The Badlands Upland Bird vest does it all. If you are not familiar with the Badlands company, they have been in the hunting industry for 20 years; they started with packs and have used their pack technology to make the Upland Bird Vest. While it only weighs in at 2 lbs 5 oz, it has a backbone that makes even the heaviest loads comfortable. A couple features that jump out are the number of pockets on this vest and the padding on the waist belt as well as on the back. The number of pockets give this vest a ton of room to store gear and accessories. The padding in the belt and back make it comfortable as well as breathable for those hot days. The vest is a one size fits all, but it comes with enough adjustability to fit a wide range of size people.
On the Badlands Vest there is a place for just about everything. First on the front there are two pockets for shells or any other items that need quick access. These front two pockets have magnetic closures as well as buckle closures. The only issue with these pockets is the size, they are about 7” x 5” and just under 2” deep, I would like to see larger pockets on the front. Hiding on the back of these pockets are two plastic loops that can be slid and positioned around the outside of the pockets to clip accessories to, see image below under fit section. Behind both the front pocket are elastic shell loops, each side can hold 5 shells. On the back of the vest there is storage, storage, and more storage. Starting on the sides, think just off your back hips, there are two zip closure pockets. Between these two hip packs is the main compartment on the back. It is a good size pocket and has a divider built into the pocket. The divide is convenient for stuff like gloves, food, anything you want to keep separate from other gear. Above the main pocket there is another pocket, it sits on the top of your back, that has zippers access on each side. Running up the sides of this pocket are two pieces of elastic cord and make up another unique feature, which I think come from the backpacking world, the elastic cord is great for hooking odds and ends that you want to have out. On the bottom of the vest are mesh pockets that are open but are nice for throwing loose items in on the go. Take a look at some of these pictures to see what I am talking about, lots of pockets to try and explain. Bottom line about the Badlands Upland Bird Vest in the pocket and storage category and there is a lot of it.
The Game bag on the Badlands Upland Bird Vest is large enough to fit a limit of birds and still have some space left over. What is clever in this game bag is a large removable pocket that is kept in place with two clips. This is a welded pocket that is waterproof to keep your stuff dry on those rainy days. Access is easy on this vest even though it is a side entry game bag verses a front and side entry. Cleaning this game bag is easy with the blood proof liner on the game bag.
The Badlands Bird Vest had a top notch hydration system. It has a hidden pocket for the water bladder and had a hidden hole for the straw to come out of the pocket over the shoulder. The pocket can hold up to a 105 oz bladder. On the front of the shoulder straps there are elastic bands to keep the straw from bouncing around in the field. The hydration system is great; however, the vest does not come with a hydration bladder, it has to be purchased separately.
The fit on this vest is very comfortable. There are obvious benefits and a lot of influence from the years Badlands has been building quality packs. The waist belt on this vest is comfortable and padded, but it has a backbone to support a loaded vest. Not only does the waist belt have an adjustable main buckle but it has additional straps to secure the front two pockets making it easier to find the right fit for you. Running the length of the back is a breathable liner to keep you cool on those hot days. Keeping the vest on your shoulders are very thin, low profile, ventilated shoulder straps and a sternum strap keeps these straps in place. The shoulders straps have plenty of room to expand out. With a heavy load, 20 lbs I was able to cinch this vest down and get the weight off my shoulders and on my hips. What this means for you is at the end of a long day in the field you won’t have shoulder fatigue from the vest pulling on you.
On the vest product reviews I like to clear the air and say I am a strap vest guy, I am bias to them over a traditional vest because I have used them and would choose them over a traditional vest most of the time.
For me, the Badlands Upland Bird Vest is a tear above the others. The way Badlands used their backpack technology to create a vest that can carry a heavy load and it works. You will feel the difference in the shoulders straps and the waist belt. If you are a guy like me who likes to take everything with him, even on those days when you don’t need much, go with this vest. The pockets are another reason this vest is appealing. It gives you plenty of pockets to keep gear separated and organized. With all of these features the vest is lightweight tipping the scale at 2 lbs 5 oz.