Are you a woman looking for a weighted vest to build strength and endurance in your sport or long-distance running? Want to up the intensity of your CrossFit workouts? Or do you suffer from osteoporosis and require weightbearing exercise to keep your bones strong?
These varied demands have led to many weighted vests made specifically for women, with designs that fit a women’s body much better. In today’s review, we are taking a look at the popular Women’s Vest from Ironwear Fitness – also known as the WV21.
This premium vest boasts a superior design with ergonomics that budget vests just cannot match. However, such impressive features don’t come cheap… So, does the WV21 justify its high-end price tag or has it been overvalued? Let’s find out.
The most impressive area on the WV21 is the design. Whereas some weighted vests are unisex or some have been adapted slightly to fit women, the WV21 is unequivocally designed specifically to fit women of pretty much all shapes and sizes.
Slipping over the head, this slimline vest has a design that contours perfect to a woman’s body, with a soft and stretchy fabric used over the chest. This means no pressure is applied to this area – all the weights and straps sit below this on the abdomen.
The fit is nothing short of flawless. The phrase ‘one-size-fits-all’ is bandied around a little, but this design is the perfect example of one size actually fitting all, with plenty of adjustment options to tailor it to your body shape.
For example, the shoulders extend to adjust the height of the vest, making it suitable for women between 5ft and 6ft (as well as at least a half a foot either side of that).
There are two oversized waist belts, catering for waists measuring between 22” and 54”. The benefit of this belt design is that it not only keeps the vest snug to your body, but it actually supports both your abdominal muscles and lower back.
In action, there is no restriction to your range of movement. Due to the flexible fabric combined with the weight design and snug fit, there is no bulk to get in the way. Meanwhile, the shoulder straps feature a narrow ‘athletic cut’, so arm movement is completely unhindered. The feeling of freedom is almost like you aren’t even wearing a vest, whether your arms are in front of you, above your head, or out at your sides.
As you may have gathered by now, this all equates to a feeling of comfort. The ballistic nylon laminate used on the exterior is strong and durable, while the inside of the vest is made with a soft knitted nylon laminate.
There is ample padding along both the shoulder and torso sections, and the edges are soft bound to ensure there’s no digging or rubbing on your skin as you move.
While the design is very high-end, the weight system on the WV21 is just as innovative. Some vests use sandbags, which are bulky and prone to leaking. Some vests use metal bars, which are low-profile, yet very hard and can be uncomfortable.
Ironwear Fitness have taken these observations and used them to create their proprietary Flex-metal weights. These 0.5lb weights are around the size of a bar of soap and bend easily, with a soft feel. This means they conform to your body shape and won’t hurt should you fall.
These weights sit in 20 specifically-designed pockets across the front and back of the vest, with each pocket accommodating up to two weights (1lb in total). This results in a total weight of 21lbs, including the unloaded vest.
However, depending on your fitness, you can start with as little as around 2lbs and work your way up. If you are only considering a lighter weight, the WV11 from Ironwear Fitness offers just 11lb, with the same impressive design.
This design sees more weight added to the back of the vest. The reasoning behind this is that a woman’s body weighs more in the front for obvious reasons. The extra weight on the back helps retract your shoulders and improve posture.
If you’ve read up until this point, you’d be surprised if we said anything other than how well this vest performs in all conditions.
Precise adjustability allows for a snug fit, while the low-profile design, flexible materials and ample padding ensure this is as comfortable as a weighted vest can be. Plus, your range of movement doesn’t suffer when wearing the WV21, which makes it almost worth the price for that alone.
A word on the weight. With some women’s weighted vests offering up to 50lbs, the WV21 certainly isn’t the heaviest out there. This modest weight will mainly suit those walking, running, training for sport and looking to improve bone density.
If you prefer something you can overload – for CrossFit or calisthenics movements perhaps – there are other vests that can offer the increased weight you need.
Another feature we are pleased to see is how easy this vest is to clean. Women sweat as much as men when the workout gets tough, so being able to chuck it in the washing machine after a hard session is a godsend. Plus, if you don’t want to remove the weights, you can also handwash the entire vest as it is.