Top must have tactical vest accessories

What to Carry on Your Tactical Vest – Top 9 Must-Have Accessories


Mathew R Reed
November 27, 2022

A tactical vest does not only carry your armor panels, but it can serve multiple other purposes as well. Above all, a tactical vest is a load-bearing platform, which you can use to mount all kinds of tactical gear.

When it comes to tactical vest accessories, there are loads of options available on the market. From magazine pouches to med kits and hydration bladders, there is a wide range of tactical gear that you can mount on your tactical vest.

However, the accessories for tactical vest that you choose, depend a lot upon your mission parameters. One of the most common questions I get asked is how to set up a tactical plate carrier. Well, the truth is that the ideal tactical vest setup is different for everyone. Police officers need to carry gear like handcuffs, pepper spray, and firearms, whereas soldiers may carry extra magazines for their rifles, med kits, communication equipment, and a lot more.

So, in today’s post, we are going to tell you how to set up your tactical vest, and what accessories you can carry on it.

How to Set Up Your Tactical Vest?

First of all, if you are looking for specific police tactical vest accessories or the end-all-be-all tactical vest setup, you won’t find it here. The setup of a tactical vest and the accessories mounted on can vary for different people depending on the purpose they are using the vests for, and their personal tactics and techniques.

Before you think about what you mount on your tactical vest, and where to position it, you need to make sure that your tactical vest fits you properly. If a tactical vest is too tight, it may restrict your movement, and if it is too loose, it may move around and cause discomfort when you move. The right tactical vest will be a perfect fit.

Next, you need to make sure that your vest is compatible with load bearing. In the US and most European countries, militaries and civilians use vests with the PALS ( Pouch Attachment Ladder System) which is compatible with MOLLE Tactical Vest Accessories. MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-Bearing Equipment) accessories are very popular and can be mounted securely on any MOLLE-compatible tactical vest. Though most tactical vests are MOLLE compatible, some concealable ballistic vests may not have any MOLLE webbing, and therefore, may not be able to carry additional gear.

Now that you have a vest that fits, and can carry Tactical Vest Accessories, you need to make sure that the loadout you carry is suited to the job you have to do. For instance, a police officer needs to carry handcuffs, a taser, a body cam, and pistol mag pouches, whereas a person in a search and rescue party may carry items like a medical kit, hydration bladder, flashlight, radio coms, and GPS.

Lastly, make sure that you practice with your tactical vest setup, and refine it to be as efficient as possible. In a combat situation, a few seconds can make the difference between life and death, therefore, you can’t afford to be slow and should be able to access all of your equipment instantly.

Tactical Vest Accessories

As mentioned before, the exact tactical vest setup can vary for different people, however, there are some basic accessories that almost everyone mounts on their Tactical Vest.

Additional Magazine Pouches

Tactical vests are almost always in combat situations, where you need to have a firearm. Moreover, when you are in a combat situation, you need to carry additional ammo and be able to access it quickly for fast reloads.

Therefore, one of the first things that most people mount on their tactical vests is Magazine pouches for their primary and secondary weapons. You can find a wide range of triple rifle magazine pouches on the market that can fit a wide range of different magazines, or you can opt for magazine holders that are purpose-built for your rifle. You can also mount a single kangaroo pouch on the front of your plate carrier that can easily carry up to three AR or AK magazines.

You also need to make sure that you have ammo for your secondary weapon, which in most cases is a pistol. You can mount pistol magazines on the side of your tactical vest.

Tactical Knife

A simple Tactical knife is an essential tool and weapon that everyone expecting to engage in combat should have on their tactical vest. It can be an effective weapon in close hand-to-hand combat and is a really useful survival tool. One of the best places to mount a tactical knife holster in the shoulder strap on your dominant hand side, with the handle facing downwards. This helps you reach your knife easily and instantly when needed.

Radio with a Push to Talk Button and Mic

Most police officers, Military Personnel, and first responders who wear tactical vests have to carry some form of a communication system as well. Most of them use Radios with Push To Talk Mics. These communication systems can be mounted on their tactical vest with a dedicated MOLLE-compatible pouch.

In most cases, police officers mount their radio or Walkie Talkie on their back, usually on one side so that it doesn’t get in the way when they go to sit down. They then mount a Push To Talk Mic on their shoulder strap, with the wires connected to the communication system on their back, and routed through the molle webbing. Some police officers may use wireless walkie-talkies as well, that relay through their squad cars. These wireless radios are also usually mounted on their shoulders.


A Flashlight is another essential piece of gear that can prove very useful in a wide range of situations. Whether you use a tactical vest to keep all of your home defense gear in one place, or you are a police officer or security guard who wears a tactical vest on duty, having a high-quality flashlight mounted on it can be quite helpful.

There are several specifically designed pouches to store flashlights, or if your flashlight has a clip, you can simply mount it through the Molle loops on your tactical vest. Moreover, make sure you get a flashlight that is suitable for a plate carrier. Large and heavy lights can get in your way, and aren’t easy to mount on a tactical vest. Look for slim flashlights that give you a lot of lumens. There are several impressive tactical flashlights on the market that fit the bill.

First Aid Kit

A complete tactical kit has all the essentials to make holes and plug them as well. This means that if you, or any of your partners or team members get shot, you need to have the equipment to give them first aid.

Therefore, many police officers, soldiers, and even civilians keep some kind of Medical First Aid kit on their Tactical Vests. These medical kits don’t need to be assessed as frequently as other gear so they are usually mounted on the back of the tactical vest or plate carrier.

Grenade Pouches

This isn’t a common part of a civilian’s or typical police officer’s loadout, however, special police units like SWAT and military soldiers usually mounted grenade pouches on their tactical vests as well. These pouches may be used to store flashbangs and fragmentation grenades.

Hydration Bladder

A hydration Bladder is an essential piece of Kit for any tactical operative. They help you carry a lot more water than a simple bottle, and help you stay hydrated on long missions. Many soldiers, and search and rescue units mount a hydration bladder on their backs for long missions.

There are many kinds of hydration bladders available on the market. You can opt for standalone hydration bladders, or even get a complete tactical backpack that has hydration bladder compatibility.

Identification Patches

Another important thing that many people add to their tactical vests is identification patches. Police officers, forest responders, and even civilians use these patches to identify themselves in public. Military personnel also use patches for their country’s flag and their specific units on their tactical vests. Some civilians may also add different patches on their tactical vests for aesthetic purposes.

General Purpose Pouches

Lastly, you can also mount several general-purpose pouches to carry mission-specific equipment. There is a wide range of MOLLE-compatible general-purpose pouches available on the market in all shapes and sizes. These pouches can be used to store specific hunting gear like binoculars and can be easily mounted on any tactical plate carrier, backpack, or range bag. You can also put together a small survival kit, and mount it on a tactical vest for emergency situations.

And of course, don’t forget to make sure to know keep your vest and accessories in tip top shape!

Final Thoughts

As the base of all of your equipment, a tactical vest plays an essential role in any combat or tactical situation. Having the right tactical vest setup can help you be more effective on the field, and even save your life. We hope this post helps you figure out your ideal tactical vest setup and gives you an idea about how to build the perfect loadout for your mission requirements.

Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.