The 10 Best Weight Vests
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in February of 2015. If you are looking to step up the intensity of your workouts, whether they consist of jogging on the treadmill or CrossFit routines, you'll find a solution among our selection of weighted vests. We've included both models with a fixed load that fit close to the body and stay securely in place as you exercise, as well as those that allow you to adjust the weight as needed. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 17, 2021:
We still liked the looks of all of our existing choices on this list, but we noticed that the Swift360 Camouflage wasn’t available at the time of this writing, so we went ahead and selected a significantly different alternative, for practical reasons that we’ll get into shortly, believing that our users who are still interested in a vest with a camouflage aesthetic will be well served by our continued inclusion of the Strength Sport Systems Pro II Short, which, among other styles, is offered in a digital-camo look.
Our new pick, the Unbrokenshop.com WOD, is relatively unremarkable in many respects – its 40-pound capacity is rather average and it doesn’t offer a litany of useful pockets like some others in this category – but it caught our eye with its ability to accommodate standard weight plates, and earned its spot on our list based largely on that merit.
Notably, it is quite expensive for an option that doesn’t actually include any weights, but for people who already have some barbell equipment lying around the house (probably quite a few people shopping in this category), it can still present a fairly affordable means of getting a solid setup going. It’s also available with customized leather patches, which we thought was a fun option that some of our users might like to take advantage of.
Weight Vests can be a great way to add a bit of resistance to a workout, but they aren’t the only way. For alternative approaches, check out our lists of weighted belts, weighted gloves and ankle weights.
March 16, 2020:
Weight vests come in many different shapes, sizes, and, of course, capacities. To get the most use out of one, it is important to purchase one that fits your workout routines and fitness level. For example, the Cap Barbell HHWV-CB150, which is a bit bulky and has maximum capacity of 150 pounds wouldn't be a smart choice for someone who plans on doing a lot of bending or jumping and is only looking to tone their body. On the other hand, if you were looking to pack on some extra pounds of muscle and seriously increase your load endurance, it would be one of the best options. Of course, this is only if your current fitness level warrants that amount of weight.
It is important to note that certain styles are better suited to certain types of activities. For example, streamlined models like the Aduro Sport Neoprene and Zeyu Sports Walking Fitness work very well for jogging. The downside to these models is that they are not really designed for you to adjust the weight, so there is a chance your fitness level can surpass the added resistance they offer at some point. Though expensive, we really like the Hyperwear Pro due to its sleek construction that will rarely get in the way no matter what type of workout routines you participate in. It allows you to adjust its weight as needed and, depending on the size, offers a maximum load capacity somewhere between 20 and 42 pounds, which should be enough for most people. If using a vest that allows you to adjust the weight, you should always jot down in your workout journal down how heavily your vest is loaded for your routines, along with what exercises were performed and how many reps and sets.
Anyone who performs exercises that require a lot of bending over will be well served by a short model, such as the Mir Air Flow, ZFOsports Short, and Strength Sport Systems Pro II Short, since these won't dig into your waist as much as say the full-length Cap Barbell HHWV-CB150. Another thing to consider is your body shape. It is no secret that women are generally more curvy than man. While they could certainly get away with a unisex option like the RunFast Max Pro, most ladies will find the Mir Women's Pro to offer a more comfortable fit.
Iron Wear Uni-Vest Short The Iron Wear Uni-Vest Short features soft-flex metal weights, which combine the pliability of sandbags with the durability of metal weights. It adjust from one to 20 pounds, in half-pound increments, though it can be expanded all the way up to 44 with the purchase of an optional under vest. ironwearfitness.com
Sklz Weighted Vest Pro 3243 Featuring dual Velcro straps around the mid section, the Sklz Weighted Vest Pro 3243 should stay firmly in place through intense workouts. Its stand out feature, though, has to be its ability to convert into a sandbag, making it one of the most versatile options out there. sklz.implus.com
A Few Words On Making Muscle
Not only does this action help repair muscle, it also adds material to the muscle.
Before we discuss the enhanced muscular development you can enjoy through the use of a weighted vest, it's important to establish a baseline understanding of how muscles grow in the first place. In the simplest terms, skeletal muscles are those that move your body around, controlling actions ranging from a running long jump to controlling a pair of chopsticks or throwing a 100-mph fastball. Smooth muscles, on the other hand, control involuntary actions such as intestinal activity; cardiac muscles are in their own category yet again, keeping your heart rate up or down as needed to keep oxygen-rich blood moving.
Every time you move even the slightest bit, one (or more likely dozens) of your skeletal muscles contract. This is thanks to minute muscle fibers known as sarcomeres responding to a signal sent from your brain that induces an energy transfer from the surrounding cells. The sarcomeres pull on larger bands of muscle fiber known as myofibrils, and these bands draw on the connective tissue attached to bones, thus leading to the actual movement of the body. Of course, all of this takes mere microseconds; you're completing countless contractions even now, as you sip a cup of coffee or lean in closer to the computer screen.
Weight lifting causes muscles to grow through a process known as hypertrophy. (You are probably more familiar with the pejorative antonym of this word: atrophy.) Hypertrophy takes place when the contractions of those sarcomeres and myofibrils occurs enough times or under circumstances requiring enough effort (lifting a heavy barbell, e.g.) to damage the muscle fibers. In response to damage to these fibers, your body sends in satellite cells, which are essentially reserve cells that can travel to the point of damage and help fill the damaged areas. Not only does this action help repair muscle, it also adds material to the muscle. That's also known as muscle growth. Over time, what on a cellular level is a process of repair and regeneration, on an exterior level comes to look like rippling abs, cut triceps, and a bulked up chest.
It seems ironic, but from a scientific standpoint it's accurate to say that the more "damage" you inflict on your muscles, the larger, healthier, and stronger they will grow. Of course, this comes with its limits: muscles grow slowly and steadily, and if you overwork them, you can cause injury beyond the minute tears that these satellite cells will quickly repair, potentially requiring a full cessation of exercise for a protracted period and leading to atrophy instead of hypertrophy. If you're new to weightlifting and core training exercises, read up or meet with a certified trainer before you just start lifting. You need to ease into the activity, essentially priming your muscles before you start the serious work of building serious, lasting muscle.
Make The Most Of Your Training
The phrase "sport specific training" has become something of a buzzword-cum-cliche of late, often thrown around in lieu of a more substantial term. But what the expression essentially refers to is training intended specifically to improve athletic performance, as opposed to a fitness routine intended to promote overall improved health and weight management, for example. In years past, sport specific training referred to a training regimen that was specific to a given sport: a basketball player might incorporate dribbling into his wind sprints and spend plenty of time doing squats to improve his vertical jump, while a softball pitcher might focus on building shoulder strength.
And few sports medicine doctors or fitness instructors will argue that added resistance doesn't build muscle.
Whether you are training for a specific sport; trying to improve your overall athletic prowess in terms of increased explosiveness, endurance, and reduced chance for injury; or you have embarked on a more general fitness routine because you just want to look and feel better and potentially live longer, a weight vest is a great tool to help you achieve your goals.
Regardless of your feelings about sport specific training, few people will argue that in order to improve your skills at a given activity, you need to spend a lot of time doing said activity. And few sports medicine doctors or fitness instructors will argue that added resistance doesn't build muscle. Thus, by incorporating extra weight into an activity you will already be practicing, you can help your body add the specific musculature that you use in that activity.
Imagine a long jumper suddenly getting the opportunity to try for a new record on Mars: if she weighed 120 lbs. on earth, she would weigh just 45 lbs. on the red planet, yet would still have the same muscle power at her disposal. While it's impractical to cross the tens of millions of miles to Mars for a jump, it's not impractical to add extra weight to yourself while training here on earth, and then remove it prior to performance, thus enjoying a fraction of the same benefit.
From that sprint toward first base to the agility needed in the boxing ring, a weighted vest can improve your ability to perform across multiple types of activity.
Choosing A Weight Vest For Strength Or Endurance Training
Choosing the right weighted vest is a pleasantly easy undertaking: first, know your budget. Next, know how much weight you might want to add, and choose a vest that can accommodate it. Many max out near 20 lbs., which might be too light for larger athletes. Other vests can handle 150 lbs., which should be enough weight for even large, robust bodies in training.
You should also take careful note of the weight increments that come with your vest (or that can be added separately). Some vests can have weight added by just a half-pound at a time, while others increase their load by 2 lbs. per increment. Two pounds might not sound like much on its own, but it can actually greatly increase the difficulty of an activity when you are already heavily weighted.
And finally, choose a vest based on how it secures to the body. For improved squats or lunges, it's hard to find a vest that won't suffice. For a runner or cross trainer, it's imperative to find a vest with multiple adjustment points that can hug the body tightly and won't jostle or chafe during extended periods of use.