather
- Waterproof and Breathable
- Features a Removable Faux Fur Ruff
- Offers Hand Warming Pockets and Internal Pockets
- Durable Zippers
Not many jackets made the list but the North Face McMurdo Parka III deserves it’s place here. If you are planning to shoot in the winter cold then this is hands down my favorite option on the market. As a matter of fact, you will be hard pressed to find another option anywhere close to this one. This photography jacket allows you to stay warm even during long periods in the elements while keeping your gear right where you need it. I found the storage to be enough where I really did not need to bring a camera bag with me. While I still use a vest with a jacket over the top on some cold days, this is quickly becoming my go to thanks to it’s performance and style. North Face quality is here and the hand warming pockets are a real bonus when shooting in the snow and wind. This jacket is very popular with nature and documentary photographers.
- Durable Cotton and Polyester Construction
- Features 16 Pockets
- Versatile Multi Purpose Design
This Gihuo Outdoor Utility Vest is an excellent option for summer photography. So if you need a high quality summer vest this is a great option. It offers a thin and lightweight design perfect for the hot months. The 16 pockets are ample enough for carrying most of your gear efficiently. Those who do not pack too heavy will not need an additional bag. The cotton polyester blend is durable and machine washable for easy care. The look is also quite appealing and at the price point this is an excellent value.
- Lightweight Cotton Construction
- Comes in Either Black or Khaki
- Well Designed with 21 Pockets
- Durable and Comfortable
This is the best photography vest I reviewed and is my personal favorite. The fit is great and it is exceptionally comfortable. It is my go to for when I am shooting street photography or doing photojournalism. It is quite popular with event photographers as well. The large capacity front bottom pockets are great for larger items but it does not look overly bulky. And when not full, they lay close to the vest. The pocket design is very well done and they offer strong zipper closure with multiple different sizes for all your gear and even phone and keys. Having dedicated pockets for memory cards and batteries makes change outs much faster. In total there are 21 pockets which is pretty much perfect for most photographers. All that and it is lightweight too. I find the price extremely reasonable for everything you get.