Weighted vests are an excellent option when it comes to adding resistance to your workouts. Running, calisthenics, CrossFit and other forms of strength and cardio training can all be enhanced by the addition of a weighted vest but with so many options it can be difficult to know which vest is best for you. Our weighted vest buying guide looks to support you in your quest and we have compiled our 10 best weighted vests.
We have also included a handy guide to support you in finding the right vest depending on your preferred method of training and your goals so be sure to read the entire list and not just opt for the number one pick.
Types Of Weighted Vests
There are a number of weighted vests available to the UK market, some of which are made by mainstream brands and others that are more niche specific – in other words, they specialise in training accessories. Rather than focus on brands, we will be focusing on the usability of each vest and what it is best suited to. The only reference we will make to the brand is based on reputation and although it may suit your footwear to wear an Adidas weighted vest, it might not be the best suited to your training. That being said, there are some common types of weighted vests that we shall explore now.
Full Body Weighted Vest: Full body vests are the most common types of weighted vests available. These have higher weight limits, typically between 10-50kg and they are ideal for strength training but can also be used for cardio stamina based workouts too. The best vests will balance the weight between the front and rear with some vests featuring removable weights so you can adjust the weight as per your workout. The main advantage of full body vests is that they are stable and well balanced as well as offering high levels of weight, however that can limit mobility to some degree which means they are not so well suited to exercises that need movements with a greater range of motion.
Shoulder Vests: With a shoulder strap design, shoulder vests typically carry much less weight and allow you to be more agile in your movements as they are less intrusive. Expect weights that are typically between 1kg and 5kg which make these types of vests ideal for longer distance runners as well as CrossFit.
Fixed Weight Vs. Variable Weight Vests: Most of the vests we cover on this page will be variable weight vests but there are a couple of points to note when comparing fixed weight and variable weight vests. Firstly, variable weight vests allow you remove or add additional weight from the vest with these usually being added to pouches located across the front and rear of the vest. These weights are usually sand bags or cast iron weights and the best variable weight vests are the ones that keep these weights tight and secure. The key advantage to these types of vests are in their ability to hold more or less weight and these are particularly useful if you are engaging in any kind of progressive overload. For runners, it may be beneficial to opt for a fixed weight vest as they usually feel much more secure and have a better balance that makes the weight feel a natural part of your body.
Top 10 Weighted Vests
Let’s take a look at our favourite weighted vests after 2 weeks of testing.
Gravity Fitness Vest
Gravity Fitness are a UK based company that have taken the fitness world by storm in recent years. They are all over social media with their free standing pull up bars and now they have entered in to the world of weighted vests. We have to say these are a very good effort and they don’t just perform well but look great too. Made from a breathable and durable nylon material, they come supplied with cast iron weights to insert in to the weight pockets. Being cast iron rather than sand weights means they are less bulky and so provide a good fit for the vest that allows you to have a full range of motion that is aided by a lower profile than other other weighted vests.
Backed by an impressive 5 year warranty, this vest has the look and feel of a well made product and you do get the sense that it is highly durable.
Wearing the Gravity vest is comfortable thanks to generous padding and it doesn’t make you sweat thanks to the breathable membrane. All in all, this is a top choice.
Surreal 20KG Weighted Vest
Surreal is one of the lesser known brands when it comes to fitness equipment and apparel but their weighted vests are not to be sniffed at. This 20kg version (also available in 5kg, 10kg, 15kg and 30kg) is the pick of the bunch for us and features a dual layer of adjustable weight to the front and the same to the rear of the vest.
Using sandbags as the weight works well for those who want to adapt the weight for various exercises and the dual layer front and back design allows for a really balanced weight distribution that helps keep your centre of gravity natural. Surreal have managed to strike the perfect balance between quality and price with this being a very comfortable vest to wear thanks to the extra padding, and a large double velcro strap means that the vest will sit secure to your body with the weights held firmly in place.
The one size fits all design works well and will suit the full range of body types as well as heights, although some women might find the top layer of weights a little uncomfortable. The vest features a breathable membrane which reduces sweating and the level of mobility you will get from this vest is impressive considering it is a full vest.
The Surreal vest is suitable for most exercise needs including CrossFit and running. It is less discreet than lighter vests but it is durable, fully adjustable and excellent value for money. A top buy.
Adidas Weighted Vest
Adidas may be better known for creating on point fashion wear rather than killer training accessories but the Adidas vest was consistently one of the best performers in our testing. The quality of the materials and the design of the vest is what sets this apart from the rest and although it does have a limit of 10kg, if that is enough for your workout then this an excellent choice.
This vest will appeal most to runners, cyclists and those who are performing any kind of exercise that requires the vest to be worn for a longer period of time. There are two reasons for this – the first is that the Adidas vest is incredibly comfortable. The second is that the design of this vest means it sits snug to the body and feels more a part of you than any of the other vests we tested. This makes it perfect for running as the vest and the weights within it are as stable as can be – which makes it ideal for higher impact exercises.
The breathable inner lining of this vest adds to the high comfort levels afforded by the generous padding and with a buckle, velcro strap and zipped front you could hardly feel more secure. There are 8 weight packs in total which allows you to control the amount of weight you carry and these are strategically positioned around the vest to give a good amount of balance.
There are two D rings to the rear of the vest which you can use to attach to parachutes or cables for even more resistance training. With a chest size that will fit 38-50 inches this is a vest that not only looks great but will fit most body sizes for both male and female users.
We R Sports XTR Vest 10-30KG
The We R Sports XTR Vest is available in 4 different weights – 10kg, 15kg, 20kg and 30kg. This makes it an ideal purchase as it means you can pay for what you need and none of what you don’t. The XTR vest is very well made considering the lowish price point and is also available in 3 colours. The level of comfort afforded by the XTR Vest is not quite as good as some of the other vests we reviewed but it is very slimline in its design compared to other models which makes it ideal for running and walking. This vest is also ideal for weight training and exercises such as weighted pull ups and comfort is no issue for these types of exercises.
There is a double strap that attaches with velcro and although this holds very tightly the upper weights do not feel quite so secure as the Adidas and Surreal vests we tested.
There is no official size guide for this vest but we would suggest it would be suitable for sizes of between 37 inches and 54 inch chest measurements.
There is a breathable membrane to the inside of this vest which makes it comfortable to wear in terms of sweat, just be aware that the shoulder straps can rub a little at heavier weights.
Bear KompleX have created military grade weighted vests that are ideal for all forms of training and especially effective for CrossFit and more mobile forms of training. The Bear KompleX vest is used by professional athletes and has an extremely high quality of materials used as well as an excellent design. Suitable for chest sizes up to 50 inches, the Bear KompleX is completely adjustable via the elastic side adjustors.
The design of this vest allows for one of the greatest range of motion of all the vests we tested which makes it ideal for any forms of training that require a greater ROM. Unlike some of the other vests we tested, the Bear has fully adjustable shoulder straps that have some of the best padding we have seen. It also features alloy buckles that can withstand up to 1000kg of force! The vest is made from military grade 1000D cordura nylon and is sweat resistant and extremely comfortable to wear and also means the vest is completely waterproof so can be worn in all weathers.
One important point to make here is that this vest does not come with the weights included so you will need to purchase the weights separately – we would suggest for UK purchases that you use Rogue Europe for the weight plates.
The ViaVito weighted vest is a lightweight shoulder weighted vest that has a total of 2.5kg in weight. This is an ideal vest for anyone looking to add a marginal amount of weight to their cardio workouts which makes it perfect for cycling, running and walking. The weight is not adjustable but is evenly spread out across the vest which is comfortable to wear over or under your existing clothing.
Due to the design of the vest it means that the weight is predominantly felt on the back and shoulders and although it is evenly distributed across the back it can feel a little strange at first. We actually preferred this to front loaded vests as it helps improve posture and develops a stronger back.
There is a handy mesh pocket on the vest which can be used to carry water (giving additional weight) or other items but it is worth noting this is not particularly secure.
Overall, the ViaVito is an ideal lightweight shoulder weighted vest that is very well made and will fit both men and women in a range of sizes thanks to its adjustable straps.
Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro
The Hyperwear Hyper Vest is completely different to any of the vests we tested in as much as the weights contained within the vest are extremely thin and are actually designed to contour to your body. In fact, this is the thinnest and possibly the most comfortable vest we tested although it is also one of the most expensive which is why it doesn’t feature quite so high on our list.
Featuring a patented design and fabric (Tyvek), the Hyper Vest Pro is designed to stretch to your body shape but despite this figure hugging quality it is sweat and odour proof thanks to the breathable qualities of the fabric used.
The weight capacity is pretty low when compared to some other options with a maximum weight of 23lbs for the small to medium sized vests (10.4kg) and just 10lbs coming supplied – you can purchase additional weights when buying the vest if needed. Although the overall weight is fairly low, for anyone seeking a high quality vest that is slimline and that can be worn under your normal clothing then this is it. In fact, you could wear this all day under your work attire, still be fairly comfortable and be safe in the knowledge that with every move you are adding additional strain to your muscles.
There are four size options available and depending on the size of the vest you will find weight options that vary between 23 and 46lbs so be sure to buy the right size for you.
As the name suggests, the RunFast Pro weighted vest is ideally suited to running and walking, but actually this vest is about as versatile as they come thanks to it providing excellent mobility and a range of weight options. The vest features two double weight stacks – one to the front and one to the rear and this provides an excellent balanced feel to the vest. The top layer of weights is not too high so this allows a good range of lateral range of motion and we were able to test this vest with a range of cardio and strength based exercises and found it both comfortable and challenging across all settings.
This is one of the most comfortable vests we tested and you can increase the comfort level with added shoulder pad protection if you feel it necessary – this is ideal if you are working at a lower weight and feel you want the extra freedom but then want to switch it up to a higher weight which requires extra padding.
No matter which weight of vest you opt for you will have the ability to decrease the weight by removing the sand weight bags and then adding them as required. The single strap provides enough stability but we do prefer the double strap to feel extra secure with our weights. The addition of a water bottle holder and phone pocket is a nice touch and the quality of the materials used on this vest and the stitching is of the highest quality. The addition of a lifetime warranty on the vest durability is a testament to its build quality and overall we found it very difficult to fault the RunFast Pro.
Body Solid Weighted Vest
This weighted vest from Body Solid is just about as good as it gets if 18kg of weight is enough for you. Featuring 10 pockets at the front and a further 10 to the rear to allow you to add the weighted sandbags, this is a well balanced and well made vest. The velcro straps are secure and hold the evenly distributed weight effectively as well as being offering a one size fits all solution.
There is very little restriction upon your range of motion when using the Body Solid vest and the weight feels naturally a part of your body thanks to a perfect centre of gravity that this vest provides you with.
There are stainless steel hooks to the front which allow for cable attachments making this an ideal vest for resistance training as well as running, cycling and CrossFit.
We found this to be an extremely comfortable and capable vest and our only wish was that it could offer up to 30kg in weight.
Weighted Vest Uses
There are a wide range of uses for weighted vests and the chances are you already know your primary reason for wanting to use one. The benefits of wearing a vest are wide reaching and can include an improved cardiovascular performance, adding extra weight to bodyweight resistance training and enabling your body to push beyond its current boundaries by providing it with a constant stimulus that is more than it gets ordinarily. There may be more opportunities to benefit from wearing a weighted vest than you realise though so here are a few tips on when you can use them.
While most people consider wearing weighted vests to improve their performance when running by adding extra resistance that can then be removed for competition, the addition of using a weighted vest while walking is also an excellent option. If you enjoy walking and want to make it a little more demanding on your body then consider wearing a weighted vest and taking a brisk walk for 45-60 minutes per day. You could even opt for a lighter vest and wear it all day if you wanted to push yourself throughout the day. Some of the lightweight options could be worn under a shirt or sweater and this would work wonders to increase your total daily energy expenditure and burn those calories.
Cycling is a great form of exercise but if you are cycling on flat terrain then it is not always the most challenging. If you want to give your legs a serious workout then consider wearing a weighted vest – not only will you quickly develop those leg muscles but you will also be increasing the effectiveness of cycling as a cardio based workout.
One of the most common reasons for wearing a heavier vest is for resistance training. It doesn’t matter whether it’s chest day, back day or leg day – the addition of a weighted vest will have you making big gains in no time. Anything from pull ups, push ups and bar pull ups to sit ups and other ab exercises are possible and by adding that extra resistance you will feel the burn quicker than ever.
Weighted vests for CrossFit are a great option and work well with almost all exercises. Lighter vests tend to work better and allow for greater flexibility and range of motion but heavier vests can work well for certain HIIT exercises too.