I’ve been a low-tech hunter for a long time. Much of my gear is cotton, I don’t have matching camo, and my hunting pack is a molle pack that I’ve snagged on the cheap. I’ve been going pretty deep on upland hunting these last few years and even took on a Labrador puppy that I have aspirations to turn into a bird dog. I’ve been a one-orange-vest guy since I’ve started hunting and would wear that vest whether my quarry is deer, rabbit, or birds.
I’m changing that this year after discovering the concept of a modern upland hunting vest that consolidates blaze orange for safety, an easy access game pouch for quarry, and bare necessities of a backpack for storage. While not a big name yet, I expect to see more of these in the field based on price point and quality. Not only did I get one TKLoop Upland Hunting Vest to review, but both of this year’s models were sent to me. I’ve been in the field with each, but yet not lucky enough to connect on game while introducing my new puppy to wild birds. It will happen soon, Bruce.
TKLoop Upland Strap Vest Models
To level set, there are two different models of the TKLoop upland strap vest. While their names are quite similar one is called the Adjustable Upland vest and the other is the Pheasant Upland vest. I’ve now had a chance to try both out in the field while actively hunting and can say that there are key differences in both builds and features. While they look quite similar and from the same manufacturer, the differences are significant.
Both the Adjustable Upland and the Pheasant upland are of decent quality, but feel entirely different. The Adjustable Upland model is lighter weight due to thinner material and lack of inserts between fabric in the straps, but feels less robust than the Pheasant Upland model. The Adjustable Upland model feels closer to a lightweight vest than a pack while the opposite can be said for the Pheasant upland model. The later has stiff inserts between fabric panels, notably the straps, giving structure to the vest. It feels closer to a pack, to me. The stitching is great on both, but the material of the Pheasant Upland feels more wear resistant to me. Admittedly, however, I don’t see myself wearing through the thinner ripstop material even in mean, thick bushes.
Overall, the Pheasant Upland strap vest is more refined and together. That said, I wouldn’t chose the Pheasant Upland vest solely judged on this area.
Winner: Pheasant Upland
Both the Adjustable Upland and Pheasant Upland vests have comparable basic features including an oversized and accessible game pouch, two waist pouches capable of holding a box of shells, and great adjustability to fit the strap vest to your body. Each vest has a large outer zipped compartment to keep medical kits, collapsible dog bowls, and anything else you’d bring on a hunt. Both also include two netted water-bottle holders. Hands-down, the Adjustable Upland vest had better water-bottle holders – it wasn’t even a contest. I found myself struggling to get my water bottle back into the Pheasant Upland vest due to the tight fit. With as many times as you water yourself and your dog, this is notable.
I especially like the net feature on both of these vests that clips into buckles to carry soft goods separate from the main pouch. Being able to shed layers as the morning heats up without bloodying up your gear is certainly a luxury.
The key here is that both vests have the same amount of features, though each are implemented differently.
Winner: Adjustable Upland for better water bottle holders
We talked about refinement and I believe its worth mentioning the level of refinement. The Pheasant model’s waist pouches are actually molle compatible waist pouches. There are webbing attachment points, sewed, keeping the pouches one place. The Adjustable vest has similar pouches but they will slide from side to middle while running. These pouches can be removed from the vest by sliding them off the waist buckle. The Adjustable vest also has no waist or lumbar support, whereas the Pheasant Upland is overbuilt. Overall, the Pheasant Upland is more thoughtful in the way the features are implemented. Mostly.
Winner: Pheasant Upland
Game Pouch Versatility
Beware: this is where I start becoming obtuse.
The Adjustable Upland vest has velcro at the top of the game bag area and opens wide. There’s webbing connecting the straps to the outer panel. Alternatively, the Pheasant Upland is accessible by zipper. The Pheasant Upland’s interior has a lining and is easily washable. The Adjustable Upland vest is simply fabric and shares the pouch with some mesh pockets for keeping thin items. The Adjustable Upland vest is more spartan than the Pheasant Upland vest, but I wouldn’t call it a bad thing.
The reason I wanted an upland strap vest was to carry my dog out from the field in case of emergency. If the Pheasant Upland had this feature, I’d call it an easy winner in favor of the Pheasant Upland. However, because this was my main feature of interest, I lean towards the Adjustable Upland vest.
Winner: Adjustable Upland
TKLoop Upland Hunting Vest Review: Final Thoughts
I truly believe both of these vests have a place in the field. On an exceptionally hot day, I’d reach for the Adjustable Upland vest due to it being more lightweight and breathable. It mostly has all the functions as Pheasant Upland, but lacks the refinement. The Pheasant Upland, being heavier, is hotter. If I had to pick an overall winner in this TKLoop Upland Hunting Vest review, I’d go with the Pheasant Upland. It certainly feels higher quality than the Adjustable Upland, but I’d absolutely use both.