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When my gobbler-chasing career began in 1990, we didn’t even wear turkey vests. It was some camo, a pair of turkey hunting boots, and a shotgun. Eventually, vests became popular enough I had to try them out. The first few I hunted with were simple. Some straps, a handful of pockets, and, if we shopped right, a pouch large enough to actually hold a longbeard. But the common denominator among them all was that they were heavy, bulky, and clumsy. 

Modern turkey vests have come a long way since those early days. Now they have integral frames, call-specific zippered pouches, lanyards, shell loops, and padding. And some with built-in seats that may even rival your lounge chair at home. They’re nice, all right, and, given the amount of stuff we turkey hunters pack afield nowadays, worthy of the word necessity.

Here are our top tips for choosing the right one—whether you prefer Sitka, Nomad, or any other brand—along with our recommendations for the best turkey vests we’ve tested over the years.

The Best Turkey Vests

Best Overall: Sitka Equinox Turkey Vest

Best Overall


  • Sizes: One size with adjustable straps to accommodate XS-XXL
  • Camo: Earth, Optifade Waterfowl Timber, Optifade Subalpine
  • Pockets: 14
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 12.5 oz.


  • Perfect for run ‘n gun hunting style
  • Fully adjustable for physical size and clothing
  • Plenty of pockets, but gear doesn’t get ‘lost’ inside
  • Back portion is hydration compatible


  • Price point is right up there
  • Seat deployment can be awkward and/or slow
  • Underside of cushion is light gray; should be OD or camouflage

Sitka has come a long way from the days of their first waterfowl garments, and the Equinox Turkey Vest is a prime example of their closer-to-perfection journey. I wasn’t surprised, given the brand’s evolution, to find their new turkey vest a winner on several levels. For my tastes and style of hunting, it’s small and perhaps a bit too minimalist. However, the innovation involved, which includes a fully adjustable cam-lock system that fits the vest vertically precisely to the wearer, is just downright cool! There are plenty of pockets. For the most part, they’re located right where they need to be in terms of ergonomics. As for the magnetic closures, they’re undeniably quick, but I’m concerned about them ‘popping’ open unintentionally. I’m a zipper guy; call me Old School.

The clamshell pockets are the stuff of turkey-hunting dreams. For the most part, they’re located right where they need to be in terms of ergonomics. They are shaped to fit all of your calls like a glove, keeping them dry, secure, and quiet while you move through the woods. As for the magnetic closures, they’re undeniably quick and ninja-quiet. I was initially concerned that they might pop open unintentionally, but I’ve run this vest through an entire season of hard hunting and haven’t had one incident of accidental release. 

Time and time again, this Sitka turkey vest has proven to be our favorite. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

I admit that I’m a little disappointed that this one doesn’t have a game pouch. But it has a removable fowl slip noose that attaches to the shoulder strap, making it a lot easier to haul a hefty longbeard back to the truck after a long hike into the turkey woods. 

At $250, the Sitka Equinox Turkey Vest isn’t what I’d call budget priced. However, nothing says you can’t scrub the seat and use it for any other outdoor application—early season elk, spot-and-stalk deer hunting, squirrels, or even stream fishing—and pull 365 days out of it. 

Best with Seat: Cabela’s Tactical Tat’R Pro

Best with Seat


  • Sizes: One size
  • Camo: TrueTimber HTC Green, TrueTimber Strata
  • Pockets: 13
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 8 oz.


  • Removable blaze orange safety flag
  • Integrated couch cushion back padding
  • TrueTimber Strata and HTC Green camouflage options
  • Offered in both ‘Kickstand’ and ‘Non-Kickstand’ version


Tough to fit smaller builds; DIY modifications may be necessary

In this ‘let’s make it intricate and complicated’ world, it’s sometimes tough to find something simple, especially hunting gear, that doesn’t feature 1,001 bells and whistles. Thanks to Cabela’s Tactical Tat’R Pro turkey vest, it’s possible to achieve a return to simplicity. Sure, the name is a little silly, but this vest has everything the longbeard fanatic—or the Spring veteran, for that matter—would expect in a turkey tote. 

The Tat’R Pro features wide, thus comfortable, padded shoulder straps, along with strategically designed side and lower back padding that allows for air circulation between the hunter and the fabric. Front quick-release clips are just what the physician ordered; no zippers to fool with here.

The ‘Speed Seat Technology’—again with the strange names—puts the cushion where it belongs, under your butt, in a couple of seconds. I’m not a huge fan of elastic-top pockets (two on the upper left chest), but some might be. A pair of wide vertical pockets on the lower right, a horizontal box call pocket on the lower left, an integral rear game pouch, and a removable blaze orange safety ‘flag’ round out this elemental but Have-All garment.

Best Lightweight: Ol’ Tom Time & Motion Easy-Rider Turkey Vest

Best Lightweight


  • Sizes: One size fits most, Big Man (4XL-7XL)
  • Camo: Mossy Oak Bottomland, Old School Green, Mossy Oak Greenleaf, Mossy Oak Obsession
  • Pockets: 21
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 10 oz.


  • Ultra lightweight
  • Blood-proof game bag
  • Quiet Magnattach padded rear seat cushion and T-Beam back pad


  • Material is noisy

If you’ve been searching for a turkey vest that has plenty of functionality but won’t weigh you down, your search is over. The Ol’ Tom Time & Motion Easy Rider weighs well under three pounds, but it has pockets out the wazoo. It features seven striker sleeves, two mesh mouth-call pouches, a mesh pot-call pocket, a flashlight pocket, a vertical storage pocket, and a locator call pouch. There are also five more internal pockets that provide plenty of space for all the snacks your turkey-hunting heart could possibly desire. 

One of my favorite features is the roomy blood-proof game bag. It’s plenty big enough for multiple decoys and stakes or for hauling out a massive longbeard. 

The Easy Rider also comes with a fast-deploy seat cushion and a T-beam back pad, both handy features for setting up fast in areas that might not have trees to use for a backrest. 

If I have one gripe, it’s that the vest’s 300 denier ripstop fabric is a bit on the noisy side. 

Best for Run and Gun: Tethrd M2 Turkey Vest

Best for Run and Gun


  • Sizes: One size fits most, Big Man (4XL-7XL)
  • Camo: Mossy Oak Bottomland
  • Pockets: Customizable
  • Weight: 3-6 lbs (depending on configuration) 


  • Fully customizable
  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Ultra quiet fabric


  • Assembly can be confusing
  • Expensive

Made in collaboration with The Hunting Public, Tethrd’s M2 turkey vest was designed to meet the demanding needs of the mobile hunter. This is a lightweight, highly customizable, streamlined piece of gear without all the extra nonsense that slows down fast-paced run-and-gun turkey hunting. 

Like many Western hunting packs, the M2 is built around a yoke frame system. From there, hunters can add a hydration pack, a turkey bag, or both. The waist belt is also covered in MOLLE webbing so that you can secure extra attachments. The M2 also comes with a removable seat cushion. These features mean turkey hunters can put together a fully customized one-of-a-kind vest to meet all their individual turkey hunting needs. The vest even comes disassembled, so you can set it up exactly how you want it.

Check out our full review here

Best Rated: Alps Outdoorz Impact Pro Turkey Vest

Best Rated


  • Sizes: One size, with adjustable straps
  • Camo: Mossy Oak Bottomland
  • · Pockets: 8 integral, plus game back and two molded pockets and two removable Molle pockets
  • Weight: 5 lbs


  • Stadium-style seat lets you sit anywhere
  • 8 pockets hold everything
  • Molle straps allow some customization


  • Pot call pockets tight for some calls
  • Adjusts, but still may not fit smaller hunters

This vest has a bunch of nice features, and nothing it doesn’t need. It’s built around a folding stadium-style chair, which is extremely useful in open country where big trees aren’t always handy. Even with no trees around, you still have a place to sit with a sturdy backrest. It has a roomy gamebag which is important to me because I never carry turkeys in my gamebags but they are essential for decoys, camo netting, a fan, layers I shed, and other bulky gear. It does offer a big pocket on the back of the gamebag for even more stuff, if you’re so inclined, and there’s a stake pocket on the back, too, which is really smart, because stakes often slide out of decoy bags in the dark.

The straps are padded and vented, and a chest strap keeps the shoulder straps from sliding off. It has a padded, silent box-call pocket and a Thermacell holder on Molle straps and a couple of crush-proof, molded, zippered pockets, one for pot calls and one for mouth calls, ammo, snacks, whatever. My only quibbles are that the zippers are a bit noisy, and the pot call holder pockets are made to hold two, but will only if the calls are small. I can’t fit two of my bulkier calls in there at the same time. I solved the problem by leaving one at home because I really like this vest I have already moved the box call pocket, removed the Thermacell holder and put on a small pouch I found at a surplus store to hold a couple of shells so mine is now truly my own. —Phil Bourjaily

Most Versatile: Alps Outdoorz Super Elite 4.0 Turkey Vest

Most Versatile


  • Sizes: M/L and XL/2XL
  • Camo: Mossy Oak Bottomland, Mossy Oak Obsession
  • Pockets: 22
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz. and 3 lbs. 5 oz.


  • Wide shoulders distribute weight of gear and/or gobbler
  • Game pouch
  • Seat cushion is easily removable


  • Can be a bit hot when the weather warms up
  • Too big for smaller hunters

I’ll admit it. I’m awfully particular when it comes to a turkey vest. Year after year, I’d swap all my gear into a new vest, only to field it once, pull everything out, and go back to old reliable. But I’m giving serious thought to just leaving all my gear tucked away in the Alps Outdoorz’ Super Elite. Will wonders never cease?

The Super Elite offers all the criteria a good vest should have. It’s comfortable and quiet. I find myself often shedding a vest when I set up, and the quick release clips in front allow me to drop it in short order. Pocket placement nears perfection, as if the vest had truly been designed both by King and an avid turkey hunter—which it might have been. The box call holster does, as advertised, eliminate the unnerving SQUAWK of an unintentional yelp. The divided pot call pocket means an end to dropping our slates in individual cloth bags to keep them clean. The drop-down seat cushion is thick enough, wide enough, and, perhaps most importantly, sports a waterproof bottom, so you’re not packing around five extra pounds of morning dew, rain, snow, and mud. 

This vest comes in two sizes which should fit most turkey hunters. However, if you’re on the smaller side, even the M/L version is going to hang like a loose sack.

Best Budget: Magellan Outdoors Men’s Deluxe

Best Budget


  • Sizes: One size
  • Camo: Mossy Oak Obsession
  • Pockets: 11
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 15 oz.


  • Super affordable
  • Large game bag holds decoys and harvested birds
  • Deep pockets, zippers, and buttons keep gear secure


  • Limited adjustability

I’m not cheap, I’d rather think of myself as frugal. Budget-minded. Ah, all right … sometimes I run to the cheap side of the track, but when I can get a turkey vest like Megellan’s Men’s Deluxe that does everything I need it to do and for less than a week’s worth of gas.

This one has a bit of a minimalist design, but it has pockets for days. I’m a fan of larger game bags in a turkey vest, as I tend to overdress and pack two to four decoys. The Magellan’s Men’s Deluxe bag has plenty of room for an extra hoodie and a couple of foldable decoys

This one does have a pretty large seat cushion. It is so big that it can sometimes feel like it gets in the way, but it is plenty comfortable for those extra-long morning sits. And if you’re a little wider than average, you’ll appreciate the seat’s extra real estate.  

New turkey hunter? This one’s perfect. Young turkey hunter? Again, I’m leaning toward a decent vest like this one that will get the job done, and costs less than taking the family out to eat.

Most Modular: Chief Upland Turkey Vest


  • Sizes: S/M, L/XL, 2XL
  • Camo: Mossy Oak Bottomland
  • Pockets: Three integral zippered pockets plus accessory pouches
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs. (vest only)


  • Ultimate modularity
  • Front-load game gamebag can be clipped shut
  • Pouches have good, easy to use, magnet closures


  • Expensive

Chief Upland’s new Flydown Vest takes the same modular approach as their upland vest: it gives you a number of molle loops for attaching specialized pouches where you want them. However, because turkey hunters carry more gear than uplanders, this has more optional pouches and more molle loops. You can configure this vest any way you want to, for no-frills running and gunning or for hauling a pile of gadgets for a long sit. This particular version of the Flydown Vest is a limited edition made in partnership with Mossy Oak and the NWTF.

The vest itself features a game bag that can be easily clipped shut for a trim fit that won’t snag on branches or barbed wire, or it can be expanded to hold decoys or extra layers. There’s also a water-bladder holder and a gusseted backpack pocket that holds a coat or whatever else you need to put back there. It has two small zippered pockets that are perfect for holding car keys as well.

The vest is sold alone or as a “starter bundle” with a cushion, ammo pouch, and pot call pouch, which is a perfect combo for minimalists. Then there is the whole “all-in” bundle that comes with two ammo pouches (one of which I would re-purpose for accessories), a water bottle holder, box and pot call pouches, and even a pouch for a diaphragm call. The box call holder is big enough for my Lynch World Champion, which is large, and the pot call holder will take two big pot calls easily. You will need a silencer of some kind for your box call to keep it from squeaking inside this pouch, though. The electronics pouch is padded and could hold your phone, but it could also hold a bunch of strikers. There’s a D-ring, too, for attaching locator calls. —P.B.

Best Waist Pack: Sitka Turkey Tool Belt

Best Waist Pack


  • Sizes: One size with an adjustable belt
  • Camo: Earth, Optifade Waterfowl Timber, Optifade Subalpine
  • Pockets: 23
  • Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.


  • Compact size perfect for run-and-gun hunting
  • All the pockets
  • Super breathable, especially in warm weather


  • No storage compartments for decoys
  • The seat pad is thin and uncomfortable

If you rely on speed and stealth and don’t want to be weighed down with a full-size vest packed full of gear, this compact, lightweight fanny pack from Sitka is an excellent option for run-and-gun turkey hunters. While the Turkey Tool Belt looks like a simple, bare-bones hip pack, it performs like a full-featured vest. 

I find myself often reaching for this Sitka pack when I head out into the woods. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

This baby has plenty of room for all your calls (It has dedicated space for two pot calls, four strikers, six mouth calls, a box call, and two locator calls) but has a low enough profile that it won’t snag you up if you have to crawl your way into shooting range on a big gobbler.

The Sitka Turkey Tool Belt has two hip pockets that are the perfect size for a rangefinder, headlamps, and extra snacks. It also has a removable water bottle holder (which also makes the perfect pocket for stowing spent shells) that attaches to either side of the belt. 

I like that there’s so much storage space inside the belt. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

There’s also plenty of room for other hunting essentials, and you can strap rain gear or an extra hunting jacket using high-quality compression straps. The belt also features a removable seat pad, which is pretty thin but will keep your backside dry even if you’re hunting damp, dew-soaked mornings. 

Best with Kickstand: Nomad Bull Lounger

Best with Kickstand


  • Sizes: One size with 14 points of adjustment
  • Camo: Mossy Oak Bottomland, Mossy Oak Shadow Leaf
  • Pockets: 23
  • Weight: 7 lbs. 2 oz. 


  • Soft lining protects calls
  • Angled backrest 
  • Plenty of adjustability


  • Upright seating adjustment could be a little more ‘vertical’
  • Heavy

There aren’t backrest trees everywhere, and sometimes we need to pack our own into the field. This kickstand-style vest from Nomad allows you to have a stable backrest no matter where you are set up. I like the idea of an integral backrest system; however, what I like even more is that the Nomad backrest is both lightweight and removable. Don’t like the backrest? Then take it out, and use it as you would a traditional), frameless turkey vest.

I’ve invested some substantial cash on custom calls that I love but often worry about taking into the field where they’ll get scuffed up. The Bull Lounger takes away the worry thanks to the ultra-soft lining in the pot call pockets.

As someone who regularly hunts mosquito-infested river bottoms in the southeast, I also appreciate this vest’s specialized Thermacell pocket, which holds the device securely in place and also opens up for proper ventilation when you’re running the repellant.

How We Tested Turkey Vests

I take my turkey hunting very seriously—and thus I take my turkey hunting gear very seriously, too. I require certain elements in the turkey vest I’m going to wear every day from the middle of April to the last day of May. Your needs and requirements, of course, may differ. Perhaps you hunt only one or two days each season. Maybe all your hunting is done from a ground blind, thus effectively making a vest a moot point. There are 1,001 reasons for and against a vest, and yours are without question valid. 

We’ve tested out a lot of turkey vests in the field over the years. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

But to help you decide, these are the criteria I used to differentiate good vests from so-so vests:

  • Simplicity of design/build: I want the vest to be relatively simple, without a ton of bells and whistles and widgets. Certainly, sometimes I’m proven wrong and a fully featured vest is great. However, I tend to select simple designs so that when that old Tom gobbles I’m not lost in my turkey vest.
  • Fit and comfort: Like shoes, fit and comfort are important. I want a vest that fits well, and is comfortable when fully loaded, even after I’ve worn it all day. If the shoulder straps cut off the circulation to my hands, it’s out. If the straps aren’t adjustable to the point I can get the fit really dialed in, it’s out. The vest is an integral part of my turkey hunting gear, and I’m wearing it every day.
  • Ergonomics: I want a vest to put the items I need, calls, strikers, head nets, gloves, and snacks, within quick and easy reach. I need to be able to grab them without having to take my eyes off a long beard waddling his way down the fence line. 
  • Security of personal items: I need a vest that doesn’t lose stuff. I’m fully capable of losing strikers, gloves, and other items on my own. So, the vest I’m looking for has zippered (preferable) or hook and loop (if need be) pockets that aren’t prone to spilling my gear every time I sit or bend over. In fact, I want all the fasteners, whatever that might be, to be strong and secure.

Turkey Vest Buying Guide

Sure, it would be an easy thing to go online, throw a dart (figuratively), and buy the very first turkey vest you come across. But with the 16.5 million results that your Google search for “turkey vests” turned up, how would you know you were getting the right one? Using the following criteria can certainly make narrowing the field to only the best turkey vests a whole lot easier.


I don’t know about you, but price just about always factors into the equation for me. Turkey vests run the gamut from a low-end of $30 or less to top-of-the-line garments costing $300 or more. My mantra always: Get the best you can afford without causing your wallet to hemorrhage violently. And remember, expensive doesn’t always translate into better. Some of the best turkey vests can be had for a very reasonable price.


Do you want web-style shoulder straps, or would you prefer full (wide) shoulders, a sort of sleeveless shirt type of design? Do you want a removable game bag to carry your Tom after a successful day? No game bag? Do you plan on carrying your shotshells in your pockets, or do you like the convenience that shell loops provide? What about zippers, or would you prefer quick clips? Vests are like an ala carte buffet; they can be a little of this and a little of that. It just takes time to look over the menu.

Camouflage Pattern

In my opinion, Mossy Oak or Realtree are the two major players in the camouflage arena. However, there are others available. Some of this decision is personal preference. Some of it depends on where you’re hunting. The important thing is that the camouflage pattern you pick blend in in most of your hunting situations. Your call there.

Typical Weather Conditions

The best turkey hunting vest is often dictated by climate. Are you in southern Florida hunting Osceolas? Or in the Black Hills of South Dakota with six inches of snow on the ground for half the season? If you hunt Florida, you’ll want a lighter vest; something with ample airflow to help keep you cool. If you’re in Dakota, maybe that full-shouldered vest with back padding and room for a sweatshirt underneath is the ticket.

Seating Options

Most turkey vests today include some type of seat or seat cushion; some don’t. I personally don’t wear a cushioned vest, but pack an old school Bunsaver by Hunter’s Specialties in the game pouch and deploy it on each stand. Still, seating is an option, and often adds something to the final price tag. Can you get by without and save a little? Or is something like Tenzing’s TR18 vest, with its integrated support arms/backrest a little more your speed?

Bells and Whistles

Many vests are filled with gimmicks, meant to hook the fisherman rather than the fish if you know what I mean. So, think about the extra features that would benefit you. Do you really need 5,492 cubic inches of space? If you filled it up, the vest would weigh in at 1.32 metric tons. Magnetic closures. Horizontal this. Vertical that. Pockets inside pockets inside pockets. Retractable lanyards. Impressive, but do you really need it?

If you need help filling your new vest, check out our round up of the best turkey calls. We also sorted through the best shotguns for turkey hunting. And you can round out the rest of your kit with the best new turkey hunting gear. And don’t forget to check out the National Wild Turkey Federation for more info on gobblers in your area.


Q: Do you need camo for turkey hunting?

Turkeys have impressive eyesight, so you need to stay concealed. Wearing a camo pattern that matches your surroundings is all but essential if you’re going to hunt these wary birds. Choose a pattern that closely matches the terrain and colors found wherever you hunt. Should you be truly ambitious, you might buy two vests in different patterns: one for early season browns, and the other with an emphasis on various shades of greens for the mid to late season.

Q: What should you carry in a turkey vest?

Turkey vests are perfect tools for packing all the calls you need to lure long beards, decoys, ammo, and assorted snacks to get you through the day. In addition to those items, you should carry a small first aid kit and bottle of water or two. Many vests feature a blaze orange flag that can be worn as you move from spot to spot. If yours isn’t so equipped, you should consider stashing some high-viz fabric for safe commutes from the turkey hunting grounds.

Q: How much does a turkey vest cost?

Like most items, you can find turkey vests at a wide variety of price points. Bare bones vests can be had for as little as $30, and some full featured models reach into the triple digits. But you don’t need to drop a mint for quality, with many excellent turkey vests in the $50 to $100 range.

Q: How should I wash my turkey vest?

First of all, why would anyone want to wash a turkey vest? I mean, the dirt is a badge
of honor, right? But seriously, washing a turkey vest is as easy as laundering a set of
jeans. Empty everything out of the vest, which gives you a chance to mend or replace worn items. Remove the seat cushion and, if possible, the game pouch, along with anything that might come
unintentionally detached. Launder as you would your camouflage britches, and either tumble on low or line dry.

Q: Should a turkey vest be waterproof?

Not necessarily. In fact, I don’t know of any stand-alone turkey vests that are waterproof. Light rain gear worn underneath the vest should be enough, although, in many regions during the Spring, such a combination will likely be rather warm. But what about water/rain and gear affected by moisture, e.g. box calls or pot style calls? Most vests feature pockets that help keep things like calls, smartphones, flashlights/headlamps, and other fragile items reasonably well protected.

Q: Where should I store my turkey vest during the season?

During the season, I hang my fully loaded vest where air can circulate around it and where it’s out of direct sunlight, which could over time fade the camouflage and/or damage certain items like diaphragm calls, tube calls, or electronics (if applicable).

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.