The Hide Vest is a chest-covering armor type that can be crafted as a default blueprint by all players. The current iteration can be traced back to the implementation of Leather as a component as early as August 2015.
The most commonly associated item set when used in comparison for the hide armor set is burlap, requiring roughly the same amount of Cloth as hide requires leather. In the case of the chest slot, it actually takes more cloth to craft the Burlap Shirt as it would leather to craft the hide vest. In the apples, to oranges, defensive statistical comparison, hide vests surpass their counterpart in projectile, melee, bite, and radiation protection, but the burlap shirts boast higher cold resistance.
While in an ideal world there are plenty of resources for all, but on a small map during a fresh wipe day, you make gear from what is available. Finding cloth, in the beginning, can be a rare resource, and being able to fashion gear from leather instead might just leave you with enough materials to craft things like Sleeping Bags.