What is the Best Weighted Vest? Top 5 Weighted Vest Reviews

Anyone who works out know that there are levels to fitness, almost in the same way there are levels to video games.

You can easily walk into the gym and spot who is a newbie, who is on the edge of hard core, and who is hard core. Or, at least, who looks hard core. Sometimes it’s totally a superficial glance at a chiseled athlete pumping out sets, and sometimes you see people using equipment that a beginner would never dream of using.

One such piece of equipment that shouts intensity and next level is the mighty weight vest. Weight vests are fairly trendy in the fitness world, especially as fitness junkies continuously try to innovate their way to stronger muscles and better performance.

So, what’s the point? Why would anyone want to add 10, 20, 30 extra pounds of weight to their workout? Especially if you’re trying to cut weight? Not only do we need to examine the why as we explore this relatively new trend, but we also need to discuss what markers set apart weight vests as good investments or as total busts...

Weighted Vest Benefits That Make It Worth the Weight

Anecdotally speaking, one thing I’ve noticed about working with clients who have lost 50+ pounds is that they always seem to have more inherent strength than those who are trying to bulk up.

After watching this unfold for several years, I realized it was because their bodies simply were accustomed to carrying more weight and therefore, got stronger. The demand that weight creates on the muscles and the musculoskeletal system is the silver lining of weight loss; now, those benefits can be mimicked without the body mass, thanks to the weight vest.

Think about what you’re doing with weight training (in general): you’re creating resistance for the body to work against in order to initiate the muscle building process.

Throwing on a weight vest for a workout does that exact same thing, seemingly organically. The weight vest creates automatic resistance that the body has to overcome, making the muscles, bones, and cardiovascular system work harder to support the load. The European Journal of Applied Physiology published a study on what adding a load approximately 10% of an athlete’s body weight accomplished for their performance.

Here’s the results: lower lactate threshold, improved running time to exhaustion, improved vertical velocity, and an increased VO2 max (the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use). 

The study went on to conclude that weight vest training also increased the anaerobic metabolism, and the major explanation behind all of these perks was due to the adaptation of the fast twitch muscle fibers.

Pretty cool stuff, right? But before you run to the store and buy your brand new weighted vest, you need to know that not all heavy things are created equally.

How to Choose the Best Weighted Vest

Getting a high quality vest is imperative for you to experience the benefits mentioned above, but before I dive into that any further, I want to make one thing very clear: a weighted vest and a bulky backpack are NOT equivalent.

Yes, you are getting resistance from adding a heavier load to the body, but that’s where the similarities stop. A weight vest allows for even weight distribution, whereas a bulky backpack puts the entire load directly on the shoulders and back.

This makes the user lean forward and throws off posture and balance, and it can be very uncomfortable during endurance work. Now that we’ve established that, let’s talk about the questions you need to ask before purchasing your new weight vest.

  • What material is it made of?

There are certain key words to look for when you examine the tag on your future weight vest. You need to ensure that the outer material is tear resistant as well as sweat resistant.

If the material does not fight against your sweat, then it’s going to get funky fast.

Your skin will suffer from the bacteria that builds up from heat + sweat, so make sure your vest material is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial…or at least machine washable!

Also, check the quality of the weights inside the vest. You want to make sure they are protected from rust by a coated metal or even a neoprene material. Some vests use sand bags instead of metal plates, so be aware of the pros/cons of that as well (see our reviews).

  • How easy is it to adjust and accessorize?

When you start using a weight vest, you want to begin using only 10% of your body weight, in order to allow the body to adjust gradually to this change. However, as your strength and endurance increase, you’ll want to add more weight…without having to buy a brand new vest.

So, consider this when you’re browsing and look for a vest that you can add and remove weight at your leisure. If you’re into accessories, you may also want to look for a vest that has pockets or places for your headphones, your music, or your smartphone. Of course these features increase the versatility of your vest, but the most important factor to remember is to look for a vest that distributes weight evenly.

  • Does it fit properly?

Don’t get distracted by the cool features of a potential weight vest if it doesn’t fit you well. Without a good fit, you’re going to be uncomfortable and resentful of your new training tool.

You need to make sure that you try on the vest to see how it fits on your body, if it is too tight, or if it’s too bulky. A good rule of thumb is that it should fit so that you can slide your hand up the back of it. If you can’t fit your whole hand, then it’s definitely too tight. If you can fit more than your hand, then you need to tighten it up some (adjustability!).

Top 5 Weighted Vest Reviews

Material, adjustability, and fit- if you can remember those key factors before you buy, then you should bring home a pretty cool new gym toy.

Because I want you to have nice things, I decided to review a few fan favorite vests for you. Here’s the top five weighted vests, with details and quick stats!

ZFO Sports Adjustable Weighted Vest

best weighted vest
best weighted vest

This one-size-fits-all adjustable weighted vest contains up to 80 pounds that can be added/removed in four pound increments, which makes it great for vest newbies. The wide shoulder straps make for comfortable wear even if you're wearing it for hours, and the Velcro keeps the weight strapped in tight.

You can adjust this to your body as your shape changes, so it’s also a great vest for those who anticipate a shift in body mass. It’s best used for those who want an added challenge to their gym routine and basic exercises/drills, but it’s also good for plyometrics and cardio like speed walking and running thanks to the even weight distribution in the front and back.

This vest can also be washed as much as you need to, so that’s good news for heavy sweaters. 

Quick Stats:

  • Maximum weight: 80 pounds
  • Available weight increments: 20 pounds, 40 pounds, 60 pounds, 80 pounds
  • Type of weights: Sand bags
  • Washable: Yes
  • All terrain: Can use in water and rain
  • Best for: A good weighted vest to add extra challenge and resistance to training routine.  Also good for speed walking and running.
  • Downsides: Because of the broad shoulder straps, this isn't a great weighted vest for basketball, pull ups or any other activity that requires you to raise your arms above your head. 

Hyperwear Weighted Vest

best weighted vest for women
women weighted vest

This vest is available in sizes small to xxlarge, but that doesn’t mean what you think it means. Those sizes actually indicate the weight capacity for each vest. Because this vest only comes with 10 pounds, you’d have to purchase additional weight plates for it.

The maximum load capacity for each size is as follows: Small (23lbs), Medium (26lbs), Large (34lbs), XL (46lbs) XXL (65 lbs).

If you’re someone who wants to frequently adjust the load you’re carrying, then this may not be the best option for you. However, it’s made from sweat-wicking, breathable material, and is machine washable, so it’s very comfortable to wear.

It can fit under your shirt, so know that the material is thin. That may not be the best for you if you’re doing extra-intense workouts, as it’s not as sturdy. But it is very comfortable and form fitting, making it the best weighted vest for running, walking, playing basketball and even wearing a weighted vest all day to boost calorie burn and increase bone density.

Quick Stats:

  • Maximum weight: 65 pounds
  • Type of weights: High density steel weights
  • Washable: Yes
  • All terrain: Can use in water and rain
  • Best for: It's incredibly comfortable and form fitting which makes it the best weighted vest for running, a perfect weight vest for walking and playing volleyball or basketball as well as wearing a weighted vest all day. It's also the perfect weighted vest for women.
  • Downsides: The biggest downside of this weighted vest is that the steel weights can rust over time. Also, this vest can be worn for longer periods but it's not recommended for strenuous wear since the very fabric that makes it so comfortable is also not very strong.

Cross 101 Adjustable Weighted Vest

perfect weight vest
heavy weighted vest

Another one-size-fits-all vest, the capacity of this one goes up to 60 pounds and you have the option of getting them with shoulder pads for extra comfort. Like the ZFO weighted vest, this vest also has sand weights but the material is more flexible so the overall vest contours more easily to the body.

However, that makes running and jumping pretty uncomfortable because the sand shifts around so much. This vest is best suited for strength training workouts because of this. Like the ZFO vest, the shoulder straps can rub against the collarbone/neck area, too, so you have to make sure you wear an appropriate shirt underneath. Also, it’s camouflage print, so that may or may not be a good thing depending on your preference.

Quick Stats:

  • Maximum weight: 60 pounds
  • Available weight increments: 20 pounds, 40 pounds, 50 pounds, 60 pounds
  • Type of weights: Sand bags
  • Washable: Yes
  • All terrain: Not recommended to use in water
  • Best for: A good weighted vest to add extra challenge and resistance to training routine.  Not great for running.
  • Downsides: Because of the broad shoulder straps, this isn't a great weighted vest for basketball, pull ups or any other activity that requires you to raise your arms above your head. 

CAP Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest

best weighted vest
best weighted vest

One-size-fits-all, but this vest is available in styles starting from 40 pounds and goes up to a whopping 150 pounds, making it a great pick for those of you looking for an extra heavy weighted vest.

It also has an adjustable waist strap, which makes for better body contour and adjustability. It is durable and one of the best features is the weight placement- the manufacturer did a great job of ensuring the weight is distributed evenly.

The weights in this vest are sand bags, so the same rule applies to running/jumping: the sand bags may be bouncy. If you want a basic vest for adding resistance and burning calories, then this one is for you.

Quick Stats:

  • Maximum weight: 150 pounds
  • Available weight increments: 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 100, 120, 150 pounds
  • Type of weights: Sand bags
  • Washable: Yes
  • All terrain: Can use in water and rain
  • Best for: A good weighted vest to add extra challenge and resistance to training routine.  It allows full range of movement for the upper body but because the vest comes down quite low, it can interfere with lower body exercises if you are on the shorter side. 
  • Downsides: Because of the broad shoulder straps, this isn't a great weighted vest for basketball, pull ups or any other activity that requires you to raise your arms above your head. 

RunFast Adjustable Weighted Vest

best weighted vest

Last but not least, we've got the RunFast weighted vest which combines several of the factors we love about the weighted vests above. First of all, it comes in two styles: with or without shoulder pads, and you can buy it in the weight capacity you want - there are a lot of available weight increments and it goes up to 140 pounds. The weight is removable and easily adjustable.

The material feels sturdy and comfortable, but the weight placement is varied from front to back. This makes the assembly a bit tricky at first, but after your first few times maneuvering it, it becomes less bothersome.

This vest also uses sand bags but thanks to the extra wide Velcro waist strap, it feels more secure for running and jumping. It also doesn't come down low on the waist so it allows a full range of movement for lower body exercises, making it a great weighted vest for strength training and lower body workouts.

Quick Stats:

  • Maximum weight: 140 pounds
  • Available weight increments: 20, 40, 50, 60, 70, 100, 120, 140 pounds
  • Type of weights: Sand bags
  • Washable: Yes
  • All terrain: Can use in water and rain
  • Best for: It allows full range of movement so you can easily do a whole range of weighted vest exercises with it. It's also a good weighted vest for walking, running and to add extra challenge and resistance to training routine.  
  • Downsides: Runs a little big so may be too loose if you have a smaller frame. 

So, there you have it-the ins and outs of weight vests are at your fingertips. Are you ready to take your intensity up a notch and add weight vest workouts to your regimen? With the right quality vest and proper function, you can definitely improve your body and your performance. Give it a shot and let us know what you love about your weighted vest!

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