The Best Weight Vest for CrossFit [2021]: How To Find The Right One

If 2020 is taught as anything, it’s that we have to be resilient and flexible–and that even came down to daily life, like taking a CrossFit workout at home instead of the gym, with the help of the best weight vest that can be bought online.

No one’s life has been left unchanged, but I’ve been encouraged how, from an everyday person like me to celebrities and media stars, we’ve all created ways to cope with stress and take care of ourselves.

For actress Reese Witherspoon, stay-at-home workouts have been her ‘saving grace’. Opening up to Prevention, the actress and mother shared that her CrossFit workouts help her not only stay physically fit but also focused on something positive–and boosting a sense of empowerment during a time of uncertainty.

But while at home workouts can be a great gym alternative, if you want to get the most out of your CrossFit sessions, you may be missing out on the most important gym accessory: a weighted vest.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about CrossFit, weight vests, the pros and cons for each, and how to find the very best weight vests to enhance your next workout.

Best Overall Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite Check the latest price here
Best for Curvy Women Empower Weighted Fitness Vest Check the latest price here
Best for Intense Workouts Aduro Sport Weighted Vest Check the latest price here
Best for Beginners Henkelion Weighted Vest Check the latest price here

What is CrossFit?

Before I discuss whether or not you should be looking for the best weight vests, I want to dispel some misconceptions about CrossFit. The first one is simple: CrossFit is neither the best nor the worst, workout you can do.

The reason? Workouts are all individualized. Some may thrive with CrossFit workouts, while an alternative workout, like strength training paired with an indoor rowing machine, may be a better choice.

Best Weight Vest for CrossFit

CrossFit offers gym-based workouts, but also virtual workouts at home everyday for its members. CrossFit includes high intensity interval training, alongside weight lifting, powerlifting, and plyometrics.

In this sense, CrossFit touts itself as a full body workout, and to give you results in short but intense bursts of activity.

It’s among the most popular workout programs, with over 4 million worldwide members, and 7,000 gyms in the United States alone.

Who is CrossFit For?

As you can imagine, CrossFit is not for everyone, but, at the same time, CrossFit does have a number of benefits.

While advocates of CrossFit claim that it can be done by anyone, I don’t recommend CrossFit for someone who’s had, or has joint or knee problems. Many of the workouts involve movement like squatting, jumping, and other quick movements that can be hard on joints and muscles.

I also recommend that CrossFit only be done alongside another workout routine. While it’s true that CrossFit offers a wide variety of workouts, high intensity interval training is best done when cycled with other workouts– doing high intensity training on a daily basis can place you at a greater risk for injury.

Not Best For

  • Those with joint problems
  • Those with knee problems
  • Those with a history of injury
  • Beginners
  • Those with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis

What are the Pros and Cons of CrossFit?

If you’re still interested in doing, or continuing CrossFit workouts, it’s important to be aware of the pros and cons. Whether it’s your first time training or you just want to know if it’s really the right workout for you before you buy a weighted vest, here’s what you need to know.

Pros

CrossFit is popular for a reason. Not only do you get the advantage of full body workouts; CrossFit also provides a community to cheer you on and support your efforts.

Some of us–myself included–tend to do workouts alone, but having someone to do workouts with, or a community you feel connected to, can also be motivating, especially if you’re struggling to stick to your exercise plans. And since it’s a high impact exercise, it can improve bone density.

  • High calorie burn in shorter sessions
  • Community support
  • Improved muscle mass & strength
  • Varied so you won’t get bored
  • Supports bone density

Cons

CrossFit also has its downsides. High intensity workouts day in and day out can be taxing on joints and muscles, and it’s not so friendly to anyone with other conditions. While they do have at home workouts, there’s also an overemphasis of visiting a physical gym–which has its obvious disadvantages.

  • Hard on joints
  • Emphasizes physical gyms
  • Can cause injuries
  • Can be too taxing

Overall, there’s no one right answer, CrossFit can be an excellent exercise for some, and should always be done gradually and in moderation.

What is the purpose of weight vests?

weight vests as a popular way to get more out of your workout and the best weight vests are becoming more popular even for CrossFit sessions.

A weighted vest adds an element of strength and resistance training to any workout. weight vests are often used with cardio activities, including outdoor or treadmill running; but even with abdominal exercises, pullups, and more.

The main purpose of weight vests is to increase the intensity of workouts while building more strength.

Pros

weight vests, without a doubt, will up the intensity of any activity you’re doing–some even wear weight vests for more low impact activities, like walking and even daily activity.

Weight vests will help you increase overall strength and could even help with balance. And, because weight vests add intensity, they’ll likely result in more calories burned.

  • Higher calorie burn
  • Boosts endurance
  • May reduce fat mass and increase muscle mass
  • Increases workout intensity
  • Adds challenge to a workout routine
  • Increased strength and resistance training
  • Supports lean muscle mass

Cons

While it’s true that weight vests, at their best, can boost endurance and strength and help you burn more calories during a CrossFit workout, not everyone needs, or will even most benefit from wearing a weighted vest.

If you’re new to using a weighted vest or wear it improperly, you’re putting yourself at risk for injury. And, if you make your workout too intense, you may be less likely to stick with it. Overall, I don’t recommend weight vests for anyone with a history of back, spine, or disc problems.

  • Increased risk of injury
  • May make workouts too intense
  • Places pressure on spine, discs, and back
  • Can change the way you move/ mechanics

How to find the best weight vests for CrossFit

If you’ve decided that CrossFit is right for you, and you don’t have a history of injuries or conditions that would place you at greater risks, you’ll still want to make sure that you buy the best weight vest possible for your workout. Here’s how.

Material

With CrossFit, you’ll be sweating and moving a lot. Because of this, it’s important to find a weighted vest with materials that support your CrossFit workouts. The material should be snag and tear resistant and ideally moisture wicking.

A plus is a protective coating on metal, for improved durability. The fabric should have a degree of stretch for free movement. Breathable mesh and nylon are among my favorites materials for a CrossFit weighted vest.

Fit

I know that everyone has a different preference for fit, but when it comes to a weighted vest for CrossFit, I recommend a snug but not tight fit. The vest should be safely secured and moved with, but you also shouldn’t be feeling any pinching or exceptional discomfort. Opt for a weighted vest that has easy straps or buckles for adjustment not only near the abdomen but also on the sides.

Weight

Just how heavy should a weighted vest for CrossFit workouts be? Of course, the heavier the weight, the more intense the workout, but that doesn’t mean that the best weight vest for CrossFit is as heavy as possible.

In fact, don’t go any heavier than 50 pounds for any cardio activity. For CrossFit, I recommend 20 to 35 pounds for the very physically fit, but a weighted vest of 10 to 20 pounds can be a great fit for smaller frames and beginners. It also depends on your fitness goals.

  • Best for most and strength: 20-30 pounds
  • Best for beginners, small frames, cardio: 15-20 pounds

Style/ Shape and Features

weight vests come in a wide variety of styles and shapes. Aim for a weighted vest with a more slim (not bulky) design, with some built in ventilation, whether that’s on the sides or elsewhere.

A cross strap can allow for more free movement, and the more minimal, the easier it’ll be to jump from activity to activity. Other features, like an inner pocket, or padding for comfort can be nice, but keep in mind that the more additions, the more bulk you’re adding.

4 Best Weight Vests for CrossFit

Here are my picks for the 4 best weight vests for CrossFit, based upon my criteria, It’s important to note that which of these vests is right for you will depend somewhat on personal preference, as well as budget and goals.

All of these weight vests tend to lean more minimalist than bulky, boast high average ratings, and are great options for workout gear that takes your CrossFit workouts to the next level.

Best For Curvy Women: Empower Weighted Fitness Vest

Empower Weighted Fitness Vest

If you’re a woman looking for a weighted vest for your next CrossFit workout, I recommend the Empower Weighted Fitness Vest.

  • To be clear: there are many unisex weight vests that will work well for all genders, but I love this minimalist, no fuss option for women new to weight vests.
  • It’s lightweight--only 8 pounds– so you won’t get max cardio burn, but it can be a great introductory vest and will allow you to move freely.

A special X-shape design is meant to fit a woman’s body, making it a great fit for bigger busts or curvier shapes.

The neoprene fabric is flexible and comfortable. Adjustable side straps make for an easy fit, with light shoulder padding.

Pros

  • Fit curvy women best
  • Easy adjustment
  • No chafing and light padding for comfort
  • Minimalist design
  • Suited for CrossFit but also running

Cons

  • Only up to 8 pounds
  • Won’t get as intense of a workout
  • No added pockets
  • No extra ventilation

Best Overall: Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite

Hyperwear Hyper Vest Elite

If you have a large budget and have been at CrossFit for a while, my number one recommendation for the best weighted vest overall, for all genders, is the Hyperwear Elite Vest.

It’s not cheap, but there’s plenty to love about this sophisticated weighted vest. Available in 10, 15, and 20 pounds, it can be used by different body frames and fitness styles.

The weights are adjustable and made out of thinner iron for easier movement.

Designed specifically for comfort, the weighted vest fits snuggly, but without placing too much stress on the shoulders.

I also love the nylon fabric for moisture-wicking and even reflective material if you’re out at night. A lace up side adds nice ventilation.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable 10, 15, and 20 pound weight
  • Durable and moisture-wicking fabric
  • Padded and special design for less shoulder stress
  • Feels lighter than it is
  • Side ventilation
  • Adjustable for all body types

Cons

  • Expensive
  • A little difficult to put on
  • Less minimalist than other designs

Best for Intense Workouts: Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

While the Aduro Sport Weighted Vest is available in a variety of weights (including 4, 12, and 16 pounds).

It’s one of the best for packing heavier 25-pound and 30-pound options in a design that’s still minimalist enough for CrossFit workouts.

The Aduro Weighted Vest is designed to prevent slipping or sliding, you’ll stay secure, no matter your age or gender.

The fabric features smart and soft neoprene, with a mesh pocket for carrying essentials.

Even with these features, it manages to avoid bulk, with a sleek and easy to wear design. It also comes in at a mid range price, making it a great choice overall. 

Pros

  • More intense workouts (up to 30 lbs)
  • Minimalist, no-fuss design
  • Mesh pocket
  • Neoprene fabric
  • Secure fit

Cons

  • No extra ventilation
  • Not as adjustable
  • Cross straps may not be as comfortable

Best for Beginners: Henkelion Weighted Vest

Henkelion Weighted Vest

On a tight budget, or just not sure yet if you’ll enjoy using a weighted vest while doing CrossFit? The Henkelion Weighted Vest is my best pick for CrossFit.

Best for beginners, you can select a weighted vest of up to 12 pounds and in some fun colors (black, teal, gray, pink, and purple) that can make it stand out from a sea of black weight vests.

The weight is made out of durable iron pellets and metal rock, carefully balanced with an ergonomic design to reduce strain.

The special care to balanced weight distribution, alongside a little pocket all are perfect features for someone new to using weight vests. Plus, it’s a great price.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Multiple colors and weight options
  • Ergonomic and balanced design
  • Pocket for carrying keys or a cell phone

Cons

  • Only up to 12 pounds
  • No special ventilation
  • May not be as durable

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How much does a CrossFit vest weigh?

Answer: CrossFit weight vests can vary in weight, but 20 pounds tends to be ideal. A 20lb weighted vest will provide enough weight to help you improve your endurance while getting in a great strength training workout. For beginners or smaller frames, a little less weight can still bring benefits. Never go over 50 lbs for a weighted vest for CrossFit– you want to be able to move easily, without risking injury.

Question: Do weight vests help build muscle?

Answer: Weight vests help develop lean muscle mass and may even improve your overall body fat to muscle ratio. That said, weight vests alone cannot get you to your goals. weight vests are meant to enhance other workouts for a full-body exercise. They also are not suitable for everyone, such as those with conditions or a history of back problems.

Question: Are weight vests bad for your spine?

Answer: Weight vests can be excellent workout gear to improve the overall calorie burn and benefits of a workout, but there are some risks. Those with spine or disc issues may find that their existing problems become worse with the use of a weighted vest. weight vests can place pressure on your neck and back muscles.

For otherwise healthy individuals, and used with caution, they can build strength. But anyone with chronic conditions or a history of injuries should consider other options for strength and resistance training.

Final Thoughts

Weight vests can be an excellent way to elevate your CrossFit workouts. Not only do they provide strength and resistance training, but they can even improve your body fat to muscle mass ratio; increase calorie burn, and motivate you to push yourself harder.

That said, you need to make sure that a weighted vest is right for you, and that you’re buying the best one for your current fitness level and body top. Do that, and you may just be onto your best workout sessions yet.

Looking for more must-haves for CrossFit? Check out the Best CrossFit Gloves for 2021.