What are weighted vests?
A weighted vest is a type of training gear that is used to add weight to your body when you are performing exercises.
This added weight will make the exercise harder to complete, and in turn, will help improve your fitness levels.
Weighted vests can be used for a variety of exercises, but are most commonly used in Crossfit workouts.
With weighted vests you will:
- improve cardiovascular fitness
- improve muscular endurance
- burn more calories
- add an essential piece of equipment to your strength training
In this blog post, we will discuss the five best Crossfit weight vests on the market today. We will also look at what to look for when choosing a weighted vest, and how to use one in a Crossfit workout.
There are many different types of weighted vests for different types of sports on the market, but in this article, we will focus on those that are best suited for Crossfit or similar types of workouts.
Weighted vests come in different types and forms. Some are perfect for runners, others look like an entire torso-covering second skin and some are even made to be used in the water.
I´m sure you have also seen Crossfit athletes using those models that look like military body armor plate carriers – you know: the really cool-looking stuff.
The weight vest you choose will depend on your individual needs and preferences. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when choosing a weight vest that is especially suited for Crossfit workouts.
Why even use a weighted vest?
In short, it will make you better, faster, and stronger.
A weight vest is a low-impact way of adding extra weight to your body. This added weight will help increase the intensity of your workouts, making them more effective.
Simply put, train heavy like a tank and feel like a feather in competition. Or – it doesn´t have to be a competition you are training for.
Think of it that way: imagine how easy a mountain hike will feel when you are used to usually doing the same amount of hiking with 50 pounds of added weight! But now you do it without the weight…
In addition, using a weighted vest can also help improve your running form and technique.
So the idea behind why to wear a weighted vest is quite simple – you are building stronger muscles by putting more weight on your body during your strength training sessions.
But how do choose from the myriad of different types out there on the market?
Important properties your weighted vest for Crossfit should have
Your weight vest must be comfortable to wear! There is nothing worse than a weighted vest that is all over the place, bouncing around, rubbing on your skin, beating your chest, and all this may be even topped by weights in your vest that are not fixed properly.
Imagine yourself already trying a keep a solid mental attitude during your toughest workouts and then you have to cope with a low-quality weighted vest.
Your weighted vest should be adjustable to different body types and provide a snug fit.
A very obvious part of your weighted vest that needs to be super-comfortable is the shoulder straps. Adjustable straps with extra padding are what you should be looking for.
Freedom of motion
Very, very important! I found this point to be so important that I gave it some extra paragraphs independent from the “Comfort” topic above!
Maybe you are just starting out with Crossfit or you have been doing Crossfit for a while already, but there is one thing that you will totally agree with me on: there is a huge range of different movements happening in this sport!
Therefore, there is nothing more annoying than a piece of equipment that prevents you from doing your exercises with a full range of motion!
Your weighted vest should not limit your movement in any way. You should be able to perform all exercises with the same technique as you would without the weight vest.
A well-fitting weight vest will actually help you improve your mobility because it gives you the feeling that you are carrying around less weight on your body than you actually do.
- Think of pull ups – your shoulders need to move freely
- Think of push ups – your shoulders need to move freely
- Think of sit ups – you still need to be flexible in your horizontal plane
Or even when you do a combined workout consisting of bodyweight exercises and weight lifting exercises: wearing a weighted vest should neither be a nuisance during your bodyweight workout part nor during the part where you lift weights.
An adjustable weighted vest is a must! These things are quite expensive – so you want to be able to use your weighted vest for a wide range of exercises.
But you do not need the same weight for all exercises. Plus, the process of increasing or decreasing the weight in your vest should be quick and easy.
A high quality weighted vest will always come with several removable weights and a range of different weights to add to the vest. Most vests will use iron plates or weight plates made of a different kind of material that can be easily put into an integrated pocket.
The plates are held in place by velcro-secured straps so that nothing bounces around during your workout.
Other vests use smaller weight increments but more pockets to evenly distribute the weight all over the vest. Depending on your workout needs this makes sense if you are looking for a greater range of different weight loads for your workouts.
Things to avoid when choosing your Crossfit weighted vest
Pre-loaded weight vests
These vests will give you little or no possibility to adjust the weight.
Plus, as these vests also need to accommodate the beginner level of athletes, they will come only with so much weight.
As a result, pre-loaded weight vests get too light quickly as your training level advances.
Vests using sand or iron sand as weight
There are many weighted vests on the market using iron sand as their material of choice to add weight to the vest.
This might be useful if you want to stick to one weight and never plan to adjust the weight in your vest.
Sand-filled weighted vests usually boast a nice comfortable fit and an evenly distributed weight.
These vests are good for running or to lightly increasing the resistance in bodyweight workouts. But usually, they are not able to hold the proper weight amount for more demanding workouts like Crossfit.
Which are the best weighted vests for Crossfit?
So – all of the above said, I think you get the point of what to look out for when choosing the best weighted vest for your needs.
To summarize the most important points :
- Your weighted vests must be comfortable to wear! Try different vests to find the one that suits you best.
- It must provide a full range of motion and it must NOT interfere with any motion during your training
- It must be an adjustable vest but does not need 0,25-pound increments of adjustability. Plus it should be able to hold weights of up to 50 pounds or more.
- If it comes with safety add-ons like reflective stripes or a convenience add-on like a mesh pocket to take your keys or wallet with you – well, that is nice but not necessary.
Let´s have a look at the 5 best weighted vests for Crossfit:
1. MIR Short Style Weighted Vest
Our top pick on this list is the MIR Short Style Weighted Vest. The name already gives us a hint: Its “Short Style” has a very high cut which lets the vest sit very high on your upper body.
This provides extra freedom of motion but still holds the vest tightly to your body so that nothing bounces around unnecessarily.
Don´t let the appearance of this vest fool you! This model is the absolute winner when it comes to loading options!
It can hold up to 90LB!
Solid iron weights can be added in 3LB increments. So you get an adjustable, extremely comfortable vest that can weigh anything from 15LB up to a maximum weight of 90LB.
This vest has been optimized for the male torso – so it might not be the best option for female athletes. However, MIR does also offer weighted vests specially designed for women. And even those go up to 50LB!
This weighted vest is made out of 1200D Cordura. It can be hand washed and air-dried. Available in black only.
Reflective strips on the back add more safety to your workout when this weight vest is used outside.
- Wide range of weight adjustments
- Very comfortable
- High Cut – great freedom of motion
- Added safety through reflective stripe on back
- Durable material
MIR Short Style Weight VestOur top pick!
279.99 $ for the maximum 90LB option
2. Rogue Plate Carrier
Rogue Fitness is one of the main suppliers of Crossfit equipment and well known in this sport for their superior products.
So its no surprise that Rogue Fitness also has several excellent weighted vests in their product lineup.
The Rogue Plate Carrier is their smaller version providing a perfect fit for everyone. Additionally you can individualize your vest as you can exchange shoulder strap pads and add patches on integrated velcro areas.
Weights can be added or removed in form of Rogues´ Weight Vest Plates. You can choose from three different pairs weighing 5.75LB, 8.75LB, or 13.75LB per Plate Pair respectively.
The vest itself weighs in at 1.12LB.
The Rogue Plate Carrier is made out of very durable Cordura 500D and 1000D material. It is hand washable and available in various colors.
If you buy this product from Rogue Fitness, they will support the Operator Foundation with parts of their earnings. We find this to be just another pro-argument to purchasing this vest.
- Simple design
- Snug fit
- Durable material
Rogue Plate Carrier
3. Phantom Athletics - Phantom Training Vest
The Phantom Athletics product line is targeted at the functional training market and has several top-quality products available for us.
The Phantom Training Vest comes as a one-size, fits-all vest with adjustable body straps and it can hold up to 20LB of additional weight in form of weight plates.
It is made out of durable 1000D Cordura and the vest itself (without weight plates) weighs in at 1,4LB.
Two different weight options are available: 13LB or 20LB
The Phantom Training Vest has a very comfortable fit with nice shoulder paddings. An additional loop on the vest lets you attach a hydration system.
The vest can be hand washed and air-dried.
You can also individualize this weighted vest and slap on some velcro patches onto the vest. Available in black and camo.
Phantom Training Vest
4. GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier 3.0
This weighted vest is less a weighted vest like the others, as its setup is not like a classic plate carrier. You rather carry the additional weight on your back only, like in a little backpack. So it is a back loaded weighted vest.
The backpack design gives you more freedom to move and puts less load onto your chest.
Not everyone likes this type of vest, but you should not dismiss this design if you want to try something different, or need maximum freedom to move.
The GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier has a weight limit of 30LB and comes with two zippered compartments for additional weight on the back panel. The backpack itself is made out of very durable 1000D CORDURA material.
The padded shoulder straps make this vest also very comfortable to wear, even when fully loaded with 30LB. The inside of the shoulder straps and the areas touching your body is made out of 210 Cordura.
So if you want to train shirtless, this feature definitely adds a lot of comforts.
Last but not least, GORUCK offers a Scars Lifetime Guarantee on their products – meaning they will repair your rucksack if it gets damaged through regular use (not covered are damages caused by neglect or abuse).
This vest can be fitted with either 20LB or 30LB weight plates and is available in five different color schemes.
- Very special design – weight carried on back only
- Comfortable material with less abrasion when working out shirtless
- “Free Chest” which gives you more freedom of motion and easier breathing
GORUCK Ruck Plate Carrier 3.0
5. 5.11 TacTec Trainer Weight Vest
The CrossFit Games have used 5.11 gear since its inception, and the brand has been the official plate carrier provider for several years. Some of the world’s most accomplished athletes trust 5.11 for its dependable performance, long life, reduced bulk, and overall comfort.
The 5.11 TacTec Trainer weighted vest is a great option if you want to have the maximum variety of options regarding different weight plates to be added to your vest.
This vest can be fitted with any 24MM wide Medium (12.5″ H x 9.5″ L x 2″ W) or Large (13.25″ x 10.25″ x 2.25″) SAPI plates (Small Arms Protective Insert). GORUCK plates do not fit into this model!
All plates are held in place with heavy-duty velcro straps inside the plate compartments.
Made out of 600D Cordura this weighted vest is just as durable as all other models. It can be hand washed and air-dried.
This model weighs in at 2LB without plates and can hold up to 20LB of extra weight plates in two compartments on the front and the back.
- Accomodates plates of several different brands
- Proven design