In this review article I share my hands-on product evaluations of several very popular weighted vests.
I also wrote up a buyer’s guide for weight vest beginners, where I provide tips on important items to consider while shopping for your vest.
All of the weighted vests reviewed here are of above-average quality — hence the title Best Weighted Vests — and are currently selling at sporting goods retailers or online stores.
And I conclude with a list of safety precautions to help insure your “vested weight training” is productive and free from injury.
Boost your fitness with weighted clothing
Wearing a weighted vest for parts of your physical activity routine can be an effective way to increase workout intensity, improve athletic performance, and provide other strength training benefits.
A well-made weighted vest offers even distribution of the extra weight snugly around your upper body, making it a lot better for your ankle & knee joints than ankle weights. (1)
No workout equipment? No problem.
Get an adjustable weight vest & use it to lose weight, gain strength, endurance, whatever your …then hang it up in your closet like a shirt when you’re done.
7 Best weighted vests in 2021
Here are my top seven picks, and you can click on their blue names throughout the article if you want to check prices or read buyer reviews:
Science resources included
As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant medical resources, clinical studies, & nutritional data used in this article.
Best weighted vest owners’ ratings
Here’s how thousands of verified buyers have rated the weight vests featured in this article.
My owner satisfaction % is the percentage of owners who gave their product a 5- or 4-star rating.
By the way, you can click on their blue name or their pic to check out current prices on Amazon for all of these vests except for Rogue’s.
Rogue doesn’t sell any of their top-notch strength training gear on Amazon, so their links in this article go to Rogue’s website.
Owners satisfaction rating 97%, 4.9⭐ – 800+ reviews
“Well worth the money. Got the vest for Murph this year and am very happy with the purchase. Once adjusted it is very comfortable to run in (i.e. minimal bouncing and no chafing) and allows for full range of motion during pull-ups, etc. Construction is rock-solid…” – owner JPF
Owners satisfaction rating 94%, 4.7⭐ – 1,600+ reviews
“If you are serious about training, this vest does it!” – owner DK
Owners satisfaction rating 86%, 4.5⭐ – 400+ reviews
Owners satisfaction rating 90%, 4.6⭐ – 4,400+ reviews
“I love the product and I highly recommend.” – owner MM
Owners satisfaction rating 88%, 4.7⭐- 1,000+ reviews
Owners satisfaction rating 90%, 4.6⭐ – 600+ reviews
“Good vest. Wish it could tighten more.” – owner KC
Owners satisfaction rating 87%, 4.5⭐ – 7,000+ reviews
“Great for workouts, but the fabric is not durable.” – owner FN
Reviews of the 7 best weighted vests in 2021
(#1 Top Pick)
Rogue has several excellent vests to choose from with multiple weight options, and their 5.11 Tactical Plate Carrier is their most popular & highest-rated model for several reasons.
Comes with Yoke shoulder pads & multiple fully adjustable straps that keep the vest secure — plus front &/or back options for weight plates.
What makes the Rogue TacTec one of the best weighted vests:
Superior quality – this plate carrier is built for any tough CrossFit workout, so it ought to perform well in any strength training workout you put it through.
Excellent owner satisfaction – 4.9 ⭐ – 800+ reviews; 95% of owners rated it 5-star.
Great range of motion for all types of vest exercises – Unique vest design & its weight plate creates freedom of movement during all weighted vest exercises that’s unparalleled by other vests.
Secure comfortable fit – Run or jump easily with no bouncing, rubbing, or chafing issues. Padded shoulder straps help that too.
Adjustable vest fits a wide range – of body weight & people sizes, and so it’s a great cross-training women’s weighted vest option. Owners from 5′ to 6′ 6″ say the Rogue TacTec plate carrier fits them perfectly.
Comes in wide range of colors – 8 colors/patterns to choose from, as well as personal badge options too.
The available weight options are: 10, 14, 20, & 30 lb.
- This TacTec plate carrier might be outside the price range of someone wants to spend for a weighted vest.
Highly & easily recommended.
As mentioned at the beginning, there are many very good vest choices on Rogue’s site.
I just think this Tactical Plate Carrier model is the finest of the bunch, and a few hundred owners agree with me on that.
(#2 Top Pick)
My personal favorite I guess (since I bought one awhile ago and we’re still together…).
Aww, ain’t that sweet. 😄
Since I own it & have used it dozens of times, I can highly recommend the Cross101 Adjustable Weighted Vest.
Of course, it’s not in the same class as the Rogue TacTec vest we just looked at by any means in terms of comfort & range of motion…but it costs a lot less as a result.
I’ve owned this Cross 101 since before that Rogue vest was on the market. And since there’s not a thing wrong with it, I’d be dumb to buy another vest.
What makes the Cross101 one of the best weighted vests:
I think it’s a great value: it’s solidly made & simple to use.
It comes at a very reasonable price — actually, it’s a downright cheap weighted vest.
It provides me with a very good fit. For reference, I’m 6’ 2” and weigh 190 lb. with a 32-inch waist.
The bottom of the weight bars sit around the height of my belly button.
The double velcro belt fastens 4-5” or so above that, and there’s no bouncing around.
The vest’s weight options & other features
The Cross101 adjustable weighted vest is available in 20 lb., 40 lb., 60 lb., & 80 lb. sizes.
I have the 40-pounder which comes with 10 4 lb. removable weights — which are like bars of sand — though I never use all 40 lb. anymore.
There’s a pocket with a velcro strap up top that is big enough to hold my iPhone 11, but not quite big enough to seal the velcro flap over that particular phone.
Cross101 provides a 1-year warranty which is a plus too, although my vest didn’t need to lean on that: it’s still going strong years later.
The stitching – which is often the first thing to go with weaker vests – is as good as new on my Cross101.
Works great for older folk like me too
Since I’m older now I don’t do any real hardcore workouts anymore.
I use the Cross101 weight vest for bodyweight workouts, walks & hikes, and mellow plyometric/calisthenics exercises.
I think it works great in all applications; maybe it’ll tick all of your boxes too.
me & my Cross101
What I like:
It’s adjustable: Add or remove weights to suit your workout.
Well-made: simple & built to last, the Cross101 is a durable adjustable weighted vest.
Fits real good: weight is evenly distributed & is held securely by a fully adjustable waist belt.
Very easy to use – and very easy to remove & add weight.
Pockets – Has a holder for a 16 oz. water bottle and a pocket for your phone, mp3, earbuds, etc.
Happy owners – Excellent owner satisfaction rating of 97% (4.7⭐ 1,600+ reviews).
What’s not so good:
* Like the RUNFast Max Pro reviewed below, there’s no padding on the shoulders. Cross101 also offers add-on shoulder pads, but I didn’t like their fit or their thickness…not worth it to me.
(I don’t find the shoulder straps chafe or dig into me anymore than the Jansport backpack I hauled around back in college.)
* Only available in camo. I’m cool with camo but if that doesn’t work for you, check out the RUNFast Max Pro I review a little later. It’s a very similar vest to the Cross101, and it comes in black.
* It may be a little too big for short or smaller-framed people (though it has served as a great women’s weighted vest for a cross-training muscular gal who’s 5’4″. Her product review — with pics — is on this Amazon page here).
I’ve been a very satisfied owner for awhile now, so it’s no surprise I can recommend the Cross101 Adjustable Weighted Vest.
I think it’s a great value: a vest that’s well-made, simple to use, and comes at a very reasonable price.
The RUNFast Max Pro is a well-built, durable, easy-to-use, adjustable & cheap weighted vest.
Nothing fancy – just minimal and to the point.
Made by MIR Sports, they’re the same people who make the Cross101 I reviewed above.
It’s also very similar in design to the Cross101 vest in several good ways, except this one’s black instead of camouflage.
Tough as nails, it can handle high intensity workouts & should provide you with years of good use.
It’s easy to adjust the amount of weight you want, and there’s a simple velcro belt in front for easily securing it to your body.
RUNFast Max Pro weight options & features
Available in 12, 20, 40, 50, & 60 lb. sizes, and the weights are removable in all sizes except the 12-pounder.
Like the Cross101 & the Rogue TacTec before it, it’s a breeze to add weight or remove it.
It has a spot for a 16 oz. water bottle.
There’s no dedicated phone pocket per se, but if you have any empty weight slot that might work in a pinch.
My iPhone 8 fit diagonally & tightly in one of those, back when I first tried this vest on.
Optional shoulder pads are available if you think you might need them.
I don’t think they’re as well-made as the vest though, and therefore not worth it to me.
Things to consider
* It may be too big if you’re petite or have a narrow frame, and a couple of small-bodied owners added another belt of their own — at their waist — to improve their fit.
A small percentage of these owners had trouble using it for running, due to excessive bouncing. This is caused by not being able to tighten the vest enough (while still being able to breathe of course).
If the weights are hanging too low due to your height (that is, they’re below your waistline) they may bounce around too much.
What I like:
Great quality – it’s a well-made adjustable weighted vest that can handle carrying heavier weights than some of the models I review next.
Easy to use – The removable weights are a breeze to deal with, & it’s also easy to set the weight up so it’s evenly distributed on your torso.
Good weight distribution – The weight distribution is split evenly between front & back.
Happy owners – Great owner satisfaction rating of 90% (4&5-stars, 4,400+ reviews) justifies its place among the best weighted vests out there.
Shipping free on Amazon
What’s not so good:
- Might be a little too big or long for a smaller person
- No padded shoulders & the optional shoulder pads aren’t great
The RUNFast Max Pro is another of the extremely durable, & easy-to-use weighted vests on the market.
It is an ideal weighted vest for bodyweight exercise, plyometrics, resistance training, walking, & more.
It may be too big if you’re petite or have a narrow frame, making running difficult for a few body types.
One of the most popular weighted vests amongst Crossfit workout warriors both female & male, this Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro and its next-level sibling the Hyperwear Elite are available in four sizes S,M, L, & XL.
This Crossfit® popularity will cost you a few more bucks, and it’s the most expensive vest featured in this article (though not the most expensive vest out there. I think MIR vests take home that award.)
The comfort & above-average contoured fit make this a very good women’s weighted vest option, and one that fits many body shapes very well. There was no sense of the shoulder straps digging into my trap muscles when I tried it on & jogged around with it.
This adjustable weighted vest comes with 10 lb. of iron weights, and it has a max capacity of 34 lb. Additional removable weights are in 2.25 oz. increments.
You can purchase the additional weight bars (known as the Hyperwear Booster Box) in 5 lb. increments at Amazon, Walmart, Hyperwear’s site, etc.
Expensive but not without flaws
Interestingly enough, it’s about tied with the Aduro Sport Weighted Vest (reviewed below) for the vest with the lowest owner ratings in this review.
The Hyperwear vest has the same manufacturing quality control bugaboo as Aduro too: poor stitching which has resulted in multiple owner reports of tears, though not in the same frequency as Aduro’s vest.
This is its only shortcoming which is a bit frustrating, since beside that issue it is clearly one of the best weighted vests on the market.
Rare as the defective vests may occur, the fact that it costs as much as it does likely causes any unhappy Hyperwear vest owners to ding their rating even a bit more.
What I like:
* Its very comfortable – Hyperwear’s unique design & fabric allow it to mold to your upper body for both a snug fit and a wide range of motion. It can handle any type of weighted vest workout without any bouncing or shifting of weight.
* Multiple sizes available – The fact that it comes in 4 size ranges is a big plus for its comfort, fit, & performance, since most weighted vests are only available as One Size Fits All.
* No shoulder fatigue – Between the great form fit & smart weight distribution, there’s no ‘early’ fatigue in the shoulders like you’d find in other vests of lesser design quality.
* Good ventilation – The vest’s material has a breathable quality to it, and the open sides help too. You tighten the Hyperwear vest via side laces and a full-length front zipper.
* Can work as weighted clothing – The Hyperwear Pro fits snug enough to be worn undetected under some types of clothing (depends on what you’re wearing though).
* Mostly happy owners – Owner satisfaction rating of 85% (4&5-stars, 400+ reviews)
* Shipping free on Amazon
What’s not so good:
* This vest may be too expensive for some people.
* Its additional custom weight packs are pricey too.
* Durability of stitching is an issue for some owners, particularly with the pockets that secure the weights.
Conclusion: The Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro is a high-end quality vest made for women & men of all shapes & sizes.
Allowing a wide range of motion, this vest is suitable for all types of weighted vest workouts, and ideal as both a running vest & for performing high-impact movements like plyometric drills & calisthenics.
This high quality comes with a higher price tag of course.
The main issue that might crop up is the durability of the stitching in the weight pockets.
This fixed weight vest is offered in a weight capacity of 8 lb. and also in a 12 lb. model (the blue one).
These lighter poundages, soft neoprene material, & the open chest design make it a good beginner women’s weighted vest option, as well as one for seniors and anyone just starting out on a bodyweight strength routine.
What I like:
* Both vests are well-regarded by their 1,000+ buyers across all online retailers, with 88% giving a 4 or 5-star rating
* Made with a thoughtful design that distributes the weight evenly
* Cool tip from several women for other women: wear it upside down for a more secure fit
* The adjustable strap works well to insure a snug fit for most people
* Cool features: reflective strips, plus a small pocket for mp3 player, & the 12 lb. version has a mesh pocket on the back
* Neoprene is nice against your skin and no stitching itching either
What’s not so good:
* Short warranty of 30 days is a bit of a red flag to me.
* There are a few reports of the vest moving around too much during jogging.
* The pocket on the 12 lb. isn’t big enough for most phones.
Here is another fixed weight vest that also has good buyers’ ratings like the Tone Fitness model (above).
I compared this vest’s 12 lb. version side by side with that Tone Fitness 12-pounder, and the 2 models are very similarly designed.
They’re both lighter weight vests made of breathable neoprene material, have similar adjustable straps for tightening, & shoulder straps that are nicely padded.
What I like:
* Very good buyer rating with 90% of 600+ people giving it 4 or 5 stars, with many owners praising its fit & design.
* As mentioned, the Zelus Weighted Vest shares several similar qualities as the Tone Fitness vest:
- a neoprene vest that’s easy on the skin
- minimal design will appeal to many I think
- reflective strips & a rear mesh pocket
- well-distributed weight
- more storage space & a bigger phone pocket than the Tone Fitness
- easy-to-use adjustable strap
What’s not so good:
* The short warranty – only 30 days long like the Tone Fitness models – is enough to scare me off.
* Multiple buyers report the stitching coming apart after awhile. Coupled with the short warranty that’s not a good combo.
* A few owners report it bouncing around too much, similar to the Tone Fitness vest. And some of them also switched their vest upside down to try and get a secure fit, while others added a second strap of their own.
The Aduro Sport Weighted Vest is also very similar to the Tone Fitness (12 lb.) & Z Zelus weighted vests, so the same great & not-so-great qualities in those two vests can be applied here too.
It’s made of soft neoprene material, has reflective strips like the other two, a mesh pocket on the back, & all three have adjustable straps that all look alike.
This is the biggest-selling weighted vest of the three: Aduro has more owner reviews than those other vests combined.
One thing that makes this Aduro Sport weighted vest stand out from those two previous vests is that they provide a limited lifetime warranty.
Compared to the skimpy 30-day warranties offered by their closest competitors, this could put the Aduro ahead in my book.
However, there are multiple reports of poor stitching causing tears and the weight material leaking out.
What I like:
* The company stands behind their product.
* Limited lifetime warranty is the best amongst all the companies making this very similarly-designed vest.
* On multiple occasions I’ve seen the company replace a defective vest no questions asked, or issue a refund without a hassle for the buyer.
* Same good qualities as the two previously-reviewed two vests:
- Good weight distribution
- Comfy neoprene vest
- Good fit for most owners
- Decent storage space
- Scaled-back design
* The 87% owner satisfaction rating is above average for the weighted vest product category.
* Has over 7,000 buyers with 87% of them giving it 4 or 5 stars, good for a 4.5⭐ rating.
What’s not so good:
* There seem to be poor manufacturing standard back at the factory in China.
* As mentioned, there are a a lot of reports of stitching failing and the weight beads spilling out – often within only a few uses of the vest.
* Other quality control problems include straps & clasps breaking soon after purchase. Luckily, as I said the company stands behind their product.
Random opinion: I think that if Aduro could fix this quality control nightmare, with their great warranty & excellent customer service they’d crush those competitors who’re making basically the exact same vest as they are.
Simple Ways To Use a Weighted Vest
Here’s a list of some common weighted vest exercises:
- Use it as a running vest
- Wear it doing a cardio workout
- Do bodyweight exercises wearing a weight vest
- Go hiking with a weighted vest
- Wear a weighted vest throughout the day when doing chores
So ditch the ankle weights, which besides the ankle & knee joint issues I mentioned earlier, can also cause excess leg soreness & increase injury risk, per Mayo Clinic.
And for athletes, add the extra weight of a vest to increase the strength training benefits in workouts involving calisthenics and plyometric, speed, & agility drills.
Weighted vest buyer’s guide
Here are some things that I think are worth considering when scouting out the best weight vest for you:
* Choosing between an adjustable vest vs. a fixed weight vest
* Getting a decent fit – snug & comfortable
* Going for a vest with even weight distribution
* Starting with a light weight
Adjustable weighted vest or fixed weight?
Depending on your intentions, you may want the option to increase or decrease the weight of your vest.
If so, an adjustable weight vest is the way to go.
How adjustable vests are used…
Some folks like to adjust their weight vest often, in order to suit that particular WOD (workout of the day).
Some buy a vest that can have additional pounds added to it down the road, via weight packs purchased separately.
Others choose to buy an adjustable vest that is too heavy for them initially, then remove enough weight to set a good starting point.
Then they train with the goal of getting stronger, adding back the weight bars gradually as they’re able to.
A fixed weight vest can work just fine too.
All that said about an adjustable vest aside, a non-adjustable weighted vest is fine for the majority of people, provided they choose the right weight when they buy it.
It is worth noting that in the sports performance research studies I dug up where a weighted vest clearly provided strength training benefit, a fixed weight vest was used.
Get a weight vest that fits YOUR body properly
It’s important that the vest sits snug enough to your upper body so that it can’t shift or bounce around.
But it also should not restrict your breathing, circulation, or range of motion.
Shifting weight = a chance to tweak a muscle, lose your balance, or get injured.
And a bouncing weight while running or doing plyometric jumps can bruise you over time and make you sore.
The tightening belts or velcro strap provided by any decent weighted vest can be adjusted to snug up almost everybody** satisfactorily.
** – “Almost Everybody”
All brands I investigated — whether I included them in this article or not — had a very small percentage of buyers who had issues with their vest’s fit. Even the super-comfy Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro.
Shoot for “somewhat comfortable”.
I say “somewhat” because after all, it is extra weight you’re putting onto your body, not a cashmere sweater or a down pillow.
The vest runs across your trapezius muscles, so they’re bearing the load somewhat.
You might feel it a little afterwards, and you’ll notice it more so if you’re new to weighted vest workouts.
So even if the vest has a good, uniform distribution of its weight, those muscles might talk to you the next morning.
A little bit of soreness over there from time to time isn’t unusual, depending on your workout.
Me, snug & comfortable wearing the 8 lb. Empower Weighted Vest for Women
The vest should definitely not be rubbing you raw anywhere.
Restricting its movement with proper velcro strap tightening as mentioned above helps.
So does wearing a shirt between you & the vest.
Weighted vests are all made of synthetic material which can be scratchy depending on how well it’s all stitched together.
But you shouldn’t be having to deal with any annoying skin irritation as a result.
I wear mine over a T or a tank top that’ll keep most of the vest’s material off my skin.
Even Weight Distribution Is Important
Uneven weight, shifting weight, & bad posture while exercising with a weight vest all can lead to soreness.
Since avoiding unnecessary pain is always a good thing, it’s important to have a vest with proper weight distribution, then securing it properly & maintaining good form.
Start With A Light Weight
If you’re just getting into doing weighted vest exercises, start with a light weight you can manage easily.
Just like you’d do if you were beginning a regular resistance training program
Become acclimated to the heavier weight over time and then gradually increase the load.
Sports performance studies use light weight
In all of the weighted vest research studies I found, the pounds used where benefits occurred were only between 2% & 20% of the person’s body weight.
“Weighing in” on the cautious & conservative side of the subject, Harvard Medical states that
“weighted vests should not exceed 10% of your body weight”.
But while looking over the sports performance research I mentioned earlier, I found that several studies achieved success in the 10-15% of bodyweight range, with a couple at 20% & a few between 5% & 10% of bodyweight.
In any event, the goal here at the beginning is you performing your weighted vest workout with good form – free from balance issues, exhaustion, or injury.
Weighted vest safety precautions
If you’re just beginning your weight vest training, here are a few safety tips to be mindful of:
- How the vest behaves during your workout
- Avoid injury – don’t go too heavy
- Avoid injury – make good form a priority
- Assess your current fitness level
- Any pre-existing back or joint problems?
- Allow proper recovery time between weighted vest workouts
The Weight Vest During Your Workout
…should be relatively unnoticed except for the intensity increase it brings, thanks to the extra load you’re packing.
At first you may feel the weight pressing down across your shoulders, like a heavy backpack.
It shouldn’t be sloshing around as you move, or bouncing off of you much if you run or jump.
Beware Of Using Too Heavy Of A Vest
Too heavy a load could cause joint and muscle injuries, or chronic pain that prevents you from working out or feeling groovy; it’s not worth it.
Too much weight in your vest could also negatively affect your normal exercise form even after the vest is off, be it your running motion, plyometric jumping technique, or a lifting move.
Remember: the goal of wearing the weight vest is to improve your running, jumping, & lifting performance, not wreck it.
Avoid Injury, Maintain Good Form
It is essential to perform the exercise motion correctly, given that you’re carrying extra weight that is attached to you.
For example, if you want to introduce a weighted vest to any bodyweight exercise, first make sure that you can easily use the proper form for that exercise without the weight.
Assess Your Current Fitness Level
Since adding a weighted vest to a bodyweight routine or even a walk instantly increases that exercise’s intensity level, be sure you’re fit enough to handle the extra demand.
Ease into it and see how your body responds a little at a time.
Any Preexisting Back Or Joint Pain?
If so, then strapping on a weighted vest is not recommended.
The extra load could easily magnify the pain in those areas or worse, increase the severity of the underlying injury.
Recovery Time Between Weighted Vest Workouts
It’s important to allow proper recovery time between weighted vest workouts, just like you’d do for your chest following a day of bench pressing.
After all, it too is a form of weight training.
Give your muscles a day or two’s time to rest & recover.
Wrapping it up
Sports research has demonstrated a number of good things about training with a weighted vest.
If you’re interested in learning how weight vests improved performance, check out my article Weighted Vest Benefits here on heydayDo.
I hope this weighted vest review was useful to you, and that the weight vest buyer’s guide section is helpful too.
I wish you well on your fitness journey; let’s go.