If you’re searching for a weighted vest to increase the intensity of your workouts, look no further!
I actually decided to write this page after researching this topic for myself. Other websites were just doing Amazon roundups and you could tell the authors had never actually used a weighted vest or plate carrier in their life.
I decided to buy all of the ones that I thought looked good and share my thoughts about each here on my website.
I use a weighted vest regularly for everything from long-distance runs to pull-ups to walking lunges. I have also tested a lot of plate carriers, so I’ll add both to this list and explain the differences between the different types of weighted vests in order to help you find the right one for you!
- Here Are the Best Weighted Vests
- 1. Runmax Adjustable Weighted Vest (Best Value)
- 2. Cross101 Weighted Vest
- 3. TacTec Vest by 5.11 (Editor’s Choice)
- 4. Aduro Sport Vest
- 5. TNT Pro Series
- 6. V-Force Vest
- 7. Cap Barbell (Holds up to 150 pounds)
- 8. Titan Weight Vest
- 9. Strength Sport Systems Vest
- 10. Mir Adjustable Vest
- 11. Hyperwear Hyper Pro
- 12. Mir Short Adjustable Weighted Vest
- 13. ZFOsports Vest
- 14. Empower Fixed Weight Vest
- 15. Mir Super Slim Vest
- 16. Brute Force Weighted Vest
- 17. Box 45 Pound Vest
- Choosing the Right Weighted Vest for You
- Think About Features
- Benefits of Training in a Weighted Vest
Why Use a Weighted Vest?
For most people, weighted vests are the most cost-effective and easiest way to add resistance to their favorite exercises without spending a fortune on a set of dumbbells or barbells.
One of my favorite things about weighted vests is they distribute the weight evenly and keep the weight tight against the body.
Using dumbells is a real pain for a lot of exercises, especially because most of the time you’ll feel your grip giving out before the muscles you’re actually targeting.
Barbells are okay, but they can dig into your traps after a while, causing fatigue and pain. If you want to vary the weight, you need to invest quite a bit of money to get a quality set.
With a weighted vest, you can get a fantastic workout without having to step into a gym.
Weighted Vest vs. Plate Carrier for Training
The truth is both plate carriers and weighted vests are great for increasing the intensity of workouts, but there are trade-offs to each.
The major advantage of standard weighted vests (like you see on the right in the image above) is that they’re often designed to hold a lot more weight than a plate carrier and the weight can easily be adjusted.
There are some fixed weight weighted vests that are more geared to running (like the one you see on the far left in the image above) but they not optimal if you’re looking for something to do heavy squats or lunges in. Plate carriers are great, and there are some amazing ones like the 5.11 TactTac Plate Carrier that is used in the CrossFit Games, but a high-quality plate carrier like that isn’t cheap.
Since most plate carriers aren’t designed for exercise, there really is no fast and simple way to adjust the weight of the vest, but Rogue Fitness sells plates you can put inside the plate carriers and they’re generally heavy enough for what most people are looking for.
Modifying the weight of a weighted vest is much easier because they typically include many small sand or iron weights that can easily be added or removed to alter intensity.
Modifying the weight with a plate carrier is possible but it’s kind of a pain. You can add small disc weights if you want to increase the weight for exercises like pull-ups, but it’s kind of a pain. You’ll need to find some way to secure them, so they don’t shift around while you’re working out.
I don’t really have an issue with breathing in a plate carrier. However, some people say that they find it harder to breathe in a plate carrier because the weight is pressing against their diaphragm. The pressure makes it almost feels like the weight is crushing them. I’ve heard people complain about this when using a weighted vest as well, but not nearly as much. There are actually some weighted vests designed in a way that there is no pressure on the chest, I’ll be sure to add some to this review.
Weight vests also hold weights in small pockets; this allows the vest to conform to the shape of the individual that’s wearing it.
As mentioned briefly above, there are also a wide variety of designs when it comes to weighted vests. You can try a few different types and see which is most comfortable for you. There are even some weighted vests that are specifically designed to be more suitable for women.
The bottom line is plate carriers are designed to keep you alive, not comfortable. Since they’re a form of body armor, Amazon won’t even sell them. Some people also may feel uncomfortable being seen in a tactical plate carrier out in public. You might even get some funny looks if you’re running around your neighborhood in a plate carrier. This isn’t a big deal to me, but I figured I’d mention it.
Here Are the Best Weighted Vests
1. Runmax Adjustable Weighted Vest (Best Value)
Price: Around $60
My Review: When I first was searching a weighted vest on Amazon, I noticed that the first two vests on this list, the Runmax Pro and the Cross 101, were both highly rated. I wanted a vest that could do it all, so I decided to buy both because they are rather inexpensive and since I train a lot I knew I’d get my money’s worth out of them.
After putting the two weighted vests side by side, I was surprised that the two vests are exactly the same vests, just marketed under different names! The design is exactly the same and all the stitch markings are in the same places. The only difference is the color options and logo placement.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the vest itself!
This vest is well-built and better than some that I’ve tested that are twice the price. I use this vest regularly for a wide range of exercises, including walking lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, running, etc.
The vest is easy to adjust for a snug fit, plenty snug to comfortably do lunges, pullups, and push-ups in.
As far as running with the vest, it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world, but it does get the job done. As far as weighted vests for running long distances, there are better options on this list. If you’re just looking for a vest to do pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc and not run a lot, this is by far the best vest for the money. If you’re looking for a vest to run in specifically, I would not buy this vest.
Let’s talk about its design.
There are 4 pouches in the front and back that make it easy to add, remove, and balance the weight. Each weight is filled with sand and surrounded by a nylon shell. I abuse this vest and I’ve never had a problem with the shells tearing or spilling.
As far as using the vest for hiking, it would work perfectly so long as you don’t intend on carrying a backpack. The vest is too bulky for that and would be very uncomfortable to use with a heavy pack. A plate carrier would be much better for that.
I bought the 40 pounds vest with shoulder pads because I do a wide range of exercises in my vests, and I like to be able to drop the weight to 20 pounds when I’m doing high volume training routines.
That’s one thing I love about weighted vests like this that you can’t do with plate carriers. You can easily modify the weight. The only catch is the weights usually aren’t sold separately so if you only buy the 20-pound vest and want to increase the weight beyond that, you’ll have to buy another vest. That’s why I decided to buy a 40-pound vest.
I wish I would have got a little heavier vest for exercises like walking lunges and squats, but 40 pounds still gives me a great workout. For most people, 20 or 40 pounds is more than enough. I was really surprised how heavy the 40 pounds vest actually felt once I got it. I lift weights a lot, but the vest felt like more than 40 pounds to me for whatever reason.
I read a lot of reviews that said this vest had a bad smell that made it unusable. I didn’t notice that at all, it just smelled like a new product and the faint smell went away within a few days.
The water bottle holder really is pretty useless, and the front pocket designed to hold your phone has a pretty poor design. This wasn’t a big deal for me, but I did want to let you know about it!
- Sandbag weights
- Easy to add and remove weight
- Phone and water bottle holder
- Lifetime warranty
Bottom line: As far as value, this is the best weighted vest out there. If you want a vest you’re going to run in a lot, this vest is not the best option for you.
2. Cross101 Weighted Vest
Price: Around $60
My Review: Since we already discussed that this vest is identical to the weighted vest ranked at number 1 on this list, I won’t go into too much detail here.
I decided to buy this vest with the shoulder pads and was surprised that it came with RunMax branded shoulder pads.
While the first two vests on this list are the same, this is one marketed more for CrossFit and the Runmax more for running. Just know they’re identical and that was just done for marketing purposes.
As mentioned above, this weighted vest is amazing for basic CrossFit type exercises and is okay to run in, but it does bounce a bit and isn’t super comfortable for running long distances. If you do plan on running with it, make sure you’re wearing an undershirt. When I tried running in it with a tank top on it rubbed in a couple of spots.
I’ve used it for everything from seated weight training exercises to squats and the vest doesn’t restrict my movement or rub like some larger vests I’ve tried.
You really don’t need to purchase the shoulder straps if you’re just wearing it for pull-ups or are planning on taking off between sets, but if you’re planning on running in it or wearing it for extended periods, I recommend buying the shoulder straps.
They’re only an additional 5-$10 and they really do help distribute the weight over a larger surface area and prevent the “digging in” feeling a lot of people experience with a weighted vest.
20 to 40 pounds might not seem like a lot, but most people aren’t used to having this much weight resting on their trapezius muscles for long periods. Most of the negative reviews you’ll find online are by people who have never used a weight vest before and don’t realize it takes some time to get used to the weight resting on the traps. The shoulder pads just make the vest a little more comfortable and there really aren’t any downsides other than a little upfront cost.
The vest is available in both a desert camouflage and arctic camouflage.
I have read some negative reviews on this vest due to the odor it gives off. Mine did have a slight odor when I first took it out of the packaging, but I let it air out for a day or so and the smell went away.
Bottom line: This is a solid vest and for the money almost impossible to beat. It’s the same exact vest as the RunMax Pro, just available in different colors.
- Easy to add and remove weights
- Super durable
- Great value
3. TacTec Vest by 5.11 (Editor’s Choice)
Price: Around $200
My Review: Of all the vests on this list, this plate carrier vest from 5.11 is by far my favorite to run and train in.
If you’re a CrossFit fan or watch the CrossFit Games, you probably already know that this is the official plate carrier of the CrossFit Games.
After reading and watching so many positive reviews on it, I decided I had to get my hands on one, and I can honestly say it’s the most comfortable plate carrier I’ve owned. I use it for everything from pull-ups to 10-mile runs and I’m always impressed.
Let’s talk about what makes it so great.
5.11 incorporated the yoke-style shoulder straps that make their backpacks so comfortable into the TacTec. This technology comfortably distributes the weight of the vest and eliminates many common plate carrier pressure points.
The shoulder straps also have a little mobility, which allows the straps to move with the body, but not so much that it feels loose.
The vest also has airflow channels and aerospace mesh that allows for as much ventilation as you could ever ask for from a plate carrier.
The skeletonized cumberbund strap is unique and allows the vest to stay super snug against the body, but also allows it to flex when bending or doing exercises that require a full range of motion. I can literally adjust this vest so it barely bounces at all while I run and its’ very comfortable.
It accepts plates medium and large plates in the front and back of the plate carrier and has heavy-duty velcro to keep plates securely in place.
While it does hold real armor plates, Rogue Fitness actually sells plates designed for fitness that pair perfectly with this plate carrier. You can find the contoured plates here and the non-contoured plates here.
As you might have guessed, they aren’t cheap either, but you can usually pick up used ones on eBay at a major discount. They’re metal, so although they’re used you can just wipe them down and since you don’t ever see them it doesn’t really matter if they have a few scratches.
There is so much to say about this vest from a tactical perspective that I don’t want to dive too in-depth here since this is more of a fitness/training page. If you want to read my review from a tactical perspective, check out my plate carrier vest reviews here.
Now that we’ve covered the great things about this plate carrier, let’s talk about some potential cons from a weight vest perspective.
At around $200 without plates, I know this vest is a little out of most people’s price range. That said, this vest is a true “buy once, cry once” type of purchase.
Since the weights for this vest are metal and slide inside the vest, if you’re looking for an extremely heavy vest this probably isn’t the best option. If you want to add additional weight to the vest aside from the plates themselves, you’ll have to get creative and find ways to add additional weight to the vest. It’s perfect for what I use a weighted vest for, but if you’re looking for something to do heavy bodyweight squats in this vest might not be the best for you.
Here is a little video by 5.11 that shows this vest being used by military and law enforcement personnel.
- Comes preassembled and ready to rock and roll
- Comfortable padded shoulder straps
- Plates sold separately
- Skeletonized waistband
- Laser Cut Molle/Velcro panel
- Incredibly durable for being so lightweight (2.5 pounds without plates)
- Quick-release handle
- Plates sold separately
Bottom line: This vest is trusted by the most elite military units and fitness professionals in the world. So long as you aren’t looking for a vest to hold a ton of weight, this vest is nearly impossible to beat. Buy this vest and after you use it come back and thank me in the comments section. It’s a little more expensive than most of the vests on this list but well worth the money.
4. Aduro Sport Vest
Price: Around $60
My Review: The Aduro Sport Weighted Vest has a different design than the vests listed above. This vest is geared more towards runners and is a fixed weight. The vest a fixed weight (4-25 pounds depending on which you choose) and more geared towards runners. I believe the weight of the vest linked about 12 pounds but double-check the listing if this is the vest you decide to go with. I personally find the chest harness design of this vest more comfortable than other vests in this price range like the vests listed at position 1 and 2 on this list.
Unlike other fixed-weight harness style weighted vests, the Aduro Sport uses iron pellets for consistent weight distribution throughout the harness.
Not being able to adjust the weight may be a disadvantage to some, but the fixed-weight design actually helps the vest fit your body better.
The harness design makes this vest super agile. You can pretty much use this for any activity without it getting in the way of your range of motion. Another great benefit of the harness design is that it’s more breathable compared to bulkier vests and the light neoprene material makes it even better.
As mentioned briefly, you can choose from a variety of weights from 4 to 25 pounds to best fit your needs and fitness level. One thing I like about this vest compared to other vests that are this style is the weight distribution is on point. A lot of vests put too much weight on the back of the vest and I find it uncomfortable, but that is not the case with this vest.
Some people who purchased this vest claimed it came with a chemical smell, but that is nothing airing it out won’t fix. A lot of vests will have an odor when you first remove them from the packaging but that goes away quickly.
- Fixed weight amount
- Iron pellets for weight
- Mesh pocket
- Neoprene material
- Lifetime limited warranty
5. TNT Pro Series
Price: Around $40
My Review: The Pro Series Weighted Vest by TNT is an 11-pound weighted vest that has a similar design to the vest listed above.
What makes this vest stand out from other competitors is that instead of using river sand that could be distributed unevenly or have an odor, TNT uses iron pellets. The combination of adjustable straps and perfectly distributed weight helps prevent unwanted back strain.
The moderate amount of weight and adjustability makes the Pro Series Weighted vest ideal for men and women. If you’ve tried conventional style weighted vests in the past and found them uncomfortable to run in, this style of vest may be a good option for you.
The weight is fixed on this vest, so if you’re looking for something a little heavier for a more advanced workout, I wouldn’t recommend this vest to you. However, if you’re just starting out or only need 11 pounds added to your body-weight exercise, this vest will suit you just fine.
If the weight fits what you’re looking for, it’s a pretty good choice. It offers you a lot of space for ventilation to help prevent you from sweating too much. The material used is Dri-Lux, designed specifically for athletic purposes, it stays drier and repels odors.
The design may be pretty minimal, but this just makes the vest constrict your movements less. The vest is ideal for runners that prefer to run at night. The straps you see with the light-colored stripes are actually reflective.
- Fixed weight at 11 pounds
- Iron pellets
- Reflective straps make running in low light conditions much safer
6. V-Force Vest
Price: Around $200
My Review: The V-Force Weighted Vest has a heavy-duty vest that looks and fits nice.
The design is meant for durability, comfort, and freedom of movement.
The vest sits higher up on your torso than most weighted weighted vests, so you’re not restricted during any core movements. The top of the vest rests on your trapezius muscles instead of your shoulders, giving your arms a free range of motion.
Since the vest doesn’t restrict your range of motion, you’re able to use it for a diverse range of activities and sports with no problem.
Weight on the vest is distributed on the front and back in durable velcro pockets. They’re actually pretty similar to mag pouches on a tactical vest, and they’re pretty easy to take in and out.
The padding, material, and stitches all are American-made, high-quality, and durable.
Within the inside of the vest, there is padding all over, including on the shoulders and on the front and back to give you comfort from the weight pushing against your body.
Depending on what your intended use is for the vest, you can choose a narrow shoulder version, which is best for upper-body movements. Then you have the wider shoulder version, which is more ideal for runners to get a little extra support and padding. I personally prefer the narrow version because I do a wide range of exercises in my workouts and find the padding still excellent.
All of the stitching is double or triple stitched, V-force was not playing around with the quality.
The price is definitely on the pricier side, coming in at around $200, you get what you pay for. High-quality, durable excellence.
- Enamel coated iron weights
- 45 pounds
- Heavy inner nylon liner
- Double to triple stitching
- Easy to change weights
- 30-day money-back guarantee
7. Cap Barbell (Holds up to 150 pounds)
Price: Around $65
My Review: Cap kept 2 things in mind when coming out with this weighted vest, durability, and comfort.
I definitely do not recommend this vest for anyone starting out, trying to take it easy, or who is not ready for a heavy workout. The smallest weight option for this vest is 40 pounds, with the highest being 150 pounds. A 150-pound vest sounds pretty impractical and ridiculous to me, but I’m sure there’s someone out there looking for a super heavy weighted vest.
Keep in mind, with the weight of the vest you choose that is also the weight limit of which you can use the vest. If you buy a higher weight vest, you can always remove some weights depending on how you feel. The more weight in the vest, the higher the price.
Personally, for me, a vest in the 20 to 40-pound range will be enough to get a killer workout.
The vest is adjustable for larger and more average-sized people. Some people in other reviews have complained that the vest wasn’t able to adjust small enough to their body, causing an annoying amount of movement while running.
This vest is excellent for people who are doing agility and speed training. It’s super padded, so your shoulders won’t fatigue from holding the weight. It also has reflective strips for night time running. And it even has anchor hooks to place a parachute to give you even more resistance when running.
For a heavier duty vest, the price isn’t too bad compared to its competitors.
- Available sizes ranging from 40-pounds to 150-pounds
- 2.5-pound increments of adjustable iron weights
- List Item #3
- 30-day warranty
- Anchor hooks to hook up a parachute
- Reflective straps
8. Titan Weight Vest
Price: Around $55
My Review: The Titan Adjustable Weighted Vest is perfect for CrossFit training.
The weights can be taken in and out of the weight pockets, so you can adjust the weight you want depending on your activity. Made of steel cast steel, you won’t have to worry about weight being distributed poorly like you would with sand weights.
Titan offers you weight options from 20 to 60 pounds. Remember, if you get the 20 or 40-pound vests, you can’t put more weight on. If you get the 50 or 60-pound versions, you can always take weights out as you desire.
A thing to note, the 50 and 60-pound versions are longer, so this will cause a problem with mobility for core and some cardio workouts. These longer versions are a little extra bulky.
A thing I don’t find appealing with this vest is the adjustable velcro belt that is supposed to help the vest adjust to your body. It doesn’t stay tight that well, so when the belt becomes loose, it can become a problem when your body is bouncing up and down.
- Adjustable steel weights in 2.5-pound increments
- Heavy-duty material
- Vest options from 20-60 pounds
9. Strength Sport Systems Vest
Price: Around $40
My Review: The Strength Sport Systems Vest is another solid vest. Overall, this vest is a super solid option.
I’m not really a fan of weighted vests that are long, which can potentially block your range of motion. Thankfully, Strength Sport Systems made this vest short. Since it’s short, you can pretty much do any exercise that you could without it with the vest on.
The shoulder straps give you enough room to have a free range of motion, while also still being super padded. They’re adjustable, and they’re double padded. The extra padding is going to be pretty forgiving with higher weights during your workouts.
If you’re buying this vest for running, you can run feeling assured that cars will be able to see you from behind with the reflective stripes placed on the back of the vest.
Unfortunately, a downside of this vest is the iron sand-filled weights. I’m not saying the sand weights are going to fail you, but it definitely isn’t going to be as durable as the solid steel and iron weights that competitors use.
The weights are adjustable, so you’ll be able to choose your desired lower weight if you wish.
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Reflective stripes
- Water-proof front pocket
- Water-resistant fabric
- Iron adjustable weights
10. Mir Adjustable Vest
Price: Around $160
My Review: The Mir Adjustable Weighted Vest is a premium quality weighted vest.
Its design is meant to be comfortable, practical, and able to stay as close to your body as possible. These are the most essential factors that you want to keep in mind when you’re choosing a weighted vest. The design is pretty similar to a plate carrier.
You’re able to get this vest in 45-pounds all the way up to 140-pounds. If you get a vest that ends up to be too heavy for you, no worries you can take the weights in and out in increments of 3-pounds.
Mir made this vest to be super comfortable without restricting your range of motion. The shoulder strap padding lays on top of your trapezius muscles, this allows you to be able to move your arms in any direction for your workout.
The compact design is meant to keep the weights as close to your body as possible. The closer and snugger to your body the weights are, the less trouble you’ll have working out in the vest. The last thing you want is the weights to be bouncing off of your chest when you’re running.
For users with larger torsos, you should have no problem adjusting this vest to your body. However, some smaller statured people have claimed that that the straps aren’t able to fit their frames and the straps would become loose.
- Lifetime service warranty
- 3-pound weight increments
- Machine washable
- Double strapped
11. Hyperwear Hyper Pro
Price: Around $200
My Review: The Hypewear Hyper Vest Pro is a weighted vest meant for people of all shapes and sizes from men to women to kids.
The design is meant to keep the weight as close as to your body as possible. This is important for pretty much all exercises. The closer the weight is to your body, the more control that you have over it.
Hyperwear designed this vest to fit more like a compression shirt made from light, odor-resistant fabric rather than a stiff, bulky vest. The material and layout of the weights help your chest able to expand while breathing without sacrificing verticle flexibility that could cause the weights to shift.
The shoulder straps sit up on your trapezius muscles, allowing your shoulders and arms space to move freely. You can use this vest for pretty much all activities ranging from running to pull-ups with no problem.
If you’re not used to a plate carrier where you have to lift the vest over your head to put it on, you’ll probably like the zipper on this vest. The zipper makes it super simple to take on and off, just like a jacket.
Some people have complained about fraying caused by the steel weights rubbing against the inside of the pockets. Also, if you want to buy extra weights to add to the vest for your workout, they’re pretty pricey.
I’d recommend this vest for people looking for a lighter weight vest. It’s good for smaller framed people and less experienced users.
- 2.25-ounce adjustable steel weights
- 5 vest sizes to choose from
- Unzips just like a jacket
- Good for women or men
- Thin profile
12. Mir Short Adjustable Weighted Vest
Price: Around $160
My Review: Similar to the other Mir vest we reviewed above, this version is more of what I prefer. This vest is shorter, making it less restricting to your core movements.
Some people complain that some weighted vests put too much weight on their belly and diaphragm, making breathing more difficult. A short vest likes this will help reduce that feeling.
All of the weights can be taken in and out of their pouches in 3-pound increments, so you’re able to adjust it to your workout.
The Mir Short vest also includes double padded shoulders. This helps give you some extra comfort despite jumping around in a potentially 60-pound vest.
Heavy-duty plate carrier styled vests like this one aren’t going to have the most ventilation, but Mir did include mesh on the inside to assist with some ventilation.
On the longer version of this vest, I complained that the velcro belt tends to loosen up. Unfortunately, people have complained about this vest loosening up and sagging during horizontal workouts like pushups.
It’s not able to hold as much weight as the longer version, but I don’t think you really need more than 60-pounds on your vest for most workouts.
- 20 to 60-pound weight options
- Weights adjustable in 3-pound increments
- Heavy-duty 1200D reinforced nylon
- Double padded shoulders
- Lifetime warranty
13. ZFOsports Vest
Price: Around $300
My Review: I put the ZFOsports vest on my list because of its affordable price, and versatility for men and women.
Its weight limit only goes up to 20-pounds, but for many people, that’s all you need anyway. And if 20-pounds is too much for you because you’re just starting out, you can just remove the unwanted weight.
Since this vest is meant for lower weights, the vest is pretty low-profile, so you could easily fit it under a shirt that isn’t tight.
The fit on the ZFOsports vest is pretty nice, the material is breathable and flexible, so it’s able to contour to your body. But, because of its length, your core will be pretty limited to not being able to move horizontally completely.
I recommend this vest to people who are mostly looking for a walking or running vest. The design can cause some range of motion problems with the arms.
14. Empower Fixed Weight Vest
Price: Around $20
My Review: If you’re a woman reading this looking for a vest that is going to fit your build and not to be too heavy, then the Empower Weighted Vest might be the right choice for you.
The X-style design is meant to specifically built to fit the curves of a woman. But, if you’re a curvy dude that’s interested in adding some extra weight to your workouts, don’t look away too quickly.
Despite its simple design, this vest does sit pretty still during cardio exercises, while being comfortable.
This vest is a fixed weight vest ideal for people on a budget.
Because the price isn’t going to put a significant burden on your wallet, Empower used sand for weight. The sand is sewn into pockets evenly distributed throughout the vest.
In case you’re curious about the pocket advertised on this vest, it’s a small pocket. It couldn’t fit anything bigger than a flip phone securely.
- 3 fixed sand weight options: 4, 6, 8
- Designed for women
- Small storage pocket
- Fits waists 24 to 48-inches
- Reflective stripes on the back
15. Mir Super Slim Vest
Price: Around $145
My Review: The Mir Super Slim vest is exactly what it sounds like, a low-profile vest meant for a maximum weight capacity of 32 pounds.
Adjusting this vest is kind of like a life jacket, fit the 2 side straps to your torsos circumference, and zip it up.
All of the iron weights on this vest are removable, but they’re also tiny in .2-pound increments. Smaller stature people might like this, but as a larger and stronger guy, taking these little weights in and out is a pain.
The low-profile design keeps the weights as close to your body as possible, preventing additional torque. You could even slip this vest under a sweatshirt or jacket in bad weather.
The Super Slim is meant for lower weights, so they didn’t include as much padding. If you’re looking for a vest that isn’t too heavy, this may not be a problem, but 32-pounds on a vest of this little padding might become uncomfortable for you.
- Adjustable .2-pound iron weights
- 4 to 32-pound weight options
- Slim profile
- Lifetime warranty
16. Brute Force Weighted Vest
Price: Around $160
My Review: I’m a fan of anything camo, especially Multicam, and that is why the Brute Force vest caught my eye. You can get it in other colors, but this is just my personal favorite.
The Brute Force Weighted Vest was designed for military, tactical, and functional athletes.
The unique thing about this vest is that it actually doesn’t come with any sand or iron weights. To add weight, you have to fill the 12 pockets with your own sand or steel.
This might cause unwanted shifting of the weight during some activities, but it also makes it super customizable. Another problem you might run into with this is not properly distributing the weight.
Durability wise, this vest is tough. All of the stitching is doubled, and the material is 1000D mil-spec Cordura. A lot of people who do CrossFit and the famous Murph workout trust this vest for its super durable quality.
- 1000D mil-spec Cordura
- No weight included
- Fill it with your own sand
- Durable one-piece design
- 2 sizes to choose from S/M or L/XL
17. Box 45 Pound Vest
Price: Around $195
My Review: The Box Weighted Vest is a simple short plate carrier styled weighted vest.
All of the weight on the best rests comfortably on your upper body, not on your belly since it’s short.
The range of motion with your arms with this vest is pretty good, except maybe with slight restriction with your arms going straight up. For pull-ups, it still shouldn’t be a problem.
To adjust the vest, you have a belt that wraps around your upper torso. The strap locks into place securely with side buckles.
All of the 2.5-pound iron weights are removable in mag-pouch-style pockets. Even if you’re not ready for 45 pounds of added resistance, you can always just build-up to it.
Running with 45 pounds on your shoulder would make you expect to really feel the weight on the shoulders, but since the adjustable belt is so securable, it helps spread out the load a little.
Overall, I like the compact and simple design. You want a vest that is going to be secure, and Box gets the job done.
- 2.5- pound cast iron adjustable weights
- Maximum weight of 45 pounds
- Easy to clean lining
Choosing the Right Weighted Vest for You
Sizing and Design
Most weighted vests are “one size fits all” and typically have one or more adjustment points around the waist area.
If you have a shorter torso, having a vest that isn’t as long may be better because it won’t impede your range of motion. There aren’t as many, but there are some vests that don’t go much below the belly button.
Choosing the Right Weight
You might be surprised by how much it costs to buy a weight vest with more weight. Even if you’re buying the same exact model, a vest that comes with more weight may cost over twice as much.
When selecting a vest, keep in mind that you can always take weight out, but if you want to increase the weight beyond what the vest comes with, you can’t.
Most companies don’t sell individual weights, but you may be able to find some off-brand weights. Or, you can find some crafty ways to add weight with homemade sandbags or something.
I’ve read a lot of people say that they bought a 10-20 pound vest and then ended up having to buy a 40 or 60-pound vest. They determined that better suited their needs. In that case, they would have saved a lot of money if they would have just bought a heavier vest in the first place.
For most people, a 20 or 40-pound weight vest does the trick. I hear a lot of people that buy 60+ pound vests comment that they were surprised by how much 60 pounds actually is. Some studies show that heavier isn’t always better.
I usually buy a 40-pound vest. There are times, though, for things like walking lunges and squats that I wish I had a little heavier vest.
Are Weights Included?
This one seems self-explanatory, but many sellers list their vest without weights to make it look cheaper than their competitors. This is something you’ll want to pay especially close attention to if you’re buying a plate carrier, but seen several companies do this with weighted vests. None of the weighted vests I’ve listed below do this. As long as you stick to this list, you don’t need to worry about this too much.
Adjustability and Fit
You want the vest almost to feel like it’s a part of you. If the vest bounces around too much or doesn’t stay in one place, it’s going to be uncomfortable and distracting.
Along with being distracting, if your vest shifts around or bounce too much, it will lead to some severe chafing. I recommend wearing some type of tight undershirt regardless if you’re wearing a weighted vest or plate carrier.
A tight fit is especially important when you’re running long distances. If the vest bounces, it’s going to be very annoying and make your shoulders very uncomfortable, regardless if you have good shoulder pads or not. Some other exercises that you’d definitely want a vest for that don’t bounce are burpees, handstand pushups, and sprints.
If you end up choosing a vest that doesn’t fit properly, it can have a serious negative impact on your workout. Exercises might become extremely uncomfortable. I’ve had vests that did fit properly, and they sagged and touched the floor when doing things like planks.
If you buy a vest and you’re finding you still can’t get a tight fit, I’ve heard of people using tape to make sure the vest adheres to their body.
Regardless if you’re using a weighted vest or plate carrier, you’re going to want to make sure the weight is distributed evenly.
In the Marines, some guys wouldn’t wear their side or backplates so they wouldn’t have to carry the extra weight. There is the saying “I’m not going to get shot in the back running away” anyway.
I only mention this because you can get away with having more weight in the front because it actually causes the vest or plate carrier to sit lower on the body away from the neck. If you have more weight in the back, it will cause the vest to sit higher, and you may even find it creeping up towards your neck, making it difficult to breathe. The takeaway from this information is – make sure you never have more weight in the back of the vest than you do in the front.
Taking Weight Off Your Shoulders
Even the best-weighted vest will take some getting used to, especially in the shoulder area. Most people aren’t used to have weight resting on the traps for long periods.
One of the easiest ways to take the weight of the shoulders is to make sure the straps around the chest and waist are very snug. In the Marines, on hikes, the weight of my pack and plate carrier would add up to 100+ pounds. My shoulders would get absolutely destroyed, but one thing I did that really helped a lot is to adjust the waist strap very tight. This places the weight on your hips rather than your shoulders.
There are some vests out there that fit great, but they are quite a pain to take on and off. For a lot of exercises like pull-ups, I like to get as many reps as I can with the vest on, then quickly take the vest off and do a burnout set.
Having a vest that can be removed in a few seconds is very convenient for instances like that.
I touched on this before, but weighted vests and plate carriers will make it harder for your body to dissipate heat. While overheating is unlikely, it is something to consider. Also, these vests can absorb a lot of sweat, so if the vest is breathable, it won’t get gross quite as fast.
There are actually a couple of vests out there that I would put at the top of this list if they were durable. With a couple of vests I had, the weights actually busted through the bottom of the pockets after just a few uses. It’s not a huge deal if you know how to sew, but when you’re dropping 50+ dollars on a vest, you want something that’s going to hold up.
While many vests won’t specify if they can be washed or not, if you’re using them a lot at some point, you’re going to want to clean them. I’ve run vests through the washing machine and then air-dried them without any problem. If you do this to a vest that isn’t designed to be washed, it may weaken it. One of the easiest ways to clean a vest is to hit it with a hose or let it soak in a sink or bathtub with some soapy water. I’m not really a master of washing vests or anything, but these are some things that have worked for me.
Adding Weight and Joint Health
Along with increasing the intensity of exercises, a weighted vest will also put more weight on your joints. It’s often advised to start slow to prevent joint and reduce the chance of injury.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to increasing weight. Some trainers say to start without having all the weights in the vest, and then slowly add weight as you get used to training in a vest.
The other school of thought is to keep all the weight in the vest but to start using the vest for a short duration.
Personally, being young and stubborn, I’ve never worked up after buying a vest. While I do think it’s a smart idea, it’s very hypocritical for me to lecture you on why you should do it.
If you’re young and already work out a lot, you may be able just to throw the vest on, do your workouts, and not have any problems. That said, if you’re just getting into resistance training and have a vest that allows you to add/remove weight, I recommend taking some weight out the first time you use it and see how it feels before increasing the weight.
Fitness Plate Carrier vs. Military Plate Carrier
While some plate carriers are certainly marketed more towards the fitness industry than others, all plate carriers are primarily designed to hold real armor plates.
Since so many members of the CrossFit community are also law enforcement and military personnel, they simply started using their plate carriers to increase the intensity of their workouts.
The fitness industry caught on, and nowadays some plate carriers are designed for mobility and flexibility. These are the plate carriers that have been heavily adopted by the CrossFit industry. Nowadays you’ll see plate carriers used in CrossFit Games by even the highest level athletes.
When I Recommend a Plate Carrier
I’ve done hundreds of workouts using a plate carrier and find myself working out in my plate carrier more than my weighted vests. The 5.11 Plate Carrier fits like a dream and it is just way more comfortable than any weighted vest I’ve ever worn. The only time I really use a weighted vest is when I’m doing exercises where I want a lot more weight.
I like plate carriers when I’m hiking with a heavy pack. The flat plate in the back of the plate carrier allows the pack to rest flat, and with a plate carrier, you can easily attach things like a hydration pack.
They typically have some type of MOLLE functionally which is quite nice if you want to attach pouches and other accessories.
Like I mentioned there are some high-quality plate carriers geared toward fitness, like the one made by 5.11 that is standard in the CrossFit games and famous for the Murph.
If you’re in law enforcement or getting ready to enter the military, I can certainly see why you might want to train with a plate carrier to get used to it.
If you have an unlimited budget and don’t need a weighted vest that can hold a lot of weight, the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier is unmatched.
Think About Features
Some vests are going to have fixed weights, where you’re not able to change. If you’re only looking to use your vest for one type of exercise, maybe this will be best for you.
Other vests are going to have adjustable weights, allowing you to take weight on and off to better fit a more diverse range of workouts.
The choice all boils down to what you want to use it for. Adjustable vests are going to serve a wider range of purposes.
Having a vest that can perfectly adjust itself to your body is going to make your workout more comfortable.
As mentioned, you want the vest to be a part of your body and moving as one.
Comfort is one of the most significant factors that you should base your decision on. If your vest isn’t comfortable, you won’t want to use it, rendering it useless.
Padding and airflow are the main things that are going to affect comfortability. Some vests are going to have more padding in the shoulders than others, or some may have more ventilation as a tradeoff for less padding.
The last thing you want is to invest your money into something that is just going to fall apart. Depending on your price range and intended use, you want to take note of the material and durability of the vest.
Benefits of Training in a Weighted Vest
Weighted vests aren’t the end all be all, and I certainly don’t use my weighted vests every day. That said, there is plenty of research that suggests training in a weighted vest may be beneficial.
A weighted vest increases stress on the muscles. Just like weight training, your body adjusts for the added weight over time, leading to increased strength and endurance.
Increased Cardiovascular Performance and Metabolic Response
A Study Published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology that tracked the progress of participants that wore weighted vests that were 9%-10% body weight from morning to evening for four weeks. After four weeks the group wearing vests had higher improved running time to exhaustion, improved vertical velocity when running upstairs and increased VO2 during submaximal running after added load periods. It was concluded that the additional load increased anaerobic metabolism in the leg muscles during submaximal and maximal exercise. The results suggested that the increased load during training increased recruitment and adaptation of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Another study on the effects of a weighted vest use was conducted to see if wearing a weighted vest during daily activities for only 3 weeks slightly improved the agility of the young men in the study.
Increased Explosive Strength
A study posted in the Strength and Conditioning Journal followed a group of college-level football players who performed plyometrics and weight training. The research was done to determine if weight training and plyometrics with weighted vests and ankle weights was more effective than weight training and plyometrics without weight vests and ankle weights. After six weeks, both groups improved at the 40-yard dash, broad jump, and vertical jump, but the group that utilized weighted vests and ankle weights produced substantially better improvements.
Another study on the effects of different weight vests on running performance showed that vests between 8-20% of the participant’s body weight were very effective in improving acceleration and maximum speed.
Weight Vests May Improve Warm-Up Effectiveness
Another study on the effects of using a weighted vest for dynamic warm-ups found that using a vest that weighed 2% of the participant’s body weight was the most effective. The study compared 4 different warm protocols before testing, including static stretching alone, moderate to high intensity high dynamic warm exercises without a vest, and moderate to high-intensity exercise with a vest that weighed either 2% or 6% of their body weight.
The participants in the study had a 12% improvement after warming up with a vest compared to static stretching, and vertical jump performance went up by 13.5%. Participants’ performance was significantly better for all exercises after the 2% body weight vest was used, even compared to doing dynamic warm-ups without a vest or a weight vest that weighed 6% of their body weight.
I’ve noticed this benefit for myself, and I’ve heard from a lot of athletes that a weighted vest helps them break plateaus. After training with a weighted vest, I get a weightless feeling when running or jumping. I noticed this a lot in the Marines when I would run with my plate carrier and boots during physical training. After taking it off, I felt like I could run forever because I was so much lighter. I feel like this was part psychological and part physiological.
Neoprene – This is a foam material used in some vests. It’s a foam material that is tough and breathable. It’s weather-resistant to elements like health and is
Iron – Many vests have weights that are filled with iron. Iron is relatively inexpensive but very heavy, allowing the weights to be smaller and thinner but still do what they were designed to.
Velcro – Velcro is a material incorporated into many vests because it is an excellent adhesive and makes the vest very easy to get on and off without having to do with any straps or buckles. Some vests are poorly designed and may even have buckles that dig into the skin during exercise. If a vest has good quality velcro, you’ll be able to get an excellent tight fit and be able to take it on and off very fast.
Sand – Sand is often used in vests for weight because it’s inexpensive. However, it’s not always the best because it can hold on to odors and the weight can shift unevenly.
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines to join the team who are interested in writing about tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or joining the team, check out the “About Us” tab.