As we revisited this article for 2021, we were pleased to see that our top ten chart stood up to scrutiny.
However, we still tinkered, and decided to add the highly-rated North Gym Fury 3D adjustable vest to the list to replace an older vest.
When you are training hard for strength, muscle, speed and endurance, at some point you are destined to reach a plateau.
Your body will catch up, and become stronger and faster to a point that your routine no longer presents itself as a challenge. Thankfully, strategies exist to shave a few minutes off your marathon PB, kickstart your muscle growth, or increase your stamina.
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That’s where Fitness Verve comes in! Today we are going to reveal our top ten favorite weighted vests on the market for all kinds of exercise, allowing you to tap into all sorts of new gains.
We’ll highlight the pros and cons of each vest, then discuss what a weighted vest can offer and how to choose the right one for you.
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, XL
Weights: 15lb, 20lbs, 25lbs
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Low-profile construction, patented weight pocket design, adjustable elastic side cords, reflective sections
Kicking off this list is the high-end Hyper Vest Elite – one of the most versatile and comfortable weighted vests around, while also being one of the most stylish!
This stealthy weighted vest is an upgrade of the Pro version (see below), using the advanced Cordura fabric and reflective strips that make it perfect for running. It features a series of pockets on the front and back, with small removable metal weights providing the load.
This system ensures you can precisely adjust the load to fit your level, while there is no shifting or bouncing of the weight as you exercise. The adjustable side cords make it a cinch to find a snug fit. It’s not a cheap vest, but it’s well worth the investment – as we conclude in the full Hyper Vest Elite review.
Weights: 21lbs (Adjustable)
Material: Ballistic nylon laminate, Soft knitted nylon laminate
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Low-profile design, superior fit, soft Flex-metal weights, unrestricted range of movement, posture-enhancing build, highly durable fabrics
While it may not feature the advanced material or reflective strips of its Elite sibling, the Hyper Vest Pro remains one of the best weighted vests on the market.
This is the original vest on which the Elite was based, so it uses the same proprietary weight system. This allows for the same precise adjustments to the load and weight placement to fit your level. The Pro features a snugly-fitting stretchy fabric construction with moisture-wicking properties, while the open sides add great ventilation.
The front zip makes it easy to get on and off. With a low profile and no bounce, this high-end vest is ideal for running. The freedom of movement is also great for activities such as calisthenics and CrossFit.
Weights: 14lbs to 20lbs
Material: Oxford 600D Nylon
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Available in multiple colors, water-resistant PVC finish, two side strap options, reinforced seams, pair of 3D body-shaped weight plates, Velcro areas for patches, includes three rubber patches
This popular option from North Gym is similar in style and features to the highly-rated Bear KompleX vest below, although with one significant difference. This one comes with weight plates included in the price.
You can choose either 14lbs or 20lbs, which are spread over two body-fitting curved plates, providing extra comfort, regardless of your shape. Other comfort-enhancing features include two different side strap sizes (both included) and padded shoulders.
The vest is very strong, made with an Oxford 600D nylon and reinforced seams, while a water-resistance PVC coating gives it even more protection. Even though it’s higher in price than some vests, it’s a great buy.
Weights: Sold separately
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Available in multiple colors, takes multiple weight plates, steel alloy quick-release buckles, water-resistant coating, adjustable elasticated side straps, adjustable padded shoulder straps
This popular vest from CrossFit-focused brand Bear KompleX is a breed of weighted vest that requires you to supply your own weight. While it may be a little inconvenient for some, for others it’s the ideal opportunity to tailor the vest to your own activity and ability.
It can hold a variety of weight plates, including any Rogue, SAPI or RX+ plates. Using slim plates, combined with the compact dimensions, means this vest is low-profile and offers great range of motion.
The build quality is excellent – made in the USA, this vest is crafted from military-grade 1000D Cordura nylon, with a water-resistant coating. It’s well padded and easily adjustable in the shoulders and waist. It’s therefore as comfortable as it is tough!
Another popular offering from Mir is this traditional flak jacket-style vest with an air flow design, which lends itself to a more pleasant experience when the temperatures rise.
Due to the breathable build and fully-adjustable straps, it’s simple to find a comfortable fit. When in use, the short-stack design and the narrow shoulder straps allow for a wide range of motion – even if the vest is a little bulky.
You can buy this vest with weights from a modest 20lbs right up to a hefty 60lbs, while the load itself can be adjusted thanks to the use of individually-pocketed solid metal bars. The vest is also machine washable, which is a bonus after a particularly sweaty session!
Weights: 20lbs (Adjustable)
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Multiple colors available, compact design, narrow padded shoulders, cleanable lining, patented belt clamp system, kipping flap, lifetime warranty
Whatever your activity – CrossFit, calisthenics, running or weightlifting – having a shorter vest can be beneficial to your range of motion. This compact vest from Box is a smart choice if short vests appeal!
It is produced in America to high standards, using a heavy-duty 1000D Cordura nylon for great durability. This vest features clamp-style belts around the side, allowing you to find the perfect fit, while inside the vest is a sweat-resistant inner lining.
As for the weight, it features 20lbs of removable cast-iron blocks that can be adjusted accordingly. This lighter weight may not appeal to more advanced athletes, but this will be enough for many others. A bonus is that there are multiple color choices to opt for, to fit your style.
Sizes: Small to Large
Weights: 5lbs or 8lbs
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Designed specifically for women, form-fitting cut, open side panels for ventilation, front zipper, washable
The Hyper Vest Fit is another Hyperwear vest to grace our list, although this one is designed by women exclusively for women.
It’s ideal for women of all ages and abilities, with three sizes to choose from and two weight options – 5lbs and 8lbs. These weights may be a little too subtle for more advanced users, but these loads are ideal for helping build bone density while walking or doing chores. It also adds a little challenge while you perform cardio workouts.
The vest is made from a strong and washable Cordura nylon, which sits snugly on the body with a comfortable satin inner lining. With multiple pockets for plastic steel shot, the Fit vest is very low profile, so you can wear it pretty much anywhere!
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Short design, narrow padded shoulders, removable iron-ore bags, adjustable belt, ample padding, rear reflective strip
This vest from CAP Barbell is another in the short and compact category, making it a smart choice if range of motion is important to performing well in your activity. From burpees to pull ups, the abbreviated design and narrow shoulders give you unrestricted movement.
While not as beastly as some of CAP Barbell’s bigger vests, the 20lb weight capacity will suit many users wanting to add a bit of extra challenge to their workouts. As this load comes in the form of 2.5lb iron ore-filled bags, you can adjust the total weight to meet your needs.
This affordable vest isn’t as high-quality in its build when compared to some of the leaders, yet it feels pretty resilient and fits quite well, with padded shoulders and an adjustable belt.
Weights: 4lbs to 25lbs
Storage Pocket: Yes
Features: Unisex design, evenly-distributed weight, iron pellet-filled, adjustable double chest straps, rear mesh storage pocket, reflective strips
As this list has demonstrated, weighted vests come in all shapes, sizes and weights. The Aduro sport is on the lighter side of the spectrum, with a minimalist design that is perfect for beginners and runners in particular.
This comfortable backpack-style vest is easy to put on and feels comfortable when in use. The weight comes in the form of iron pellets sown into the vest, with the load distributed pretty comfortably on the shoulders and back.
It comes in a variety of weights, but – with 25lbs the maximum – it’s not ideal for more advanced users. Still, there are plenty of other benefits to this vest, as it features a handy mesh storage pocket and is hand-washable.
Weights: 12lbs to 60lbs
Storage Pocket: Yes
Features: Removable sandbags, midriff Velcro strap, water bottle holder, device storage, optional shoulder pads
The RUNFast/Max Pro vest is another very popular choice for athletes of all abilities, regardless of your activity. It comes in weights of between 12lbs and 60lbs, with tightly-packed sandbags used for the load.
These bags can be individually removed, allowing you to adjust the overall weight to suit your level. It’s not as low-profile as some of the higher-end picks, yet the affordable price makes up for this.
It’s a comfortable vest too, providing a good fit for most body shapes – however, be sure to buy it with the shoulder pads to avoid discomfort with higher loads. Finally, the storage pocket is a handy feature for runners, allowing you to take your phone or keys along for the ride.
At Fitness Verve, we know that a weighted vest for running may not be the best for CrossFit. This is why we’ve created specific categories to help you browse smarter. You can click the titles to take you to the relevant page.
Running is one of those activities that is very limited when it comes to implementing new challenges. Sure, you can run uphill, but that only gets you so far in terms of increased resistance.
When you put on a weighted vest, you don’t have to chase crazy inclines to increase the challenge – the added weight takes care of that.
Weighted vests suitable for running are generally lighter than those meant for building muscle, while they are also fairly low profile compared to some of the other designs out there.
CrossFit is a dynamic regime that combines multiple disciplines, from compound lifts to calisthenics to HIIT and more. This diversity makes CrossFit the perfect environment for using weighted vests.
Adding resistance can be a key part of some WODs, while you can also use vests to focus on improving specific movements – pullups for example.
A good weighted vest for CrossFit will usually be heavier than one meant for running. It doesn’t matter if it’s bulkier, although something that offers a good range of motion in the arms is essential.
Calisthenics is the bodyweight approach to fitness and – truth be told – can be a work of art. However, when you master bodyweight exercises such as pushups, pullups, squats and their variations, adding weight is the sensible option to keep the challenge fresh.
The vests most suitable for these kinds of activities should allow for unimpeded movement and a great range of motion in both the upper and lower body.
Weight progressions are an important aspect, and we usually recommend heavier vests that are adjustable – allowing you to increase the weight as you progress.
Many weighted vests are marketed as unisex, which can be great for giving all genders a good choice. However, while most work well for men, not all of them are suitable for women.
Because of the differences in the shape of the female body, some manufacturers have created ergonomic weighted vests specifically for women.
These all range in size, design and weight, but all of them generally offer better levels of comfort compared to a unisex model. For women, these vests are well worth checking out in addition to the other categories we have highlighted.
As we’ve established, there’s no one single vest appropriate for everyone. With this in mind, here are a few considerations to make before jumping into a purchase.
Not all weighted vests are created equally. Take a gander at our top ten list, which gives a cross-section of the current market. You will notice that the vests come in different shapes, sizes and forms. There is a good reason for this.
Every activity comes with its own set of requirements, weights, materials and so on. That means that figuring out the main use for the vest is the first thing you should do.
For example, if you are using your vest solely for distance running, then you can afford to have a lighter load with less weight adjustability than something you would buy for a calisthenics workout.
Buying for calisthenics or CrossFit, you may want something with a heavier load – yet, one you can adjust. This allows you to buy heavy, then work your way up to a target weight.
With these activities, a vest with a good range of motion is crucial – with so much pushing, pulling, jumping and bending, you will want a vest with narrow shoulder straps, a shorter overall length, and something not too bulky.
Ultimately, the actual weight is the reason you buy a weighted vest – they aren’t a fashion accessory after all!
The weight you choose is one of the most important aspects. End up with something too heavy and you won’t be able to use it effectively, while something too light will render it pretty useless.
The rule of thumb is to go for a vest that offers around 10% or so of your bodyweight. So, if you weigh around 200lbs, a vest of around 20lbs to 25lbs is a good place to start.
We say ‘start’, because chances are – if you use the vest correctly – you will eventually grow stronger and begin to crave a heavier weight.
So, is it worth buying something which is heavier than you can currently deal with? The answer is yes – providing you can adjust the weight (see next section).
There are two common weighted vest variations out there – one where you can adjust the weight, and the other where the weight is fixed.
Adjustable vests are the most useful, although they are also more expensive. The idea is that you can add or remove the weights to suit your level and workout routine.
Depending on the brand, the material providing the weight will differ. However, you will usually find either sandbags or metal bars, ranging from anywhere between 0.5lbs to around 2.5lbs.
These sit in their own individual pockets and can be removed as you require. This means that buying a 60lb vest can still offer you a workout of around 10lbs, providing you remove 50lbs of weight.
When removing the weight, make sure you remove it evenly, so your vest is as balanced as it can be in order to avoid injury or discomfort.
Then we come to vests with a fixed weight. As the name suggests, you cannot change the load of these vests – if you buy a 25lb vest, you will have to train with a 25lb vest.
On average, these come with lighter weights and are designed more for beginners and those on a budget. These are also quite popular among runners due to their lower weights and incredibly simple nature. Just throw it on and go – no adjusting, no bulk, no fuss.
These vests are filled with materials such as sand or iron pellets, while the outer material is usually neoprene or similar.
While people enjoy the simplicity and affordability of these vests, buying a fixed weight vest just because it is cheap may be false economy. If you are training hard, you will soon outgrow the fixed weight, rendering the vest pointless.
Consider which vest is best for you. If you are a runner, have a more casual approach to fitness, or are particularly lightweight, then a fixed vest may be ideal. However, if you are looking to build muscle and endurance over time, an adjustable weight vest may be worth the investment.
In addition to the backpack-style fixed weight vests, the most common designs available on the market right now are full-sized and short-stack vests.
Both of these designs fall into the ‘adjustable vest’ category. The main difference between them is the layout of weights. Full-sized vests have the weight distributed along the front and back of the vest, covering the entire torso including the abdomen.
The issue with full-sized vests is that such large panels tend to impede your ability to bend over and flex in the waist area. If you are doing things like crunches or box jumps, a full-size vest can make these movements a bit tricky.
Short-stack vests are designed to leave the abdomen free of any weight, concentrating the load in the chest and upper back areas.
Ultimately, the size of the vest you go for will depend on the exercises you do, and whether you prefer the weight to be bunched up at your chest or spread out evenly across your torso.
While the prime focus when buying a weighted vest should be on the design, fit and weight, some vests come with additional features that can boost convenience.
These features can include things like reflective surfaces. These are particularly useful if you are using the vest outdoors in low light – for example, an early morning run.
You can also find vests featuring water bottle holders, media pouches and storage pockets, designed to give you a place in which to store things like your smartphone, keys and money. These can be very convenient for runners in particular, although shouldn’t be the basis of your decision.
Yes! The fact that so many weighted vests are available on the market is a testament to how well they work. However, you need to address some of the issues outlined on this page to ensure they are effective.
You will want to determine your goal to see results. Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to build muscle? Or strength? Or speed? Or stamina? A weighted vest can help you achieve these goals, providing you are doing things correctly.
For example, to build muscle you will want to be progressively overloading your muscles to give them a reason to grow.
To lose weight, you will need to be consuming less calories than you require. Using a vest can certainly be an aid in both these goals, providing you are aware of the fundamentals of exercise and diet.
There is no strict rule to how much a weighted vest should weigh – and even if there was, everybody is different. However, it is agreed that a vest weighing around 10% of your bodyweight is a good place to start.
Therefore, an 180lb person would be wise to begin with a vest of between 15lbs and 20lbs. This is a good starting point, although you may soon become stronger and outgrow this weight. This is why you may want to consider buying an adjustable vest with a heavier weight.
This means if you weigh 180lbs, you may buy a 40lb vest. As you begin, 40lbs will probably be too heavy, so you can remove weight bars/sandbags until the vest is more manageable. Then you can increase the load as you get stronger.
While doing things this way may be pricier initially, buying an adjustable vest can save you money in the long run.
Not everybody investing in a weighted vest is an athlete. In fact, many people suffering from osteoporosis or osteopenia turn to weighted vests to help improve their conditions.
Plenty of research has shown that walking while wearing a weighted vest can improve bone density for those diagnosed with these conditions. However, this will depend on the severity of your condition and whether or not you are using good form while wearing the vest.
If you do suffer from one of these conditions, always seek professional advice on your specific situation before embarking on a new fitness regime. Speak to a medical professional and/or a personal trainer, who can both advise you on reaching your goals safely.
Weighted vests can certainly help you lose fat, providing you are working towards the important goal of burning more calories than you consume (aka, being in a calorie deficit).
Wearing a weighted vest while working out will increase the intensity of any exercise compared to doing it with only your bodyweight as resistance – whether you are walking, running, doing pullups or any other movement.
Of course, the simplest way to create a calorie deficit is to eat a healthier diet and consume less calories than you require.
However, by increasing the intensity of your exercise with a weighted vest you will burn more calories, which will help you increase your deficit. Combine a weighted vest with a good diet and you will almost certainly see results!
Using a weighted vest in your workouts can certainly help build muscle. Muscle is built by progressively overloading your system – gradually increasing the amount of stress placed on the muscles over a certain amount of time.
This may be adding more reps to a set, or more sets to a workout, or adding more weight than you previously used. While using traditional weights such as dumbbells and barbells are excellent at helping you achieve progressive overload, so too are weighted vests.
Of course, it depends on the exercise. Wearing a weighted vest as you perform bicep curls or triceps kickbacks probably won’t make much difference. However, adding a weighted vest to movements such as pushups, pullups and squats can certainly help.
This is also a reason why buying an adjustable weight vest is a good idea, as you can add weight as time goes on and you become stronger.
Wearing a weighted vest is generally safe and can be very beneficial to your health. Of course, as with any piece of exercise equipment, using a few precautions will result in a safer experience.
Firstly, make sure you are training with the correct weight for you. If you start too heavy, you can overload your muscular, skeletal and cardiovascular system and cause an injury. Aim to start lighter and progressively build up, instead of the other way around.
Remember that some weighted vests are designed for users who have reached a certain level of physical fitness. If you are a just starting on a fitness journey, you can probably do without a weighted vest at the start. Focus on running, squatting and pushing with perfect form, then add a vest later.
As always, before starting any new workout program, be sure to seek professional advice – especially if you have a pre-existing condition affecting your bones, muscles, joints or cardiovascular system.
A weighted vest is yet another powerful tool to add to your arsenal of fitness equipment. Whether you are striving for a new personal best or trying to build muscle through calisthenics, a weighted vest can help you reach your goals and set new ones.
The vests we have shown you in this article are the cream of the crop, although certainly not the only vests out there. Use them as inspiration, then also browse the wider market to find something that is most suitable for you, your activity and your goals.
Just don’t forget to come back and thank us when you crush that marathon PB or have arms to die for!