If you’re looking for the best weight vests for running, you’ve come to the right place. Weight vests are commonly used to help add resistance to a training program, therefore, making them more effective. However, there are things to consider when purchasing and using a weight vest.
In this article, we’ll discuss what makes a good weight vest for running, and we’ll recommend ten of the best models on the market. We’ll also provide tips on how to choose the right weight vest for your needs. While it is straightforward, there are some things you want to make sure you consider. A bit of nuance.
Whether you’re a beginner runner or a seasoned marathoner, read on to find out our top recommendations for a weight vest used for running as well as our tips on how to buy, safely use, and get the most out of the weight vest you do purchase.
- What Is the Best Weighted Vests for Running?
- These Are Our Top 3 Picks for Weight Vests that Are Specifically for Runners
- The 5 Best Weight Vests for Running
- 1/ Aduro Sport Adjustable Weighted Vest
- 2/ Henkelion Weighted Vests
- 3/ ZFOsports Weighted Vest
- 4/ RUNmax Pro Weighted Vest
- 5/ Hyperwear Elite Adjustable Vest
- What Features Should I Look for In a Weighted Vest?
- What Are Weighted Vests Made From?
- What Are Weighted Vests Filled With?
- Is Weighted Vest Worth It?
- Are Weight Vests Good for Running? Should I Buy One?
- Running With a Weighted Vest: Good or Bad?
- What Is a Good Weight for Weighted Vest?
- How to Run Faster with Weighted Vest
- Do Weighted Vests Hurt Your Back?
What Is the Best Weighted Vests for Running?
Several weight vests will work just fine throughout a wide range of prices. One that jumps out for us, however, is the Aduro Sport Adjustable vest. It ticks all of the boxes with features, weight, and comfort, as well as price, that it is our #1 choice.
These Are Our Top 3 Picks for Weight Vests that Are Specifically for Runners
- Aduro Sport Adjustable Weighted Vest – Best Overall Value Weight Vest for Running
- Henkelion Weighted Vests – Best Budget Weighted Vest for Running
- ZFOsports Weighted Vest – Heavy Duty Pick (30lbs to 80lbs)
To understand what the best weight vest is in each unique situation, you need to understand the benefits of running with a weight vest. Can a weight vest make you faster and add resistance to help build muscle? Yes, it can. Those are the primary reasons why weighted vests are a great tool to add to your running program.
When getting ready to purchase a weight vest, a few things need to be taken into consideration. First on most lists of priorities is price. Weight vests can range drastically in price, running from $30 or so to upwards of almost $200. But, outside of price, a few other key features to look for when buying a weighted vest.
The 5 Best Weight Vests for Running
We could make a list of the 20 best weight vests, but why? They all can’t be the best. To save some time for everyone we picked the top 5 weight vests that are specifically for running.
These passed the smell test on form, durability, and function. Price was also considered.
1/ Aduro Sport Adjustable Weighted Vest
Best Overall Value Weight Vest for Running
Our top pick is the Aduro Sport Adjustable Weighted Vest. This vest is designed specifically for runners and is adjustable from 4lbs to 10lbs. While 10lbs doesn’t seem like much, it does add up when you are running longer distances. The weights come in 1lb increments allowing you to find your perfect weight easily.
The Aduro is also made of a soft, sweat-resistant neoprene that is comfortable yet durable and is adjustable for all body types (including men and women). It evenly distributes the weight across your body in a way that minimizes the stress on your back and shoulders.
With two large pockets to store your belongings while you work out, this great weight vest also comes with a lifetime warranty. For the price, it is a very solid product.
Pros: Affordable, backed by a lifetime warranty, adjustable, 1lb increments
Cons: Some users find it too loose when adjusted allowing it to move around a lot
2/ Henkelion Weighted Vests
Best Budget Weighted Vest for Running
The Henkelion vest is a great option for someone not looking to spend a ton or just getting into weighted vest training.
The Henkelion weighted vest is designed to help improve your posture. The evenly distributed weight helps train your muscles to maintain a correct posture, which can be especially helpful if you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk.
Comfortable and Durable Material
The Henkelion Weighted Vest is made of soft neoprene material and a mesh pocket on the back to save room. It’s comfortable to wear and the durable material will last through even the most strenuous workouts.
Adjustable Strap to Prevent Slipping and Sliding
This weighted body vest features an adjustable strap to prevent slipping and sliding during exercise. It’s important to have a snug weight vest so it isn’t bouncing around throughout the workout.
Pros: Helpful to posture, burn calories & muscle recovery, comfortable and durable material
Cons: It has a slight plastic smell at first. It is not machine washable. Too short to sit at the waist
3/ ZFOsports Weighted Vest
Heavy Duty Pick (30lbs to 80lbs)
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty weight vest, here it is. This behemoth goes all the way up to 80lbs. While I don’t recommend that for running, weighted walking can be a great accessory movement to running.
It has several great features that help pushed this guy into the top 5 – especially for high-capacity and high-weight vests.
- Pocket for your phone/music devices
- Water bottle holder, designed to fit all water bottles 16oz or smaller
- Weights are located in the back and front of the vest
- Belt attached to the vest for easy setup
- Comes in 30lbs to 80lbs
- Very heavy duty vest
- Adjustable weighted vest
Pros: very durable, double utility pockets for carrying, simple adjustments
Cons: Not suitable for smaller people
4/ RUNmax Pro Weighted Vest
Best Cross training and Running Weighted Vest
If you’re looking for a vest to pull double-duty, look no further. This RUNmax vest is great for runners and cross-fitters alike. It’s a fantastic cross training vest that can help you on and off the track.
Good for Squats
The RUNmax Pro Weighted Vest is one of the best weight vests for squats on the market. It’s a great tool to add resistance to your workout and build muscle mass.
Weights Are Adjustable in 4 Lb Increments
The weight vest comes with 12 removable weights that are adjustable in 4 lbs increments from 8 lbs to 40 lbs.
Adjustable Weighted Vest
This adjustable weight vest vest is designed to fit all sizes. It has an adjustable strap system that can be adjusted to fit any body type.
Pros: Good for squats, good quality, strong velcro
Cons: Some users report it’s uncomfortable, bulky
5/ Hyperwear Elite Adjustable Vest
The Splurge Weight Vest
This is the one weight vest to rule all weight vests Loaded with features and built as good as they come, the Hyperwear weight vest doesn’t have many cons to speak of. That said, the price reflects it at almost $300.
Evenly Spreads Weight
The most comfortable, best-fitting weight vest on the market! Specially designed to hug your torso for even weight distribution.
Well Made & Comfortable
Advanced design based on Hyperwear patented technology hugs torso removing stress from shoulders and great for cardio training and weight loss with tiny 1/7 of one pound weights allowing total control so you can adjust to any weight 6, 8, 12, 16, etc.
The only workout vest that comes in two sizes (S/M & L/XL) and fits snugly around your body without bulky padding or straps. With its adjustable straps, this weighted vest fits perfectly.
Pros: Evenly spread weight, well made, fits snugly, comfortable
Cons: Expensive, some users complain the clamps to tighten the vest do not hold
What Features Should I Look for In a Weighted Vest?
The best weight vests for running are going to come loaded with features. We picked a handful of the ones we feel are important to have in the perfect weight vest.
Max Weight Capacity
One of the first things to look at when looking for a weight vest is the max weight capacity. If it’s too light, it won’t challenge you enough to be effective. If it’s too heavy, it’s even worse and can be dangerous.
A vest with weight pockets that allow you to add or remove weight is the most desirable. You can adjust it to whatever weight works for you and add weight as you grow in strength and endurance.
For safety’s sake, some reflective stripes are nice. Some come with reflective stripes integrated into the vest and some have chords or other features that are reflective from the factory.
If not, it’s pretty easy to add some reflective stripes later if you’re going to be doing a lot of nighttime or early morning running.
Double Shoulder Padding
Regardless of what anyone tells you, weight vests apply pressure to your shoulders. In fact, when I walk with my 60lb weight vest, I get more tired in the shoulder area than the legs. It’s important to look for comfort features, like double shoulder padding, when buying a weight vest – especially for running.
Tip: The constant movement of running or jogging with a weight vest causes a lot of friction and can bother sensitive parts of the body. The shoulders are carrying the lions share of the weight, so some additional padding up there is always nice.
Weight Vest Design
There are several common weight vest designs on the market. The most common is the standard vest design that wraps completely around your body. The other designs are either a back, arm or chest pack style.
Each type has its advantages and drawbacks. A full-body vest will provide you with the evenest weight distribution, but it can be cumbersome to wear or get on and off.
The other designs can be less restrictive and easier to put on and take off, but they may not distribute the weight evenly across your body. Choose what works best for you based on your goals and comfort level.
When we run, we still carry our stuff. Phones, music devices, earbuds, water bottles, keys, you name it. A convenience mesh pocket or another vest pocket can be a lifesaver. Vest pockets are overlooked until you need one – then they are a lifesaver!
Most quality vests are going to come with double stitching, but we thought we would at least mention it. Some budget vests may not be double-stitched which is going to cause an issue at some point.
When researching this article I read a review from someone that said one of the first times they went to wear their vest the weights fell out because the stitching on the pocket had come undone.
That wouldn’t be pleasant when running down the road. Do yourself a favor and get a vest that uses double stitching.
Adjustable Buckle Strap
Adjustable straps are a lifesaver for weighted vests. The vest will have to fit snugly, but can’t be too tight or it will cut off your circulation.
The buckles should have some sort of locking mechanism to keep them from loosening as you run. A nice feature is an adjustable strap that goes over the top for extra security and comfort. It’s always smart to get something with some security features.
If the waist strap is highly adjustable that’s even better. The waist strap is crucial in getting the vest to stay put while jogging, running, or even walking with a weighted vest on.
What Are Weighted Vests Made From?
Many materials are used in different vests and have an impact on how much they cost. Higher-end vests generally use better materials allowing the vest to last for longer and be more durable, breathable, and easier to use with quality clasps, zippers, and straps.
Range of motion and comfort can also be affected by materials. Soft neoprene may be more comfortable for some people, while sand-filled vests may bother others based on where the sand is.
What is Cordura? Cordura is a brand of fabric that is often used in outdoor gear and apparel because it is so durable. It is made from high-tenacity fibers like nylon or polyester and weaves them tightly together. This makes the fabric resistant to tears, scuffs, and abrasions.
One big advantage of Cordura is that it is water-resistant. This means that if you’re caught in a storm or working up a sweat, your vest won’t soak through and become uncomfortable. Our top pick for the best weighted vest, the Aduro Sport, actually uses Cordura.
Nylon is often used in lower-end vests because it is less expensive than Cordura and other materials. It’s not as durable, but it is still quite strong. Nylon is also water resistant, so it will keep you dry in light rain or sweat.
Polyester is often used in cheaper vests as well because it is less expensive than nylon and other materials. It is not as strong or durable as nylon, but it does have some advantages. Polyester is more resistant to wrinkles and shrinking than nylon, so it will keep its shape better over time, and is also more resistant to fading from sunlight, so it will stay looking newer for longer.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that is often used in wetsuits because it is waterproof and insulates well. Neoprene is also used in some vests because it is quite flexible and comfortable. It is also a bit more expensive than nylon or polyester.
Mesh is primarily used in weight vests on the sides to help with breathability and comfort. It allows air to flow through the vest and keep you cool while you’re working out.
A mesh pocket is also very common on the best weighted vests.
Chloroprene rubber is another material found in some weight vests. This material is often used in firefighting gear because it is very durable and flame resistant. Chloroprene rubber is also water-repellant, so it won’t soak through if you’re out on a rainy day.
There are a few different types of zippers: plastic, metal, and coil. YKK is a Japanese company that makes high-quality zippers. Their zippers are often used in outdoor gear and apparel because they are very strong and durable.
We highly recommend you purchase a weighted vest with YKK zippers. You will thank yourself a few thousand zips down the road.
What Are Weighted Vests Filled With?
Weight vests are filled with several different materials including sand, both iron sand and river sand, and metal plates that are sewn into the vest. Ideally, your vest will have removable metal plates so you can adjust the weight as you increase your strength and endurance.
Some sand-filled vests are filled with the minimum amount and have the option to add metal weights to pockets on the outside that are sealed with straps or velcro. This gives the weight vest a base weight of, say, 4lbs while having the option to go all the way to 20lbs.
Those types of vests are very common and popular due to their versatility and ability to have weight added or removed.
Is Weighted Vest Worth It?
Weight vests are tools to be utilized in line with a workout program. They are not going to make you faster, stronger, or more muscular on their own. With that being said, they are a great tool to use if you are already doing the necessary work and want to see better results.
As mentioned above, there are pros and cons of running with a weight vest, but the pros typically outweigh the cons. If you are a beginner looking to start running or someone who has run in the past and wants to get back into it, adding weight to your body will increase resistance.
What Does Increasing Resistance Do?
This is going to make running more challenging and require more energy from you. Adding weight also helps build strength in muscles that otherwise won’t get as much action when running alone. These two benefits alone can help push you further along with your training program.
However, as mentioned above, there are some things you need to consider when choosing a weighted vest for running. The biggest thing is comfort — it needs to be comfortable enough that you don’t mind wearing it while out on a run but still sturdy enough not to move around and cause pain
Are Weight Vests Good for Running? Should I Buy One?
I wouldn’t recommend a beginner use a weight vest. Here’s why – beginners have enough things to learn with form, proper breathing, discipline, dedication, and so many other things that are required to be successful when running.
At a later stage in the process, it can be beneficial although when using precautions as discussed.
Running With a Weighted Vest: Good or Bad?
Why is running with a weighted vest good or bad? It can be either, honestly. As discussed, if you’re goal is hypertrophy or maximizing muscle gain through some specific speed drills like sprinting or some other speed work, then it can be beneficial.
It isn’t bad to run with a weighted vest, but if your goal is to run ultramarathons, I would probably skip the vest. Long-distance running and weighted vests don’t mesh well. To increase your ability to run long distances, like a marathon for example, you’re better off just logging more road miles than trying to add weights.
However, if you’re just trying to improve your running form or increase your endurance, then a weighted vest could be beneficial.
The main thing to remember is that you need to focus on your form and not on the weight. If you can’t keep good form while wearing the vest, then it’s too much weight.
When Should I Run with A Weighted Vest?
The exact point at which you take your training to the next level is hard to predict. For example, I started training with a weighted vest after running for 4 years. I had been injury-free for 2 years and was able to maintain a base mileage of 40 miles (64 kilometers) per week.
Your situation will be different, and you’ll have to experiment to find what works best for you. If your goal is to use a weighted vest to get faster, you may be able to just use it in your warmup and then ditch it for the long run at the beginning. This will give you the feeling of the weight and make the rest of your run feel easy without adding additional strain to your body.
As always, consult with a doctor or certified professional before starting any new workout routine.
What Is a Good Weight for Weighted Vest?
When choosing a weight for your weighted vest, it’s important to remember that less is more. Going too heavy, like a 50 lbs weighted vest, will hinder your running much more than the extra weight will help. And that is without even mentioning the safety concerns of that much weight pounding away at your joints and bones throughout the run.
That said, there are some guidelines you can follow. First off, 10-15% of your body weight is a good starting point. So, if you weigh 200 lbs, look for a vest that is 20-30 lbs.
You can always increase the weight as you get more comfortable running with the vest and feel like you can handle more. Wonder what happens if you add too much weight to a weighted vest? It doesn’t end well.
Is a 20lb Weighted Vest Enough?
A 20lb weighted vest is more than enough for the vast majority of people who want to run with a weighted vest. If you are doing other types of weighted vest work or crosstraining, you may want to go heavier.
Weighted walking may require much more than 20lbs if you want to get a good leg, back, and shoulder workout from it for larger men. Certain types of weight training like weighted pullups, pushups, dips, and other weighted exercises may also require more weight.
However, strictly speaking for runners doing sprint training, warming up with a weighted vest, or simply looking to add a few extra pounds to their tempo or interval runs, 20lbs is more than sufficient. When weight training, the requirements may be different.f
How to Run Faster with Weighted Vest
There are a few things you need to do to run faster with a weighted vest. Sprint training with a weighted vest will not be effective if you don’t follow a well-designed sprint routine.
First, you need to make sure that your speed workout is going to improve your top-end speed. You can do this by adding proper rest periods, doing the right amount of reps and sets, and constantly challenging yourself with different speeds and distances.
Second, it’s important to stay in control of the vest throughout your speed workout. This means wearing a weighted vest that is not too heavy for you and committing to using good form, even when your lungs are burning on the final rep of a set.
Thirdly, make sure you’re giving your body enough recovery time after each sprinting workout. The general rule of thumb is to rest for 48 hours after a hard workout before doing the same exercise again. So if you’ve been running with a weighted vest, give yourself one day off between sessions and focus on other types of workouts during that time.
Here are a few more tips:
1. Build up gradually – start with light weights and gradually add more as you get used to running with the extra weight. One mistake people make is adding too much weight right away and then being unable to keep up with the extra strain on their bodies.
2. Improve your form – make sure you have good form before adding weight. The last thing you want is bad form + extra weight = injury. Good running form is very important.
Ideally, you want your posture to be tall, utilize long strides, and your steps to be light. You can find more tips on how to improve your form here.
3. Be smart about when you use it – don’t add weight if you are already tired from a hard workout or run. The last thing you want is to get injured because you were too ambitious.
4. Use it for speed work – don’t try to set a personal best in your long run with the weighted vest on. Save it for days when you’re doing speed work or tempos.
5. Don’t go too heavy – as mentioned before, going too heavy will only hinder your performance. Stick to 10-15% of your body weight as a general rule of thumb.
6. Warm up properly – this is important for any type of running, but even more so when you’re adding extra weight. Make sure you warm up properly before starting your run.
Running with a weighted vest can help you build muscle, burn more calories and improve your running form — but only if you do it correctly. Follow the tips above and start reaping the benefits of this training tool today.
Do Weighted Vests Hurt Your Back?
While weighted vests can be a valuable training tool, they aren’t right for everyone. If you have neck or back problems, it’s best to avoid them.
“It puts pressure on your spine, and if you have spinal stenosis or significant disc degeneration, it can cause problems all the way to the neck,”Terry Downey – physical therapist
When used properly, weighted vests aren’t going to damage your spine. That said, anytime you add additional weight to your body there is always an increased risk of injury. Weighted vests usually come with shoulder pads or padded shoulder straps and a waist strap that promote a snug fit to help load the body evenly as well as reduce the weights from moving and swaying around.
Keeping the vest weight in a fixed position will reduce the dynamic loading on the spine and other parts of the body. When running, if the weight is swinging wildly around, that will only increase chance of an issue.
It’s very important to find a weighted vest that will hug your body and move with you without restricting your range of motion.
Do Weighted Vests Compress Spine?
Weighted vests apply pressure by sitting on your shoulders and upper back which ultimately does compress your spine to some degree. Your spine is made up 33 vertebra and intervertebral discs. When wearing a weighted vest, these are compressed to some degree, but they are designed to support the weight.
Think about it, if you gained 20 lbs it wouldn’t be good, but your spine certainly wouldn’t give out from you walking.
A few things are important to help reduce the risk of back issues with a weighted vest:
Strengthen Your Back Muscles
Our backs are designed to work. The issues arise when we ask them to do something they are not conditioned for. If we try to pick up something awkward at an angle and don’t have strong enough muscles, then there may be an issue. Strengthening your back muscles and connective tissues will help alleviate the risk of overexertion or strain-type injuries from extra weight.
A weighted vest can help with that.
Maintain Proper Form
Our spines are designed to handle loads from our heads straight down to our feet. When we shift loads off to one side of the other, we get into trouble. If you’re running with a weighted vest and leaning forward or backward the entire time, your back will be sore.
If you run with correct posture, standing straight up (maybe a slight forward lean) you’ll give your back the best chance to come out unscathed. Again, it’s also important to start light and work your way up. Put on 4 lbs and go run half the distance you normally would. See how you feel and adjust accordingly.
While this isn’t all bad, again, it is very important to make sure you’re being responsible when wearing a weight vest.
Is a Weighted Vest Good for Posture?
Walking with a weighted vest can help posture by strengthening the muscles of your back, shoulders, and core until you naturally begin to stand taller and walk straighter.
This will transition over to your running form as well. However, don’t just stop at weighted walking. Strength training is an important component of improving your posture because it helps reduce muscular imbalances.
Stronger muscles help support the body. Grab a barbell and get after it!
Running with a weighted vest can be an excellent way to build muscle and burn more calories. Not all vests are created equal, so it is important to do your research before purchasing one.
Our top pick for the best weighted vest is the Aduro Sport, which uses Cordura fabric and YKK zippers. It is durable, water resistant, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
However, there are many great vests on the market today from companies like ZFOsports, Hyperwear, Cross101, and others. Choose whichever one best meets your needs and budget. The best weight vests for running are somewhat subjective, but we’ve given you several great options to choose from.