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If you think bodyweight exercises like air squats, push-ups, pull-ups and lunges are too boring, we challenge you to add a weighted vest to the equation. Whether you choose a fixed 10-pound weighted vest or one that adjusts up to three digits, your muscles will be in for a surprise.
Wearing a weighted vest during your workouts can increase stamina, muscular endurance and strength. But how’s a person to choose? With so many weighted vests available online, it’s a tough draw. Luckily, our ACTIVE product reviewers have tested more than 50 options, putting them through the ringer during various workouts to ensure we recommend the best weighted vests for you.
Best Weighted Vest - Our Top Picks
- Best Adjustable Weighted Vest - BOX Weighted Vest
- Best Backpack-Style Weighted Vest - GoRuck Rucker 3.0
- Best Fitting Weighted Vest - Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite Weight Vest
- Best Weighted Vest for Women - Empower Weighted Vest for Women
- Best Weighted Vest for Running - RunMax Pro Weighted Vest
- Best Short Length Weighted Vest - miR Short Weighted Vest
Best Adjustable Weighted Vest - BOX Weighted Vest
This one-size-fits-all tactical weighted vest is adjustable in increments of 2.5 pounds—a cut above other weighted vests that typically only adjust in increments of 10. This means you can use the BOX Weighted Vest to get stronger at movements like weighted pull-ups, where a measly 2.5 pounds often makes a big difference.
Constructed of moisture-resistant military-grade fabric, the BOX Weighted Vest features wide shoulder straps and a buckle closure system that won’t pop open during intense conditioning workouts. We do wish it came in multiple sizes, but with the unique closure system, most people should be able to find a good fit.
- Key Feature: Extremely adjustable weight increments
- Weight: Up to 45 pounds
- Best Used For: Calisthenics, bodyweight training
Best Backpack-Style Weighted Vest - GoRuck Rucker 3.0
If you plan on heading out for a ruck any time soon—a.k.a. a super long walk while wearing a heavy backpack—the GoRuck Rucker 3.0 is the weighted vest for you. OK, so, it’s not technically a weighted vest, but it’s an ultra-durable backpack with wide sternum and waist straps to evenly disperse weight across your torso.
Between that, the extra lumbar padding and the comfortable shoulder pads, this backpack-style weighted vest is by far the best for walking, rucking and hiking with extra weight. Not only is the Rucker comfortable to wear, but it’s built specifically to withstand extended periods of time in outdoor elements, like heavy winds and rain, mud and anything else you can think of.
- Key Feature: Backpack-style fit and closure
- Weight: Customizable
- Best Used For: Walking, hiking, rucking
Best Fitting Weighted Vest - Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite Weight Vest
We love the Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite Weight Vest for CrossFit WODs and other high-impact, high-intensity workouts. It has a unique build similar to that of its sibling product, the Hyper Vest Pro, using tiny removable weights instead of sandbags or steel weight plates. The result is an impressively comfortable fit that feels more like a heavy T-shirt than a weighted vest.
This vest is made of a thin Cordura fabric, so while it’s reasonably durable, we don’t recommend taking it through the same paces as something like the Rucker 3.0 above. But if fit is the most important factor for you, the Hyper Vest Elite is the best choice. even at the highest weight option (20 pounds), it feels flexible and maneuverable. You’ll be able to do everything from running to burpees to pull-ups without feeling constricted.
- Key Feature: Flexible, form-fitting construction
- Weight: Up to 20 pounds
- Best Used For: All exercise
Best Weighted Vest for Women - Empower Weighted Vest for Women
The typical weight vest style won’t work for a lot of women due to the way weighted vests cover and sometimes compress into the chest. The Empower Weighted Vest for Women is designed specifically with the female body in mind to avoid those problems. It’s shaped like an X, with the main point of contact being on or just below the sternum. It features open sides for optimal range of motion, too. Between the breathable design and sweat-resistant neoprene fabric, this vest is great for all activities.
You can get the Empower Weighted Vest in a fixed eight-pound version or an adjustable version that goes up to 16 pounds. For the eight-pound vest, iron sand is sewn directly into the vest. The 16-pound vest is a little different: It has 10 pounds of fixed weight and comes with six one-pound iron sandbags to add or remove.
- Key Feature: Designed for female body shapes
- Weight: Up to 16 pounds
- Best Used For: Walking, bodyweight training, conditioning
Best Weighted Vest for Running - RunMax Pro Weighted Vest
The RunMax Pro Weighted Vest can carry an impressive amount of weight—up to 140 pounds! You probably won’t need that much weight in a weighted vest for running, but it’s still pretty cool. It also comes in 20-, 40-, 60-, 80- and 120-pound options, and the Velcro closure system allows you to pull the vest tight to avoid jostling during runs. Plus, the mesh side panels allow your arms to move freely.
It has optional shoulder pads for additional comfort during your running workouts. The vest even comes with a water bottle holder, a dedicated phone pocket and an additional mesh pocket for stashing crucial items like earbuds and energy gummies for long runs. If you choose one of the higher weight options, you can also use the RunMax Pro Weighted Vest for weight training workouts.
- Key Feature: High weight capacity
- Weight: Up to 140 pounds
- Best Used For: Running, walking, strength training
Best Short Length Weighted Vest - miR Short Weighted Vest
Whatever your reason for wanting a cropped weighted vest, the miR Adjustable Weighted Vest will surely satisfy it. It’s only 11 inches in length, so for most people the bottom seam will rest near the bottom of the rib cage (versus closer to the hip bones). Not only will this style prove more comfortable for people with shorter torsos, it also provides more freedom for movement during core and rotational exercises.
It has a double hook-and-loop strap closure to ensure a snug fit despite being a one-size-fits-all vest. There’s also a zipper version if you prefer that, but in our testing, we found that buckles tend to hold up longer and offer a more adjustable fit. The miR weighted vest is available from a 20-pound weight option up to 60 pounds—snag it on Amazon to build strength or improve your endurance.
- Key Feature:Cropped length
- Weight:Up to 60 pounds
- Best Used For:Calisthenics, CrossFit
What to Consider When Buying a Weighted Vest
If you’re considering adding a weighted vest to your arsenal of home gym equipment, make sure to consider a few factors before pressing the buy button.
Construction and Durability
Just like you’d look at durability for weight plates or a barbell, you’ll want to check out the specs of a weighted vest for durability. You want to make sure your weighted vest will hold up to all types of workouts, from cardio to weightlifting.
First and foremost, check the fabric type: Is it made of neoprene, Cordura, nylon or something else? Neoprene and Cordura are considered the best fabrics for weighted vests—neoprene for its water resistance and Cordura for its durability.
Also look at the closure mechanism. Buckles and zippers may hold up better than Velcro over time because when Velcro becomes dirty, it loses its effectiveness.
How It Fits
Obviously, you want your vest to fit well or you’ll find it jostles and bounces around during workouts. Features like adjustable straps and elastic components can help you get the best fit possible. For some people a one-size-fits-all vest might work, but most will be better off choosing a weighted vest that comes in different sizes.
Weights and Weight Capacity
Some weighted vests come at a fixed weight while others come with adjustable weights. If you choose an adjustable vest, make sure to check for the total weight capacity and what types of weights go in the vest. Many vests use sandbags as weight while others, like the Hypervest Elite weighted vest, use small weight bars made of steel. Steel is more durable than sand in the long run, but well-made sandbags should hold up for a reasonably long time.
Last, but definitely not least, your budget will heavily influence your final decision. Some weight vests cost as little as $30 while the high end reaches $200 or more. For the most part, a mid-range price will get you a decent quality vest. When it comes to gym equipment, it’s generally true that you get what you pay for.
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