Last summer I met Rob Daugherty (Rob’s Wildlife.com) up in Grand Teton National Park as we were trying to capture pictures of the Grizzlies roaming through the park. Rob was wearing this photography vest and had all his gear very accessible to shoot animals on the go. I asked him about his vest and he said he made them and owns a company called TheVestGuy.com. He was originally in law enforcement and designed vests for law enforcement and military. Rob’s passion for photography allowed him to adapt the vest for photography. Anyway he said he would send me one to demo and I received it late last fall. I think I have over extended my trial of the vest, but have finally gotten a number of uses out of it and can give the vest a proper review.
The vest I tried out was the Safari Vest Lite. This vest, manufactured here in the U.S.A., is high-grade mesh and has a Molle Web strapping system to attach the individual pockets on the vest. The vest is light breathable and very configurable to suit the type of equipment you will be carrying with you on the photo shoot.
I’ve been able to use this vest while I was looking for Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep in Utah, on local photo walks, and on outdoor portrait shoots. It’s comfortable and allows you to carry all your gear that you need for a photo shoot without putting undue stress on your shoulders or your back. The nice thing about the vest is you can configure it so there is a pocket for everything – lenses, camera accessories, your car keys, business cards, cell phones, tripods, etc. and it’s all accessible without having to take off a backpack to get something out. There is even a sling system with quick release hooks and D-rings so you can hook on your camera or carry an extra camera while you are on a shoot. When you need your camera, you can just pick it up since it’s hanging off your vest and start shooting. This is ideal for wildlife photographers, sports and action photographers, news and media photographers and even portrait photographers shooting outdoors or at a wedding allowing you to have all your extra lenses and gear readily accessible.
Here is a photo taken of me on a local photo walk wearing the vest. On the Vest I have
- The Cargo: 10″ X 8″ X 5″ pocket which will hold up to (3) Standard / Wide-angle Lens, supplied with (2) dividers. You can also remove the velcro dividers and it will hold Telephoto Lens similar to Canon 70-200mm lens. There are zipper pockets on the inside and outside of this pocket.
- Standard Lens Pocket: 5″ X 6.5″ X 3.5″ pocket which is great for Standard and Wide Angle lens, like Canon 24-70mm or a 16-35mm.
- Cellular Pocket: 3″ X 5″ X 1″ pocket designed to hold a smart phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry).
- Inside zipper pockets
- Inside back panel that will hold a hydration sleeve so you can place a water bladder or Camelbak into so you don’t have to carry a water bottle.
Here’s another pic I took just to show you the full vest setup with the Telephoto pocket holding my 70-200mm, the Utility pocket with my keys, my iPhone in the cellular pocket and my wide angle in the Standard Lens pocket, and my 24-70mm peaking out of the large Cargo Pocket. The zippers are all YKK heavy duty zippers that won’t fall apart. I think my only complaint was that the metal zippers made too much noise when I was walking in search of Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep. Rob told me I could easily cure that by getting some zipper tabs that cover the zippers for easier use and quietness.
Looking online and in local photography stores there weren’t vests of this quality and they were generically made. The real nice ones start at close to $300, but aren’t configurable. Rob’s Vest are all custom made to order and the pockets are fully configurable. This Safari Vest starts at $109.95! Rob has a non-configurable Urban vest that is on sale now for $129.95! I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better value than TheVestGuy.com for you photography vest.
You can find Rob on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and 500px. If you have any questions, I’m sure he’d be happy to answer any questions. I give this vest a thumbs up and highly recommend it if you are looking for a photography vest.