CrossFit is often regarded as the redheaded stepchild of the fitness family. Despite such a reputation, this type of fitness has a lot to offer, especially to those who aren’t too keen on using standard weights.
However, since there’s plenty of calisthenics involved, many will reach a point where their own bodyweight is simply not cutting it anymore. One way to deal with that issue is to introduce a weighted vest into your training.
Today we’ll show you our top picks for the 5 best weighted vests for CrossFit that will help you absolutely obliterate your WODs. Some of these are among the best weighted vests you can get for any purpose.
After we cover each model in detail, we’ll go deeper into the subject of weighted vests, how to find the right one for you, what makes a good weighted vest for CrossFit (and much more).
By the time we’re done, you should have all the information you need to get yourself a decent weight vest. Let’s get right to it.
Top Weighted Vests for CrossFit At a Glance
Best Weighted Vest
for CrossFit Overall
5.11 Tactical has created one of the most functional weighted vests by utilizing their vast knowledge of plate carriers while designing it. 5.11’s TacTec is a proper piece of gear that will serve you well inside the gym but will also accept a pair of ballistic plates if need be.
Weighted Vest for CrossFit
Despite looking somewhat pedestrian, CROSS101’s vest is the real deal. This is the ultimate utilitarian west for those who just want to get the job done. It’s built like a tank, highly modular in terms of how much weight you can load, and overall affordable.
Weighted Vest for CrossFit
The Sentry plate carrier is a good option if you’re looking to add weight to your WODs without removing too much weight from your bank account. It’s intended purely for fitness and is compatible with most plate inserts. It’s not the most comfortable vest, but will certainly get the job done.
The 5 Best Weighted Vests for CrossFit
|5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier||
|CROSS101 Adjustable Weighted Vest||
|Condor Sentry Plate Carrier||
|Weight Vest 45 lb. V-Force||
|Bear KompleX Plate Carrier||
|5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier|
|CROSS101 Adjustable Weighted Vest|
|Condor Sentry Plate Carrier|
|Weight Vest 45 lb. V-Force|
|Bear KompleX Plate Carrier|
Plate carriers have made their way into the fitness arena thanks to the proliferation of warrior culture. 5.11 Tactical, being one of the main suppliers of high-end tactical gear, has found a way to design a product that combines the functionality of a weighted vest with the utility of a plate carrier. The result is a piece of kit that you can use to train every day but also protect yourself when things go bump in the night.
Made from 500D ballistic nylon, this vest is set to take all the abuse you can throw at it. 5.11 Tac has decided to add Mil-Spec MOLLE on both the front and the back panel. That combined with the fact that this vest is compatible with both medium and large ESAPI plates means that you can use it in a firefight should you need to. When you’re not rocking ballistic plates, you can load Rogue’s Laser Cut or Cast Weight Vest plates or similar and get on with your WOD.
As far as comfort goes, 5.11 went with padded straps that are lined with mesh on the inside, just like the main panels, thus ensuring both comfort and proper ventilation at all times. 5.11’s TacTec plate carrier comes in a variety of different colors and camo patterns as well.
- Actual plate carrier that takes medium to large ESAPI plates
- Made of 500D ballistic nylon that makes it rather durable
- Great comfort all around with decent padding and mesh surfaces
- Stays in place once loaded
The Not So Good
- It’s not cheap compared to other weighted vests, but it’s reasonably priced as a plate carrier
Although quite popular, plate carriers are not for everyone. If you prefer the more traditional type of weighted vest, CROSS101’s adjustable vest is definitely worth looking into.
There are several ways in which this setup is different from your average plate carrier. For starters, it’s much bulkier, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem. They also happen to be much cheaper, so there’s that as well (though not always; see the Condor vest below).
In terms of design, this particular vest uses solid metal ingots for weight. The front of the vest is lined with pockets, allowing you to fine-tune the amount of weight you want to run. Speaking of which, CROSS101 offers these in versions ranging from 12lbs up to 140lbs. Also, there’s a water bottle holder and a media pocket built into the front panel.
The build quality is decent and inspires confidence in terms of durability. The vest itself is made of solid materials and shouldn’t wear out, even after prolonged use. Thanks to a massive fit adjustment strap, you should be able to find the perfect fit and level of tightness.
At its price, CROSS101’s vest is a very solid performer.
- Decent build quality all around
- Comes in versions ranging from 12lbs to 140lbs
- Features a media pocket for your phone or other devices
- Fairly comfortable overall
The Not So Good
- It’s rather bulky, which might be a turn-off for some
- The bottle holder is pretty gimmicky
Just like 5.11, Condor also makes tactical gear but their products are aimed more towards the casual user. Although fairly decent, Condor’s plate carriers aren’t something you’d want to rely on in non-permissive environments.
The Condor Sentry plate carrier offers a combination of functionality and affordable price that will get you into the game on the cheap.
The carrier itself is quite minimalist. If you’re a fan of chunky gear, this model is not for you. Condor has reduced the Sentry down to plate compartments and not much else. As expected, the entire thing is covered in MOLLE so that you can still use this carrier as a carrier. What matters the most is that it fits Rogue’s cast plates quite nicely.
As far as comfort goes, the Sentry places function over form. Running this rig for an extended period of time will undoubtedly induce fatigue, but will also leave you with some sore spots where the vest has rubbed.
With that said, you just can’t beat its price. The Sentry plate carrier from Condor is a perfect choice for those looking to get into weighted CrossFit training without committing too much money in the process.
- An extremely affordable rig that will get you started with weighted CrossFit
- Decent build quality that has no issues handling heavier plates
- Can serve as a plate carrier if need be
- Very lightweight
The Not So Good
- The minimalist design means limited comfort
- Not recommended for actual combat use
Our next pick brings a good compromise between the versatility of regular weighted vests and the compact footprint of plate carriers. Weight Vest’s V-Force features a fully adjustable layout that keeps all of the weight focused around your upper body. In other words, the center of mass remains at chest-level. Not only does this affect how you carry said weight, but it also allows you to bend over without having your ribcage crushed by iron ingots.
The overall build quality is more than decent. This west is made of durable nylon that inspires confidence all around. Weight Vest offers these in a number of camo patterns for those who appreciate that aesthetic.
As far as weight goes, you get 45lbs of weights that can be used to your liking. The vest is easy to adjust in terms of fit as well. Shoulder straps are well padded but ultimately quite simple. The fit adjustment belt is thinner than we’d like, but it gets the job done just fine.
- A durable vest that keeps all of the weight at chest level
- Comes with 45lbs of weight
- Rather comfortable despite its compact size
- Lifetime warranty in case you somehow manage to put a dent in it
The Not So Good
- This is a fairly expensive model compared to most others
- Not many texture options for those who aren’t fans of camo patterns
Last but not least we have a plate carrier designed specifically for CrossFit. What does that mean exactly? Well, you’re getting the plate carrier aesthetic but in a package that was primarily designed to serve as a fitness accessory. In other words, squeezing actual ballistic plates in this thing and using it to keep you safe in a gunfight would be a bad idea.
No offense to Bear KompleX, but this rig falls short of meeting the needs of a modern minuteman.
With that said, Bear KompleX did a wonderful job of recognizing all of the important features of plate carriers and bringing them over for use specifically in a CrossFit / cross-training setting. For starters, this thing is made of 500D Cordura which is more or less military grade.
The design itself is minimalist but functional. The carrier features two simple side belts that use Cobra buckles while the shoulder straps are nicely padded. Some comfort is guaranteed no matter what kind of WOD you run that day. Lastly, the inside of the carrier features large pads that allow for decent ventilation.
- Plate carrier aesthetic that is optimized for fitness
- Great build quality with 500D Cordura nylon all around
- Fits standard ESAPI plates as well as Rogue’s cast iron plates
- Plenty of padding on the shoulder straps is always a plus
The Not So Good
- Rather expensive for what it is
- Not a great plate carrier substitute
Should You Get a Weighted Vest for CrossFit?
CrossFit was always praised as a fitness routine that goes one step beyond everything else. Not only does it rely on using various accessories, but it thrives on them. From that perspective alone, getting a CrossFit weighted vest would absolutely be a good idea.
However, the reason why you should have one of these in your possession goes deeper than that. There are many ways to introduce additional resistance to your WODs. We all know just how brutal a set of kettlebells can be. However, it’s not only about how much weight you add to your workout but how you add it as well.
Running a weighted vest as you power through that EMOM will allow you to add weight to your body without losing your mobility. Even simple slim weighted vests will leave your arms free to do whatever you set your mind on. The cool thing about CrossFit weight vests is the fact that you tend to forget about them as you go through your routine. Yet, they’re definitely there and pushing your body farther.
Overall, getting a weighted vest is a great idea if you want to spice up your WODs!
Choosing the Right Weighted Vest for CrossFit
As you’ve probably figured out by now, not all weighted vests are created equal. Some of them are not even weighted vests at all. So how do you navigate all of this and choose something that will serve you well? Let’s find out by starting with the intended use.
Weighted vests for CrossFit come in one of two forms. On one side you’ll see your adjustable weighted vests. Across the ring from them, we’ve got the fixed weight vests, also known as plate carriers.
- Adjustable weighted vests
Going with an adjustable weighted vest brings a number of benefits to the table. The most obvious one being that you can actually adjust how much weight you’re putting on your body at any given time. These are often fairly affordable or at least reasonably priced, making them a crowd favorite. However, there are some downsides as well. Unless you specifically look for a short one, most adjustable vests are going to be bulky. That might be an issue for some.
- Fixed weight vests
Fixed weight vests or plate carriers bring a dose of realism into any WOD. Plate carriers are the modern-day suit of armor. Many in the community take pride in being able to move and perform physically demanding tasks while slinging a fully loaded carrier. The drawback of using this type of vests is the fact that you’re limited in terms of weight. On top of that, plate carriers aren’t cheap, which is normal considering that their main role is to survive prolonged firefights as intact as possible.
Selecting between the two designs will depend solely on your intended use. Plate carriers offer more maneuverability while adjustable vests offer more functionality. The choice is yours.
One thing to note no matter what type of vest you’re going for is the build quality. No matter how robust some of these may look, running or performing various demanding exercises can put a vest through its paces. Materials will rub against each other, stitching will be pushed to the breaking point, and so on. All of these are issues a decent vest will easily deal with. All of the models on our list are fin in this regard.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that cheaper plate carriers aren’t necessarily suitable for more than CrossFit despite accepting ESAPI plates. Models such as the 5.11 TacTec don’t have an issue with this, but they are anything but cheap.
Adjusting the Fit
Fit adjustment is important. There is nothing worse than going through your chipper list only to find your vest bouncing about as you’re performing the exercises assigned by your coach. Therefore, it’s imperative that you strap everything down.
This is where different brands use different solutions. Some are much better than others but the whole thing comes down to the belt thickness and the locking mechanism. A wide, thick belt will offer a much more secure and snug fit than a thin belt will. Unfortunately, having wide belts isn’t always feasible.
One more thing that plays a role here is the locking mechanism. Some brands use buckles but most will default to using a large piece of hook and loop to get the job done. Depending on the brand, this can be an issue if they cut corners on their hook and loop.
Lastly, there is a question of accessories. Some vests come with creature comforts such as bottle holder extensions, media pockets, and others. Whether or not these are important to you is subjective. In case they are, you might want to pay attention to your picks. Having accessories on your vest is going to be an exception to the rule rather than the rule itself.
Frequently Asked Questions About Weighted Vest for CrossFits
Now that we know a thing or two about CrossFit weighted vests, let’s take a gander at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this gear. Hopefully doing so will clear up any major misconceptions you might have.
What is the best weight vest for CrossFit?
There really isn’t a single best CrossFit weight vest. We’ve shown you several different types that are absolutely popular, but some folks out there are using weighted vests designed for running and walking with great success. It all comes down to personal preference and how you intend to use the vest.
A 185lb man might find one vest to work well, while his 100lb lady friend might feel differently about that same vest. In fact, she might opt for a weighted vest designed for women. Find the one that works for you and you’ll be set.
How heavy should a CrossFit weighted vest be?
This is one of the more frequent questions that gets asked by those interested in adding weighted vests to their WODs. As it turns out, there is no clear-cut answer. Once more it comes down to your intended use and your exact WOD. Can you see a pattern here?
The general rule of thumb is to go lightweight on heavy anaerobic exercises, while you can load more weight for the calisthenics. This is especially true if you’re just starting out with weight training in general. The last thing you’d want is to overload yourself with a bunch of weights and cause an injury. Take things slow and listen to your body.
How effective are weighted vests for CrossFit WODs?
In one word, very. Here’s the gist of it. Anytime you add more weight to an already challenging exercise, you are forcing your muscles to adapt to the extra stressors. This is known as overload and is critical for stimulating your body to make the anatomical and physiological changes that produce a stronger, faster, and more resilient you.
While you may not be doing overhead presses with your weighted vest, you will be adding more weight to your WODs. If you’ve thought that Murphs are tough, try doing one with 20 – 40 lbs. on your chest. That ought to cause some burn.
Bottom line is that weighted vests introduce additional weight to your WOD and additional weight effectively increases the intensity of WODs. If you were looking for a challenge, you’ll find one by getting this single piece of gear.
Well, there you have it: The best weighted vests for CrossFit.
We did our best to find models that fit the needs of those who are blasting through WODs and need a wildcard to spice things up. Rest assured, all of the models on our list will give you a solid performance. The only thing you need to figure out is which design works best for your needs. Once you figure that out, you’re good to go.