Vogue vests

Adapting tactical wear for CSI needs

     The design of the Camelbak vest will appeal to the investigator whose beat extends beyond urban areas. The investigator faced with a backlands trek will need to cart water as well as equipment, especially if one must hike any distance to work the case. The design of the vest, accompanied by about 6 pounds of water, may be a discomfort in the urban setting, but certainly makes sense in rural investigations.

     5.11. The Modesto, California-based company manufactures tactical pants that have become the law enforcement standard, but 5.11 Tactical also produces the VTAC LBE Tactical Vest. The VTAC, available in black or flat dark earth color, varies in slightly from the Camelbak vest. It is not designed as a primary hydration carrier, although a hanger and mesh pouch provide room for a hydration system. Manufactured from heavy nylon mesh, it is available in two sizes, both adjustable via side and shoulder straps, with VELCRO patches inside the shoulders providing additional strength.

     The upper back features four full rows of VELCRO strapping for PALS use and attachment of identification. Below are an additional five rows of PALS straps, providing full back usage for pouch attachment. On the chest, there is a patch of VELCRO on the upper left for ID or badge attachment. The PALS straps at both the right and left shoulders are made from an adhesive material to permit mounting of a long arm. The remainder of the front is covered with PALS strapping, however, two adjustable straps with Fastek-type buckles also cross the zipper area of the chest, providing backup closure. Along the lower periphery of the vest area is a series of attachment rings to which a belt may be attached by use of straps or keepers.

     On the front inside are two concealed pockets, similar to those used in the 5.11 Tactical Vest, but without the VELCRO attachment points, designed for document or similar storage. Hidden in the back, by the neck, is a strong grab strap for rapid extrication.

     Tru-Spec. Many agencies are familiar with Tru-Spec for its Mil-Spec BDU ensembles. But the Marietta, Georgia, company also produces field gear, including the MOLLE Compatible Field Vest. Available in black, khaki and two patterns of camo, the vest consists of nylon mesh laminated to a 1000-denier nylon fabric material. Size is adjusted via a drawstring arrangement, allowing the user to fit the vest by opening or closing the side panels. Both front and back are fully covered with PALS strapping; there are no VELCRO ID patches in front or back, although attachment would not be difficult.

     A grab strap resides just below the neck at the back, while on the top of each shoulder are two D rings for attachment of other items. Both shoulders feature long gun patches of an aggressively sticky material. The front of the vest features a zipper closure, backed up by two Fastek-style strap and buckle closures. A series of attachment loops along the bottom provide for convenient wearing of a pistol belt, while there are hidden document pockets located inside the front.

Picking pouches

     Next, users must choose pouches. For certified law enforcement officers, pouch selection can vary based on individual needs, such as a holster and accessories suspended from a belt versus a holster from many manufacturers for use with a vest, usually attached in either a tanker-style chest position or as a cross draw, plus a magazine pouch for reloads. However, crime scene equipment for an officer or a technician should also be considered.

     Pouches for the usual gamut of magazines are less than useful for criminalistic tools. However, manufacturers are offering an ever-expanding variety of pouches, which work well with the odd sizes and shapes of forensic tools.

     Maxpedition manufactures a system of shoulder slung equipment bags, the Versipack, which often finds favor for off-duty carry of firearms, cameras and other items. The company also produces a selection of pouches that are compatible on MOLLE equipment, belts or straps. For example its TacTile pockets, available in three sizes, are 1.5-inch thick pouches, from the smallest, 6 inches by 4 inches, to the largest, 8.5 inches by 6.5 inches, provide convenient storage for a variety of items: lift cards, lift tape, swabs, etc. Plus, it is designed to be stackable by attaching one to another, growing out of the vest. The FR-1 pouch, originally designed as a medical kit pouch, packs a variety of pockets and tool loops into a 7-inch by 5-inch by 3-inch fold-open pouch. It may become a field tool case, a latent print kit or serve myriad other uses.

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