The Best Weighted Running Vests — Plus, Why You Should Try One

Want to try running with a weight vest? First learn the pros and cons of training in a weighted running vest, plus tips on how to start.

a person running outdoors in a weighted vest

Run faster. Go for longer. Take it on the trail. Do hills. Try a fartlek. Add in sprints. There's no limit to the ways you can spice up a run — but have you ever tried running in a weight vest?

This fitness tool (once relegated only to combat training) has gained popularity among runners. ICYDK, weighted vests are exactly what they sound like: "They add weight, plain and simple," says Vinnie Miliano, an RRCA-certified running coach. "They're a tool to add variation to your training. Both sprinters and endurance athletes can benefit from their use," he adds.

Benefits of Running In a Weight Vest

The general purpose of going on a run with a weighted vest is to add extra weight to the body. Since you're moving more weight with every stride, the body has to adapt to that added weight by getting stronger, says Miliano.

"The added resistance means your body has to work harder," notes Miliano. "Your heart has to pump harder to get more oxygen to the muscles, which means your heart rate will increase faster," he explains. This, in turn, can help boost your cardiovascular fitness.

Miliano notes that he wore a weighted run vest while training for his first Half Ironman triathlon. "It helped me build the leg strength I needed for the run portion and aided in strengthening my cardio for the bike and swim," he says. How's that for a win-win?

Who Should Try Running In a Weight Vest

Running in a weighted vest is an advanced move, so if you've just started running (or exercising in general), you should probably hold off on running with a weighted vest, suggests Miliano. "If your body isn't used to the strenuous activity, chances are you'll be doing more harm than good by wearing a weight vest," he notes.

Also, if you have any pre-existing knee, lower back, or ankle injuries, weight vests probably aren't for you, according to Tony Carvajal, a certified CrossFit trainer with RSP Nutrition. "Adding the weight to your body puts more force onto your feet, ankles, and knees. That load creates a stronger impact when striding, so if you have previous injuries or feel like your ankles or knees are weak, you should avoid using a vest," he explains.

That said, if you're looking for a fun way to boost core, lower body, and cardiovascular strength, a weighted running vest can be a good tool. But don't overdo it at the beginning — instead, try slowly incorporating the accessory into your routine to give your body a chance to adapt to and recognize the new stimulus, suggests Carvajal. "Start by adding it to a simple run that's about a quarter of the distance you usually do," he recommends.

Best Weighted Running Vests

A quick note on sizing: Whatever weighted vest you buy, you want it to be snug so it doesn't jostle around with each stride but not so tight that you feel like you can't breathe. The good news? All of the weighted running vests below are adjustable, so the one you pick can be secured to fit your body.

01 of 09

Adurance Weighted Vest Workout Equipment

Adurance weighted vest product photo

You should start with a vest that's only 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, says Carvajal. So, at only 6 and 10 pounds, this is a great starter option. If you've ever run with a vest-style hydration pack, this streamlined weighted running vest will feel similar. Highly breathable in design and material, it's less cumbersome than vests you'll see CrossFitters sporting during the Murph hero WOD. And because the vest is short, you don't have to worry about chafing on your lower back, belly button, or hips — even if you have a short torso.

02 of 09

RUNFast/Max Adjustable Weighted Vest

RUNFast/Max Adjustable Weighted Vest for running

Thanks to its reasonable price, RUNFast/Max is the fave of runners looking for a durable running weight vest without paying an arm and (super strong) leg. It's the go-to for Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer with Maple Holistics: "In my opinion, RunFast/Max is more comfortable and fits better than any other weight vests," he says. It can be loaded with anything from 12 to 140 pounds of weight. (The price goes up as the amount of weight does.) There's also a phone pocket, water-bottle strap, and a hole to thread your wired headphones through.

03 of 09

Everlast Weighted Vest with Reflective Gray

Everlast Fit weighted vest

Add a pop of color with this grey and purple running weight vest from Everlast. This vest offers adjustable waistbands for a snug fit — super important since loose vests can lead to injury, says Miliano. "If a vest is too loose, it's dangerous because it can throw off your balance," he explains. Plus, this vest offers reflective details so you can safely run in the early morning or evening when it's not quite light out.

04 of 09

Empower Weighted Vest for Women

Empower Weighted running Vest for large chests

If you have a larger chest, this option is for you. The contoured x-shaped silhouette is designed specifically to accommodate a large chest, so you feel like you can breathe while running in a weight vest. Unlike some other vests, which have removable weights, the sand is sewn right into this vest. That means the weight (8 pounds total) is perfectly distributed. Bonus: It has a compartment that's big enough to hold an iPhone.

05 of 09

MIR PRO Weighted Vest

Mir Adjustable Weighted Vest for running

In one word: Hardcore. This isn't for the runner who wants to make running just a little bit harder. Starting at 45 pounds, this vest turns your run into a full-body strength training workout. (This brand also offers vests that weigh up to 140 pounds.) It's important for runners to balance running with strength training and stability training, but because it's so heavy, start by wearing it on a track while getting acquainted with the load.

06 of 09

Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO Weighted Vest

Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO Unisex 10-Pound Adjustable Weighted Vest for running

In design, this weight vest is unlike any other on the market. It secures to your body with a middle zipper and two drawstrings, which allow for side ventilation. And the vest itself is very thin, so you won't feel like a runner in a life vest. Worth noting: While the models in the marketing material of this product are shirtless, it's best to wear a shirt underneath to avoid chafing. (Don't worry about getting it sweaty; the material is odor resistant. Bless.)

07 of 09

Cross101 Weighted Vest

Cross101 Adjustable Camouflage Weighted Vest for running and training workouts

Let's face it, working out in camo can make you feel incredibly tough. This baby is ideal for running because it evenly distributes weight in the front and back, and also has adjustable shoulder straps so you can center the weight higher or lower on your chest. It comes in weights as light as 12 pounds and as heavy as 140 pounds, but the weights come in 3-pound increments and are removable.

08 of 09

5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier Weight Vest

5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier Weight Vest or training running and workouts
5.11 Tactical

5.11 Tactical has earned its reputation as the brand for weight vests for CrossFit athletes. For one, they look super badass — but they're also constructed to ensure high performance. This vest in particular has padded shoulder straps and is ridiculously secure. (Seriously, I once wore this during a workout with box jumps, a 5K run, and pull-ups, and it stayed in place!)

Just note: The weight plates are sold separately, so you also have to purchase those. It's the most expensive on the list but it's worth the investment if you're actually going to use it.

09 of 09

Rogue Condor Sentry Plate Carrier Weight Vest

Rogue Condor Sentry Plate Carrier Weight Vest

This Rogue vest is probably 5.11 Tactical's biggest rival because of the brand recognition. Jacqueline Kasen, a certified personal trainer and director of group fitness at Anatomy in Miami, says this vest is her favorite because the fit is so customizable. "There are a ton of adjustable straps so I can fit it to my body perfectly. There are also a lot of buckles, so slipping it on and off is easier," she notes. This is another vest where the weights are sold separately — but the benefit of that is, as you get stronger, you can buy heavier weight plates to continue challenging your body.

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