In our latest refresh of this article on the best weighted vests for CrossFit, we saw three new additions to the top seven chart.
These comprised the excellent Bear KompleX Weight Vest and the comfortable Box 20lb Super Short Weight Vest, as well as the CAP Barbell Short Adjustable Weighted Vest, which offers great value.
CrossFit is one of the largest fitness movements in the world and continues to grow year on year, thanks to its unorthodox approach to sculpting a healthy body, as well as its low entry barrier.
Sometimes, a CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) will demand athletes wear a weighted vest. Other times people will wear one for the sheer hell of it – upping the intensity as they chase a new PB.
Table of Contents
In this article we are taking a look at some of the best weighted vests on the market that will survive even the most brutal CrossFit WOD. We will then explore some considerations and FAQs you may have before buying.
Sizes: Small to XXL
Weights: 10lbs (Upgradable to 42lbs)
Material: Moisture-wicking cotton
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Unisex design, proprietary micro-loading system, side cord adjustments, front zipper, breathable material, body hugging fit
The Hyper Vest Pro is a unique high-end weighted vest that’s perfect for workouts of any kind – and is naturally ideal for CrossFit. What makes it so impressive is its unique weight-loading system that replaces a bulky design with one that is elegant and ergonomic.
The front and back of the vest are lined with pockets holding slimline 2.25oz steel bars, for a highly-customizable fit. The low-profile design means your range of motion remains free, while the breathable, moisture-wicking properties make it comfortable no matter how hard you go.
There are multiple sizes available, each with a series of adjustable side cords allowing you to find the perfect fit. Each vest size has a maximum weight capacity, ranging from 10lbs right up to 42lbs.
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
Bear KompleX is a gear brand that’s synonymous with CrossFit, so it makes sense that they would make an excellent weighted vest for the activity.
Like many others, this vest doesn’t come with any weight. Instead, you can load it with either Rogue, SAPI or RX+ plates, to the exact weight you want. This makes this vest versatile for any user of any size.
The vest itself is built like a tank, using military-grade Cordura nylon with a water-resistant coating for excellent protection. The adjustable padded shoulder straps and elasticated side straps make it a comfortable vest to wear, while the quick-release steel alloy buckles enhance the ease of use. Providing you don’t mind buying weight separately, this is an exceptional vest.
Mir’s Air Flow is another weighted vest with a very compact design that lends itself well to all kinds of CrossFit WOD. In fact, it’s been endorsed by four-times CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning Jr!
There’s very little restriction of movement, so it’s ideal for jumping, lifting, pulling and pushing exercises. As with some of the best offerings, this vest uses solid metal bars to provide the load, leading to less bulk and a higher-end feel.
It’s fully adjustable, so it fits like a charm no matter what your size. While putting the vest on takes a bit of work, the breathable design makes it great for when the sweat really starts to flow – especially as this vest is suitable for machine washing!
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
When you’re in the CrossFit box, a Box weighted vest is a smart choice! This super short version in particular offers CrossFit athletes great comfort and range of motion whatever the activity.
It’s built in the USA with strength in mind; made with a heavy-duty Cordura nylon with a cleanable sweat-resistant inner lining. Around the sides you’ll find clamp-style belts that make it easy to find the perfect fit for you.
The short design and narrow shoulders give you a feeling of freedom, so it’s ideal regardless of whether you are running, jumping or lifting. It even features a kipping flap, to hold the belt down when you are performing kipping pullups! While 20lbs of cast-iron weight may not be particularly heavy for some athletes, it’s a great starting point for many.
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Short design, narrow padded shoulders, removable iron-ore bags, adjustable belt, ample padding, rear reflective strip
CAP Barbell produces a range of weighted vests in many different weights, from 20lbs right up to 150lbs.
This short vest comes in at the lower end of the scale at 20lbs, offering a moderate challenge to any CrossFit athlete. The weight is in the form of removable 2.5lb iron ore-filled bags, so you can tailor the load to your specifications.
Due to the abbreviated design, this vest offers a great range of motion, so whether you are jumping, squatting or bending at the waist for any other reason, the vest won’t get in the way. It lacks the same high-end feeling in terms of fit and comfort as some of the leading vests, but for the price, this vest is hard to fault.
Weights: 12lbs to 60lbs
Storage Pocket: Yes
Features: Removable sandbags, midriff Velcro strap, water bottle holder, device storage, shoulder pads (sold separately)
The RUNFast/Max Pro vest is another popular affordable weighted vest that is just as good for pushups, pullups, box jumps and burpees as it is for running.
For the mass, this vest makes use of tightly-packed sandbags, which feel quite comfortable against the body, even if it makes the overall profile a little bulkier than the leading vests. It’s available in weights ranging from 12lbs to 60lbs.
It doesn’t fit as snugly as the premium models on this list, yet it does feature a large Velcro strap so you should be able to find something that works for you. Shoulder padding is available – and necessary – although this option does cost extra. Still, for the price, this vest remains a good buy.
Weights: 20lbs to 80lbs
Storage Pocket: Yes
Features: Removable sandbags, choice of camo design, midriff Velcro strap, water bottle holder, device storage, shoulder pads (sold separately)
One of the most affordable models on this list also happens to be one of the more stylish – providing you like some extroverted designs. This adjustable weighted vest comes in either arctic camo or desert camo, which will look pretty cool in any CrossFit box, while up to 80lbs of weight will test the mettle of any athlete!
The vest itself is very well-made for the price, with a one-piece design and large Velcro strap around the midsection. The weights come in the shape of 4lb sandbags and are removable if you want to lighten the load.
Even though the fit isn’t particularly snug, it’s a pretty comfortable vest – providing you opt for the shoulder pads. Unfortunately, these are sold separately, like some other budget options.
The principles of a weighted vest for CrossFit are much the same as buying one for running, with comfort and fit proving crucial. However, throw things like pullups, power cleans and box jumps into the mix and, suddenly, your vest has to deal with a lot more per workout.
Here are some of the things to keep an eye out for when looking for your ideal CrossFit vest:
One of the most important factors when choosing a good weighted vest for CrossFit is whether or not it will impede your movement.
As you are aware, CrossFit is a dynamic, fast-paced workout where you may be deadlifting one moment then smashing out burpees the next. You therefore need a vest that will move with you and give you good range of motion.
You will want to seek out a short vest with a compact design, so the weight is mainly bunched up at the chest and upper back. This allows you to bend, crunch and jump without restriction. Another important factor is how your arms move. You should aim for a vest that allows you to push, pull and press with ease.
All of the vests on our chart allow you to move freely, although some more so than others. For example, some of the higher-end weighted vests have narrow shoulder straps that don’t impede arm movement at all, while the lower-priced models tend to be wider.
Talking about the bulk, these vests don’t need to be as minimalist as weighted vests designed for running, but they should still be pretty streamlined if possible.
They should also fit quite snugly, while not feeling too tight. You definitely don’t want something that restricts your breathing, although equally you want to avoid something so loose that it bounces and slips around as you move.
This may be the case of finding an exact fit for you, with some offering sizes ranging from small, medium, large and so on. However, many vests are a one-size-fits-all design. These are fine providing there are plenty of options for adjusting the fit via straps/cords on the shoulders, sides and/or midsection.
Women may sometimes struggle with one-size vests, so it’s worth checking out our page on the best weighted vests for women, with recommendations for more ergonomic vests as well as a few considerations.
While no two weighted vests are identical in design, the weight they actually provide also differs greatly, ranging from as little as 12lbs right up to hefty 60lb loads.
However, many of these weights are not fixed. For example, even if you buy a 45lb vest, you may find the option to decrease the weight to as low as around 10lbs. This is done by removing individual weights until you reach a load that is suitable for you.
It’s the higher-end vests that are usually the most adjustable, which is perfect for finetuning the weight as well as where that weight is placed on the vest.
Meanwhile, the weights tend to come in the form of steel or iron bars, or sandbags. While sandbags sit softer against the body, high-density metal bars are usually preferred as they offer a less bulky experience and have no chance of breaking and spilling like their sand-filled equivalents.
Every weighted vest is also different in terms of material used, although most will be a heavy-duty nylon or similar fabric. You want to aim for something that’s durable, with high-quality stitching that will last through a tough workout, no matter what you ask from it.
Of course, if the material offers moisture-wicking and breathable properties, then all the better. You’ll be thankful when the temperature rises and things are slightly more comfortable.
On that note, keep an eye out for weighted vests that are machine washable. These can be a godsend after a particularly tough session. If not, many are hand-washable or at least wipeable, so you can remove excess sweat and dirt.
Unlike a weighted vest for running, a CrossFit-specific weighted vest doesn’t really need any extra features.
For example, on vests suitable for running, you may find features such as reflective strips, which are just not necessary for a well-lit CrossFit box. Other things, like phone compartments and water bottle holders, are not really required either.
However, if you plan to use your vest for longer running sessions as well as CrossFit workouts, then there is no reason not to look for a vest that incorporates some of these elements.
A CrossFit Hero workout can be exhausting at the best of times – so why on earth would you increase your discomfort by adding weight?
Adding extra resistance to exercises such as pullups, pushups and box jumps overloads your muscles and cardiovascular system, making them work harder and more efficiently. This is an advantage if you are looking to build strength, burn calories and torch fat, as well as increase your endurance.
This increased strength and endurance can translate to better performance in other sports as well as life in general.
Plus, throwing on a weighted vest can’t hurt your reputation. Ultimately, if you can smash out a set of pullups while wearing a 45lb vest, you’re bound to gain some instant credibility in your CrossFit box!
A good question! As we’ve established, every weighted vest is unique. All come with different loads catering for people of different sizes and levels – from beginners to Marines!
The fitness community generally agrees that the rule is to go for a vest providing around 10% of your bodyweight, especially when just starting out. That means somebody weighing 220lbs will be aiming for a vest weighing around 25lbs.
However, as you become more advanced, this may be too light. Don’t worry – you can buy vests with weights of up to 80lbs and beyond!
Sometimes buying a weighted vest with more mass can be beneficial as you can always remove weight if it’s too heavy, then slowly add more as you build strength. If in doubt, speak to your CrossFit coach who should be able to give you more specific advice.
It’s time to address the ever-popular use of combat plate carriers as weighted vests for CrossFit. Designed for military use, plate carriers are deceptively similar to weighted vests, with one main difference – the weight tends to be in the form of two large ballistic plates (front and back) as opposed to smaller metal bars or sandbags.
While plate carriers have their use – namely protecting soldiers from bullets – there are drawbacks when using them for fitness.
The main issue is that, unless you have plates of the exact pocket dimensions, the mass may shift around and become uncomfortable while exercising.
You will also find that you cannot adjust the weight in small increments by taking bags/bars out – instead, you will have to buy a new plate with a different weight. Finally, plater carriers them to be more expensive than weighted vests.
Plate carriers are used in CrossFit very often, especially by training police and military forces. If that’s what you want, don’t let us stop you! However, there is no particular advantage to using them over a weighted vest.
This is like asking if a treadmill or medicine ball is bad for you. The answer is no – providing you use them correctly and with the relevant precautions. For example, if you try to run backwards on a treadmill or attempt to catch a medicine ball with your eyes closed, chances are you are going to get injured!
It’s the same with a weighted vest. There are some precautions you can take to ensure you are getting the safest experience.
Primarily, make sure the vest fits you correctly. It should be snug enough to avoid the vest moving around too much, which can cause back problems among other issues. However, the vest should not be too tight – you need to be able to breathe deeply during CrossFit after all!
Another thing to keep in mind is the weight you are using. Don’t go too heavy too soon. If you’ve never worked out with a weighted vest, trying to complete a WOD with 60lbs on your back is likely to negatively affect your posture, balance and cause too much strain on your muscles and cardiovascular system.
It goes without saying that if you have any pre-existing bone, muscle or joint conditions, you should always consult a medical professional before embarking on a weighted vest workout.
Ultimately, a CrossFit WOD is tough enough without 45lbs on your back! However, adding a weighted vest can inject more spice to any workout, boosting the strength and endurance of your skeletal, muscular and cardiovascular systems – not to mention the epic feeling of crushing a Murph PB with added weight!
The weighted vests we have highlighted are some of the best you will find for a CrossFit workout, offering comfort, durability and adjustability, all while showing pretty good value.
Of course, there are other vests out there that offer similar qualities, so shop around and see what’s on offer. You’ll ultimately find something that gives you just the challenge you need!