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The Chest Rig Choosing Guide

Until scientists come up with a way to create pocket dimensions for storing things, we’ll have to do it the old way. Carrying loads of equipment rarely becomes the best part of a trip or a mission, or whatever it is you do having to carry loads of things. Bags require one whole hand to carry and backpacks can easily tilt you backward if assembled poorly. But luckily, our load-bearing equipment options are not limited to those things. A chest rig might be a great solution to that problem. They offer unparalleled convenience you won’t find in any other piece of bearing equipment. It might seem like choosing a chest rig is a relatively simple task, but there are some things worth keeping in mind while doing so. In this guide, we’ll explain what things should be taken into account when choosing chest rigs.  

Table of Contents

Tactical Chest Rig


Customizability is not inherent in every chest rig. It’s an option that many users consider the main benefit of this piece of load-bearing equipment. According to customizability, chest rigs can be divided into two groups: customizable and fixed.

Customizable Chest Rigs

Clean MOLLE chest rigs have no pre-attached pouches or pockets, allowing the user to customize it with whatever pouches they need for their mission. Thus you can choose what pouches will be mounted and in which order. This makes them highly versatile and customizable. However, you’d need to purchase additional pouches separately (more often than not, though there are exceptions). A rig like that is not functional on its own unless you need a way to add a note of “tacticality” to your look. 

Fixed Chest Rigs

Fixed-pouch chest rigs come with pre-attached pockets and pouches that cannot be removed or replaced. While this limits the versatility of the rig, it also makes it easier for users who don’t want to buy additional components or spend time configuring their rig. Fixed-pouch chest rigs also tend to be more affordable than clean MOLLE ones since they come with all the necessary components already attached. 

Overall, neither of the types is superior to another. Both chest rigs have advantages and disadvantages depending on a user’s needs and preferences. Clean MOLLE chest rigs offer greater versatility while fixed-pouch ones are easier to use right out of the box. If you don’t want to spend extra money on pouches and extra time figuring out how to place them to adhere to all weight-distribution recommendations, go for a fixed chest rig. If you are confident in your pouch-arrangement skills and want a tailored fit, then customizable chest rigs would meet your needs.

Carrier System Type

The type of chest rig carrier system used can have a significant impact on the user experience. Harness layout determines the way the weight is distributed across your chest. It also defines how comfortable it is to don the chest rig and take it off.   

Two primary types of chest rig carrier systems are the X-Harness and H-Harness. The X-Harness is a more traditional design that consists of two shoulder straps connected by a single cross strap in the back. This type of harness provides good support for heavier loads but can be uncomfortable if worn while running. 

The H-Harness is a newer and more popular design that features two shoulder straps connected by two cross straps in the back. This type of harness distributes the weight more evenly across the shoulders and provides better comfort when carrying heavy loads for long periods. These chest rigs are also easier to take on and off. 

Chest Rig Molle

Carrying Capacity

Chest rigs are usually acquired for carrying stuff. And that stuff usually weighs something. As rule, there is only so much weight a chest rig can withstand. Of course, “only so much” is a relative notion – the volume can be different for different chest rings. The weight capacity of chest rigs is also directly related to their size; the larger the chest rig, the higher its carrying capacity. As such, there are three main categories of chest rigs according to their weight capacity: light, medium and heavy. 

Light chest rigs are designed for users who need only a few items such as magazines or small tools. They have or can mount fewer pouches than other types of chest rigs but offer greater mobility due to their lightweight construction. They are also more concealable than other types of chest rigs.

Medium chest rigs are ideal for those who need more storage space but don’t want the bulkiness of a heavy-duty chest rig. These typically have either several differently-sized pouches (some for magazine-sized items, others for smaller objects) or plenty of MOLLE space for mounting them. 

Heavy-duty chest rigs are designed for those who need maximum carrying capacity and durability. These typically feature numerous mag pouches that can fit AK/AR mags, pistol mags, flashlights and other small tools in addition to a main compartment with plenty of space for additional items.

So far, we’ve only spoken about the chest rig’s technical characteristics. Those, while crucial, are not the only things worth relying on. Such aspects as usage goals and accessibility should also be accounted for.

Intended Usage

All chest rigs are created with tactical scenarios in mind. This is where they came from and this is what they remain today. However, as you’ve seen above, there are several varieties of chest rigs and some of them might be more suitable for particular tasks than others. 

Take recreational purposes, for example. You don a chest rig to keep a couple of essentials like first aid supplies or a compass at hand. Do you need a Hard-Duty Super-Customizable Chest Rig 3000? The chances are you don’t, because you also have a backpack, and the chest ring isn’t your primary load-bearing piece. You’d want your rig to be lightweight and all the pouches to be readily accessible and easy to reach. You also might not need a customizable rig since utility is a bigger priority. Besides, pouches in prearranged chest rigs are usually balanced out by the manufacturer, meaning you can’t distribute the weight erroneously (or at least are less likely to do so). 

The same goes for recreational shooting and airsoft. You will benefit from having your mags close by, and for that a chest rig with a single pouch in the center area is a poor choice. You’ll need something with several mag pouches attached. However, going to such extremes as buying fully customizable chest rigs might be overkill. Unless you are looking to get into the shoes of a military person, even if for just a moment or two.


It’s perfectly understandable why chest rigs seeped from the ranks of the military into the mass market. They allow you to keep all the necessities close at hand – an opportunity too good to pass. Chest rigs come in a variety of configurations, so you can choose something that caters to your personal needs. The first option is a highly-customizable heavy-duty (and less so) chest rig you can arrange however you see fit The second option is a pre-arranged fixed chest rig that has everything figured out, both pouch placement and weight balance. Which one is the best for you? Only you can decide.


What is the purpose of chest rigs?

A chest rig is a piece of tactical gear designed to provide the user with quick and easy access to their equipment. It’s typically worn around the chest area, allowing for easy access to items such as magazines, ammunition, and other tactical gear. Chest rigs also keep users’ hands-free, allowing them to move more freely and efficiently in tactical situations. Additionally, chest rigs help distribute weight evenly across the body.

Can you wear a backpack with a chest rig?

Yes, you can wear a backpack with a chest rig. The backpack straps will go over the chest rig straps, but it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Additionally, many chest rigs have thin and unobstructive straps that make it easier to wear both items at once. There are also specially designed backpacks and chest rigs that are made to be worn together.

How does the weight of the equipment affect the use of a chest rig?

One of the challenges of using a chest rig is to distribute the weight evenly. You don’t want the thing intended to be helpful to encumber you. Even if the cumulative weight is not that big, pinning all the pouches in the center area will leave you leaning forward. At the same time, a heavier load will make the rig more difficult to adjust and can cause the straps to pull or dig into your shoulders, even if you balance them out.

What are the different types of chest rigs available on the market?

The two basic types of chest rigs currently available are fixed and customizable ones. The difference between the two should be quite understandable. One comes with pouches that cannot be rearranged, and the other is fully customizable and usually comes with no pouches at all.  

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