If you’re like us you love gear. Gear serves two purposes for the hunter; it helps us be successful in the field and perhaps more importantly, it helps us daydream about being successful in the field. Perusing websites and catalogs filled with gear often gets us through the roughest of days. However, sometimes there are just too many options of a certain piece of truck and the search can get overwhelming. With that in mind we decided to break down five popular options for chasing longbeards this spring.
I tackled the more traditional “turkey vests” and Scott reviewed a couple more minimalist “pack” style options. Both iterations have their strengths and this review is aimed at educating you on the features of the five we chose. Ultimately, the choice is yours and we don’t think you could go wrong with any of the products we tested.
“TRADITIONAL STYLE” - Todd Helms
Nomad Turkey Vest
Nomad claims this vest is the product of “decades of first-hand experience in the turkey woods.” I would have to agree as I’ve seen lots of vests come and go and bought and sold my fair share over the years. My first reaction to putting this vest on was very positive, I remember thinking, “wow, this thing is intuitive.” Call pockets were all where they should be, functional and offer high levels of protection. The “harness” system of this vest is high quality and almost infinitely adjustable with padding that is not only comfortable but breathable. My favorite feature is the triple magnet seat attachment. Flip the seat down quickly and quietly and when it’s time to move, flip it back up and the magnets catch and hold, period. You don’t have to be a contortionist to get it back in place and out of the way.
This vest has everything you want in a turkey vest with no frills or gimmicks, it is a hard working, straight forward turkey vest that will get the job done without any thought.
Primos Rocker Vest
Gone are the days when you can’t find a comfortable seat in the turkey woods. Primos took the issue of take anywhere comfort seriously when designing this vest. The Rocker incorporates a flip down stadium style seat built into the vest to keep you comfortable and in the game no matter where that may be. As with all Primos turkey vests the call organization pockets are well designed and thought out and offer serious functionality and storage potential.
Molded pot call and box call pockets protect your valuable calls. A Hydration bladder pocket (bladder not included) serves to keep you hydrated and “runnin’ ‘n’ gunnin” all day. This vest is a tad weighty but it makes up for that in function and comfort. I only wish it had been around years ago.
Tenzing TZ TV14
The TZ TV14 bridges the gap between vest and pack very nicely. Tenzing engineered a technical feel into this lightweight option. With 14 total pockets, equipment organization is excellent, keeping your calls close at hand for quick deployment. The foldout seat is cushy and comfortable to keep you focused on the birds and not your aching posterior. This “vest” features virtually unlimited size adjustment for a true custom fit and feel.
Tenzing obviously had the “run ‘n’ gun” turkey commando in mind when they built the TZ TV14.
With H2O compatibility, 2000 cu. in. of capacity, and a weight of just over 3 lbs., this option will keep you in the game from daylight till dark.
“PACK STYLE” - Scott Reekers
ALPS Outdoorz NWTF Long Spur Vest
Most of us play the important things pretty close to our chest. The ALPS Outdoorz NWTF Long Spur Vest does just that with a plastic holster on the shoulder for mouth calls, slate and ceramic call pockets as well as a pocket for your box call to be within easy reach. Every pocket on this pack is designed to keep noise to an absolute minimum with a combination of cinches and padding in all of the places where rattles could cost you a longbeard.
One doesn’t often describe a turkey vest or pack as modular, but this 3lb 3oz offering from ALPS wears that title with pride. The lumbar pocket is fully removable from the padded belt for those situations where run and gun is the name of the game. The shoulder harness is also removable making this a straight forward lumbar pack when the occasion calls for it.
The Badlands Monster is an ideal pack for the mobile turkey hunter who is on the move looking for toms and the perfect set up. The six pocket design has one large compartment that will house things like an extra layer or gloves as well as two side pockets that fit things like a slate and striker or a box call with ease. Between the two side pockets are two small cell phone or GPS sized organization pockets and a larger pocket made for things like that mid morning snack between set ups.
The 2lb, 10 oz pack also boasts a rigid plastic tubing frame that helps the main compartment keep its shape and therefore protect gear. The three point harness is adjustable as well as removable making the 425 cubic inch pack bearable to haul around all season. This pack also boasts a pocket for a Badlands water reservoir making dehydration on the warm spring days a non-issue.