The Best Weighted Vests For Running, Back-Load, and More

Step up your conditioning and functional fitness training with a weighted vest.

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Weighted vests are popular training tools for a wide variety of fitness enthusiasts. They can be great for conditioning, general strength training, and adding additional difficulty to many different workouts. Weighted vests can be transported nearly anywhere and add more depth to your workouts, whether they be focused on the upper body, lower body, full-body, or an extension of bodyweight

If you’re fresh on the market for a weighted vest but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. We assessed some of the market’s top options to figure out which weighted vest would best suit your needs. Here are the vests that rose above the rest:

Best Weighted Vests

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended to diagnose, prevent, and/or treat health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary.

Best Weighted Vest

This vest is made from durable, water and abrasion-resistant 500D nylon. Designed to allow for increased range of motion and optimal breathability via airflow channels. Available in 10 different color options, this vest can hold medium and large ballistic plates in both the front and back. Additionally, it is equipped with yoke shoulder pads that help reduce friction. By itself, it weighs 2.5 pounds but can support up to 30 pounds of compatible plates sold separately.

5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier
5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier
5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier

This weighted vest comes in 10 different colors and with the option to add weight plates up to 30 pounds and customize with a variety of patches. They are manufactured with durable, water-resistant, breathable 500D nylon.

Who Should Buy 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier

  • Athletes who want an adjustable weight vest via plate loading (up to 30 pounds).
  • Those who routinely train yoke walks.
  • Anyone who needs a vest that doesn’t impede mobility during overhead movements.

Who Shouldn’t Buy 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier

  • Those looking for a weighted vest that doesn’t require weight plates.
  • Anyone working with a tighter budget — the weight plates are sold separately from the vest.
  • Folks looking for a back-load-only weighted vest.

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Best Back-Loaded Weighted Vest

This weighted vest is designed to be worn high and tight on the torso and can support a 20 or 30 pound Ruck Plate® — which are sold separately. Due to the back-loading design, it puts less pressure on the chest when fully loaded and, therefore, may allow for easier breathing. This vest, available in two color options — black or coyote brown — is made from 1000D Cordura with an EVA foam padding for added lower-back support. With no added mesh, zippers, or straps, it is potentially easier to spray clean (with a hose) and hang dry.

GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier
GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier
GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier

Available in either black or coyote brown, these vests can support either 20- or 30-pound Ruck Plates®. They are manufactured with 1000D Cordura and EVA foam padding for additional lumbar support.

Who Should Buy GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier

  • Those who prefer not loading weight on the front of their bodies (for easier breathing).
  • Anyone who wants the flexibility of different weights — this vest can hold either a 20 or 30-pound weight plate. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier

  • Folks who want a weighted vest made in the USA.
  • People who don’t want to spend the additional money on separately sold weight plates.

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Best Fitting Weighted Vest

This adjustable, form-fitting vest made with a Cordura® material features a fabric control system meant to allow for a more snug fit without restricting the user’s range of motion. Designed to be flexible on the horizontal plane, it can allow for easier chest expansion for easier breathing even when weight-loaded. It utilizes a breathable, odor-resistant fabric that has open side panels for increased ventilation. Additionally, it is equipped with reflective striping for added safety when training outdoors at night. They are available in 10, 15, or 20-pound options.

Hyper Vest ELITE
Hyper Vest ELITE
Hyper Vest ELITE

Made with a fabric control system that hugs the body, this vest comes in 10, 20, or 30-pound options. It is designed to flex horizontally rather than vertically to allow for easier chest expansion.

Who Should Buy Hyper Vest ELITE

  • Those who train at night outdoors and would appreciate the reflective striping.
  • Folks who want a vest that is flexible on the horizontal plane.
  • People who get very sweaty during workouts and value odor-resistant fabric.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Hyper Vest ELITE

  • Anyone who prefers a vest that can support weight plates.
  • Those who want a weighted vest heavier than 20 pounds.

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Most Adjustable Weighted Vest

This USA-made vest is one-size-fits-all and features panels on both the front and back to support added weight. They are available in 2.5-pound increments from 2.5 pounds (unloaded) to a max capacity of 45 pounds. Weighted with boxes rather than plates, this may appeal more to athletes who appreciate a less bulky design — the shoulder straps are also reasonably narrow (each strap is 3.25 inches wide). The kipping-proof box-belt system can be quickly adjusted mid-workout, and the material is moisture resistant.

BOX Weighted Vest
BOX Weighted Vest
BOX Weighted Vest

This weight vest scales in 2.5-pound increments from 2.5 pounds to 45 pounds. It is made in the USA with military-grade, moisture-resistant exterior materials to be one-size-fits-all.

Who Should Buy BOX Weighted Vest

  • Folks who want a vest that won’t wear down from kipping pull-ups.
  • Those who value adjusting the vest weight in small 2.5-pound increments (up to 45 pounds).
  • Anyone who prefers narrow shoulder straps to allow for more overhead mobility.

Who Shouldn’t Buy BOX Weighted Vest

  • Athletes who want a vest with a fixed weight.
  • People who don’t want to carry as much equipment — each weight increment is an additional box.

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Best Weighted Vest for Running

This back-loaded weighted vest ranges from four pounds to 25 pounds. This is a better option for athletes focused on cardio-based workouts such as running. There is no weight placed on the front of the body, which allows for easier chest expansion (a valuable feature when breathing heavy). The adjustable straps allow the user to secure the vest comfortably to prevent it from sliding or moving when jogging. It is made from soft neoprene material and has a mesh pocket to hold personal effects.

Aduro Sport Weighted Vest
Aduro Sport Weighted Vest
Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

This weighted vest ranges from four pounds to 30 pounds and is made with breathable neoprene material. A front mesh pocket allows users to store personal effects while training.

Who Should Buy Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

  • Athletes who want to add weight to their runs.
  • Folks who want a vest that places the load on the back.
  • People who value a vest that doesn’t slide during up-and-down movements (jumping rope, jogging, running, box jumps, etc.)

Who Shouldn’t Buy Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

  • Folks who want a vest that can load weight evenly on the front and the back.
  • People looking for a vest with better shoulder padding to support barbell work.

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Best Short Weighted Vest

This machine-washable vest utilizes an air-flow design to allow for better breathability. The user sweats into the vest rather than the vest keeping the sweat between itself and the torso, which potentially helps with overheating during high-intensity training. It is available in 10-pound increment options from 20 pounds to 60 pounds. Additional three-pound removable weights are also available. Adjustable straps at the bottom of the vest allow the user to tighten the fit as snugly as they like.

Mir Air Flow Weighted Vest
Mir Air Flow Weighted Vest
Mir Air Flow Weighted Vest

This machine-washable weighted vest is a solid pick for the recreational fitness enthusiast. The airflow design allows users to sweat into the vest to help keep the body temperature regulated during longer workouts.

Who Should Buy Mir Air Flow Weighted Vest

  • Those seeking a vest with a focus on keeping the body cool during training.
  • Folks who want a vest that sits high on the torso.
  • People who value a vest that is machine washable.
  • People looking for a weighted vest on the more affordable end of the market.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Mir Air Flow Weighted Vest

  • Anyone who wants a vest that can load weight evenly throughout the entire torso.
  • Folks who want a vest with fewer large straps.

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How We Decided Our Picks

Activity Needs

If you’ve ever trained with a weighted vest, then you know how frustrating it can be using a vest that isn’t designed to take on the activity at hand. The uncomfortable chafing, sliding around, and moving up and down is pretty undesirable, and that’s why activity needs are our first assessment. 

Every weighted vest in our line-up was selected based on what activities they benefit certain athletes best in. For example, lighter vests with less material are excellent for more cardio-based activities. In comparison, heavier vests with loading capacity may be better for strength and conditioning workouts. 

Material and Design

Once we decided the activities each vest performs best in, we examined their material and design. Specifically, their overall material structure, stitching, straps, and pockets. Vests made out of materials more accommodating on the skin (i.e., won’t stick or pull when sweating) and double-stitching for durability purposes ranked higher.

Construction aspects like straps and pockets are worth considering when it comes to how a vest fits and what additional levels of functionality it provides. For example, if a vest has additional pockets, it is likely to be more useful for outdoor training as it may store water bottles, keys, and other effects more easily. Straps can be useful to pay attention to when it comes to security and ensuring the vest stays in place when changing directions quickly or working on multiple planes.

Weighted Vest
Image via Shutterstock/BLACKDAY

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What To Consider Before Buying

Here are a few more key features to pay attention to before adding a weight vest to your cart.

Pay Attention to Sizing

When it comes to finding the perfect weighted vest, you should prioritize sizing. A great vest is only great if it fits, so pay close attention to how a vest is sized. Measure your chest, torso, and shoulder dimensions beforehand and aim for a vest that sits snug on your torso without limiting mobility — particularly when it comes to limiting the shoulders from properly performing overhead movements.

Choose the Proper Weight

A beginner’s mistake is buying a vest too heavy for your needs. If you invest in a vest with a set weight, be mindful of your abilities and the activities you plan to use the vest with. If you think you may want to change up the vest weight, some options allow you to increase or decrease the weight by adding and removing weight plates. Those are often more expensive but are a good bet if you expect to use them long term to level up your training.

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Wrapping Up

Weighted vests are great training tools for a wide variety of workout needs. Whether you’re working on conditioning, trying to improve overall strength, or building an extra level of your toughness in your workouts, then a weighted vest can be a useful strategy to employ.