In combat, a soldier must be as mobile and flexible as possible. That is why they wear battle belts or chest rigs to carry their gear. But which one should you choose?
The debate of battle belts vs chest rigs has been going on for some time. In this blog post, we will compare the two options and come up with some pros and cons for each. And hopefully, will help you come to a conclusion about which one is a better fit for your specific needs.
Table of Contents
- Battle belts
- Chest rigs
- Battle belts vs chest rigs – Which one is better?
- Chest rig and a battle belt together
- In conclusion
Battle belts are designed to be worn around the waist and are typically equipped with a variety of pockets for tactical gear. Battle belts are made for your critical gear needs and are not designed to carry everything.
But you still can carry quite a lot of gear and stay mobile at the same time. The belt is designed with flexibility in mind so that the wearer can take any type of fighting position while still being very well-equipped for battle.
Pros of battle belts:
Battle belts offer quite a lot of benefits to the wearer such as:
- You have fast access to all your critical and important gear at a moment’s notice. Such as your sidearm, magazines, and first aid kit.
- You have a lot of flexibility and mobility in the field. You can bend, kneel, sit or stand without any restrictions to your gear.
- When you wear your gear on the belt, it is tight to your body and will not interfere with movement or rifle handling.
- All-around fast access to equipment.
- The Battle Belt offers more freedom, as it does not restrict movement as some chest rigs do.
- The Battle Belt is also easy to take on and off, which can be beneficial in the event that you’re required to go from battle mode to more of a defensive position.
- The Battle Belt is also easy to customize, which can be good for those who enjoy experimenting with their gear and gear configuration.
Cons of battle belts:
Although battle belts offer plenty of benefits to the wearer, there are some disadvantages as well when it comes to choosing a battle belt such as:
- The Belt is not ideal for those who are on the heavier side; this is because they may have trouble with making sure that the belt stays tight at all times which can lead to slippage and potential issues when in combat.
- Since these have this open design, they may come off or become loose when wearing armor over top them;
- Another downside for battle belts is that they require some time and skill-building up before using them effectively in rapid movement scenarios.
- The space on your battle belt is quite restricted, so you may not be able to carry as much gear with a battle belt.
- The space is also quite small when wearing armor over top of it, which can make things more difficult if the user has bulky items they want to bring on their mission;
- One big disadvantage with these battle belts is that they can be uncomfortable to wear for periods of time, especially when you need to walk long distances or sit in a car or plane for an extended period of time. This issue is solved by keeping the backside of the belt as free and empty as possible. This of course means your space is even more limited.
So what are chest rigs? A chest rig is a type of load-bearing equipment that is worn on the chest. The item is typically strapped on using a harness system.
Quite often, people mix up chest rigs with plate carriers or tactical vests although they are entirely different things. Chest rigs have an open back area while plate carriers and tactical vests have the back covered as well.
Chest rigs are more like webbing rigs rather than vests. Also, chest rigs usually don’t provide the same level of protection as tactical vests or plate carriers. They are an excellent option for wearing your tactical gear on top of your body armor.
Pros of a chest rig:
Chest rigs offer a lot of benefits to the wearer such as:
- Chest rigs also provide an excellent and versatile way to carry all your gear around on the chest. They have more than enough room to store things like medical kits, radios, ammo pouches, or anything else you might need close by.
- The X-straps on a chest rig help you distribute weight evenly. This means that all of your gear will feel lighter when wearing it.
- Chest rigs are great for wearing your gear over body armor or even bulkier clothing like winter jackets etc.
- Chest rigs are usually cheaper than plate carriers or tactical vests which is another advantage for some buyers out there.
- They are more comfortable and versatile than other load carriers.
- The empty back area makes it a lot easier to carry a backpack.
- You can mount your gear higher which means it won’t get in the way of crouching or kneeling.
- Chest rigs are super mobile and you can easily move with it on.
- They have a lower profile than tactical vests or plate carriers which is an advantage if you want to be less detectable during missions.
Cons of chest rigs
While there are certainly a lot of positive aspects and benefits to chest rigs they have some downsides such as:
- Chest rigs are very front-heavy because all of your gear is mounted on your front side and your backside is empty. This can place a lot of pressure on your spine and lower back, especially when worn for longer periods of time.
- Because they tend to be very front bulky, it’s more uncomfortable and harder to assume prone or lying down positions.
- Space on the carrier is still quite limited in comparison to a plate carrier or tactical vest.
- Too many pouches and tactical gear can start to interfere with using your rifle.
- It’s harder to take cover and get low when wearing a chest rig because it’s so front-heavy and bulky.
- Although there are some chest rigs that let you mount a front plate on them, they don’t offer much protection in general.
Battle belts vs chest rigs – Which one is better?
The answer to the question is not definitive. It comes down to personal needs and preferences. If you don’t know what those are, start by asking yourself these questions:
- What type of combat do I engage in most often?
- Do I need a lot of pouches or just a few for my small arms ammunition?
- What type of a primary weapon do I use?
- In what kind of an environment am I primarily working in?
- Am I willing to sacrifice comfort for more storage capacity?
- Is weight distribution important to me- does it matter where the load is carried on your body and whether that’s distributed evenly so that there are no pressure points or hot spots?
These decisions will help narrow down which piece best suits your unique situation. When making your
Now that we have a better understanding of what both battle belts and chest rigs are and what their general pros and cons we can move on to debating which one is the better option.
Choosing between a battle belt and a chest rig is not an easy task. It really depends on what you need it for, your body type, and the uniform or kit you are wearing. The decision is almost completely up to personal needs and preferences. Overall I would recommend combining the two, but even this will heavily depend on your needs and personal preferences.
But still, let’s take a closer look at how the two differ and why one might be the better option than the other.
So, battle belt vs chest rig – Which one do I choose?
Chest rigs are better than battle belts for:
- Chest rigs are a better option when your main weapon is a rifle. This is because with a chest rig you can keep your magazines mounted on the front side of your body right at your chest area which means you can access them more easily and faster which again means faster loading time!
- With a chest rig you can carry a lot more ammunition compared to a battle belt. You can easily mount six to nine rifle magazines on your front panel.
- When you know you will be doing a lot of driving around. Chest rigs have an empty back area which makes them ideal for sitting for long periods of time compared to battle belts which are a nightmare to sit with (when you have pouches on the back).
- A chest rig would also be a better option than a battle belt when you are wearing winter or bulkier clothing.
Battle belts are better for:
- A battle belt is a better option if the main weapon is not a rifle. It’s much easier to draw your sidearm from your belt rather than your chest.
- A battle belt is a better option if you don’t plan on carrying more than one weapon.
- It’s easier to be in a prone lying down position compared to the chest rig.
- If you have a bad back (lower back injuries etc) you most likely won’t be able to wear a chest rig for longer periods of time. Because it’s front heavy so it places a lot of strain on your lower back.
Chest rig and a battle belt together
As we mentioned earlier in the article, we recommend combining the two and using them together. Because both of them have their own strengths and weaknesses, so together they will give you the best experience.
Combining your battle belt setup whit a chest rig setup would be especially good (or even important) when your main weapon is a rifle because it would let you carry a lot more magazines and keep them on your chest for easy and quick access. Also, it would let you keep your sidearm set and your rifle set on different levels and grouped together.
The two should only really go together when you need more space (e.g., running out of room) so this way they can help one another instead of being overbearing combined with each other.
However, it might not be a good idea to combine them if you’re in a short-term tactical move or something like that because then it would just get too heavy.
The bottom line is that there isn’t a “better” option. It comes down to personal preferences and needs. Ultimately, it all depends on what types of missions are planned and how each individual prefers to wear their gear.
Written by John-Caspar
John-Caspar Jaanus is an Estonian military, tactical gear, and survival expert and author. He has an extensive military background and has been involved with the Estonian defense structure for over 10 years. Read bio!