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Survival Vests

Too many people aren't prepared for disasters. According to FEMA, sixty percent of Americans do not have a plan of action or enough supplies to survive a tragedy. One excellent way to prepare is to have a survival vest packed with essential items to sustain life until help arrives.

You and your family will be more likely to get through a disaster if you have a strategy in place. Ideally, you will be able to grab your survival gear and go to a safer place. If you get separated from an emergency backpack or bag, you will still have all the equipment that you need to survive in a survival vest on your body.

What is a survival vest?

The prototype for the modern survival vest resulted from Vietnam War rescue techniques. Survival vests have evolved over the years. Opening a bag every time you need something is a hassle. A multi-pocket survival vest solves this problem. Most survival vests have pockets in various shapes and sizes which attach to the vest foundation. Survival vest systems include:

  • Modular (panels)

  • Slide-lock (slide fasteners)

  • MOLLE (pouches)

  • Harness (extraction and insertion capabilities)

These different systems secure the pockets onto the survival vest. The vests are often double sewn with powerful thread to avoid tearing. Some survival vests have a mesh foundation and are lightweight and breathable.

What supplies should be in a survival vest?



Hygienic supplies

Fire starters (matches, lighters, etc.)

Mobile shelter equipment

Twine, wire, or para-cord (dental floss works too)

Strong garbage bags

Signaling equipment (flares, whistle, mirror, flasher)



Inspect all survival vests annually to be sure they are current and replace anything expired. Also check for holes, failing seams, broken fasteners, and loose webbing.

What should you look for in a survival vest?

The priorities for selecting a survival vest should be:

  • Fit

  • Function

  • Quality

Other things to consider when deciding on the right survival vest:

  • Good cut and design

  • Tough and durable (mesh, fabric, etc.) with double stitching

  • Allows for freedom of movement of arms, neck, and torso

  • Pocket volume and placement. (Should not sit directly under shoulder harness)

  • Front fasteners that facilitate harnesses without interfering with pockets.

  • A lap belt should be worn low on your hips to allow for seatbelts for quick release.

  • Enough pockets to store survival gear, so they are not stuffed.

  • Make sure you can bend over to grab something on the ground.

  • Dependable pocket closures such as zippers, velcro, or snaps to prevent loss of gear.

  • Fine motor skills diminish during stressful situations. Supplies must be readily available and accessible.

  • Adjustable to allow for different seasons (lightweight or heavy clothing)

What is the history of the survival vest?

Air Force personnel who assemble survival vests, otherwise known as “wife support people,” are survival experts. It is their specialty to know everything dealing with life support.

The US Air Force Survival vest was designed for a pilot who is ejected or has bailed out of his aircraft and landed behind enemy lines. It was created to keep him alive until retiring to friendly forces.

In the military, a survival vest is used as a defensive element when in enemy territory. All of the items in the vest serve that purpose. They are customized according to the tactical situation.

What does a military survival vest include?

  • Functional Flashlight that will not crack in cold conditions and can last a long time. Many flashlights only last for two hours. A better option is a high performing LED flashlight with lithium batteries, which is much more durable and lasts longer.

  • Flares to use for signaling and recognition. These are dangerous and need to be handled carefully. They come in pens as well as a gyro jet version (mini rockets).

  • Emergency drinking water in pouches. If you are dehydrated, you do not think clearly. You must drink enough water in survival mode. Check the expiration date on the water and replace it as needed.

  • Strobe light

  • Mirror for signaling

  • Survival manual

  • A tourniquet to immobilize joint or bone injuries. Some have a metal buckle, which allows you to keep walking while applying compression.

Can I make my own survival vest?

The alternative to purchasing a complete survival vest is to build your vest customized to your particular needs. You can utilize different types of vests to create your survival vest, including:

  • Fly fishing vests

  • Inflatable fishing vests

  • Game hunting vests

  • Surveyor vests

  • Shorty style fly fishing vests

  • Surplus military aircrew vests

  • Military tactical vests

  • Photography vests

  • Helicopter survival vests

  • Hunting vests

What is the best survival vest?

The R72 Grab&Go Vest has essential items for emergency and adventure situations. It is military-grade and built to function in harsh environments. The R72 Grab&Go Vest will help you survive in a disaster. These vests with modular bags have an outstanding functional design and are of high quality.

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