Running is and always will be one of the most beneficial exercises humans can do. We’re anatomically and physiologically built to do it.
When you incorporate regular running into your exercise routine, you’re engaging your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems in ways that improve their performance as well as your overall health. However, one of the issues with running is the plateau that many people often experience. Once you’ve reached a certain level of running capacity, it can be difficult to push beyond it. When you hit this plateau, your body is no longer challenged.
One way to make running more challenging is to add weight to your body. Today we’re going to show you our picks for the top 5 best weighted vests for running and walking.
If you’re familiar with weight vests, you’ll recognize some of these models. After all, there are a few that are easily among the best weighted vests for running your money can buy right now (for any purpose, not just running and/or walking).
After we go over our selections, we’ll dig deeper into the topic of weighted vests, how to select the right weighted running vest as well as what design features to look for. By the time we’re done, you should know everything you need to know to make a sound decision.
- Best Weighted Vest for Running
- 1. Hyper Vest: Elite
- 2. BOX Weighted Vest
- 3. Aduro Sport Weighted Vest
- 4. RUNmax Pro Weighted Vest
- 5. Mir Short Weighted Vest
- Should You Get a Weighted Vest for Running and Walking?
- Choosing the Right Weighted Vest for Running and Walking
- Frequently Asked Questions About Weighted Vests for Running and Walkings
Best Weighted Vest for Running
Made using unique fabric that incorporates heavy-duty Cordura, this vest is all about durability. With that said, it breathes well, offers decent ventilation and best of all – it’s odor resistant! Finding the right fit is extremely easy. They’ve used string adjustment systems and open side panels which means that you can comfort this vest to perfectly fit your body.
As far as weight goes, Hyper Vest Elite comes in 15 lbs. and 20 lbs. versions while there’s also a 10 lbs. version that goes under the name Hyper Vest Pro. One of the key design solutions that make this vest so comfy are small, evenly spaced weights that are fixed in place. Overall, this is one of the optimal weighted running vests out there.
- Designed from the ground up for running
- Made using highly durable Cordura and unique fabrics
- Open side panels and an efficient lacing system ensures an optimal fit
- Comes in several versions offering more weight for those who want a challenge
- It is among the more expensive models on the market
That’s not the only thing that makes it great for running. The pockets where all of the weights go are snug. Once you set everything up and tighten the vest to fit your body, nothing will move as you run. That’s very important since a loose-fitting vest can impact your gait and add variables to your body mechanic that you don’t want to deal with.
As far as build quality goes, BOX has done a great job in building this thing strong. They’ve used heavy-duty ballistic nylon paired with quality hardware to bring everything together. Weights come in 2.5 lbs. increments and max out at 45 lbs. That’s more than what you’ll ever need for running or walking. Also, the fact that you can adjust the weight in such small increments makes this a great choice.
- Short stacked weighted vest with a high center of gravity
- Made to last thanks to durable materials
- Padding in all the right places
- Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty
- It can be slightly cumbersome depending on your build
It comes in the form of a harness that is made of neoprene, which in turn allows it to be malleable when it comes to fit and comfort. The actual weights are sewn into the vest, meaning that you don’t need to (or get to) adjust anything.
If you want more weight, you’ll have to get a separate vest. Fortunately, Aduro offers these in a number of versions, starting with the lightest at 4 lbs. and the heaviest 25 lbs.
Aside from being extremely comfortable, this vest is also very affordable. Despite that, Aduro went on to include a few features that they definitely didn’t have to. For example, the back panel contains a mesh pocket where you can store your phone during your run. Then there’s the padding underneath the chest strap hardware that greatly improves comfort. All in all, the Aduro Sport Weighted Vest is a great option for budget users.
- A minimalist design that gets the job done at an affordable price
- Very comfortable thanks to its low profile layout
- Comes in a variety of weights
- Offers interesting features that add to the whole experience
- Completely fixed-weight design means you need different vests if you want different weights
Compared to the rest of our picks on this list, what RUNmax offers comes across as basic in many ways. Despite that, this vest does two things very well – it gets you a highly adjustable weighted vest, and it does so on the cheap.
Being one of the more popular models on the market means that it has proven its worth. The vest itself is made of durable materials that perform well under stress and offer decent resistance to wear. The weights are spread across the entire front panel of the vest in two rows. Speaking of weights, RUNmax offers these in versions ranging from 12 lbs. all the way up to 140 lbs.
In terms of comfort, you’re looking at basic padding in the shoulder area. However, one thing we appreciate about this design is the massive waist adjustment strap. It’s wide, robust and allows you to find a snug fit. Because of that, the entire vest moves very little during use. Running with this model is possible but uncomfortable. But, if you’re after a good weighted vest for walking, this is it!
- A simple design that offers an affordable ticket into adjustable weighted vests
- Comes in a variety of weight versions
- Decent build quality all around
- Features a media pocket in the front
- Massive waist strap makes it easy to find the right fit
- Less suitable for running than it is for walking
- Could have used more padding in the shoulders area
With that out of the way, it’s worth mentioning that this setup offers great bang for your buck. The entire mass of the vest is centered around the chest area, allowing you to control the weights with ease.
One thing that could’ve been done differently is the adjustment strap, which is fairly narrow and makes tightening the vest comfortably more difficult than some of the vests above. That said, the strap does come with good hardware that allows you to properly lock it down and prevents it from coming loose, irrespective of how long or fast you run / walk.
The overall comfort this vest offers is certainly sufficient for light to moderate use. There’s padding in all the right places but don’t expect to end your runs with zero fatigue or discomfort. Mir’s short weighted vest is a solid option, and if you decide to go with this model, you’ll have a well-rounded weighted training vest that you can use for a range of exercises beyond just running or walking.
- A short vest that is easy to control in terms of weight distribution
- Comes with plenty of adjustable weights
- Well-made and durable
- Great bang for the buck at this price
- The adjustment strap could have been wider
- Not the most comfortable choice if you insist on comfort
Should You Get a Weighted Vest for Running and Walking?
Weighted vests are commonly used in strength training settings, as well as in cross-training (e.g., CrossFit), which frequently incorporates high intensity strength training exercises. For this reason, it’s very easy to find great weighted vests for CrossFit as well as those that are ideal for bodyweight training (a.k.a. calisthenics).
But what about running and walking?
Adding weight to any type of exercise increases the overload on your body, and generally stimulates both anatomical and physiological adaptations (e.g., your muscles grow larger and stronger, and your energy systems become more efficient).
We’ll go into more detail in the FAQ section, but generally speaking using a weighted vest while running or walking can have significant benefits. Studies have shown that sprint training with a weighted vest can, over the long-term, increase your sprint speed. Similarly, research suggests that wearing a weighted vest while walking can improve your cardiovascular health, as well as build strength and improved functioning in your lower body.
Whether or not you should get a weight vest for running and/or walking depends almost solely on your personal goals. If you’ve reached a plateau as a runner, adding some weight could bring back the challenge and help you hit new PRs. As a walker, a weighted vest can simply augment the already numerous health benefits you’re already likely to experience.
Not to mention you can always use weighted vests for next-level bodyweight exercises and more!
Choosing the Right Weighted Vest for Running and Walking
Although they are a simple concept on paper, not all weighted vests are made equal. Finding the right one for running means that it will have to meet a very unique set of parameters. There is very little wiggle room when it comes to design, layout, and features. Let’s go over some of the key things to look for when making your choice.
Running is a very dynamic activity. As we run, our body moves in ways that allow us to achieve the speed and balance necessary to move fast. Adding a rigid harness with a bunch of weights in it can easily put a wrench in that finely tuned mechanism. That’s why not all weighted vest designs work well for running and why slim weighted vests have a clear advantage.
What you’re looking for are vests which are either specifically developed for this type of activity or ones that focus the weight around your chest area. This is where all of the short stack vests come in handy.
Another design feature that’s a must is the ability to strap down the weights themselves. Any loose movement will induce sway and negatively affect your gait. The last thing you want is to fight your vest while running or for the whole time you’re walking. Not only is that uncomfortable, but it can be downright dangerous.
One more thing to keep in mind is your body’s physiology. We are all different in terms of body shape and size. Keep this in mind when you’re making your choice. There is a reason why weighted vests for women are a separate category. This is true despite almost every vest being marketed as a unisex design.
One of the more overlooked factors are the materials. While durability is a major concern with any type of fitness gear, that isn’t what we’re necessarily worried about when we talk about materials in the context of running.
We are much more concerned with how the vest endures the constant strain of swaying weights as you run. On top of that, how well does the material deal with sweat? Some vests aren’t meant to be machine washed, meaning that all of that nasty sweat stays locked inside the fabric and leaves your vest quite unsanitary, to say the least.
Our picks mostly meet the necessary requirements as far as durability and sweat resistance goes. We say mostly because there are few models that are better suited for running where different rules apply.
Adjustable or Fixed Weights?
Adjustable weight is always better than fixed weight simply because you have the ability to fine-tune the vest to your liking. However, adjustable weighted vests are often more expensive than fixed weight vests.
As a matter of fact, this applies to weighted training clothes in general. Which one you’ll go with comes down to personal preference. If you ask us, we suggest going for a quality adjustable vest even if it’s more expensive. Buy once, cry once approach definitely applies to this process.
Lastly, you might want to account for various features if that’s something you’re interested in. Some runners like to keep the unnecessary clutter to a minimum while others can’t go for a run without their favorite gadgets. If you’re leaning more towards the latter, you might want to check out vests that feature media pockets and other similar features.
Frequently Asked Questions About Weighted Vests for Running and Walkings
Now that we know the basics of weighted vests suitable for running, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions. If you’re new to this type of equipment, you’ll probably find some of these answers useful.
Is it good to run or walk with a weight vest?
In short, the answer is yes.
As we mentioned earlier, studies in the field of sport and exercise science have found that weighted vests can lead to improved performance and health outcomes when added to running and walking programs.
For example, when used in sprint training, weighted vests can be used to improve an athlete’s force and power output (i.e., the muscles involved in sprint-running can work harder) as well as the technical efficiency of their sprinting action (i.e., their sprint technique gets better).
Similarly, wearing a weighted vest while walking will increase the metabolic requirements, loading of the skeletal system, and overall intensity of the exercise. This is turn will lead to improved fitness, maintained or increased density in the bones of the legs, and stronger and more capable leg muscles.
However, there’s a ‘but’ in there that we need to clarify. Weighted exercises certainly bring a number of benefits to the table, ranging from cardiovascular to musculoskeletal benefits. This type of training has also been standard in the military ever since we decided to use weapons and armor.
But, as is the case with most things in life, moderation and care are the keys to success. Rather than going Gung Ho and strapping 50 lbs. of extra weight to your body, you need to find the optimal weight that matches your current level of fitness and abilities. The last thing you want to do is load your body with more weight than it can handle. That can have negative effects on your joints, your heart and lungs, and your muscles.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re new to training with a weighted vest, then start with no more than 10% of your body weight and gradually increase from there. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re overdoing it, as this is almost always more detrimental to your health and fitness in the long-term.
How often should you run or walk with a weighted vest?
There is no definitive answer here. It will depend on your goals, motivation, and your level of fitness. That said, the vast majority of controlled studies that test the effects of training with a weighted vest use training protocols of 2 or 3 sessions per week, with at least 48 hours between sessions. This would be a good place to start.
Bear in mind that if you load yourself with heavy weights often and for long sessions, you risk suffering all kinds of injuries, most notably in your back, neck, hips, and knees. You’re best off starting light and relatively infrequent, and gradually building up to heavier loads and more frequent sessions.
Does running with a weight vest make you faster?
While you’ve got the weight vest on, no.
Adding weight on top of your own body weight will increase the amount of time your feet stay in contact with the ground, which will translate into lower running speeds. As we mentioned above, over the long term, using a weighted vest for sprint training can improve your sprint speed (especially over 10 – 40 yards).
Does running with a weight vest build muscle?
Running with added weight will stimulate muscle growth because you’re forcing your muscles to contract against higher levels of resistance. This is the basis for all weight training aimed at increasing the size and force output of muscles. It’s a simple equation that won’t fail you.
With that said, don’t expect to grow killer quads just by donning a vest and going for a run.
You’ll need to more focused strength training exercises like squats and deadlifts, and follow the core principles of muscle building, if you want to achieve said results.
If your primary concern is muscle growth, you’re better off putting your money toward an olympic barbell and a good squat rack than a weighted vest.
Does walking with a weighted vest burn more calories?
Absolutely! Your body burns calories according to its energy needs. When you add more weight to your body, it will have to consume more energy in order to handle the extra weight. Increasing calorie burn is one of the main reasons why people choose to run or walk with weighted vests.