The 10 Best Weighted Vests for Training – Improve Your Strength, Speed and Endurance

Welcome to our article on the best weighted vests on the market today! To begin, we gave our top ten chart a big shakeup, removing a few older models – such as the CAP Barbell Short Weighted Vest – and adding two solid high-end choices.

One was the CrossFit-ready BOX Weighted Vest, while we also added the Ironwear Fitness Women’s Vest WV21. Elsewhere, we gave the main article a revamp, updating the information to make it relevant for 2019.

The winner after the latest chart update:
Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite-01
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, XL
  • Weights: 15lb, 20lbs, 25lbs
  • Material: Cordura
  • Storage Pocket: No
  • Features: Low-profile construction, patented weight pocket design, adjustable elastic side cords, reflective sections

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.

One of these is the weighted vest. This seemingly simple garment can actually be pretty complex, and finding the right vest for you and your activity isn’t always easy.

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 activity – from running to calisthenics – 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.

The 10 Best Weighted Vests for Training:

Pros

  • Fits well on all body sizes, with precise adjustability
  • Stylish low-profile design
  • Unique pocket weight system for micro loading
  • Made with highly-durable Cordura fabric
  • Features reflective areas so it’s ideal for outdoor running

Cons

  • Even for the high-end design, the price feels a bit high
  • No storage pockets of any kind

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, XL
Weights: 15lb, 20lbs, 25lbs
Material: Cordura
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.

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Pros

  • Designed specifically for CrossFit use
  • Short vest with zero restriction of movement
  • Snug fit and comfortable padding
  • Easy to put on and remove
  • Made in USA with a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • The premium price will put some people off
  • Can bounce around a little when running

Sizes: One-size-fits-all
Weights: 20lbs to 100lbs
Material: Military-grade nylon
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Compact design, narrow shoulders, full padding, range of colors, patented belt clamp system, lifetime warranty

The BOX weighted vest is a CrossFit staple, being specifically designed for use in the activity (it’s called ‘the BOX’ for a reason!). With a short stack design and narrow shoulder straps, it’s ideal for all sorts of movement – including pushups, pullups, bear crawls, box jumps and deadlifts.

This premium American-made vest features a heavy-duty nylon build that inspires confidence. Along with comprehensive padding and a unique belt system, it delivers a snug fit that’s perfect for any user – as highlighted in our full review of the BOX.

As for weight, the BOX comes loaded with 45lb in the form of 2.5lb cast-iron bars sitting in pockets around the vest, allowing you to remove and replace these to adjust the challenge.

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Pros

  • Superior comfort designed to contour to your exact shape
  • Easy to adjust the load
  • Weights flex for additional comfort
  • Posture-enhancing design
  • Can be washed by hand or machine

Cons

  • The price will be too high for some people
  • A weight of 25lbs may not appeal to more advanced athletes

Sizes: One-size-fits-all
Weights: 20lbs to 100lbs
Material: Military-grade nylon
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Compact design, narrow shoulders, full padding, range of colors, patented belt clamp system, lifetime warranty

Men can skip this one as the Women’s Vest WV21 from Ironwear Fitness is designed exclusively for the female body.

Thanks to the precise adjustability on both the waist and the shoulder straps, this 21lb vest sports an excellent fit for pretty much any size. The design leaves no pressure on the chest area, while also promoting better posture due to the well-considered weight placement on the abdomen and back of the vest.

As we highlight in the full review of the WV21, this impressive vest features 40 pliable Flex-metal weighted bars, each weighing 0.5lbs. You can therefore fully adjust the load to fit your level and goals. With an athletic cut and stretchy material, the range of movement is also pretty much perfect.

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Pros

  • Slimline design that can be worn under workout clothing
  • Stylish, comfortable and balanced fit
  • Made with a breathable, wicking material

Cons

  • It is still a little pricey for only 10lbs
  • Lacking the reflective properties found on the Elite

Sizes: One-size-fits-all
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.

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Pros

  • Tried and tested on many CrossFit workouts
  • High-quality American build
  • Comfortable mesh-lined padding
  • Great strap system for an excellent fit

Cons

  • You have to buy sand/pellets separately and fill the pouches yourself
  • Price seems a little high

Sizes: Small, Large
Weights: Scalable (Up to 40lbs)
Material: 1000D Cordura
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Unisex design, contoured shoulders, double stitched, 12 fillable weight bags, American made, Velcro chest patch

Coming in two colors, this distinctive weighted vest from Brute Force has been a CrossFit staple for years and remains one of the most popular weighted vests around – particularly with advanced athletes.

What sets this vest apart is the high-quality build and superior attention to detail. It’s made in America from the heavy-duty, yet breathable Cordura fabric, with an indestructible feel. Finding a snug fit is easy thanks to the padded mesh interior and series of Velcro shoulder and waist straps.

One negative is that the vest doesn’t come with weight. However, it features 12 pockets and individual pouches that can be packed with the weight material of choice, so you can load it to your exact specifications.

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Pros

  • Low profile design for wearing over or under other garments
  • Great weight distribution and adjustability
  • No restriction of movement, with narrow shoulder straps
  • Zipper design makes it easy to get in and out of

Cons

  • Quite expensive if you go for the full 32lbs
  • Zipper doesn’t feel as durable as the rest of the vest

Sizes: One-size-fits-all
Weights: 12lbs to 32lbs
Material: Cotton blend fabric
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Unisex, slimline design, iron weight bars, front zipper, narrow shoulders, three adjustable straps, machine washable

Mir’s Super Slim Air Flow vest delivers the low-profile designs similar to the higher-end vests we have featured, although it’s sensibly priced and will appeal to a larger audience because of it.

With a front-zipped waistcoat design, it’s easy to put on and take off, while wearing it is a comfortable experience – with a snug fit and good adjustability around the body. Due to the slimline design and narrow shoulder straps, it offers an excellent range of motion.

Meanwhile, the fabrics and build enhance air flow around the vest – perfect for warmer workouts. The main drawback of this vest? It’s very limited in terms of weight – at 16lbs, it is far from the heaviest vest out there.

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Pros

  • Provides a snug and comfortable fit
  • The design encourages air flow around the body
  • Good choice of loads – from 20lbs to 60lbs
  • Short design and narrow shoulder straps give a good range of movement
  • Can be washed and dried in a machine

Cons

  • The straps are hard to reach, making it quite difficult to get into
  • The vest is pretty bulky

Sizes: One-size-fits-most
Weights: 20lbs to 60lbs
Material: Nylon
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Removable solid metal bars, air-flow design, machine washable, rear reflective strip

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!

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Pros

  • Offers great value
  • Durable and comfortable build
  • Adjustable steel weights make it easy to load to your level

Cons

  • Not as stylish as some of our top picks
  • Fit isn’t as snug as it could be
  • Shoulder straps may be a bit wide for some users

Sizes: One-size-fits-all
Weights: 20lbs to 60lbs
Material: Nylon
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Removable cast-steel weight bars, midriff security belt, ample padding

As we move into the more affordable section of the market, one weighted vest that really stands out is this offering from Titan Fitness – perfect for everything from pullups and squats to running.

This vest comes in different weights, from 40lbs to 60lbs, although – if that sounds a bit much – you can easily remove the individual steel bars until you have a weight that suits you. It’s quite easy to achieve a comfortable fit, with good padding around the torso and an adjustable waist belt.

Even though it’s not as stylish, slimline or short as some of the others we’ve featured, the range of motion is still pretty good for most activities, while the build quality is excellent for the price.

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Pros

  • Offers very good value
  • Nicely balanced slimline design
  • Snug and comfortable to wear
  • Comes with a convenient mesh pocket

Cons

  • Prone to leaking iron pellets
  • Doesn’t offer weights higher than 25lbs
  • Smells a bit chemically when new!

Sizes: One-size-fits-all
Weights: 4lbs to 25lbs
Material: Neoprene
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.

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Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Quite comfortable to wear
  • Plenty of differently weights available
  • Features a handy storage pocket

Cons

  • Feels a bit bulky
  • Shoulder pads cost extra
  • Known to cause a little chafing when running

Sizes:
Weights:
Material:
Storage Pocket:
Features:

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.

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Category Breakdown

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.

Choosing the Right Vest For You

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.

Intended Use

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.

Finding the Right Weight

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).

Adjustable Weights vs. Fixed Weights

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.

Full-Size vs. Short-Stack Vests

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.

Additional Features

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

The Ver(ve)dict!

A weighted vest is yet another powerful tool to add to your arsenal of fitness equipment. Whether you are striving for a new marathon PB 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 vest out there. Use them as inspiration and browse the market for something that is 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 a six-pack to die for!

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