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Are you looking to amp up your fitness routine? We researched dozens of the best weight vests available today and purchased the top 13 for some rigorous and heart-pumping testing. After purchasing these vests, we ran them through comprehensive, side-by-side circuits while evaluating each model's performance through various exercises, adaptability for different activities, fitness levels, and body types. We also looked at how easy they are to use and how comfortable they feel through a range of motions. Whether you are new to the fitness scene or an elite trainer, our results will help you find the best vest for your needs and budget.
Weight Options: 20 and 40 lbs | Weight Increments: 1 or 2 lbs
REASONS TO BUY
Form-fitting and flexible
REASONS TO AVOID
Removing weights can be cumbersome
The TRX XD Kevlar focuses highly on comfort and function. The slender, one to two-pound weights are spread evenly across the front and back of the vest and held very close to the body. Pair the even weight distribution with velcro shoulder and waist straps for a highly adjustable fit, and you've got yourself an extremely comfortable weight vest. This vest sits higher on the chest rather than lower around the waist, broadening the type of exercises you can engage in while wearing it. Running and jumping are a breeze as the form-fitting, flexible vest does not bounce around, and exercises like climbing or crunches are also easily performed due to the slim fit. This vest is available in 20 and 40 pounds; the lighter option can be adjusted by the pound, while the 40-pound option is adjustable in increments of two pounds, making this vest very scalable.
There isn't much to complain about regarding the XD Kevlar, but we have a few things to note. There are a total of 20 weight slots that can be a little inconvenient to get weights into and out of. You have to slide each weight out of a little stretchy slit (rather than an open pocket or one that closes with velcro), so loading and unloading the weight can feel cumbersome. The shoulder straps can also be a little uncomfortable if the waist belt is not synched down tight enough, although that's an easy fix. Neither of these issues affects the overall positive experience of this vest, so it receives a next-to-perfect score, which is not something we give out often or easily.
The Cross101 has a simplistic design with two velcro waist straps for sizing. It easily performs individual exercises for the elite-level athlete but is adaptable enough for various fitness levels and workout intensities. With ten individual weight carrying slots, you can adjust the resistance to fit your workout or activity to a tee. This vest adjusts weight in four-pound increments, which gives it slightly less precision than some of the other options in our test suite. That said, it maxes out at 80 pounds which offers a large weight range to play with. This vest is a great option for strength training and also won't empty your wallet.
The Cross101, although moderately priced, has a few issues. The bulkier, full-length torso design hinders full range of motion while performing certain exercises like crunches. It doesn't have a ton of padding either, which can cause some discomfort on the shoulders at higher weight capacities. If this concerns you, supplemental shoulder pads are available. Also, due to its bulkier build, this vest is not the optimal choice for runners. Bottom line, the Cross101 is a classic tactical style weight vest. It's decently comfortable, performs admirably across most exercises, and offers some adaptability, all at a friendlier price point.
Weight Options: 4, 12, or 16 lbs | Weight Increments: Not adjustable
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Weight is not adjustable
The simple Henkelion Weighted Vest rocks two armholes, a slightly adjustable chest strap, and a racerback. It performs exactly how you'd expect a budget vest to perform, no better, no worse. It is small and cropped, making it a comfortable addition to any workout regimen. The lightest weight option is 4 pounds, and the heaviest is 16, making this a good option for lighter resistance training or long cardio outings. The soft fabric and sand don't rub, chafe, or poke you while moving, although it does bounce around a bit.
Aside from the chest strap, this vest is not adjustable. You cannot change the weights or adjust the size in any way. This is okay if you only plan to add weight while running, but it makes a calisthenics workout difficult to complete as various exercises may call for different resistances. It is also one size fits all, making it less versatile. But if you are looking for a simple, inexpensive, and surprisingly comfortable weight vest to join you on the treadmill, the Henkelion is a great option.
The MIR Air Flow is a versatile vest for all levels of fitness. It has 19 individual weight pockets, giving the user decent control over resistance and distribution. The Air Flow can hold up to 60 pounds and can be adjusted in increments of three pounds, making it a very scalable option. With copious amounts of padding, this vest doesn't sacrifice comfort in higher weight and performance situations. It has a shortened torso design that helps promote airflow, hence the name, to the midsection, avoiding any unnecessary insulation. Another benefit of a short torso design is that it allows for an unhindered range of motion during workouts. Additionally, the higher center of mass makes it a great vest for running, hiking, and sprinting. This vest is also easy to size down to help mitigate bouncing and sliding during exercise routines.
The Air Flow is comprised of two pieces; a front half and a back half. These two pieces connect at the shoulder with strong velcro straps. The velcro showed no signs of failure during our testing; however, we can't help but question its long-term durability. Still, this vest performs very well, is adaptable for all levels, and the large weight range makes it a great option for those who need a high level of scalability.
The Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro is about as close to an article of clothing as you can get. It has a sleek, malleable design that forms to the body, allowing for an unhindered range of motion for every exercise and activity type. As long as you order the correct size, it fits like a glove. Whether your fitness goals are geared towards strength training or cardio, this vest will not bounce, slide, or irritate the body during exercise. It is designed with a central zipper and elastic corset-style webbing on the sides, giving it the perfect form-fitting shape in four different sizes.
The Hyper Vest Pro is littered in 2.25-ounce steel bars. While these small weights allow for uninhibited movement, removing or adding them is a whole task in and of itself. The biggest drawback of this vest is that the size limits the maximum weight capacity. The weight options grow incrementally — higher weight capacity corresponding with larger sizes — and cap out at just 42 pounds. This is unfortunate because smaller framed people lose the option to add more weight, negatively affecting the adaptability of this vest. This aspect is limiting, but the movement and flexibility you can achieve with the unique design are tough to beat.
The RUNMax Adjustable is the gym rat of weight vests. It offers a large weight range with the highest maximum weight capacity of any vest in our test suite. It shines brightest during strength training exercises such as pushups, pullups, squats, and anything else that requires you to push resistance to the limit. This vest has a simple design with a double velcro waist strap. With a variety of pockets on the front and back, it is easy to add and remove weight as needed. The RUNMax comes with removable shoulder padding to provide some additional cushion for particularly heavy loads. You can also order yours without the shoulder pads if you don't want them.
This vest is designed more for strength training than cardio. You can hike and jog with minimal bouncing or sliding if the vest is fastened tightly and equipped with less weight. But, as resistance increases, the minimal bouncing can take a toll on your shoulders. The waist strap is also very long, which feels awkward at first. Once it's fastened down, it's fine, but it had us questioning whether or not we were using it correctly when we used it for the first time. Overall, however, this is a great option for those looking to add some weight to their static exercises.
Model Tested: 60lbs with shoulder pads
Why You Should Trust Us
We researched some of the most popular weight vests on the market and then narrowed down our selection to the top contenders to purchase and test in this review. As we waited for the vests to arrive, we devised a comprehensive testing plan to showcase their best and worst attributes. Our metrics help create an in-depth analysis for the evaluation of each vest.
Weight vest testing was divided across the four different metrics:
Performance (35% of overall score weighting)
Adaptability (25% weighting)
Comfort (25% weighting)
Ease of Use (15% weighting)
Hayley Thomas grew up playing team sports which included year-round training but left that life behind in college. After that, she began developing her own strength training regimens to stay fit in the absence of organized sports. It wasn't long before Hayley found rock climbing, which quickly graduated from a hobby to a way of life. With years of training under her belt and a clear goal to become a stronger climber, she is perfect for weight vest testing.
Analysis and Test Results
While our tests will help guide you to the best of the best, it is important to consider what you will be using your new weight vest for before making any final decisions. If you want to add weight to your cardio routine, comfort will be an important metric to pay attention to — specifically the fit and weight distribution. Adaptability will be of higher importance if you are looking for a well-rounded vest for all your calisthenics needs. Whether you are a fitness world novice, a professional climber, or something in between, the right vest for you will be dependent on your personal health, wellness, and fitness goals.
To rate the value of each vest, we take into consideration the price versus performance. The price range for weight vests can be quite vast. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for, but that does not mean you should simply purchase the most expensive option.
The Cross101 can hold between 20 and 80 pounds. Like most weight vests, the price increases with the additional weight, but it is slightly less expensive than some of its competitors. It suffers a bit in the comfort department, so this vest proves more valuable to those looking to use it for strength training instead of cardio.
The extremely budget-friendly Henkelion performs okay for a lighter vest at a price you just can't beat. This option is a great choice if you're looking for a cheap running vest and you don't want to spend an arm and a leg.
Lastly, we have the TRX XD Kevlar. It is somewhat expensive, but this option is super versatile. The one to two-pound weight increments offer a solid amount of scalability, especially if you buy the 40-pound vest, and the comfort and fit make it a great option for running and pull-ups alike. Its versatility and durability make it a very high-value purchase, despite the higher price tag.
Weight vests are a versatile tool in any person's fitness regime and goals. Their sole purpose is to increase resistance to your workout routines, strength training exercises, and cardio movements. A vest needs to allow you to execute exercises successfully with a full range of motion for optimal performance. You also want to ensure you have a good fit and the right weight to avoid any risk of injury. A good weight vest must perform well during various exercises to achieve the best training routine, home workout, or fitness program. We tested each vest on individual strength training exercises such as pushups, pullups, squats, hikes, runs, walks, and even handstands. We then linked these exercises into circuits to assess performance during a full workout.
The general performance of the TRX XD Kevlar is unmatched. The slim fit holds the weight close to your body, ensuring that it is not in the way or bouncing around, regardless of the exercise you're performing. The tough Kevlar ensures a durable build, and the adjustable hip and shoulder straps make for a versatile fit.
The MIR Air Flow is another high performer. The unique short torso ensures that the vest doesn't flop around during your exercise, and it allows the midsections to breathe. The large weight range also comes in handy for heavy-weight exercises like squats.
The Hyper Vest Pro is an honorable mention here too. It allows the wearer to execute every exercise, workout, sprint, and jog with perfection. With its slim, form-fitting design, it feels like another layer of clothing, allowing unhindered movement. The only reason it does not score higher is that the amount of weight the vest can carry is directly affected by the size of the vest. Finally, the RUNMax takes the cake in sheer resistance capabilities with ultimate strength gains in mind.
Our next metric is adaptability, which assesses the versatility of each vest through three specific avenues. The first of which is how each model performs across a slew of different exercises. We love specialty tools, but having a weight vest that you can wear throughout your entire workout offers optimal efficiency. Models that can be worn during high-intensity training cardio workouts and on the pullup bar score major points from us.
Next, we looked at how well the vests fit a variety of body types. Not only do we appreciate an inclusive product, but your body may change over time, and you wouldn't want to have to go out and purchase a different vest every time your body changes shape. The last piece to our adaptability metric is the level of scalability that each vest offers. Similar to how your body may change through weight training, your strength will too — adding weight to your vest as you become stronger will offer you the opportunity for a wider amount of strength gain.
The MIR Air Flow and TRX XD Kevlar shine brightly in this metric. They are both highly adjustable and perform very well across most exercises with designs that are comfortable for many body shapes and sizes. Both have a short torso which allows for a fuller range of motion while increasing breathability. The TRX XD only goes up to 40 pounds, though, while the MIR goes all the way up to 60 pounds. That being said, the slim fit of the TRX XD allows for the fullest range of motion possible, while the MIR is a little bulkier.
The Cross101 offers a larger weight range and is, therefore, more scalable, but the longer torso makes exercises like crunches, running, and cardio training more difficult. In sheer weight, the RUNMax and the Strength Sport offer the highest scalability but fall behind in the versatility of exercises they can comfortably accompany.
Training is hard enough on its own, and wearing a weight vest should increase resistance, not discomfort. There are a few attributes that make for a comfortable weight vest. The first, and arguably most important, is weight distribution. Evenly distributed weight across the front and back of the vest helps keep the user from toppling to one side or the other. Keeping the weight close to your body also makes the vest feel as though the weight is part of you rather than something you are carrying. Next up is adjustability. Having full control over the fit of your vest allows you to place more weight on your shoulders or midsection as desired. It also offers the user some control over where the vest contacts their skin, which helps with rubbing and pinching. The last attribute is padding, which can be a double-edged sword. Ample padding offers a barrier between you and the additional weight, but too much padding can inhibit breathability, which makes your already sweaty workout even hotter.
The TRX XD is so comfortable we barely noticed we were wearing it. The weights are evenly distributed across the front and back and held very close to the body, ensuring a high level of comfort regardless of what exercise you are performing. The fit is next to perfect and is easily adjusted via velcro straps around the waist and shoulders. Lastly, the slim weights and flexible but sturdy fabric allow for a full range of motion with no pinching or rubbing.
The MIR Air Flow is another top performer in the comfort metric. It doesn't feel like a piece of clothing and is a little bulky, but the half torso design offers decent freedom of movement and airflow — hence the name. It also offers plenty of padding and zero hotspots.
The Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro and the Henkelion are also worth noting. Hyperwear has a unique build that feels like a piece of clothing on the body. The elastic sides aid in flexibility and allow for a complete range of motion and full movement of the diaphragm. It also has excellent breathability for when things get intense. The Henkelion is simple and ever-so-slightly adjustable in the chest strap, but the soft fabric and malleable sand are surprisingly comfortable for such a budget-friendly option.
Heavier weight vests require a little more padding around the shoulder straps. The RUNMax can be ordered with or without shoulder pads, and we recommend getting them if you plan to push into heavier loads. We don't think this vest would have scored nearly so well if we'd tested it without the shoulder pads. The more minimal vests in our lineup, like the Zelus, Aduro, Henkelion, Goplus, and Tone Fitness, are all made with a neoprene material that we found highly breathable and comfortable during light workouts.
Ease of Use
We assess this metric by looking at the overall construction, tightening mechanisms, and, if applicable, weight pockets. We consider how easy each vest is to put together out of the box and how well it stays together while in use. We also test how easy changing each vest's weight load is.
For utter simplicity, the Tone Fitness, Aduro, Zelus, and Henklion are the easiest to use. No initial setup is necessary, they lock in and tighten down with a simple buckle and strap, and they have no extra components to manage. These vests aren't scalable, but their lighter, simpler designs are great if you want something for running.
The TRX XD is also a very simple vest to use. There are virtually no moving parts other than the velcro shoulder and waist straps. Removing and adding the slim weights is the only thing that makes using this weight vest a little difficult, but that's a small price to pay for such a high-performing product.
The Hyper Vest Pro has a very simple design with a zipper up the center and elastic webbing on the sides for tightening, though the arms can get a bit twisted due to the flexible design. While the removal and addition of weight is easy and straightforward, there are a lot of small weights, which can make this process a little tedious. The vests that utilize a two velcro strap waist belt, like the Cross101, are also rather easy to use.
Choosing a weight vest is undoubtedly more complicated than choosing your next sweater vest, but we hunted through all the top products, so you don't have to. Weight vests can range from 4 to 140+ pounds and are designed with various exercises and body types in mind. Think about what activities you want to do with your vest and how scalable you need your vest to be. From there, our thoughtful research and testing process can help provide you with all the information you need to make an informed purchase.
GearLab is commited to honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year. We buy all the products ourselves. We won't accept manufacturer's freebies. No ads. No "sponsored" content. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing.