Whether you're trying to make your at-home workouts more intense or level up your training at the gym, one type of equipment that's bound to make a huge difference in your overall fitness is a weighted vest. And according to fitness and wellness coach Heather Wilson-Phillips, the benefits of using a weighted vest are "endless."
"It really helps to develop your overall strength, build muscle [and] endurance, and definitely helps to increase your cardiovascular level," she tells Health. "With adding the extra weight during cardio, it will make your movements more challenging, [which] helps burn more calories and fat… I also love that it frees up your hands and you still get the advantage of the additional resistance."
You can wear a weighted vest to make nearly any type of exercise more challenging, whether it be bodyweight moves like pushups and squats, or cardio like running or hiking. They're especially popular among people who do CrossFit workouts, too. Plus, fitness trainers say they're a great way to progressively make your workouts more challenging so that you don't get bored.
"I like to diversify my training routines when working with clients to eliminate plateaus," Ken Rawlins, certified personal trainer and founder of a workout app called Sculpt, tells Health. "I use a weighted vest with most of my athletes (all levels of fitness) to improve their sports performance." So if you're tired of doing the same exercises all the time, he says weighted vests are a "great way to increase the intensity of your workout."
Since there are so many different types of weighted vests on the market, we asked both fitness experts for their tips on what to look for. With their recommendations in mind, we scoured the internet to find the best weighted vests that customers swear by for more challenging workouts. No matter what your fitness goals are, there's bound to be an option on this list that's perfect for you.
These are the 11 best weighted vests of 2021, according to thousands of reviews:
When shopping for weighted vests, both Wilson-Phillips and Rawlins recommend looking for features that will make wearing it more comfortable, like adjustable straps and stretchy fabric. (Rawlin prefers neoprene.) But the most important thing to consider is how heavy it is.
"If you're seeking size and strength, I would strongly suggest heavy weights and [fewer] reps, but please use proper form when performing each exercise," says Rawlins. "This will prevent you from injury."
For any first-timers, don't immediately reach for the heaviest option. Wilson-Phillips says that a safe guideline is to "start with [a] weight that is typically 5 to 15 percent of your actual body weight, and then you can assess how much more your body is able to take from there as you get stronger."
Keep reading to learn more about the best weighted vests for every type of workout.
With an average 4.5-star rating from over 5,000 customers, Aduro Sport’s weighted vest has climbed up Amazon’s charts, making it the number one best-selling weighted vest for strength training. It comes in a wide variety of options ranging from 4 to 30 pounds, and reviewers are especially pleased with its even weight distribution. The weighted vest is made of comfy neoprene and has an adjustable belt with buckles to help you get a snug fit—there’s even a mesh storage pocket on the back to stash small items like your phone. One shopper wrote that this vest was “exactly what [they were] looking for.” They added: “The weight made a tremendous impact on my workout. The second week I wore it, I felt stronger, my core felt stronger, and I threw in some different movements that were more challenging.”
To buy: Aduro Sport Weighted Vest, from $30; amazon.com
At just $23 for a 6-pound option, the Henkelion weighted vest is the most affordable one on this list—and it has thousands of fans. They love how easy it is to put on and take off, and one person even said “it’s so comfortable” that they forget they’re wearing it in the first place. You can choose from five different colors (including blue, pink, and purple) and four different sizes (4, 6, 8, or 12 pounds). “I wanted to add a challenge to my workouts now that I’m exclusively working out from home,” wrote a customer. “Although there are pricer items out there, this vest is perfect. It is inexpensive in dollar amount, but not in quality. It’s well-made, fits well, and is constructed/weighted so that it is very comfortable.”
To buy: Henkelion Weighted Vest, from $23; amazon.com
If you’re mainly looking for something to make long walks and light movement a bit tougher, opt for this 12-pound weighted vest from Tone Fitness. Plenty of shoppers in the reviews section said that it’s perfect to wear while walking around the block, cleaning the house, or running errands. Plus, the neoprene vest is complete with reflective strips on the front and back so that you can safely get your steps in at night. “I wear it daily for my 2-mile walk with our dogs,” one wrote. “It adds that extra resistance I wanted to make the walk more beneficial.” And if you’re struggling to get a snug fit, dozens of customers recommend wearing the vest upside down.
To buy: Tone Fitness 12-Pound Weighted Vest, from $33 (was $40); amazon.com
The whole point of wearing a weighted vest is to make your body work harder, so you might be looking for a much heavier option. That’s why this top-rated weighted vest from ZFOsports can seriously take your training to the next level. It’s available in 30, 40, 60, and 80 pounds, but each vest has removable weights so you can gradually work your way up. Customers love that it has wide shoulder straps and a convenient pocket to stash your water bottle. “This is my favorite piece of workout equipment that I own,” a shopper wrote. “Going for a hike? Toss it on. Taking the kids to the park? Toss it on. Mowing the yard? Toss it on. It virtually turns everything into a workout.”
To buy: ZFOsports Weighted Vest, from $56 (was $60); amazon.com
Instead of running with a full backpack, you can wear this adjustable weighted vest to make each mile more challenging. There are seven different weights to choose from, with options ranging from 20 to 140 pounds (but you can always add more weights at a later time). Even though the vest is available with and without shoulder pads, customers recommend getting the padding to make it more comfortable. “The vest arrived today and I immediately strapped it on and went for a run,” wrote a reviewer. “I had 16 pounds of weights in it to where it was just enough to make my 3-mile run challenging without being impossible. The vest felt secure and didn’t shift while I was running.”
To buy: RUNFast/Max 12lbs-140lbs Adjustable Weighted Vest, from $37 (was $45); amazon.com
The Empower weighted vest was specifically designed for women. It has a unique X-shape that evenly distributes either 8 or 16 pounds across your body without getting in the way of or squishing your chest. The neoprene vest has padded shoulders for added comfort, reflective strips on both sides, and adjustable straps so it can fit waists up to 48 inches. “I needed to find an easy way to increase the difficulty of my walks and dancing for health, and this weighted vest is just the ticket,” wrote a customer. “Most weighted vests are made with men in mind and don’t fit comfortably in the chest area. This one is PERFECT! It is so comfortable, and I can already tell it is adding that extra [resistance] to my workouts.”
To buy: Empower Weighted Vest for Women, from $40 (was $50); amazon.com
Cap Barbell has been making quality gym equipment for over 30 years, and its adjustable weighted vest is a great example. The one feature customers love most about the vest is the ability to easily increase or decrease its total weight. Since it uses 2.5-pound packets to add weight, you can adjust it in small increments as you get stronger—just make sure they’re evenly distributed. “I have had this for a few months, using it about 2 times a week,” one person wrote. “It has held up very well. I was able to slowly add sandbags in. Initially, I thought it was a hassle that there are so many sandbags to insert (I started with about 40 pounds). Now I am glad that this allows the total weight to be relatively finely adjustable.”
To buy: Cap Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest, from $89; amazon.com
Multiple customers agree that this camouflage-printed weighted vest is perfect for high-intensity workouts like CrossFit. It’s made of a strong material that reviewers call “heavy-duty,” so they say it’ll hold up well throughout tough workouts without restricting your movement. The vest also has pockets for a phone and a water bottle that’ll come in handy on walks or hikes. “This product is great for any type of CrossFit workout that calls for a weighted vest because it is reasonably comfortable,” wrote a shopper. “The straps for tightening the vest down last and I have had no problem with them slipping off or loosening regardless of how much sweat or chalk I get inside of the velcro.”
To buy: Cross101 Camouflage Weighted Vest, from $42; amazon.com
This 10-pound weighted vest from Hyperwear is more of a splurge, but it comes recommended by Wilson-Phillips for good reason. Unlike most other weighted vests, the Hyper Vest Pro is available in various sizes (not just different weights) so you can get the perfect fit based on your height and weight. From there, you can customize the fit even more thanks to the adjustable lacing on the sides (this allows for extra breathability, too). “This is by far the best weighted vest I have ever tried,” one customer wrote. “It forms so perfectly to your body you hardly notice it [is] there. The weight is evenly distributed through a number of very small weights that can be added to or removed given your training needs. This has really helped my workouts.”
To buy: Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro Adjustable Weighted Vest, $200; amazon.com
Thanks to the two convenient pockets on the Zelus weighted vest, you might just be able to ditch your go-to running belt on your next workout. It has a mesh pocket on the back and a detachable zippered pouch on the front that’s perfect for keeping your phone, keys, and cash secure. Available in 4 to 20-pound options, the vest has comfy elastic straps that can be adjusted for a perfect fit. “Love this weighted vest,” a shopper wrote. “It actually looks like a regular backpack from the front, which I like, but it’s obviously heavy from the weight. The little mesh [pocket] in the back actually holds two water bottles, which is perfect!”
To buy: Zelus Weighted Vest, from $22; amazon.com
At just 11 inches in length, this short weighted vest is a great choice for anyone who wants a more compact option that keeps the weight over their shoulders and chest (rather than stomach). Despite its small size, the vest still packs in anywhere from 20 to 60 pounds of additional weight. It also comes in a version with a zipper closure on the front that’s super easy to put on. Instead of sand or pellets, the vest uses 3-pound iron weights that are about the size of a bar of soap, according to one shopper. “Absolutely love this vest!” another added. “It’s durable, high quality, very comfortable, and worth every penny I paid for it.”
To buy: miR Short Weighted Vest, from $115; amazon.com
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