This article was in need of a refresh – so refresh it we did! We removed a few older vests from our chart, and added four solid models that should appeal to women of all levels.
The premium WV21 from Ironwear Fitness became our new top pick, with the Challenge Weighted Workoutwear Weight Vest a close second. We also saw two affordable models in the ergonomic BodyRock Weighted Body Vest and a great value option from ZFOsports.
Weighted vests are pretty simple on paper. In practice, however, finding a unisex vest that fits women perfectly isn’t always straightforward.
Table of Contents
It’s these vests we are focusing on in this article. We have selected seven of our favorite weighted vests for women, including both premium and budget choices. We will then take a look at this category in more depth, offering some considerations along with answers to your frequently asked questions.
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
The undisputed champion of weighted vests made for women has to be the WV21 from Ironwear Fitness – although don’t expect the price to be low-end for such a high-end garment!
It’s the incredible fit and comfort that are the main draws to this 21lb vest. These are thanks to a well-contoured shape, precise adjustability on both the shoulders and waist, and top-quality fully-washable materials.
This vest is fitted with 40 pliable 0.5lbs Flex-metal weighted bars, allowing you to add or remove as many as you like from the 20 pockets to suit your needs. The extra weight placement on the rear of the vest enhances posture – yet another plus of this awesome vest, as we mention in the complete WV21 review.
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
Weights: 4lbs (Adjustable)
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Slimline design, patent-pending flexible weight thins, contoured fit, colorful pattern, front zipper, American made
Another higher-end vest on this list – although one with a more appealing price tag than our top pick – is this attractive model from Challenge Weighted Workoutwear. Nobody can complain about this one being ugly or too bulky!
With a convenient front zipper, slipping this one on is a cinch – and a pleasure to wear too, thanks to the form-fitting design and flexible polyester/spandex build. Available in three sizes, this vest features a uniquely colorful design, which doesn’t look like a weighted vest at all.
The weights come in the form of ‘flexible weight thins’, which give this vest a very low profile and simple weight adjustability. It only comes with 4lbs of weight, although you can purchase more as you progress.
Weights: 10lbs to 50lbs (Adjustable)
Material: 1200 D-Nylon
Storage Pocket: No
Features: Ergonomic design, adjustable strap, removable metal weights, parachute hooks
One drawback many users often point out is that weighted vests designed specifically for women tend to deliver lighter weights. But what about ladies who can shift serious loads? Mir’s offering is for those women who demand a bigger challenge.
While you can still find 10lb and 20lb designs, this vest is available up to a hefty 50lbs. The best news is that, by upping the weight, Mir haven’t compromised on the fit, comfort or quality.
It’s an ergonomically-designed piece of kit made from quality materials, with the weights centered lower, around the belly instead of the chest. This enhances comfort and range of motion, whether you are running or taking part in an energetic CrossFit WOD.
Weights: 30lbs (Adjustable)
Material: Reinforced nylon and polyester
Storage Pocket: No
Features:Ergonomic design, ample padding, adjustable Velcro belt, iron-filled packets, reflective strips, parachute hooks, machine washable
Here we have CAP Barbell’s popular weighted vest adapted to contour to the female body. No compromises are made here, with a combination of great fit, comfort and value.
Made from reinforced nylon and polyester, this heavy-duty vest is loaded with a total of 30lbs in weight. These weights come in the form of iron-filled packets that can easily be removed, adapting the weight to suit your level.
This vest is ergonomically sound, with the load sitting not at the chest (where it usually is on the original vest) but at the abdomen area and rear of the garment. The ample padding and adjustable Velcro belt make wearing it a comfortable experience. A reflective stripe on the rear is a great addition for runners.
Weights: 6lbs to 12lbs
Storage Pockets: Yes
Features: Backpack design, full range of motion, chest strap, mesh storage pocket, reflective strips
While some vests are unisex but feel more suited to a man, the affordable BodyRock is a unisex vest that’s primarily built for women.
This is the first design on our list that doesn’t feature adjustable weights. Instead the vest is filled with sand to deliver loads of 6lbs, 8lbs, 10lbs and 12lbs (all with different colors). Some women will want to go heavier than this, although, for many, 12lbs will be enough.
It’s the fit and comfort that make this weighted vest so attractive. Made with a snugly-fitting neoprene, it allows for a completely unobstructed range of motion, no matter what activity you are engaged in. The fit is enhanced by a chest strap, for added security when running.
Weights: 30lbs (Adjustable)
Storage Pockets: Yes
Features: Ergonomic design, removable weighted bars large Velcro strap, water bottle holder, mesh storage pocket
This popular weighted vest features the traditional design used on other ZFOsports vests, although with a specific cut for women. This ensures it’s a comfortable ride and a snug fit, with an oversized Velcro belt offering adjustability around the waist.
The chest area is left quite open, as the weights sit in the abdomen area (both on the front and rear of the vest). These come in the shape of solid bars, weighing in at a total of 30lbs. All weights are removable, so you can adjust the load to suit you.
This vest also features a front-facing mesh pocket and a water bottle holder, making it great for women who love to run. Just insert your phone, key or wallet and head out hands-free!
This very popular vest from Empower is undoubtedly one of the best value picks on this list – not to mention one of the most affordable! It’s ideal for things like walking and running, but just as good for wearing around the house to increase bone density.
It’s also a great vest for beginners as it provides slightly lighter weights of both 4lb and 8lb, as well as a 16lb version. The lighter loads feature a non-adjustable sand-filled design, although the 16lb vest features removable weights.
This ergonomic vest – which forms an X across your chest – features a soft and comfortable fit thanks to the stretchy Lycra spandex. Perhaps it’s not as snug as others and does bounce around a bit, but it’s hard to fault for the price.
While some unisex weighted vests are suitable for both men and women, there’s plenty of options out there designed exclusively for the female body. So, what defines a good weighted vest for women?
Here are some things to consider before making a purchase:
We all know women and men have very different bodies. So why should the design of weighted vests be the same?
There are a few designs you may come across when shopping for a women’s vest. The first is one that covers the chest completely, usually with a stretchy fabric that contours to a woman’s shape, applying support, but no pressure in this area.
Others will offer an X style – which straps across the chest in an ergonomic way – or a classic backpack-style vest, with two straps that sit in the shoulder area, leaving the chest area completely uncovered.
The style you go for will depend on what you prefer and your budget. The most comfortable and supportive tends to be those that cover the chest completely, although these are usually much more expensive.
The X style is also popular, although tends to work better for women with larger chests. Backpack-style straps are found on cost-effective vests, although these tend to offer lighter loads.
If you have a small chest, a unisex vest may be suitable for you. Depending on your activity, you may want to check out our pages dedicated to weighted vests for running or weighted vests for calisthenics for some inspiration.
After you have selected a style, you can now focus on comfort. The main factors affecting the comfort of a weighted vest are the adjustability and padding. The padding is self-explanatory – if there is ample padding on the torso and shoulder straps, the vest will be more comfortable to wear.
As for adjustability, being able to pull straps, belts and cords to make the vest fit snugly is crucial. If the vest is too loose, it will slide around and/or bounce as you do things like run, jump or crawl. Snug is therefore the fit to aim for, although don’t go too tight that it restricts your breathing.
Women’s vests tend to follow the same weight designs as unisex models, with a choice of either metal bars or sandbags providing the actual load. Each vest offers different ways of loading and different adjustability.
For example, the more affordable options on our chart don’t have any adjustability – they feature sand or another material sown directly into the vest. So, if you buy a 6lb vest with this design, that’s your only option. This restricts you if you progress – if you want to use a heavier weight, you’ll have to purchase a new vest.
Alternatively, many jackets come with a series of metal bars or sandbags sitting in their own individual pockets. These can be removed and replaced as you like. So, buying a 30lb vest doesn’t mean you have to work out with 30lbs from the beginning. You can buy this vest, reduce the weight to perhaps 6lbs, then work your way back up.
Those vests with metal bars tend to be the better choice. While they can sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable, there is no risk of them splitting like a sandbag can. Sandbags-stuffed vests are usually more affordable and quite comfortable, but rarely as durable.
What is the vest made from? This will usually be determined by the design you choose. If opting for a higher-end form-fitting vest, you will often find flexible and comfort-enhancing polyester and spandex used throughout, as well as nylon for durability.
Those with flak jacket-style designs are often made with a heavy-duty material like nylon, while the more affordable jackets on the market often use materials like neoprene.
A vest with an appropriate weight and a comfortable fit are the most important things to look for. Yet, some vests offer additional features, such as water bottle holders and storage pouches for things like phones and keys. Some vests also offer things like hooks for parachute resistance training or reflective stripes.
These can certainly be handy if you are buying a weighted vest for running, as you won’t need to take an additional bag or fanny pack along with you. However, it’s not wise to buy the vest based solely on these extras.
Before you go ahead and invest in a weighted vest, you should definitely know what kind of application you have in mind for it. This can have a significant impact on the model and weight you end up going for.
Some women may be looking to up the intensity of their running workouts. Perhaps you are trying to build speed or endurance for an upcoming event, and know that adding resistance in training will pay off in the long run. The same goes for wearing a vest while training for sports like soccer, netball and basketball.
You may be more focused on toning your muscles and burning fat. Using a weighted vest to add resistance to bodyweight exercises like pullups, squats and pushups can produce dramatic gains in strength and muscle tone.
However, you may just want to increase your stamina while doing more sedentary activities, such as walking, housework or gardening. Perhaps you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis and are aware that wearing a weighted vest can help with these conditions by improving bone density.
Despite all the diets and strategies, the theory of weight loss is relatively simple – burn more calories than you consume. The easiest way to do this is by eating a better diet and consuming less calories than you require, although you can boost this deficit by exercising to burn more calories.
Wearing a weighted vest increases the intensity of any exercise – whether you are walking, running or just wearing it around the house. This increased intensity means your muscles and cardiovascular system have to work harder and use more calories.
So, yes – wearing a weighted vest can indeed help you lose weight… providing you aren’t celebrating your workout with a full tub of Ben and Jerry’s!
A quick browse of the market for women and you’ll find weighted vests ranging from a modest 4lbs right up to a hefty 50lbs.
Now, 4lbs may seem lightweight for many, but not everyone is looking to build muscle or speed – some women just want to add a bit of resistance to build stamina or increase bone density. Adding just a little weight can produce good results.
Of course, if you are looking to record new CrossFit PBs or top your previous 10K time, a 4lb vest probably won’t cut it.
So, how heavy should you go? The general rule is to opt for around 10% of your bodyweight to start. If you weigh 150lbs, a weighted vest of around 15lbs will be ideal to begin with.
Of course, you may soon outgrow this weight and look for more of a load to up the challenge. That’s why initially buying a heavier weighted vest with adjustable weights can be a good idea, saving you money in the long run.
It’s about as safe as it is for men – and that is very safe indeed! However, as with any fitness equipment, using a weighted vest with a few precautions can lead to a safer, more rewarding experience.
As we have mentioned countless times in this article, a vest with a good fit is crucial, especially if you are running or jumping around. You don’t want the weight to bounce and move too much, as this sudden movement can cause injury.
If you are doing activities with less potential for bounce – such as walking or pushups – then you have more leeway. Regardless, aim for a vest with a snug fit.
Another piece of advice is to not go too heavy too quickly. You may feel you can jump straight to heavy weights or have a point to prove, but if you put too much of a strain on your system initially, it can cause all sorts of damage. You won’t be proving many points if you are laid up with an injury!
Finally, if you have any pre-existing conditions – such as osteopenia, osteoporosis, arthritis, or fibromyalgia – consult a medical professional before adding weight to your workout.
Let’s not beat around bush – wearing a weighted vest can be rather unpleasant. However, this unpleasantness should be because of the additional weight you are carrying around, not because of a badly-fitting, uncomfortable garment.
The vests we have highlighted in this article should give you a taste of the best weighted vests that women will find the most comfortable, effective and stylish.
The incredible weighted vest from Ironwear Fitness is our top pick. However, walk away with any of these models and – providing the fit and weight are appropriate for your body and level – you will be left with a piece of gear that can really help you reach all kinds of fitness goals.