Weight vests are an excellent way to get the maxim results out of your running. You’d be surprised how much they can help to prepare you for competitive events.
Or to drop a few extra pounds.
But before you just pick up the first weight vest you can find, make sure you consider this.
There are products that are suitable for strength training like push-ups and pull-ups, but they will likely be less than suitable for running.
The problem is how much they end up bouncing on your body, which can be distracting and sore.
So, we’ve tested out 51 different products to come up with this list of the best weighted vests for runners.
Our Top Weighted Vests For Running
1 - Tone Fitness Weighted Vest (Editor's Choice)
This Tone Fitness product is at the top of our list of best weighted vests for runners for two important reasons.
First of all, it’s very comfortable, and you hardly feel any shoulder pressure even on longer runs. Secondly, the completely open front means you won’t excessively sweat with it.
- Material: Neoprene
- Weight: 12 lbs
- Shoulder straps provide a comfortable fit
- Fast to put on and take off with just one clasp
- Completely open front design for better cooling
- One size fits all with an adjustable front strap
- It’s not an adjustable weight vest
Just keep in mind that you can’t add to the vest as you gain higher fitness levels.
2 - Zelus Weighted Vest
What we liked about the Zelus are the good weight options and the broad shoulder straps.
This helps to distribute the weight more evenly without causing pressure points that can cause stiffness on longer runs.
There’s also an enclosed pocket on the front to safely keep your phone. And the ventilated design should reduce the amount of sweating.
- Material: Neoprene
- Weight: 4 to 20 lbs
- Wider than average shoulder padding for more comfort
- Front zipper pocket to hold your smartphone
- Breathable material seems to reduce sweating
- Slimmer people might find they can’t tighten it enough
We just heard from a few female clients that they thought it didn’t tighten enough on their slim upper bodies.
3 - Adurance Weighted Vest
If you tend to go for a run when it’s dark, then safety should be a top priority. With this Adurance vest, you get a large reflective strip on both the front and back.
We also liked the mesh pockets on the back. They are tight enough to keep a few things like your phone and keys or some snacks for longer runs.
- Material: Neoprene
- Weight: 6 to 18 lbs
- Reflective strips on the front and back
- Convenient mesh pocket on the back
- Very well balanced feeling even when running at faster speeds
- Parts of the straps seem to be a little bit rough
Just be careful with some areas of the straps where the material can rub on your skin a bit and make it sore.
4 - Cross101 weighted vest
We’ve seen a few people wear this one in cross-training workout sessions, and it’s great because you can pile on a bit more weight.
There’s also a water bottle holder that fits larger bottles and keeps them from bouncing around too much.
- Material: Nylon and Neoprene
- Weight: 20 to 80 lbs
- Available as heavier options for higher intensity training
- Includes a convenient water bottle holder
- Cool camouflage pattern
- Slightly limited range of motion due to full body design
Just keep in mind that you might have some limited movement with the vest if you plan to use it for other types of exercises.
5 - miR Air Flow Weighted Vest
The miR adjustable weighted vest gives you two design options. One with a fully closed front part to it and the other with a zipper that some people find makes it easier to get on and off.
If you’re going for one of the heavier ones, then I think that could be a good idea.
The weights come out easily enough so that you can adjust it quickly enough if you want to switch from running to other types of exercises.
- Material: Washable Cotton
- Weight: 20 to 60 lbs
- Also available with a zipper front for easier removal
- Maximizes airflow to help you stay cool
- Easily adjustable with removable iron weights
- Position of the weights can limit deep breathing
The only thing we found with the miR adjustable weighted vest is that the weights sit quite high on your chest, which can limit your breathing.
6 - ZFOSports Weighted Vest
This is another one size fits all option with a great range of weights to give you a lot more flexibility when it comes to making changes to your training intensity.
We also liked that it fits tightly, which reduces the amount of bouncing or rubbing on the skin that can become very uncomfortable.
- Material: Nylon
- Weight: 12 to 50 lbs
- Convenient front pocket to keep a phone and keys
- Fits tight but comfortable to reduce rubbing and bouncing
- Even weight distribution with wide straps to reduce pressure points
- It’s not the easiest to keep clean
Because of the material design, it tends to repel less sweat, which makes cleaning it more of a challenge.
7 - RunfastMax Pro Weighted Vest
The RunfastMax Pro weighted vest has a durable enough material that a lot of our clients like to use for obstacle course challenges and cross country training.
Even with the higher weight limit, you’ll find that the straps are wide enough to properly distribute the pressure.
- Material: Nylon
- Weight: 12 to 60 lbs
- Very durable materials even when used for obstacle courses
- Straps on tightly to reduce bounce when running faster
- Includes a phone pocket and water bottle holder
- Removing the weight plates is a bit difficult
It’s just not the simplest option to get the weights in and out, so keep that in mind if you like switching intensity in your running.
8 - Cap Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest
The Cap Barbell Adjustable weighted vest is most suitable for people who really want to take their training up a level with a range from 40 to 150 pounds.
It’s relatively quick and easy to swap out a weight if you need to, and we liked that the materials don’t tend to get sweaty and smelly. It should be easy enough to wipe down after use.
- Material: Nylon and Polyester
- Weight: 40 to 150 lbs
- One of the highest weight limits we could find
- Easy to adjust the weight vest pockets as needed
- Sweat-resistant so doesn’t get smelly
- The really heavy vest might not be suitable for running
We just found the 150-pound option didn’t sit quite comfortable enough for running or hiking, as it resulted in a few pressure points.
9 - GoFit Papped Adjustable Weighted Vest
We noticed a lot of people in online forums talk about this weight vest and its durability. Some people have been using it for years with no signs of wear and tear.
And if you tend to run in all weather conditions, you’ll like the fact that it repels water rather than get soggy and wet.
- Material: Nylon
- Weight: 10 to 40 lbs
- Very durable materials should see you using it for years
- Water-repelling so it doesn’t get saturated in rain
- Large reflective strip on the front and back
- Difficult to remove the weights from the pouches
What we didn't like is that the pouches are tight, and that makes it tough to get the weights in and out.
10 - Pure Fitness Adjustable Weighted Belt
This one is popular with a lot of runners who go running along roads with a lot of traffic. The vest is highly reflective, which should make things a lot safer for you.
It’s also a good weighted vest for women and men, as the straps are highly adjustable to different body sizes.
- Material: Nylon and Terylene
- Weight: 20 lbs
- Highly reflective material for safer runs in the dark
- Snug fit means it won’t bounce around while running
- The vest comes with broad shoulder straps that spread out the weight better
- Switching out weights is quite difficult
I just wouldn’t buy this if you need to regularly adjust the weight as it’s difficult to get at them.
Here are the seven areas that you want to keep in mind before making your final decision.
1. Durable Materials
My experience with weight vests has been that they almost take as much punishment as your runners do.
That’s why you cannot underestimate how important heavy-duty materials are to make sure you don’t end up replacing your vest every year.
Nylon  or neoprene material are the two best options we found, and a combination of both works great.
Look for the softer neoprene on the straps and any other padding, while any areas that support the weights should be tough nylon.
2. Water And Sweat Resistant
You want running vests to be heavy with sand or iron, not rain or sweat.
The most important thing for me is that I like to wash down my running vest with a wet cloth, rather than having to take out all the weights every time to put it in the wash.
The more sweat-resistant the materials are, the less smell you’ll notice. This can also be achieved with certain chemical treatments that work as an antibacterial barrier.
3. Weight Limits
There are two things you want to keep in mind here.
First of all, each vest will have an upper limit, and you should avoid going above that limit.
It happened to me before that I overloaded a vest, and it started to tear quickly.
Secondly, if you like switching around your training intensity, then you’ll need a vest with adjustable weight pockets.
These allow you to add and remove weights up to the max.
“Wearing a weighted vest could help people lose weight by making them burn more calories and by tricking their body into reducing a person’s appetite so that they eat less, a new study has found.”
- Tom Bawden, Contributor at iNews.co.uk
It’s also a great option if you plan to use the same vest for running and other workouts like CrossFit, where you’ll need to make adjustments.
4. Type Of Weights
You’ll generally find two types commonly used.
Lighter vests will typically use either small bags and pockets of sand. The advantage of this is that it’s a cheaper solution and still works very well.
But, I have found a few vests where the sand pockets weren’t watertight. As a result, the sand becomes wet, and the vest is heavier.
My preferred option is dedicated iron weight plates that slip into tight pockets. These should make it a lot easier to adjust the weights, and they remain very accurate.
You might also notice some vests that have pockets of small iron balls. Apparently, they are a bit cheaper than the plates, and personally, I don’t think there should be an issue with them.
5. Breathability And Ventilation
You’ll find the running vests that only have straps on the front tend to provide the best amount of ventilation.
But you’ll always have some part of the vest covering your upper and possibly lower back.
Some of you might think: I’m going to sweat anyway, so why would this matter.
Well, the more sweat that doesn’t get away from your skin can make things very uncomfortable and even sore.
The vest and your clothes could end up rubbing on your skin, causing blisters.
6. Type Of Padding
In order to get the most comfortable fit, you’ll need to take a close look at the straps and the padding.
First of all, the shoulder straps need to be wide enough to better distribute the pressure on your shoulders.
But they also need thick foam padding so that you don’t feel a lot of pressure in one place.
Also, a lot of vests are one size fits all, and that means you need to look for good adjustments to make it fit tight and comfortable enough.
7. Storage Pockets
If you regularly go on longer runs, then you might want more than just a small pocket for your smartphone.
It’s great to listen to some music while you’re running, but if you want to stay hydrated, then you’ll need somewhere to keep a water bottle.
The problem is that it needs to be a tight-fitting pocket. I had one vest where the bottle ended up being quite loose. And as a result, it slipped out regularly, which was a major pain in the you-know-what.
So, always check that there are either elasticated or adjustable straps on pockets to keep things safe.
Do Weighted Vests Hurt Your Back When Running?
No, weighted vests shouldn’t hurt your back while running unless you have pre-existing back problems. With the right padding and shoulder strap design, you should be able to evenly distribute the pressure to not develop any pressure points.
Does Running With a Weighted Vest Build Muscle?
Yes, running with a weighted vest can build muscle. You would need to run at high-intensity levels to fully strain your muscles. As a result, your body will respond by repairing the strained leg muscles and adding new muscle fibers.
How Many Extra Calories Does a Weighted Vest Burn?
A weighted vest can burn 10% to 15% more calories . Some studies have shown higher results, but this is a good average to work on. It mainly depends on the weight of the vest, the terrain you’re running, and the average speed you run at.
Is Running With a Weighted Vest Better Than With a Backpack?
Yes, running with a weighted vest is better than with a backpack. Most backpacks are not designed to fit your body closely to avoid it bouncing around. A backpack is likely to start rubbing on your shoulders and back, which can become very painful.
Which Weighted Vest Is Best For Running?
The majority of people will find the Tone Fitness to be one of the best vests available.
Yes, it’s not the heaviest, but the open front design and very comfortable straps mean that you’ll barely notice that you’re running with it attached to your body.
Order yours today, and then let us know how much of a difference it made.