HomeBest of 20249 Best Weighted Vests in 2024: Top Plate Carriers and More

9 Best Weighted Vests in 2024: Top Plate Carriers and More

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Weighted vests are an affordable, space-friendly, and effective tool to build strength and improve conditioning.

Wearing a weight vest on bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and box jumps is an easy, low-impact way to increase intensity. You can also use them while running or walking to boost endurance, stamina, and more.

We’ve tested dozens of weight vests from some of the biggest name in the industry. Here are some of the things we considered when making our list (more below):

  • Durability: Is the vest made of heavy-duty nylon or other high-quality materials? Is the stitching reinforced?
  • Comfort: Does the vest fit well? Do the straps dig into your shoulders?
  • Weight Loading: How heavy can you load the vest? Is it easy to add or remove weight?

In this article, I’ll share our top picks for the best weight vests based on real experience. Whether you’re a CrossFit competitor or just someone looking to improve your overall fitness, we’ve got you covered.

What’s the Best Weighted Vest?

We found the Rogue Plate Carrier to have the best blend of performance, comfort, and value. We loved the compact design and that it comes in multiple sizes for a solid fit. We also like the weight capacity, easy loading, and durable Cordura construction.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Rogue Plate Carrier

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Best for CrossFit: 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier

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Best Budget: Condor Sentry Plate Carrier

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Best for Running: Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite

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Best Rucking: GORUCK Plate Carrier 3.0

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Best Short Vest: MiR Air Flow Weight Vest

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Best for Murph: Fringe Sport WODmaster

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Best Best for Beginners: Henkelion Weight Vest

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Best for Women: CAP Women’s Weight Vest

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Best Weight Vest Overall: Rogue Plate Carrier

Best Weighted Vest for Most People
Rogue Plate Carrier

The Rogue Plate Carrier is a compact, durable, and versatile weight vest. It's well-priced, made in the USA, and comes in several colors.

Key Specs

  • Type: Plate Carrier
  • Weight Options: Up to 40 lbs
  • Material: Cordura
  • Size Range: Small, Medium, and Large
  • Color: Multiple


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Summary

The Rogue Plate Carrier is my top pick for most people. This vest is efficiently-sized, fairly priced, durable, and made in the USA.

Plate carriers are the most popular style of weighted vest because of their adjustability and versatility. This vest accommodates up to 40 lbs of weight using steel vest plates that you can buy from Rogue or Amazon. The vest has plate sleeves on the front and back to ensure equal distribution, but you can offset the weight if you prefer.

Testing the Rogue Plate Carrier

My favorite feature of the Rogue Plate Carrier is its size. Most plate-loaded tactical weight vests have bulky designs that cover most of your torso. However, Rogue designed this vest to be as simple and compact as possible. In my experience with it, I prefer the smaller profile because it’s less cumbersome and provides more freedom for the body to move.

Structurally, the vest is made with a mix of 500 and 1000D Cordura, which is a heavy-duty nylon. You’ll commonly find this fabric on high-quality weight vests and workout sandbags because of its durability and aesthetic properties.

While many tactical vests come in one size, the Rogue Plate Carrier has three sizes based on your torso diameter. I’m 5’8″ and weigh 160 lbs. With a torso diameter of 34″, I was between a small and a medium. I sized down, which I recommend to others because it prevents a loose-fitting or bouncy vest.

Push-ups with the Rogue Plate Carrier

In addition to using the velcro torso wrap, you can also adjust each shoulder strap independently for the best fit. I found this to be one of the most comfortable vests in my testing, but you can purchase optional shoulder pads for additional comfort.

This vest is available in four colors: black, coyote brown, gray, and ranger green (shown). It also includes three rows of velcro on the front and two on the back to add your favorite patches.

At its price, the Rogue Plate Carrier offers a great blend of value and performance. You can use this for CrossFit, rucking, running, bodyweight exercises, and more.

Pros

  • Low-profile design
  • Comfortable fit
  • Durable Cordura construction
  • Easy to adjust and available in several sizes
  • Multiple colors with patch options
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Doesn’t fit laser-cut plates
  • Additional shoulder padding is an upcharge

Read Our Full Rogue Plate Carrier Review


Best Weight Vest for CrossFit: 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier

Best Weighted Vest for CrossFit
5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier

The 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier is the official weight vest of CrossFit. This durable vest is great for all types of workouts and comes in various colors.

Key Specs

  • Type: Plate Carrier
  • Weight Options: Up to 40 lbs
  • Material: 500D Nylon
  • Size Range: One Size Fits Most
  • Color: Multiple


Check Price at 5.11 Check Price at Rogue

Summary

The 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier is a household name in the CrossFit community because it’s been the official weight vest of CrossFit for years. This is a pricier weighted vest than most, but it’s very durable and performs well.

The TacTec carrier is a full-size tactical weighted vest, which has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, it looks awesome and feels “professional.” When you put this vest on, it has that “I mean business” attitude. On the downside, it’s bulky and not as easy to set up. As a ‘one size fits most’ vest, there may be an initial size adjustment. From there, it’s fairly straightforward with a velcro cumberbund and protective flap.

Testing the 5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier

I love how secure and durable this vest feels. The front flap does require more effort to take on and off, but it creates a secure enclosure that keeps the velcro from collecting dirt and debris. The heavy-duty nylon creates one of the most durable weight vests you’ll find. I’ve been using a 5.11 vest for years, as have many other people putting theirs through constant abuse.

Another nice benefit of this vest is the extra-padded shoulder straps. If you have sensitive skin or are using your vest for extended periods, you’ll likely appreciate these straps. They’re the most comfortable I’ve used.

Box Jumps with the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier

Aesthetically, the TacTec Plate Carrier looks great. It’s available in five solid colors (black, navy, storm, kangaroo, ranger green) and a camo option. Like other tactical vests, it also includes a large area on the front and back for patches.

If you’re a competitor in CrossFit, Tough Mudders, Spartan Races, etc., the 5.11 TacTec Carrier is an excellent choice for its durability and comfort. At $215, it’s one of the highest-priced weight vests, but the results and reputation speak for themselves.

Pros

  • Official weight vest of CrossFit
  • Extremely durable and comfortable
  • Fits all plates, including laser-cut
  • Available in several colors with patch sections

Cons

  • Among the priciest vests
  • Full-size design increases bulk

Best Budget Weight Vest: Condor Sentry Plate Carrier

Best Budget Weighted Vest
Condor Sentry Plate Carrier

The Condor Sentry Plate Carrier is an excellent budget weight vest with high-quality materials and features.

Key Specs

  • Type: Plate Carrier
  • Weight Options: Up to 40 lbs
  • Material: Nylon
  • Size Range: One Size Fits Most
  • Color: Multiple


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Summary

The Condor Sentry Plate Carrier is my top pick for budget shoppers. For ~$50, it’s an impressive offering for those looking for this type of weight vest.

As you may have noticed, I think highly of plate carriers for their versatility and features. The Condor Sentry is another tactical vest with a similar profile to the Rogue Plate Carrier. It’s slightly larger than Rogue but noticeably smaller than the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier.

Testing the Condor Sentry Plate Carrier

This vest also uses heavy-duty nylon, and the stitching is well done throughout. The biggest downside to this vest is that it doesn’t fit as well as others. This is a ‘one size fits most’ vest, but unlike the 5.11 vest that uses a velcro cumberbund, the Condor vest uses two side buckles. While the strap can tighten down reasonably well, thinner individuals may find it too loose.

The straps have comfortable and thick padding, but the yoke is narrower than the others, which may cause chaffing for those with thicker necks. The straps can be adjusted independently, which is a nice feature, and I like the side loops for routing hydration systems.

Lunges with the Condo Sentry Plate Carrier

Because of its size, the Condor Sentry Carrier does not accommodate laser-cut plates, but you can use iron plates from Rogue. It also comes in four colors: black, brown, green, and multicam.

At just over $50, you can buy the Condor Plate Carrier plus a pair of 10 lb Echo Weight Plates for less than the Rogue Plate Carrier shell. Although it has a few drawbacks compared to the Rogue and 5.11, it’s a great budget option with solid features.

Pros

  • Outstanding value
  • Durable nylon construction
  • Easily adjustable shoulder straps
  • Shoulder loops for integrating hydration systems
  • Multiple color choices with patch sections

Cons

  • Doesn’t fit laser-cut plates
  • May fit looser on smaller individuals
  • Narrower yoke may rub on the neck

Best Weight Vest for Running: Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite

Best Weighted Vest for Running
Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite

The Hyper Vest Elite is a unique, form-fitting weight vest. It's excellent for running and is available in several weight options.

Key Specs

  • Type: Weight Plugs
  • Weight Options: Up to 20 lbs
  • Material: Cordura
  • Size Range: Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large
  • Color: Black


Check Price at Amazon Check Price at Hyperwear

Summary

The Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite is a unique weighted vest with a form-fitting design that molds to your body. It’s an ideal vest for running, but you can also use it for other movements.

The most notable feature of this vest is how it fits. Unlike other weighted vests, the Hyper Vest is built to conform to your body. Instead of a ‘one size fits most’ design, this vest has four sizes based on your height and weight.

Testing the Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite

When you initially put the vest on, you may notice that it feels too tight or loose. You can adjust the fit further using the side laces. I like the compressive feel of this vest, but some may find that it loosens slightly throughout the workout. For others, the zipper alone creates enough tightness.

You can buy the Hyper Vest Elite in 10, 15, or 20 lb variants. While it’s technically an adjustable weighted vest, adding and removing plates isn’t as easy as others. There are 72 sleeves that can each hold a 2.25oz weight bar. Each sleeve is tightly covered, which is great for protection, but not for adjustments. It’s actually quite challenging. I suggest buying your preferred weight and sticking with it.

Running with the Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite

In terms of durability, this vest uses high-quality Cordura and a YKK zipper. Some reviewers have complained of the side laces fraying, but most owners are happy with the overall quality. I’ve used this vest since 2021, and it’s held up nicely.

Pricewise, this is one of the most expensive weight vests, ranging from over $200 to nearly $300. If you’re looking for a versatile weight vest, I recommend others over the Hyper Vest Elite. However, it’s a great vest for serious runners and those who love high-intensity conditioning.

Pros

  • Form-fitting design eliminates bounce
  • Four sizes and adjustable side laces for optimal fit
  • Available in several weight increments
  • Thinner, more breathable Cordura fabric
  • Excellent for running & conditioning

Cons

  • Expensive compared to others
  • Not as versatile as other vests
  • Adjusting weights can be challenging

Read Our Full Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite Review


Best Weight Vest for Rucking: GORUCK Plate Carrier 3.0

Best Weighted Vest for Rucking
GORUCK Plate Carrier 3.0

The GORUCK Plate Carrier is a back-loaded weight vest and is ideal for rucking. It's durable, affordable, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Key Specs

  • Type: Plate Carrier
  • Weight Options: Up to 30 lbs
  • Material: Cordura
  • Size Range: Small, Medium, and Large
  • Color: Multiple


Check Price at GORUCK Check Price at Rogue

Summary

GORUCK is one of the premiere names in the outdoor and rucking industry. In addition to making some of my favorite workout sandbags, they make excellent apparel, tactical gear, and weighted vests.

The GORUCK Plate Carrier 3.0 is a rear-loaded backpack-style weight vest. Unlike some of the other full-body vests on this list, this one focuses on rucking (walking with added load on your back). You can still use this for other movements like push-ups, pull-ups, etc., but it’s not as versatile or effective for dynamic movements.

Testing the GORUCK Plate Carrier 3.0

As a backpack-style vest, it’s one of the easiest weight vests to use. A simple nylon buckle attaches across the chest to secure the vest, and the shoulders are independently adjustable via strap locks.

It’s one of the most comfortable vests I’ve used because of its minimalist design and well-padded shoulders. I also appreciate the position of the weight on the mid back, which promotes good posture and a strong position. The additional foam padding at the bottom of the vest helps soften the load on the lower back.

Pull-Ups with the GORUCK Plate Carrier 3.0

The Plate Carrier 3.0 is made with high-quality 1000D Cordura fabric. This vest is built with durability in mind and comes with a lifetime replacement warranty.

This vest comes in three sizes: small, standard, and large. Refer to the sizing chart for the best fit for your measurables. In addition to the vest, you’ll also need to purchase plates. You can buy those directly from GORUCK in 10, 20, and 30 lb increments, or you can use Rogue steel plates.

Since this vest is smaller and uses fewer plates than others, it’s less expensive than most. At just over $100 for the shell, it’s one of the most affordable weighted vests you can buy.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use backpack-style vest
  • Excellent reputation
  • Additional lumbar padding
  • Very durable 1000D Cordura fabric
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Not as versatile as other weight vests
  • Not as effective for dynamic movements
  • Doesn’t fit laser-cut plates

Best Short Weight Vest: MiR Air Flow Vest

Best Short Weighted Vest
MiR Air Flow Weighted Vest

The MiR Air Flow Weighted Vest is a compact adjustable vest with up to 60 lbs of load. It's affordable and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Key Specs

  • Type: Weight Plugs
  • Weight Options: Up to 60 lbs
  • Material: Cordura
  • Size Range: One Size Fits Most
  • Color: Heathered Blue


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Summary

The MiR Air Flow Weighted Vest is a durable, low-profile option with front and back loading capabilities. MiR is a well-respected vest company with a great reputation for this vest style.

Unlike traditional plate carriers that use larger weights, the MiR vest uses small, 3 lb steel weight plugs. You can position these weights on the front or back for an equal or offset weight distribution. Each plug is debossed with the MiR logo and fits perfectly into the reinforced sleeves.

Testing the MiR Air Flow Weighted Vest

You can purchase the Air Flow Vest from 20-60 lbs. Regardless of your choice, the vest size remains the same, which I love. Some similar-style vests get bulkier as you move up in weight. This is also beneficial because you can add weights as you progress, meaning you don’t need to buy a new vest.

The shorter design of the MIR Air Flow Vest has pros and cons. On one hand, you get increased movement freedom. For example, I like it more than others on deep hinge movements like squats and box jumps.

Planks with the MiR Air Flow Weight Vest

On the other hand, it’s not as easy to put on since your arms are in a more awkward, chicken-wing position. Additionally, the straps end in the back, making it challenging for some to get tight. I recommend the zipper version if you think this may be an issue.

I’m impressed with the build quality of the vest. It uses 1200D nylon and feels rugged overall. It’s also a comfortable vest with adjustable shoulder straps. I like the heathered blue color, but I would love to see more color options.

Another nice feature of the MiR Air Flow Vest is that it comes with a lifetime warranty. For the price, it’s a solid pick, especially for those looking for a smaller weighted vest.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Short design enhances range of motion
  • Adjustable vest with slots for additional weights
  • Durable 1200D Cordura construction
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Can be difficult to get tight due to strap placement
  • Only available in one color

Best Weight Vest for Murph: Fringe Sport WODmaster

Best Weighted Vest for Murph
Fringe Sport WODmaster

The Fringe Sport WODmaster is a 20 lb fixed weight vest with an easy-to-use design. It's comfortable and adjustable for various body types.

Key Specs

  • Type: Fixed Weight
  • Weight Options: 20 lbs
  • Material: Neoprene & Nylon
  • Size Range: Small/Medium and Large/X-large
  • Color: Black


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Summary

The Fringe Sport WODmaster is a fixed 20 lb weighted vest with a unique design compared to others. This backpack-style vest is front-loaded on the shoulder straps and back-loaded in the center.

While you can use this vest for various movements, it excels for running and walking because of its minimalist design. Like the GORUCK Plate Carrier, the WODmaster is easy to use with cross buckles for security and adjustable straps. This vest comes in two sizes: S/M and L/XL. Overall, it’s a nice-fitting vest, but some reviewers have complained that the shoulder adjustment strap isn’t long enough.

Testing the Fringe Sport WODmaster

Unlike many other weighted vests, the WODmaster is constructed with neoprene. While it’s a comfortable material, it’s not as durable as nylon. I recommend a nylon option if you’re planning on using a vest frequently and during intense training. Otherwise, this vest should hold up well over time. Something else to consider is that neoprene may smell after extended use, so you may want to hand wash this vest occasionally.

Squats with the Fringe Sport WODmaster Weight Vest

An example of a workout that the WODmaster excels at is the CrossFit Murph: 1-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and another 1-mile run while wearing a 20 lb vest. Since this vest is fixed with 20 lbs of steel shot and is great for running/less dynamic movements, it’s an awesome choice for the Murph.

At just over $70 shipped, this is a solid option that won’t break the bank. I recommend adjustable vests for most people, but a fixed vest is perfectly acceptable for some training programs.

Pros

  • Backpack design is easy to use
  • Neoprene is very comfortable
  • Two sizes with adjustable straps
  • Great for running and the Murph
  • Nice price point with free shipping

Cons

  • Fixed 20 lb weight reduces versatility
  • Neoprene isn’t as durable as nylon and may smell over time

Best Weight Vest for Beginners: Henkelion Weight Vest

Best Weighted Vest for Beginners
Henkelion Weighted Vest

The Henkelion Weight Vest is a neoprene vest with fixed loads from 4-12 lbs, making it a solid choice for beginners and budget shoppers.

Key Specs

  • Type: Fixed Weight
  • Weight Options: 4-12 lbs
  • Material: Neoprene
  • Size Range: One Size
  • Color: Multiple


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Summary

The Henkelion Weighted Vest is similar to the Fringe Sport WODmaster, but it’s better for beginners because of the lighter loads.

It’s made of neoprene and is fixed with steel shot ranging from 4-12 lbs. Unlike the WODmaster, the Henkelion vest comes in one size and doesn’t have shoulder adjustments. Instead, it uses an elastic piece that expands to fit various body sizes.

Testing the Henkelion Weighted Vest

While it’s slightly more comfortable without a plastic clip, it may lead to fit issues for smaller individuals. However, the front of the vest has a similar buckle strap that you can adjust for security.

The Henkelion vest won’t be as durable as nylon vests, making it a better option for low-intensity workouts like walking and basic bodyweight movements.

It’s a good choice for beginners and those looking for a light, basic weight vest at a great price. Otherwise, I recommend others on the list.

Pros

  • Ultra-affordable
  • Comfortable neoprene construction
  • Great for lightweight training
  • Adjustable chest strap for security and fit

Cons

  • Shoulder straps aren’t adjustable
  • Tops out at 12 lbs of weight
  • Fixed vests aren’t as versatile
  • Neoprene isn’t as durable as nylon

Best Weight Vest for Women: CAP Women’s Weight Vest

Best Weighted Vest for Women
CAP Women's Weighted Vest

The CAP Women's Weight Vest has a comfortable tapered design with an easy-to-use front strap. It's affordable and accommodates up to 30 lbs of weight.

Key Specs

  • Type: Weight Plugs
  • Weight Options: Up to 30 lbs
  • Material: Nylon and Polyester
  • Size Range: One Size Fits Most
  • Color: Black


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Summary

The CAP Women’s weighted Vest is an ideal pick for… you guessed it… women. This vest has a contoured design with a slim center section to allow for a more comfortable ladies fit. While some weight vests can be uncomfortable for women, especially those with larger chests, this tapered cut provides much more freedom.

This adjustable vest comes with 3 lb steel weights that can be loaded on the front and back for up to 30 lbs. An overhanging velcro flap covers each loadable section, and the front is additionally secured with a tightening strap.

CAP Women's Weighted Vest

One downside to this vest is that the shoulders aren’t adjustable, which could create fit issues for certain body types. However, the vest does have an easy-to-use waist strap.

Built with nylon and polyester, this is a durable vest with positive reviews from owners. The most common complaint is that it’s not great for smaller women. If that’s you, I recommend the Hyperwear Hyper Vest Fit. It doesn’t have the tapered front, but it’s much more form-fitting. Both vests are comparably priced at under $100.

Pros

  • Adjustable up to 30 lbs
  • Tapered design is ideal for women
  • Cross-body velcro strap is easy to use
  • Nylon construction
  • Machine washable
  • Good price with free shipping

Cons

  • Shoulder straps aren’t adjustable
  • Only available in one color

Compare our Top Picks

Compare our selection of the best weight vests below based on key specs. Scroll right to see more.

Rogue Plate Carrier
Rogue Plate Carrier Table Image
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5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier
5.11 TacTec Carrier Table Image
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Condor Sentry Plate Carrier
Condor Sentry Plate Carrier Table Image
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Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite
Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite Table Image
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GORUCK Plate Carrier 3.0
GORUCK Plate Carrier 3.0 Table Image
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MiR Air Flow Weight Vest
MiR Air Flow Weight Vest Table Image
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Fringe Sport WODMaster
Fringe Sport WODMaster Table Image
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Henkelion Weight Vest
Henkelion Weight Vest Table Image
See More
CAP Women’s Weight Vest
CAP Womens Weight Vest Table Image
See More
Price$135$215$51.95$215$115$78.95$72$26.99$62.99
AwardBest for MostBest for CrossFitBest BudgetBest for RunningBest for RuckingBest ShortBest for MurphBest for BeginnersBest for Women
TypePlate CarrierPlate CarrierPlate CarrierWeight PlugsPlate CarrierWeight PlugsFixed WeightFixed WeightWeight Plugs
Weight OptionsUp to 40 lbsUp to 40 lbsUp to 40 lbsUp to 20 lbsUp to 30 lbsUp to 60 lbs20 lbs4-12 lbsUp to 30 lbs
MaterialCordura500D NylonNylonCorduraCorduraCorduraNeoprene/NylonNeopreneNylon/Polyester
Size RangeS-LOne Size Fits MostOne Size Fits MostS-XLS-LOne Size Fits MostS-XLOne Size Fits MostOne Size Fits Most
Colors464Black3Heathered BlueBlack5Black

Benefits of Weight Vests

Benefits of Weight Vests

Improves Cardiovascular Fitness

One of the biggest benefits of a weighted vest is that it enhances your cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that weight vests can increase metabolic costs and relative exercise intensity (1). Added resistance to your body can increase the amount of oxygen you consume and strengthen your lungs, both of which yield positive cardio benefits.

Increases Muscle Size and Strength

Progressively loading the body is one of the key factors in building muscle size and strength. Using a weighted vest during traditional bodyweight exercises is a great way to add intensity and load. Pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, box jumps, and planks are prime candidates for implementing weighted vests. In the case of push-ups, studies have shown performing them with a weighted vest can mimic different intensities of the traditional bench press with similar results (2)(3).

Effective Warm-Up Tool

Studies have shown benefits to wearing a weight vest during warm-ups to prime the body for more intense training efforts (4). In addition to creating physical change, weighted vests may also have positive neuromuscular benefits that can aid in workout preparation.

Increases Endurance

Studies have shown wearing a weighted vest can significantly increase blood lactate and oxygen uptake, resulting in improved running time to exhaustion and increased VO2 (5).


Types of Weight Vests

Types of Weighted Vests

Adjustable

An adjustable weighted vest is the most popular style and what I recommend to most people. This type of vest is much more versatile and can easily be changed to fit specific movements or training protocols. However, they are generally more expensive than fixed vests.

Adjustable weight vests include vest plates, cast steel ingots, or soft casings filled with sand or steel shot. Most plate-loaded vests max out around 40 lbs, but other styles can go even heavier. In some cases, you can achieve 100+lbs of weight, although that may not be appropriate for your training.

I typically recommend 20-30 lbs for most men and 10-20 lbs for most women. An adjustable weight vest is the easiest way to train within the best range for you while also giving yourself room to grow.

Fixed

Fixed weight vests are pre-filled to a specified weight. While they aren’t as versatile as adjustable weighted vests, they’re great for people training for specificity. For instance, the popular Murph workout in CrossFit uses a 20 lb vest. If that’s the only time you use a weight vest, it may make sense to buy a fixed version, which could also save money.


How to Pick a Weighted Vest

How to Pick the Best Weight Vest

Here are a few of the most important factors to consider when buying a weight vest:

Purpose

One of the most important things to consider when buying a weight vest is how you plan to use it. For example, a vest with greater weight capacity is the best option for someone looking to build strength with heavy push-ups, pull-ups, etc. On the other hand, a lighter and more form-fitting weight vest is better for a runner looking to introduce additional load.

Is your training more strength or conditioning based? Understanding your programming will help guide you toward the right type of weight vest.

Materials and Durability

Most weight vests are made of nylon to increase durability. When buying a nylon vest, I recommend focusing on 500D or greater. The ‘D’ stands for denier, which is a numerical representation of fiber thickness. Thicker nylon increases durability, but it may not be as comfortable.

Fixed-weight vests are commonly built with neoprene. While not as durable as nylon, neoprene is a more comfortable material. Other vests may include polyester as well, but this is less common.

Loading Type

How you load a weight vest is important because it influences comfort, ease of use, and weight capacity. Refer to the above section for a detailed look at the main loading types. I generally recommend adjustable, plate-loaded weight vests for most people.

Weight Capacity

Depending on the design, weighted vests can range from 4 lbs to 140 lbs+. Most plate-loaded vests top out at 40 lbs, giving users a wide range of weight options. You can load certain weight vests even heavier, but they’re less user-friendly and may not offer the same durability. Fixed weight vests generally max out at 30 lbs, with 20 lbs being the most common variation.

Again, knowing your training style and needs will help determine which style to pick based on how much weight you require.

Wearability

A weight vest’s ease of use and comfort makes up its overall wearability. Most vests are attached with plastic buckles, velcro, or zippers, making them all straightforward to use. Backpack-style vests like the GORUCK Plate Carrier are generally the easiest.

Comfort is mostly determined by design, materials, and size. An ill-fitting vest may bounce around, creating an uncomfortable experience. Similarly, some users will find certain designs less comfortable than others. For example, over-shoulder straps may cause chaffing on some individuals, which is why Rogue offers optional shoulder pads for their carriers.

Sizing

Some weighted vests come ‘one size fits most,’ while others have dedicated size options. Unlike a weightlifting belt, which has a uniform measuring method, vest sizing is dependent on the design. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidance if sizes are available.

Alternatively, ‘one size fits most’ vests have built-in sizing adjustments that you can tailor to your body.

Colors

Although aesthetics don’t impact performance, they’re an important consideration for many people. Most weighted vests have various options, including single colors and camo patterns. Many of them also include velcro sections to add patches, allowing you to create personal and unique vests.

Price

Relative to other pieces of gym equipment, weight vests are very affordable. They generally range as low as ~$30 to nearly $300. I don’t recommend spending less than that unless you’re a beginner or the vest is ultra-lightweight. Durability, comfort, and effectiveness will not match those with higher prices.


Honorable Mentions

  • Titan Adjustable Weighted Vest: The Titan Adjustable Weight Vest is an over-shoulder option similar to the MiR vest. Available in 20-60 lb max weight options, this vest uses 2.5 lb ingot cast steel weights to achieve the desired weight. It’s a solid option for budget consumers, but the quality doesn’t match the MiR vests.
  • RUNmax Adjustable Weighted Vest: The RUNmax Adjustable Weight Vest is one of the most popular choices on Amazon, with thousands of reviews. The biggest benefit of this vest is that you can buy up to 140 lbs of resistance. The over-shoulder design has an oversized strap for easy setup, but its long-term durability is its biggest concern. Several reviewers have complained about the heavier vests rupturing.
  • Wolf Tactical Adjustable Weighted Vest: The Wolf Tactical Vest is a plate carrier that mimics the 5.11 Tactical design at a lower price. It’s a well-reviewed and popular option, but it didn’t make the list because the Condor Sentry Plate Carrier represents a better value, and the Wolf vest doesn’t match the build quality of the 5.11 TacTec Carrier.
  • Kensui EZ-Vest: The Kensui EZ-Vest is one of the most unique vests on the market. Instead of using plates designed for vests, the Kensui uses normal Olympic weight plates. Depending on the model, you can load up to 300 lbs, making it great for heavy lifters. It’s also made with high-quality nylon and other durable materials. The downsides are that it’s bulky, awkward, and fairly expensive.
  • Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro: The Pro version of the Hyper Vest is similar to the Elite, but it’s capped at 10 lbs and uses a different outer material. The Elite has 10, 15, and 20 lb options. However, it is less expensive. If you’re looking for a 10 lb option, I recommend the Pro over the Elite.

FAQs about Weighted Vests

  • Why Should I Buy a Weight Vest?

    A weight vest is an affordable and space-friendly tool that has many benefits. It can improve conditioning, build strength, boost stamina, and enhance warm-ups. People of all ages can benefit from a weighted vest, including the elderly. Physically disabled individuals can also use a weight vest as an adaptive training tool.

  • How Heavy Should a Weight Vest Be?

    You should pick a weight capacity that fits your training style. I recommend adjustable weighted vests up to 40 lbs for most people. You can use these vests for CrossFit workouts, like the Murph, or general training/rucking. As a general rule, 10%-15% of your body weight is a good choice for your weighted vest.

  • Is an Adjustable Weighted Vest Worth it?

    Yes, adjustable weight vests offer greater versatility and allow you to quickly change weights based on movement selection and programming.


References

  1. Puthoff, M. L., Darter, B. J., Nielsen, D. H., & Yack, H. J. (2006). The effect of weighted vest walking on metabolic responses and ground reaction forces. Medicine and science in sports and exercise38(4), 746–752.
  2. Tillaar R. V. D. (2019). Comparison of Kinematics and Muscle Activation between Push-up and Bench Press. Sports medicine international open3(3), E74–E81.
  3. Van den Tillaar, R., & Ball, N. (2020). Push-Ups are Able to Predict the Bench Press 1-RM and Constitute an Alternative for Measuring Maximum Upper Body Strength Based on Load-Velocity Relationships. Journal of human kinetics73, 7–18.
  4. Barnes, K. R., Hopkins, W. G., McGuigan, M. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2015). Warm-up with a weighted vest improves running performance via leg stiffness and running economy. Journal of science and medicine in sport18(1), 103–108.
  5. Rusko, H., & Bosco, C. C. (1987). Metabolic response of endurance athletes to training with added load. European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology56(4), 412–418.
Adam Hensley
Adam Hensley
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab and has over two decades of fitness/training experience. He serves as the chief content creator and runs our YouTube channel and social media accounts. When he's not testing equipment or sharing his love for home gym life, you'll find him with his wife and two kids in sunny South Carolina.
Adam Hensley
Adam Hensley
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab and has over two decades of fitness/training experience. He serves as the chief content creator and runs our YouTube channel and social media accounts. When he's not testing equipment or sharing his love for home gym life, you'll find him with his wife and two kids in sunny South Carolina.

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