Weighted vests are the perfect way to intensify your workout. Useful for both cardio and weight workouts, they can help you take your training to new heights. We wrote this review to help you find the best weighted vest for your particular needs. We’ll cover the different styles, what you need to consider before buying one, and do a deep dive into our favorite styles.
Why Buy a Weighted Vest
- Add extra weight to any workout. Wearing a vest adds more weight to your overall body mass, adding an additional load to your musculoskeletal system and triggering several reactions within the body as you move.
- Improve bone mass. Your skeletal system is the first to feel the effects of a weight vest. Even before moving, your body’s structural system is engaged by the stress of the additional vest weight. This stress triggers the generation of new bone tissue and can increase bone density as well.
- Build stronger muscles. During movement, your muscles exert force to move through rhythmic contractions and extensions. The more weight your body tries to move and support, the more your muscle fibers and filaments are torn down. This signals the body to create more filaments and promotes muscle growth.
- Boost metabolism. A vest can also promote weight loss since exercising with more weight on your frame expends extra energy and calories. Simple physics: the more mass you have, the slower your acceleration is. This can encourage you to push or work harder during your workouts to maintain performance.
- Improve the heart and lungs. The respiratory system is also impacted by the addition of a weight vest in two ways. First, having the vest on the torso affects the majority of your inhalation and exhalation muscles. Second, more weight increases the VO2 max gradually for better oxygen processing.
Types of Weighted Vests
Short vests are just that: short. They cover only your chest and offer a lot more freedom to move around than most vests. If you want to run or plan on moving a lot during your workouts, short vests are a great choice. They also help make bodyweight workouts more challenging.
With all of the extra padding, you’ll feel like a pro going into the gym wearing a heavy-duty vest. These vests provide 20 to 40 pounds of resistance and are commonly used for weight training. Note: these aren’t to be worn for long periods of time. If you plan on wearing a vest for significant chunks of time, you’re better off with a lighter vest for more mobility.
Say goodbye to your slouching days! These vests restrict upper body movement in the torso and chest areas to maintain an upright position at all times. Training your body to default to this posture is a terrific way to burn calories and look poised. Walking vests are a great choice if you’re looking for something to wear under your clothing throughout the workday.
If you’re looking for something more fitting and slimming, choose one of these strappy vests. Shaped like an “X” across the chest, this design distributes the weight evenly across the torso while still feeling lightweight and breathable. If you want to wear your vest for longer periods of time, these are another great choice.
Top Weighted Vest Brands
A number of quality fitness companies have a great selection of differently weighted vests. Here are some of the top options to keep an eye on:
Founded in 1982, CAP Barbell has made a name for itself as a top supplier of weightlifting and gym equipment. Specializing in heavy-duty gear like power racks, the company’s line of weighted vests includes a number of high-quality options like its heavy-weighted and women’s line.
TNT Pro Series
TNT Pro Series is a unique fitness company bent on increasing the body’s metabolism to burn calories more effectively. Their neoprene vests like the Iron weighted vest trap body heat to increase the internal temperature and metabolism.
A company focused on weighted vests, Mir Vest has an extensive line of vests for different activities or general use. Many of their adjustable options like the Mir Air Flow Vest are small and breathable for use outside of the gym.
A maker of high-end, expensive gear, Hyperwear offers many thin options that shed the bulk of a typically weighted vest. Their Hyper Vest Elite and Pro vests are prime examples of the slender, thin profile their design style embodies.
Weighted Vest Pricing
- $100 and under: The budget range of weighted vests. Most options in this range offer minimal adjustability and often come in a single weight alone.
- $100-$200: Most weighted vests sit comfortably in this range. Varying in price by size, you will find more adjustable and breathable options here.
- $200 and over: Specialized, highly-adjustable, breathable vests tend to come with a price tag in this range. You can expect the use of high-quality, durable materials to be common.
Key Features to Look For
There are several vest materials you will come across when shopping for a weight vest. The choice of material will influence the comfort and mobility of the vest. Traditional weight vests use neoprene and nylon that aren’t the most breathable and can lead to overheating, especially if you plan on wearing your vest for extended periods of time.
All of the added weight can definitely take a toll if you want to stay dry during a workout. To avoid becoming a mess, look for a vest with good sweat management. Newer, more expensive vests tend to make use of chemically-treated wicking fabrics that offer better breathability. Some can even help repel moisture and tough odors during heavy workouts.
Weight vests should adjust in both weight and size. Higher-grade options usually offer both adjustments. Vests that adjust the weight come with little pockets that can be filled with extra weight. Some vests also come with side lacing to change the size for multiple people and varying body types. Just tighten up the laces for smaller frames and loosen them for larger frames; it’s that simple.
Pockets offer a place to keep the phone, keys, and wallet secure so they won’t bounce around as you exercise. This saves you the hassle of finding a secure and reliable spot or locker. Water bottle holders are another big storage feature. Some vests hold a water bottle for easy hydration during low-to-moderate workouts (i.e. jogging). For higher-intensity workouts, a bottle holder won’t do you as much good since the bottle is likely to come loose or pop out.
Other Considerations When Buying a Weighted Vest
- Intended use: How are you planning on using a weight vest? The answer to this question will help you narrow down your search quickly and will help you determine the most important features you should consider. Different vest types are best for certain uses, so look around and do your homework before making the final choice.
- Exercise frequency: If you’re buying a vest for heavy usage, you might want to consider spending more upfront for a quality vest with a decent warranty to avoid headaches down the road. If the manufacturer stands behind their vest and offers a reasonable warranty, that’s usually a good sign it’ll survive heavy abuse. Otherwise, if it’s a “limited” warranty, you should keep looking.
- Safety: Some vests come with reflective tape to make you easy to spot at night. Cars will see the outline of the vest even in low-light or dark settings. If you plan on using a vest in the evening outdoors, this is a must-have feature.
- Warranty details: Make sure you familiarize yourself with the warranty to know what is and isn’t covered if something should happen to the vest. Read the fine print before spending any money since warranties vary depending on where you live and/or purchase the product (i.e. online or in a store).
Best Weighted Vest Reviews & Recommendations
Best Weighted Vest Overall/for Beginners: Cross101 Adjustable Weighted Vest[amazon box=”B00LH7Z942″]
A great vest for beginners to slowly build resistance, this universal-size vest comes in a variety of options ranging from 20 to 120 pounds. The adjustable weight options make this vest versatile for many types of exercise and training formats.
The vest offers a lot of external sleeves and pocket accommodations to distribute the weight evenly between the front and back. The two Velcro straps help to secure the vest to the core and minimize movement during exercise.
The vest’s durability keeps it on the more expensive side of weight vests. If you’re a runner, you may not find this to be the most comfortable vest as well.
Best Weighted Vest for Runners: Harbinger Weight Vest[amazon box=”B07FDS35HM”]
This vest is great for runners and hikers due to its contour-hugging design and shoulder padding that provides comfort where you need it most on an adventure. The shell-like design secures the weights inside of the vest and closes to the body. You can purchase this vest in 10-, 20-, and 40-pound options.
The materials of the vest allow the surface to breathe, making it a great option to manage your sweat during intense workouts. The shell-like design also adds an additional bonus: this vest is washable, which can be a luxury after a few hard workouts.
The comfort of this vest during an exercise is great, but the weights are filled with sand. A heavy hit to the vest or weights themselves may cause some sand leakage. Other high-impact exercises like CrossFit or heavy weightlifting may not require a sand-weighted vest.
Best Weighted Vest for Women: Empower Weighted Vest[amazon box=”B00O50TR7S”]
This vest is great for women and runners who need something that won’t slow or restrict their movements. Coming in at the lighter end of vests, this one offers weights between four and eight pounds for quick activities. The design features a light X-shape that covers less of the torso and is specifically limited to eight pounds to accommodate a woman’s frame.
The vest comes complete with clips for security and additional pockets for cell phones and other small items. The smaller design does mean accessory and weight storage is more compact, so be ready for a snug, tight-fitting feel the more you load the vest up with weights or other small items.
Because the small vest size means less bulk is in your way when doing aerobics or squats, you may find it lacking in weight resistance. If you’re a woman looking to train for a specific sport or activity, you may want to consider a heavier vest.
Best Weighted Vest for CrossFit: Box Weighted Vest[amazon box=”B00B2A7HFI”]
When you need versatility, you can’t go wrong with this choice. This vest offers eight weight options ranging between 20 and 100 pounds. Not only do you have more weight options, but you can also decide whether you want a long- or short-fitting vest that can adjust at the shoulders as well.
The short-fitting option allows you to perform waist-bending exercises with more ease and less bulk. The vest is easy to use and features two-pound adjustable metal weights for more precise weight adjustments as you increase or decrease the bulk.
The shoulder weight versatility is most appropriate for CrossFit trainers, so if you are just starting out in weight vest training, you may be less than impressed with the lack of bells and whistles for the price point. The look of the product is also very basic and doesn’t offer a lot of design variation.
Best Weighted Vest for Outdoor Training: V-Force Weight Vest[amazon box=”B00656YE00″]
One of the best for outdoor use, this vest is forged out of all military-grade materials and is fitted with adjustable cast iron weights. The rugged design offers several weight options between 25 and 150 pounds and sports a short and long vest option.
It’s great for agility training in muddy, outdoor conditions where you are most likely to get messy. It features an adjustable belt system that makes changing the fit easy anytime and anywhere. The most popular colors are black and camouflage.
The material of the vest makes it easy to wipe clean but limits the visual options like the color choice. You also may not like the bulk of this vest if you’re starting a walking routine or other lighter activity.
Best Weighted Vest for the Money: CAP Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest[amazon box=”B017O7Q4UG”]
This vest is a good option to consider if you aren’t looking for a specific, specialized weighted vest. While it is advertised for weightlifting, its streamlined design and easy-to-use, adjustable weights make it great for any number of physical activities.
The strength of this vest comes from its design that’s less bulky compared to other weighted vests. The neoprene exterior and padding don’t feel as tight around the torso as vests with thicker padding/other materials. The fit of the vest runs on the larger side, making it great if you have a broader upper body or want to avoid a tight feel.
The roomy nature of the vest isn’t to everyone’s liking. The Velcro straps don’t offer a snug fit, meaning the vest may shift during certain lifts and exercises. The weights can also be difficult to place and secure in the vest. If you want something that is quick and easy to adjust weightwise, this isn’t the best choice.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Weighted Vest
- Some vests can be quite stiff out-of-the-box. If you end up with a stiff vest, make sure to give it some time to break in. Two or three weeks is usually enough time. The last thing you want to do is panic and return it. Be patient.
- Adjusting the size of your vest is important. For higher-intensity workouts like HIIT or plyometrics, make sure the vest is snug around your shoulders to prevent slipping. Otherwise, it sucks having to readjust your vest every few seconds mid-workout.
- If you sweat a lot, make sure your vest can handle being machine-washed to avoid having to hose it down after each use. There are some vests that are fit for the dryer, but in most cases, you should expect to dry it naturally.
- To keep your vest in good shape, we recommend keeping it off of the floor and away from children and pets. Use a damp cloth to clean it up for lighter messes to avoid permanent stains or markings.
Q: How much weight do I need?
A: Many fitness enthusiasts make the mistake of going “too heavy, too fast.” If you overload your system too quickly, you increase the risk of injury and setbacks like shin splints, muscle strains, etc. Start with a vest that is around 5% of your bodyweight and progresses your way up to 10% if your training requires more load.
Q: How frequently should I use my vest?
A: Many people see noticeable improvements in performance and health when they use a weighted vest three times a week for 30 to 60 minutes.
Q: When should I not use a weighted vest?
A: Your health status, fitness level, and exercise activity will all determine the type of vest you need. Individuals with spinal issues like degenerative disc disease, stenosis, bulging discs, or respiratory conditions should consult their physicians before doing an exercise with a weighted vest.
Q: Do ankle and wrist weights offer the same benefits as a weighted vest?
A: Overall, no. Ankle and wrist weights can help with bone density and muscle growth in your arms and legs, but they put you at a higher risk for shoulder, hip, and knee injuries since the weight isn’t centered over your mass. Additionally, your spine and cardiovascular system aren’t challenged as much as with a vest.
Weighted vests are one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment you can buy. Whether you want to burn some extra calories throughout the work day or take your training to new heights, these are a great addition to your day-to-day workout routine.
Our top recommendation for beginners is the Cross101 Adjustable Weighted Vest because it can be adjusted and used in a number of different ways.
Our top recommendation for beginners is the CAP Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest because it’s durable and simple to use.
Now it’s your turn. Which vest are you currently using or considering buying and why? Let us know in the comments below!