As spring warmed up into summer, I found myself in need of a concealment garment that was cool enough to get me through the worst of the summer heat while providing adequate concealment for a large auto pistol and plenty of pockets for extra mags and gear. Partly because I am a photographer, I had long admired the Domke Photog vests. The Domke vests are not the least expensive vests on the market at about $90, but in looking through the sporting goods catalogs, most of the vests I found were too short or had too much netting for the mission I had in mind.
The Photog vest is a substantial garment that is constructed with a great deal of thought. It has no less than 18 pockets, a couple of which are hidden or nearly hidden. All pockets have either zippers or double velcro closures. The shoulders of the vest are padded providing a degree of comfort when carrying things using shoulder straps like rifles, cameras, and range bags. The yoke—the area of the deltoid muscles, just below the shoulder pads—is cotton mesh as is the back down to the middle of the back. The small of the back is solid fabric allowing for good concealment for holsters and mag carriers. The insides of the pockets are lined with nylon, giving them a degree of water resistance although they are not waterproof. The entire back of the vest below the mesh is a large pouch with snap closures which can be opened for quicker access. The vest closes with either a single snap or a double-pull zipper which runs from about the sternum to the bottom of the vest.
The vest performs pretty much as I had hoped. I’m fortunate in the fact that my shoulders are still bigger than my middle, so the vest hangs well and allows a lot of air to circulate between the vest and the body to provide cooling. I walk my German Shepherd every evening regardless of how muggy it gets and I have had some good comfort tests. The vest is warmer than wearing nothing at all over your shirt. The areas where I notice the warmth are the shoulders and, to a lesser degree, on my chest and stomach. The mesh does provide cooling but it is also an extra layer of fabric even though the holes are about 3/16″. After my walk with pooch this evening, the vest was wet around the collar and on the yoke going down to the zipper, but it was an extremely muggy night.
I have shot two IDPA-style matches in the vest since I got it. It performs well in that setting. It gets out of the way well for the draw and the multitude of pockets are handy for carrying extra mags and for dropping mags into during tactical reloads.
If I were to point out negatives, they would be only negatives that are also positives. Owing to its strong, double-layer construction throughout, the vest is a bit heavy. It is also longer than the average hunting vest and this might bother some who like the look of the shorter western-styled vests. At the same time, it’s long enough to conceal the largest of handguns, so this negative is a positive for a lot of folks. There are so many pockets that you can kind of lose things unless you remember precisely where a particular item is. The price is also a bit high, but this vest is more like a field jacket without sleeves, and is a much more complex construction than a sport coat which would bring twice the price.
Since I bought mine, I have been noticing the vests everywhere. I ran into one of my pistol gurus at a gun show and he was wearing one. At the last IDPA match, I saw no less than four. I guess the message here is that the Domke Photog works for IDPA match attire and general CCW applications. Two thumbs up.