Weighted vest training has skyrocketed in the last decade. They’re cool, they’re trendy, and they’re effective, whether your goal is to lose weight or improve your athleticism.
From CrossFit, calisthenics, and garage-gym workouts, to simply adding weight to classic exercises, weighted vests are a useful tool in your resistance training arsenal.
To add variety to your workouts and improve your fitness results, a weighted vest should be on your shortlist of options.
In sum, they provide the benefits of resistance training but without confining you to certain movements or positions. You’re not confined to carrying weight with your hands.
The premise behind nearly all strength training is to intelligently use resistance. In that sense, using a weighted vest is no different than a barbell. It’s resistance that helps you stress your muscles and promote muscle recruitment, which in turn can support strength improvements.
In one study, researchers found significant improvement in strength levels for athletes who wore weighted vests during Olympic-style barbell exercises when compared to those who did not wear weighted vests during training.
Adding a weight vest to your exercise regimen or even throughout the day can improve fat loss. With the addition of a weighted vest, the body has to work harder and increase energy expenditure.
This means that with a weight vest you will use more calories to burn off fat and improve fat loss during bodyweight exercises, cardio, and many other types of resistance training.
A study from the American Council on Exercise found that untrained individuals who performed their treadmill exercise program with a weight vest had an increased metabolic cost and energy output when compared to the control group.
Bone is a living tissue that responds to many things such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, and stress. In order to maintain bone density it is important to expose the bone to weight-bearing and resistance exercises.
The introduction of a weighted vest is an amazing way of giving the bone a weight-bearing load to optimize bone health and maintain bone density. In one study focused on bone density in older adults, researchers found that the older adults wearing a weight vest in conjunction with resistance training maintained more bone density when compared to the control group.
Purchasing any weighted vest on our best 7 weight vests allows you to take your workouts to a new level. By introducing more resistance through a weighted vest you are enhancing the results you will see from your workouts.
Whether you are at the gym or at home following a bodyweight training program, a weighted vest will add variety to your workout.
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It is no surprise that the 5.11 Tactec is a fan favorite and our top-rated weighted vest on the market today. The 5.11 Tactec provides a water-resistance high quality 500D nylon that is extremely durable but does not sacrifice comfort. In fact, the 5.11 tactec is ergonomically designed to allow full range of motion during any resistance training exercises, wods, and bodyweight exercises.
The 5.11 tactec uses a plate-loading style with a weight capacity of 20 lbs. This weighted vest includes oversized airflow channel padding to maximize breathability during intense workouts.
We found that the 500D nylon is the perfect non-slip texture to allow a constant and secure fit throughout a sweat-filled workout and is designed for any fitness level.
The customization options include a wide variety of color and camo options including black, camo, navy, storm, kangaroo, and ranger green with the addition of personalized velcro badges from the Rogue patch collection.
I included a different type of image for the Kensui EZ-VEST so you could see that it’s unlike all of the other options on our list. It’s a small, portable kit that you can easily throw in your gym bag, and then you add weight plates and clips to it. It’s a plate-loaded weighted vest.
This makes it the most versatile to travel with, since as long as you’re going to a gym with plates, you’ll be good to go.
It’s ideal for exercises like weighted pull-ups, Bulgarian split squats, and other traditional strength training exercises. It’s the easiest vest to add extra weight. Between the front and the back, you can add hundreds of extra pounds.And you don’t need to spend hundreds of extra dollars for specific weights that go with your vest.
It’s not as mobile, so it’s a no-go for sprints and other explosive exercises.
Designed in Japan, this is a high-quality, durable product that could be the future of weighted vests. It comes with a lifetime warranty.
They have 3 options, and they start at just $99. That’s an affordable price for a quality vest that’s tough to beat.
Whichever you choose, use our code “ROMAN10” for 10% off.
The Rogue Plate Carrier is highly regarded because of its simplistic but extremely effective design. We love the Rogue Plate carrier because it effectively eliminates all excessive and complicated padding and instead replaces it with strong, durable, and reinforcing material without sacrificing breathability and comfort.
Weighing in at only 1lb, the Rogue Plate Carrier has a max weight of 20 lbs through the Rogue plate loading system which is hands down one of the best loading systems we have tested.
The Rogue Plate Carrier comes in black, coyote brown, grey, and olive green with the addition of personalized badges and patches for a more individualized weight vest.
The MIR Short Style is the perfect vest for a one-size-fits-all approach to a weighted vest. We love the MIR Short Style because it was created with an outstanding maximum weight of 60 lbs without restricting any part of the body needed for breathing such as the diaphragm.
This weighted vest allows for a 3lb weight adjustment and is easily adjusted through the MIR belts. After prolonged use, we found that the material within the weight pockets tends to wear down.
The Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro Elite is the go-to weighted vest for anyone looking for a sleek and form-fitting weighted vest that is not bulky and over cumbersome. This torso-covered weighted vest comes in four sizes and is able to be adjusted with Booster Packs that allow you to add 5 lbs of additional weight.
We love this adjustable weighted vest because of its unique fabric that allows for a comfortable and secure fit with expandable fabric to allow proper breathability during intense workouts and is machine washable.
Although the Elite Hypervest is very breathable, the side string stitching could be built with a stronger material to allow for less fraying.
GoRuck Plate Carrier 3.0 offers the best compact and snug fit option for those looking to bring their vest while traveling or sporting events. The GoRuck 3.0 is compatible with up to 30lbs through the Ruck Plate loading system.
Weight vests that accommodate higher loads usually sacrifice comfort. However, GoRuck 3.0 has durable nylon shoulder, top handle, and sternum padding that allow you to carry steel weight comfortably and fits all body types.
The ergonomic lumbar support padding and wide sternum strap allow a non-friction experience when training without a shirt or in humid climates and are available in black or coyote brown.
Weighing in at 1.5 lbs unloaded and up to 20 lbs loaded, the Condor Sentry is the cousin to the best overall weighted vest – the 5.11 tactec. The Condor Sentry is a great economy option for those looking for a cheaper but effective plate-loaded weight vest that can fit
Unfortunately, the form factor and materials used in the Condor Sentry are not as durable as the 5.11 tactec and is noticeable after long wear times. That being said, the padded mesh and hook-and-loop webbing is perfect for the average weighted vest workout.
We still think that this is an excellent weighted vest for those looking for an economical option without all of the additional features of the 5.11 Tactec.
The TRX XD Weight Vest is designed with durable, long-lasting, and water resistant kevlar which makes it stand out from its competitors. The TRX XD Weight Vest comes in 10, 20, and 40 lbs and can be adjusted in 1-2lb increments.
The unique TRX cross-strap design allows this vest to have a secure fit and a higher max weight threshold without the feeling of being too tight and restrictive.
We found that the shoulder padding could be a bit more supportive for long wear times at the max weight of 40lbs.
How we ranked
As the market for at-home fitness, garage gyms, CrossFit, and many other niche fitness groups continues to grow, so does the number of products in the fitness world. We have taken the time to test and evaluate the best-weighted vests within the market today to make sure you make the best decision on which weighted vest is the best fit for you and your fitness goals.
Although there are new and emerging companies that will try to sell you a new and innovative style of weighted vests, there are only three types of weight vests that are worth your time. Tactical, torso-covered, and shoulder-holstered weight vests are the most common and widely used throughout the field of fitness because of their effectiveness throughout the last decade.
Tactical: These weighted vests are classified by their military-style body armor design. These particular weighted vests use a plate-loaded weight technique; weighted plates (often 5, 10, 20lbs) are inserted in the front and back of the weighted vest.
Tactical weight vests are best used for strength training, push-ups, cardio, and weightlifting.
Torso-covered: These weighted vests are best known for breathability and compact-style fit. Torso-covered weighted vests only cover your chest allowing the diaphragm and lungs to fully expand and not become compressed.
Shoulder holstered: Typically a buckle-design or velcro fit similar to a backpack. These weighted vests allow great mobility and comfort for long wear times. One of the downsides is that these weight vests are typically fixed-weight.
One of the most important things to consider when considering a weight vest is comfort. It was particularly important for us to ensure each weighted vest on this list was comfortable during long wear times. This meant ensuring that sweat-filled workouts would not disrupt, disturb, or alter the weighted vest in any way.
We understand that you may be considering a weighted vest for a wide variety of reasons. This is why we included a wide spectrum of weighted vests to best suit the needs of our readers. We recommend considering a tactical or shoulder-holstered design for those looking to change weights regularly. For those looking for a static weight, we recommend a torso-covered weighted vest.
With all of the features that can be included in a weight vest, it was evident to us that we needed to consider the cost of each weighted vest to help make the best-informed decision about which weight vest to purchase.
We have included a wide spectrum ranging from weighted vests with all features included as well as strong, durable, and reliable budget options.
Nothing is worse than a poorly made piece of exercise equipment that malfunctions over a short period of time. We spent a significant amount of time researching and testing only the most durable and strong weighted vests to ensure a long-term product.
For the most durable material, we recommend 500 – 1000D nylon and Kevlar. For a more flexible and breathable fit, we recommend a polyester weighted vest.
Weighted vests work by providing an additional low-to-moderate load of resistance on the body through the use of weights.
Yes. If a weighted vest is used within its proper constraints and protocols, wearing a weighted vest is safe.
Almost every exercise will be more challenging due to the added resistance. Weighted vest Pull-ups, push-ups, and squats are some of our favorites.
Yes. A weighted vest will increase your caloric expenditure during aerobic exercise which in turn increases fatty oxidation throughout the body to increase weight loss. Of course, though, it must be part of a comprehensive nutrition and training program for weight loss.
Weighted vests are a great tool to include in your workouts to increase strength, muscle, and bone density. We highly recommend weighted vest training to bodyweight workouts and is perfect for home gyms.
In general, 10-20lbs is an optimal amount of weight for men and 5-10lbs for women. This is very dependent on the individual. We recommend starting with a lower and conservative amount of weight.
Looking for another great power/cardio training option? Check out our list of the best weight sleds.