6 Best Weighted Vests for Calisthenics

Calisthenics is becoming one of the most popular activities next to the gym which still holds top place. More and more people are starting to recognize the obvious advantages every year. 

However, since you’re dealing with your own body weight, there will come a time when you hit a ceiling in terms of what you can do. One of the best ways to spice things up is to get weighted vest. 

Today we are going to show you our picks for top 6 best weighted vests for calisthenics. Some of these are definitely among the best weighted vests in general.

Top 6 Best Weighted Vests for Calisthenics:

The very top of our list is reserved for a truly impressive weighted vest that comes to us from Brute Force. Before we go any further, we need to say that there aren’t many vests like this one out there. Safe to say, it featuring Multicam is the definitely not its most unique feature. Just about any model on the market uses iron ingots. 

Brute Force uses sand. That’s right, this vest comes with pockets designed to store defined amounts of sand or dirt or whatever you have at hand. This makes it unusual and perhaps not as clean for indoor use, but extremely versatile for outdoor use. So much so that Brute Force weighted vest is widely used by various branches of military and law enforcement. 

They ship these in two sizes, first one being the S/M and the other L/XL. The whole thing is made out of 1000D Cordura, which is probably an overkill in terms of durability but that is only a plus in our book. As far as weight goes, you are looking at anywhere from 12-20lbs with sand and more with shot or other materials that can increase that weight limit quite considerably.

CAP is one of those brands that knows the market and knows how to address its needs. One of their models that really stands out is the Barbell Short. Compared to the full sized Barbell, it is as its name states, quite shorter. The idea here is to give you more range of motion which is necessary if you want to do crunches or generally any activity which involves bending over. 

Overall, you would expect there to be some sort of limitation in terms of functionality compared to the full sized Barbell but there is none. The Short model is made of exactly the same durable materials as the regular Barbell, features that same rock solid hardware, robust velcro, reflective surfaces and more. One thing we have noticed about this particular design is the fact that it is much easier to tighten down using a single strap since it is sitting so high up. 

As far as weights go, you can choose between 30lb and 50lb options. Weights are loaded both at the front and the back of the vest for a balanced center of mass and ease of access. Finally, the padding ensures plenty of comfort no matter what.

If you are familiar with the world of weighted vests, Mir is going to be a household name for you. This brand offers plenty of solutions, two of which we are going to cover today. The first one is the Super Slim AIR Flow weighted vest. At this point you are probably wondering what makes this thing so interesting, especially considering that it packs a mere 16lb of weights? As its name states, it is a slim model. 

It is so slim that you can wear this under your clothes easily. Pop a hoodie over it and it won’t even print. The vest is made of super durable materials and features smart weight distribution. They have used iron weights, all of which are removable, and positioned them in such a way that ensures optimal comfort, range of motion and freedom of movement. 

The vest is adjusted using standard straps and fits both men and women alike. Another important aspect of this design is its ability to offer good airflow. Sweat reduction and allowing your skin to breathe is always a good thing. If you need something that isn’t too heavy but is also low profile, this is most definitely it.

Our next model also comes from Mir and represents a more traditional package. Despite it having a very similar name to our previous pick, the two models are completely different in design. Mir Air Flow adjustable weighted vest is much more tradition and offers that short form factor. These are offered in three different weight sizes. You have the standard 20lb version, the 30lb and finally the 50lb model. 

Naturally, you can get the base model and add weights after the fact if you are so inclined. The vest itself is made out of high denier heavy nylon fabric which ensures durability and reliability. You can put this thing through its paces and it will still come out the other end in one piece. The cool thing about this particular vest is that it is completely machine washable and dryable. 

If you are a fan of clean fitness equipment this is definitely a must. It is important to add that even after a few cycles, Mir’s Air Flow adjustable vest retains its form and constitution. With more than decent padding, you are looking at comfort levels which are perfectly suitable for long workouts and frequent use both inside and outside.

What SKLZ offers with their weighted vest is slightly different compared to most of the models we have shown you today. This is a fairly traditional design, but one that aims to reduce the bulkiness and size of the load bearing sections. Where as some of the weighted vests are so thick with all the ingots inside that you have to account for the offset, SKLZ weighted vest is incredibly slim. 

There are downsides to this approach as one might expect. For starters, you’re only getting 10lbs of weight in 20 iron ingots. That makes the SKLZ vest a perfect choice for beginners but also those who don’t want to center their calisthenics workouts around this added weight. Limited weight aside, SKLZ did a great job with the retention setup which comes in form of a wide velcro belt which not only keeps things in place but also aids comfort. 

Speaking of which, the entire vest is made out of soft, padded nylon and mesh material. In other words, you’re looking at very little stiffness all around and plenty of good airflow in all the right places. If you’re after something you can use outdoors during summer, this is it.

No list of weighted vests would be complete without one of the absolute favorites and all time bang for the buck champions out there – the CAP Barbell. We have already talked about the short version of this vest, now it is time to check out the full sized package which started it all. The very first thing you need to know about this setup is that you are getting an abundance of leeway when it comes to weight you can pack. 

Think anywhere from 40lb to 150lb. That is a lot of weight even for professional athletes and calisthenic veterans with years of experience under their belts. Speaking of belts, the whole thing is locked down using a waist belt. The system is quite simple and consists of a loop and a velcro patch. It’s easy to set up and find the perfect fit. 

If there was one piece of criticism we could come up with, it would be the belt. We’d love to see a wider strap especially if you plan on running with this thing on. Moving on, the whole thing is packed full with padding. The overall comfort is on a respectable level to say the least.

Weighted Vests and Calisthenics

Before you even start looking into weighted vests there are some precautions that need to be taken. Without going too deep into the subject matter, beginners who are just starting their calisthenics journey shouldn’t touch a weighted vest until they can comfortably do around 20 pushups, 15 pullups and around 20 squats. 

Until you can perform those exercises comfortably, with good form with only your own weight as the source of resistance, don’t worry about weighted vests. With that disclaimer out of the way, there are generally two things we are looking for in a goo weighted vest for calisthenics. 

You will want something that is comfortable but also unobtrusive. Many people take these simple requirement and get a weighted vest designed for runners. That isn’t really the best thing to do because of our next requirement. You will need a vest that can pack a sufficient amount of weight.

Design and Comfort

There is a reason why the top of our list is populated by vests which are both rugged but whose designers have obviously spent a good amount of time factoring in comfort. In this regard you will find that most weighted vest suitable for crossfit also work for calisthenics. 

As far as comfort goes, you will need to factor in your size and your intended routine. Some routines may require more aggressive movement and fitness, which translates to higher standards of comfort being the minimum requirement. On the other hand, if you are doing the standard push and pull calisthenics, you have much more wiggle room to work with. 

For the former, we definitely suggest one of the short vests such as the CAP and Mir while the latter case can work with most designs out there.

Weight Progression

Once you decide to step into the world of weighted vests, you will quickly realize that your body will ask for a harder challenge. That 20lb vest may not be enough anymore. This is where some smart planing can save you a decent amount of money and effort down the line. 

As you can probably tell, most of the vests on our list come in different weight. The truth is that the vest itself doesn’t change, but the number of iron weights does. If you feel that weighted calisthenics is something you will be doing long term, do yourself a favor and invest into a heavier pack. 

Models like the Brute Force might actually be the optimal option in such cases as you have complete control over the loads you are working with.

The Verdict

Calisthenics is fun and challenging, but you can always reach that next level with a decent weighted vest. The models we have shown you are by far some of the best you can find on the market right now.

We have included a variety of awesome designs, some more aggressive than others. Similarly, we did our best to give you plenty of range in terms of prices.

Being able to find something that fits your budget and current abilities is imperative. All you are left to do is figure out which model works best for you and get after it.

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