Training dogs can be a rewarding experience, but that doesn’t make the training any less hard. Dog handler training vests make your work far more convenient and simple.
We want you to have the best, so we are going to list the features we think a good training vest needs and share our top recommended vests, including our favorite…
What You Should Look For In Your Vest
Training vests are an affordable and excellent way to make your work as a dog handler much more efficient. A training vest should be all about convenience and functionality.
It should be the one thing you don’t have to struggle with while training your dog. So, what makes a training vest worth purchasing and how do these factors translate into your work? Let’s dig into the specifics.
Lightweight and Comfortable
Lightweight vests are ideal because they are easier to move around in and are less likely to distract you while you work. Depending on the type of training you and your dog regularly perform, you may spend a lot of time out in the elements. You want a vest that won’t weigh you down, get waterlogged, and will quickly dry.
Lightweight training vests are commonly designed with polyester, cotton, and other lightweight and breathable materials. These materials dry well and do not typically hold water.
We recommend looking for vests that are constructed mostly from polyester. Polyester is more water-resistant and is less likely to stain or smell like other fabrics.
Furthermore, there are many vests with large breathable mesh panels to keep you more comfortable. Mesh is great because it allows airflow into the vest and will keep you cooler during those hot training sessions.
Mesh is also great for transferring water and sweat. If you choose a vest that includes mesh panels in the construction, try to purchase one that has durable stitching. Mesh may start to fall apart if you weigh your pockets down regularly with gear.
If your training takes place in the cold, there are a number of training vests with fleece-lined interiors. For a warmer feel, you can also look for vest insulated with down.
If you need to choose a heavier vest, you’ll still want to seek out one that is made from water-resistant materials or has been manufactured with some kind of water repellent. If your winters are milder, you can easily put a long-sleeved shirt or jacket under your lightweight vest.
Multiple Storage Compartments
Here’s the main reason why you as a dog handler should own a training vest. The pockets! How many is too many?
This really depends on what kind of training you and your dog routinely perform. Some vests, like our favorite, the Gihuo Summer Outdoor Travel Vest, have sixteen pockets total! What do you even put in that many pockets? Well, we’ve got a few suggestions.
You can carry dog treats, leashes, whistles, flashlights, dog toys, and your own personal necessities like your car keys and wallet. Many vests have a large pocket along the width of the back where you can pack a folded windbreaker or blanket. The possibilities are basically endless.
However, if you generally don’t carry or need a lot of training equipment, then you can certainly go for a vest with fewer pockets. Dog training vests often have varying sized pockets, so you can carry different sized toys, collapsible water bowls, and more.
Whether you’re wanting a vest with a ton of pockets or one with only a few, we recommend purchasing a vest with varying pocket sizes so you won’t be limited to only carrying certain sized items.
Again, the main purpose of owning a training vest is convenience and functionality. Having excess pockets enables you to carry anything you might possibly need without toting it around in a backpack or making multiple trips to your equipment stash.
Easy to Care For
As a dog handler, you put a lot of time and effort into training and caring for your dogs. All that work can really put some added stress on your clothing.
A training vest should be easy to maintain, especially if it’s something you’ll be using frequently. First off, hopefully, you have chosen a vest that is durably constructed.
Remember, polyester and nylon are heavy durable fabrics and the stitching should always be neat and tight. The more durable your vest is, the less time you will need to take maintaining it.
Either way, you’ll also want to see if the vest is easy to clean. Most vests can be machine washed, though you may want to skip the tumble drying depending on the material and fabric.
If your vest is mostly mesh, you should hand-wash it. You may also find vests that manufacturers advertise as stain-resistant, and that’s a great added feature.
If you invest in a lightweight vest, you shouldn’t need to constantly wash it. The more breathable the material, the less likely it will hold on to smells, so a good hand-washing should keep it clean.
You can also wash your vest in the washing machine on a delicate cycle, though we recommend taking the extra step of placing it in a garment bag, especially if your washing machine has an agitator.
A Video Example
To give you an example, we want to share a training video of a dog handler and his partner teaching attack commands to a Belgian Malinois.
In the video, you’ll see the handler wearing a slim fit dog handler training vest. These vests can be form-fitted with a few deep pockets, like the one seen in this video, or loose-fitting with multiple pockets and mesh panels. It really all comes down to the type of training you do and your preference.
Our Picks for the Best Dog Handler Training Vests
The Gihuo Summer Outdoor Travel Vest is our favorite because it’s lightweight, affordable, comfortable, and available in fourteen different colors. This vest comes in five sizes, so you can pick the fit that works best for you. It’s made of cotton, polyester, and nylon for a soft, water-resistant, and durable product.
The vest has a total of sixteen pockets in varying sizes and with multiple functions. You’ll have enough storage space to carry dog treats, toys, training tools, and your personal items like keys, wallet, and cellphone.
It is water-resistant so it can handle those drizzly training days and quickly dry without issue. This vest includes so many great options, you might decide to purchase more than one. With so many colors, you might as well!
- Affordably priced
- Lightweight design
- Made from cotton, polyester, and nylon for comfort and durability
- It has sixteen pockets in total
- The vest can be bought in fourteen different colors and several style designs, so you can choose the one that meets your personal preference and training style
- Dries quickly
- Vest comes in five different sizes
- Buyers have used this vest for dog training, hunting, fishing, and outdoor hiking
- Great versatility and functionality
- Is machine washable
- Zipper and velcro hardware
- Should not be tumble dried
- The biggest complaint buyers had was that the sizing seems to be different from what is advertised or recommended by the manufacturers
The Hurtta Trainer’s Vest is an awesome product for dog handlers who want to take their training to a higher level. This trainer’s vest is designed specifically for dog handlers and based on all the perks, we can see how their design meets those needs.
The fabric repels water, is breathable, and durable. It’s lined with mesh to keep you cool and release moisture. It has a thin waterproof hood that hides easily inside the collar. It has an adjustable waistband and collar, so you can make the vest fit you comfortably.
There are four zipper pockets and one large pocket across the back to give you space to store large items, like toys. One of the four zipper pockets includes a detachable inner pocket that you can remove and wash, and is a great place to hide those slobbery tennis balls.
- Four zipper pockets and one large pocket along the width of the back to store big items
- One of the zipper pockets features a detachable washable liner
- Available in seven sizes
- Made with water-repellent material
- Fabric is breathable and durable
- Adjustable waistband and collar
- Mesh lining for added comfort and moisture transfer
- Thin waterproof hood that can be hidden inside the collar
- Designed specifically for dog handlers
- Designed for both indoor and outdoor activities
- Two large open pockets at the bottom of the vest
- Rings and clips on the front of the vest for you to attach needed accessories
- May be too expensive for some buyers
The Rothco Recon Vest is made primarily of mesh with the rest of the vest constructed of nylon. The vest is manufacturer tested for durability, so it can survive even the toughest training.
It has four small pockets to hold your small personal items, such as car keys. It also includes one medium-sized pocket for slightly larger items, like large cellphones, wallets, or pens.
It has two flat pockets, two slash pockets, two inner pockets, and one large back pocket that can hold bigger items, like a book, or thin rolled-up jacket.
There are two small D-rings for clipping accessories, like a flashlight. It’s also fashionable, so you’ll look cool and stylish with your dog by your side.
- Constructed primarily from mesh for maximum breathability and moisture-wicking
- Designed and tested with the roughest users in mind
- Two small D-rings for attaching lightweight accessories
- Stylish design
- Stain-resistant and easy to clean
- Large back pocket for storing large dog toys, a light jacket, or blanket.
- Constructed with four small pockets to hold smaller items
- Includes one medium-sized pocket, two flat pockets, two slash pockets, two inner pockets, and one large pocket
- Available in six sizes
- The most common complaint shared by buyers was that the zippers are easy to break
The H2H Active Work Mesh Vest is constructed almost entirely out of mesh and is available in a variety of colors. It’s inexpensive and is great for outdoor activities, including dog training.
It’s designed with cotton and polyester, so it is durable and lightweight. It’s available in six different sizes and has six multiple zipper and velcro compartments.
This vest is designed to look cool, and keep you extremely comfortable while working with your dog outdoors. It’s well ventilated and is easy to put on and off with a single zip-up closure. Overall, it’s practical, comfortable, and affordable.
- Priced inexpensively
- Constructed almost entirely of mesh
- Material and moisture-wicking and well ventilated
- Designed with cotton and polyester fabric for comfort and durability
- Available in six sizes
- Constructed with multiple zipper and velcro compartments so you’ll have plenty of room to hold your equipment and necessities
- Available in multiple color options
- Durable construction
- The most common complaint by buyers was that the sizing is too small. The manufacturers and buyers both recommend going up one or two sizes when purchasing.
- Another complaint, though not as common, was that the colors were not as advertised
- Manufacturer encourages hand-washing only
We are going to end our list with another inexpensive but amazingly functional product. The Kedera Outdoor Vest Jacket is constructed to be anti-pilling, anti-wrinkle, windproof, and quick drying. It is designed with multiple pockets and storage compartments for your dog training tools.
The vest is made with a cotton and polyester blend so it’s soft, breathable, and tough. There are large mesh panels to keep your outdoor activities comfortable and cool. It’s available in three colors and five different size options. It’s a great product for those who want all the needed features of an expensive training vest without breaking the bank.
- Anti-pilling, anti-wrinkle, windproof, and quick drying
- Lightweight material
- Soft and breathable
- Constructed with a cotton and polyester blend for softness and durability
- Inexpensively priced
- Five size options
- Three different colors
- Loose comfortable fit
- Large mesh panels for added ventilation
- Four large zipper pockets, two inside and two outside pockets, and two medium zipper pockets
- Velcro and zipper hardware
- Buyers reported that the vest was able to survive and handle scratching and pawings from dogs
- Some buyers complained that the vest had a snug fit
- A few buyers complained that the velcro and zipper hardware did not last
That’s a Wrap!
Working as a dog handler isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean that your training equipment can’t be. Dog handler training vests make your job as a dog handler more convenient and simple by providing you with plenty of storage space for your training tools in an easy to wear package. Training vests should be lightweight and comfortable.
We highly recommend purchasing a vest with mesh panels because they allow moisture to transfer and keep you cool in the heat. Though the number of necessary pockets depends on the type of training you and your dog perform and the kind of equipment you regularly use, training vests should include at least a few pockets in varying sizes.
Waterproof or water-resistant materials are a great feature, and many lightweight vests can be cleaned easily either through simple spot cleaning or machine washing.
If you live in a colder environment, you can easily put on a thick long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt under your vest. If you’d prefer to own a vest that can keep you warm, you should search for vests made with down or fleece interior liners.
The purpose of a training vest is to be as functional as possible. Style is a great added perk, but focus your search on functionality and versatility.
We know that all dog handlers have their own personal approach to training. It may be that none of our recommended vests match the type of training you perform or the equipment you prefer to carry.
That’s okay! We think our favorite, the Gihuo Summer Outdoor Travel Vest, and the other vests on our list, are a great place to at least get you started on your search.
We know that if you keep our article and our recommended must-have features in mind, you’ll make the right choice.