Best Weight Vest of 2021
The Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO takes top honors in our review because of unmatched performance without sacrificing functionality or comfort. It has a sleek, malleable design that forms to the body, allowing for an unhindered range of motion for every exercise and activity type. It fits us like a literal glove. Whether your fitness goals are geared towards strength training or cardio, this vest will not slosh, bounce, slide, or irritate the body during exercise. It is designed with a central zipper and elastic webbing on the sides, giving it the perfect form-fitting shape in four different sizes. The Hyperwear is a useful tool for any fitness goal or level of athletic ability.
The biggest drawback of the Hyperwear is that the maximum weight capacity is limited by the size you choose. Sizes come in small, medium, large, and extra-large, with incrementally growing maximum weight capacities corresponding with larger sizes. This is unfortunate because smaller framed people will be cut short of being able to add as much weight as larger framed people. This aspect is a bit annoying, but the movement and flexibility that you can achieve with Hyperwear's unique design is tough to beat.
Model Tested: PRO version, size medium, 10lbs
The CROSS101 has a simplistic design with two velcro waist straps for sizing. It can perform individual exercises like an elite level tool and is adaptable enough for a variety of different 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 4-pound increments, giving it slightly less precision than some other options, but still a lot of customizability in the incremental weight changes possible. From strength training to cardio, this vest can do it all without emptying your wallet.
The CROSS101, although moderately priced, has a few issues. First, its bulkier, full-length torso design hinders the full range of motion of certain exercises like pushups. It doesn't have a ton of padding either, so it can cause a lot of discomfort on the shoulders at higher weight capacities. If this concerns you, supplemental shoulder pads are available. Overall, this is a classic style weight vest with a simple design. It's decently comfortable, high performing on most exercises, and very adaptable to an individual's fitness pursuits, all at a friendlier price point.
Model Tested: 40lbs
The MiR Air Flow is a versatile vest for all levels of fitness. This vest has 19 individual weight pockets for personal customizability of weight resistance and distribution. The weights are 3-pound iron bars used to incrementally increase or decrease the weight for an individual's desired level. 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, which allows for better breathability on intense workouts where the sweat begins to drip. The added 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 eliminate most forms of bouncing and sliding during exercise routines.
The biggest issue we had with this vest is the velcro. The vest itself is actually in two pieces; a front half and a back half. These two pieces are entirely connected through velcro straps that adhere on the shoulders. The velcro held for all performance measures we tested, but the long-term durability of the velcro for the shoulders and the sizing belt may be questionable. Still, this vest performs well with adaptability for all levels. It could be great for someone who is unsure of their fitness level and wants to try a range of weight options or someone that wants something that will work for many different kinds of activities.
Model Tested: Standard model, 20lbs
The RUNFast/Max is the gym rat of weight vests. It offers the most weight options and the highest maximum weight capacity of any other vest in our review. It excels in strength training exercises such as pushups, pullups, squats, and anything else where you want to push resistance to the limit. This vest has a simple design with a double velcro waist strap. With a variety of weight pockets on the front and back, it is easy to add or remove weight as needed. For added comfort, especially as resistance is pushed higher, the vest comes with removable shoulder padding to provide some cushion for those heavier loads. You can also order yours without the shoulder pads if you don't want them.
This vest was designed with strength gains in mind more than for cardio or movement. At lighter weights, it is an average weight vest for hiking and jogging with minimal bouncing or sliding to contend with. But, as resistance increases, the vest's slight bouncing takes its toll on the muscular-skeletal system. However, if you're looking to gain some serious strength, this vest is the appropriate avenue.
Model Tested: 60lb with shoulder pads
Small, medium, large, short, tall, and everything in between can fit into this weight vest. The Strength Sport Systems weighted vest has the most versatility in sizing options of all the options in this review. Its design is very similar to the MiR but with a couple of tweaks. It is essentially in two parts that are connected by velcro on the shoulder straps, but it has an additional piece of webbing on both shoulders that keep the two halves permanently connected. The fitting mechanism on the torso is an attachable velcro waist belt that can be cinched down to accommodate a wide range of sizes. This vest has a lot of components, which allows for excellent customizability. Performance and adaptability nearly mimic the MiR due to the similarity in design, but the Strength Sport offers more weight options and a stronger over-the-shoulder design.
The one issue we had with the Strength Sport System is regarding comfort. It's padded well on the shoulders, but the padding between the weight pockets and the body is really thin. The result is that you can feel the weights rubbing against the torso in certain spots, specifically on the outer edges underneath the chest. Overall, however, this vest is a versatile and high-performing piece of training equipment for a wide range of fitness levels. With the right configuration of weights to avoid discomfort, it is a great option to add resistance to workouts.
Model Tested: Elite S version, 30lb
The ZFOsports offers a classic weight vest design geared towards female users. It is less restrictive and weight-bearing in the chest, allowing for more room and a better fit for female anatomy. It held up in performance to our top contenders in most exercises and has a moderate range of adaptability to different intensities and workouts. We love the convenient front chest pocket for securing valuables. It has a simple, easy-to-use design with a double velcro strap waist belt.
The ZFOsports lacks padding in the shoulders. It really takes its toll at heavier loads and, with extended use causing extreme fatigue in the shoulders from bearing the brunt of the weight. An issue with the design is that the front weight pouches sit too low and hinder full range of motion on pushups and squats — they either hit the floor or dig into the upper thighs. All things considered, this vest at lighter weights is a solid option for both men and women of beginner to intermediate fitness levels.
Model Tested: 30lb
The CAP Barbell is a decent weight vest that offers a proper workout. It has a two velcro strap waist belt for sizing and is simple and easy to use. It comes in one purchase option of 40 pounds, and that is its max weight capacity. From the initial purchase, as much weight as needed can be removed for an optimal workout experience. For light jogs, walks, and hikes, it has minimal bounce and rests on the body well for a comfortable fit. Most strength training exercises are easy to perform with a full range of motion.
Throughout testing, the CAP Barbell functioned better on workouts where heart and breathing rates stayed relatively low. As the intensity of the exercise increased, we found a notable restriction of the diaphragm, which makes heart-pumping workouts less than ideal. The CAP is also a bulky weight vest, so a smaller framed person will be more limited in their range of motion. However, if you have a wider build and are looking to add some quality resistance to your workout, this vest can supply just that.
Model Tested: 40lb (only option available)
The ZELUS is centered around simplicity and comfort. Its minimalist design is great for breathability, and the range of motion is ideal for walks and light exercise. On top of that, it's affordable and easy to travel with. It holds its weight throughout the vest in the form of iron grain, much like sand. This is used to prevent odors from lingering around on the material after a hard workout. The ZELUS is great for walking because it has a phone pocket that can attach to the front straps, making listening to music or podcasts easily accessible for a long walk around the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, this minimalistic design gives up a lot in terms of performance and adaptability. A slower pace and less intense exercises can be executed well and in a comfortable manner; however, as the intensity of either strength or cardio exercise increases, performance quickly degrades. The ZELUS slides around the body a lot due to the iron grains inside the vest. Additionally, it is tough to tighten down for average-sized and smaller people. After a short duration of higher intensity exercises, the iron tends to slide towards the back of the vest, causing a lot of discomfort from the unequal weight distribution. Continuous adjustments were needed during our exercises, making it less than ideal for full workouts. This complaint aside, if comfortably adding resistance to a walk around the neighborhood while enjoying some tunes sounds like what you are looking for in a vest, then this one may be a good match.
Model Tested: 20lb
Much like the ZELUS above, the Aduro is designed around simplicity and comfort but has a larger range of weight options to choose from to better suit an individual's fitness needs. The Aduro has a one size fits all design with a simplistic strap and buckle mechanism to size appropriately. The 16-pound option and everything above that comes with a second buckle and strap to add stability and support to the vest. The minimalistic design allows for free range of motion and amazing breathability for warm days and sweat-producing exercise.
The Aduro suffers from the same faults as the ZELUS. High performance and high-intensity exercises are far from ideal because the vest slides and bounces too much. The Aduro is made from the same kind of durable material as the ZELUS but offer a larger weight range. If you have a larger build and are looking to add some more substantial weight to light workouts and cardio exercises, then this Aduro vest could be a great option.
Model Tested: 30lb
The Tone Fitness follows in the footsteps of the ZELUS and Aduro. It sustains that same simplistic, comfort-focused design. It is a unisex, one size fits all design with a singular weight of 12 pounds, breathable material, and similar weight-bearing iron to the ZELUS and Aduro. The Tone Fitness differentiates itself by being much more friendly to average or smaller framed people.
High performance and adaptability are just not apparent with this vest. It stays stagnant at 12 pounds with no room for higher resistance. Due to its tighter-fitting feel and lighter weight, we found this vest worked well for an afternoon around the house doing some chores. It is light, comfortable, and a good tool to add a little more resistance to simple day-to-day activities.
Model Tested: 12lb (only option available)
Why You Should Trust Us
His Mom always said she never could get Nolan Pieper to stop moving. He grew up playing sports year-round, which didn't simply mean playing all year but also continuous training. In college, he left the organized sports behind and started doing consistent, routine, self-planned strength training and weight-lifting. However, this was only a short phase because when he found rock climbing, that took the center stage of his training goals. He is embarrassed to admit the number of hours spent hanging, doing pullups, and other strength exercises to condition himself for the next project.
After initial research of some of the most popular weight vests on the market, we narrowed it down to the diverse selection that appears in this review. As we waited for the vests to arrive, we devised a comprehensive testing plan to showcase their best and worst attributes. We narrowed our analysis down to four metrics: Performance, Comfort, Ease of Use, and Adaptability. These four factors helped create an in-depth analysis of the evaluation of each vest.
Analysis and Test Results
As our testing wrapped up, the results kept coming back to the same conclusion; the best weight vest is dependent on your individual needs, goals, and fitness level. Whether you are a beginner to the fitness world, an elite level guru, or anything in between, the right vest for you will be dependent on your personal health, wellness, and fitness goals.
Weight vests are a versatile tool in any person's fitness regime and goals. They are mainly designed to increase resistance for 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. It is also crucial that a good weight vest can perform well during a variety of exercises for 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 Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO was unmatched in performance, with the MiR Air Flow as a close second. The Hyperwear executed every exercise, workout, sprint, and jog with perfection. With its slim, form-fitting design, it just felt like another layer of clothing, allowing unhindered performance. With ultimate strength gains in mind, the RUNFast/Max takes the cake in shear resistance capabilities.
Performance on singular activities is an important foundation, but we need to be able to execute varying exercises for a complete workout. When we tested adaptability, we looked at just this. We noted how versatile each vest is for different exercises and workouts. We also looked at how adaptable each vest is to different body shapes and sizes. On top of that, we wanted to know if each vest could grow with you on your fitness pursuits: can it still be utilized on high-intensity workouts, low-intensity workouts, and everything in between? How about as you gain strength and overall prowess? You don't want to have to purchase a different weight vest for each different workout or every time you make gains — the vest you do purchase should be versatile enough to adapt to you and your particular health goals.
The MiR and Strength Sport Systems were the most adaptable overall. They have the most versatility in sizing, exercise execution, weight variability, and range of intensity for exercises. Their short torso design allows for a full range of motion on every exercise, as well as increased breathability. Additionally, their designs are comfortable and customizable to the biggest diversity of body shapes and sizes all while being able to add some serious resistance and intensity to workouts. The Hyperwear and CROSS101 were close contenders but just didn't have the same amount of customizability in their weight change and sizing.
A weight vest can be a fantastic tool, but it needs to be comfortable. After all, training is hard enough on its own without adding discomfort to the equation. If a vest is constantly rubbing, irritating, or digging into your body during your workouts, then you're not likely to use it. Several key variables help with the comfortability of a weight vest, such as torso padding, shoulder padding, and weight distribution. While some vests come at a fixed weight, we made sure to add weight to those that could be modified while doing various workouts and tasks around the house to test their comfort thoroughly.
Our top performer in this metric is, hands down, the Hyperwear PRO. This vest feels like a piece of clothing on the body, with the elastic sides aiding in flexibility and allowing for complete range of motion and full movement of the diaphragm. It also has excellent breathability for when things get intense, which is another aspect to consider when determining overall comfort. Right behind the Hyperwear is the MiR Air Flow, yet again. It doesn't feel like a piece of clothing, but it does offer plenty of padding and zero hotspots. Additionally, the half torso design offers good freedom of movement and airflow.
A crucial factor in the vests that can hold heavier loads is the padding on the shoulders. The RUNFast/Max can be ordered with or without shoulder pads, and we recommend getting them if you plan to push into higher weights. 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, and Tone Fitness, are all made with a neoprene material that we found highly breathable and comfortable during light workouts.
Ease of Use
We assessed this metric by looking at overall construction, tightening mechanisms, and, if applicable, weight holding pockets. We looked at how easy each vest was to put together out of the box and how well it stayed together once on. Then we noted the details of the process of putting on and removing each vest during our workout sessions. Finally, we tested how easy it was to change each vest's weight if this function was possible.
For utter simplicity, the Tone Fitness, Aduro, and ZELUS vests 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. The next easiest model to use is the Hyperwear Hyper Vest Pro. It has a very simple design with a zipper up the center and elastic webbing on the sides for tightening. The arms can get a bit twisted due to the flexible design, but removal and addition of weight is easy and straightforward. The vests that utilize a two velcro strap waist belt, such as the CROSS101, are the next easiest to use.
Choosing a weight vest is undoubtedly more complicated than choosing your next sweater vest, but we hunted through the top products to see which ones will be most valuable to you and your fitness goals. There are vests that can go down as low as 4 pounds and up to 140 pounds or more with every weight increment in between. We hope that the results we shared will help you find the right vest for your lifestyle and training demands.
— Nolan Pieper