Best Running Vests
Even though running is a very simple concept, it is literally amazing when you stop and think about all the gear and equipment that can improve it. One of those pieces of “gear” just so happens to be a vest and even though you can make do without one, you do not know what you are missing until you try it. No matter the season in which you plan to run, a vest can be the missing garment that you needed all along. You see, the best models will not only offer a bit of insulation and weather resistance but they will also be lightweight and highly breathable. Of course, this is just scratching the surface because as you will see, there is much more that goes into buying a running vest.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 2.75 hrs of research
Features man-made insulation
Designed with breathable side panels
Finished with a DWR treatment
- ARCTERYX ATOM SL
- GORE WEAR C3
- NIKE AEROLAYER
- LA SPORTIVA HUSTLE
- TRACER360 LED
- ADIDAS ULTRA RUGBY
- TCA EXCEL
- BPBTTI HI-VIS
- THE ROCKY PEAK
- RUNFAST WEIGHTED
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST RUNNING VESTS
1. ARCTERYX ATOM SL
Features man-made insulation
Designed with breathable side panels
Finished with a DWR treatment
It could have a little more insulation for colder runs
When you talk about high-end models in the world of athletic garments, Arcteryx’s name often comes up time and time again. Their Atom SL Vest is a great example of why and it is the best in the business.Read more
The trim fit of the Atom SL makes it suitable for both mid layering and also base layering. Additionally, the adjustable hem cord will help to seal out cold drafts.
Two main factors contribute to the comfort of the Atom SL. The first is the amazing breathable and moisture-wicking material and the second is the lightweight nature of it. Oh yeah, there are also stretch side panels that help too.
Even though this is equipped with synthetic insulation, it is not as heavily insulated as previous Arcteryx garments. That said, it does sport a DWR treatment to repel moisture and also a shell that will block the wind.
There are two pockets integrated here near the midsection. For the record, they are also zippered so you can store essential items safely.
What really caps this garment off is its shell. It has been alluded to a few times but it is also comprised of heavy-duty nylon (100 percent nylon, as a matter of fact).
Yes, you are certainly going to pay for this but can’t you see how great of an investment this truly is. And, unlike other options, due to the quality, this really is an investment.
2. GORE WEAR C3
Ideal for all weather conditions
The integrated front pocket is nice
Does a superb job of blocking the wind
The arm holes can be a little snug
Okay, so speaking of top-end models how about this bad boy? While the price is a bit steep, the Gore Windstopper technology that is implemented makes it worth every penny.Read more
The manufacturer specifically states on the official product page that their sizes may run small here. As a matter of fact, one user noted that the armholes were pretty snug.
In addition to the superb breathability that is present here, this is also designed with an ergonomically shaped stand-up collar for even more comfort.
The marketing claim that this is ideal for all weather conditions is not an exaggeration. Thanks in large part to the Windstopper fabric, insulation, and water repellency, this claim is spot on.
As you can see, there is a zippered pocket right at the front and it is quite large. Additionally, there is also a back pocket.
Both the inside and the shell of this vest are made of 100 percent polyester. Polyester is known for having very strong fibers that will not wear down quickly so this is nice.
Even though this is an expensive option, it is still not going to break your bank. For any serious runners out there, understand that it will not get much better than this.
3. NIKE AEROLAYER
Can be used during chillier months
It is an extremely lightweight and comfortable
Designed with elastic binding on the armholes
One user noted threads around the zipper started to pill
Would a list of this magnitude really be complete without an appearance from Nike? Their AeroLayer garment offers superior lightweight insulation and can work great as layering or on its own.Read more
What allows for a more structured fit is the elastic binding that is present on the armholes. Also, this is not bulky in the slightest so that is really nice.
All in all, the lightweight nature and comfortable fabric present here are fantastic. In addition, the hem (that is slightly curved) in the back will keep you covered a bit more.
Okay, so this will probably not keep you warm in shivering conditions but that is not the point. The lightweight insulation makes this an excellent layering of clothing and, overall, this is also water-resistant.
Even though this is a dark-colored vest, there are reflective elements that allow you to be visible in low-light conditions. Oh yeah, there are also zippered pockets present.
This is the high-quality you expect from Nike. In spite of this, one user did note that threads were beginning to pill near the zipper on theirs.
Sometimes, it is best to put your trust in a high-quality brand. At the end of the day, you know what you are going to get with Nike which makes this a massive thumbs up.
4. LA SPORTIVA HUSTLE
Features anti-chafing flatlock seams
Designed with reflective detailing for enhanced visibility
Adds some extra warmth for winter runs
It can be a little tight in the chest region
What an excellent vest this is and it is headlined by its superb combination of warmth (with insulation targeted in the chest) and weather resistance (with its protective outer shell).Read more
For all you women out there, you may want to order a size up if you go with this option. As one buyer noted, your normal size may end up being tight in the upper region.
Though mundane in principle, the main feature that vastly enhances the comfort here is the anti-chafing flatlock seams.
It was just noted and it really reigns true here. The protective shell is going to keep the wind at bay and the insulation that is located in the chest will offer warmth.
In low-light conditions, the reflective detailing that is integrated will improve your visibility. Furthermore, there is an integrated chest pocket for storage purposes.
A blend of nylon ripstop polyester was utilized in the engineering process of this model and it goes to show the attention of detail that was exerted.
For all you women readers out there, you could just stop reading now and forever be happy with this running vest. It literally is that impressive and that well-designed.
5. TRACER360 LED
The LED lights are integrated into an X-shape pattern
It is an all-season and rainproof design
Sports fantastic breathable properties
The battery life needs to be improved
One user noted it stopped working after three months
Okay, so do you really want a model that allows you to be seen in lowlight environments? If so then your search may be over. Then again, you may or may not enjoy the battery system that this employs.Read more
A few previous buyers have noted that you do need to keep the chest strap rather tight to prevent the back module from moving around. But, this is a fully adjustable model so that is nice.
Amazingly, this only weighs 6.5 ounces. And, in addition to the light weight, it also minimizes the fabric-to-body contact and does not trap your sweat. All this enhances overall comfort.
It is touted that this is an all-season and rainproof design. So, even with the electrical components in play, it can still be used in the rain.
Clearly, the biggest feature present here is the LED lighting. There are even different modes you can select from and all in all, there are six different super bright colors. Also, this system requires AAA batteries which is fine and all but it eats through them very quickly.
One previous reviewer reported that the lighting system failed in just three short months. Not everyone has experienced this but it has happened.
Truth be told, the concept and premise of this model sell it. That means that if you have little to no interest in fancy light-up LED lighting, you may want to look at other options.
6. ADIDAS ULTRA RUGBY
The pockets are very convenient
Perfect for spring and summer runs
The ultra-soft collar will not chafe your skin
There is a limited amount of feedback overall
One buyer noted it ran large for them
Much like with Nike, what would this list be without Adidas? The one thing to note (about the women’s version specifically) is that this is not lined and is more suitable for warmer weather.Read more
According to a previous buyer, even the extra-small size of this model is a little big. Expect this going in and buy accordingly.
For certain, this was optimized for comfortability. Not only can you point to the breathable nature to prove this but you can also look at the super-soft collar that prevents skin chafing.
Now, as mentioned, the women’s model is devoid of any insulation. So, for winter months, this will not keep you warm. For spring and mild summer runs, however, this will be darned near perfect.
There is actually a pocket that is integrated inside of this vest and this can allow you to keep certain items hidden. Also, there is another pocket on the front.
It is Adidas so you know, at the very least, this is well-constructed (it is made of 100 percent other fibers). The issue comes in the lack of consumer feedback, quite frankly.
That last sentence you just read is pretty critical. Much like with Nike, you can put your faith in a top-name brand most of the time. Yet, there is a general lack of feedback here which can make for a “risky” purchase.
7. TCA EXCEL
Backed by a one-year return guarantee
The zippered pockets are large
Designed with padded synthetic insulation
Various buyers have noted it looks a bit cheap
Right here is a good example that not every model on the market needs to be expensive to be high in quality. Though the material is a bit cheaper overall, the entire design is still impressive.Read more
A few previous buyers have noted that this ran small on them. If you do not want a super tight fit, you may want to order a size up.
In spite of the tighter fit, there is flexible stretch fabric that is implemented at the side and back panels that ensure that your movement is not restricted.
Yes, this is designed with padded synthetic insulation and at the same time, the outer shell is going to protect you from the wind.
The zippered pockets are actually quite large and allow you to store quite a few essential items. Also, the TCA icon is reflective and will enhance your visibility at night.
It is not as if this is a poorly made product, as it would not be on this list if it was. Yet, previous users have claimed that the fabric does look a little cheap.
Do not be fooled by the “cheaper” material; this right here really is a great running vest. It is comfortable, breathable, insulated, and sports large zippered pockets, after all.
8. BPBTTI HI-VIS
Features a well-designed back pocket
Sports a highly visible yellow shell
It is both wind-resistant and water-resistant
The zipper tends to get stuck too often
The sizing can be inconsistent
If there was a better zipper that was implemented here perhaps this could have ascended even higher on this list. As is, though, it is a great design with that one unfortunate hiccup.Read more
The good news is there is a vast array of sizes available. Yet, the bad news is the sizing can be very inconsistent with various buyers claiming certain sizes fit them too large while others too small.
When you can find the right size for you, the comfort will not be a concern. Thanks in large part to the ultra-lightweight design, this is highly comfortable overall.
Not only is this garment water-resistant (with its water repellent technology) but it is also wind-resistant. Oh, and also, there are elastic bands that are strategically placed to seal out the breeze.
First off, this is designed with light-reflecting tapes for enhanced visibility. However, also, there is an integrated back pocket that can be used to store small items.
Though the ripstop material is thin it is still durable. The main problem here, though, is with the zipper. It is not well-designed and it can get stuck on occasion.
Some flaws prevent this from competing with the superior options on this list but it still secured a spot on this list, so keep that in mind.
9. THE ROCKY PEAK
The sleek design conforms to your body
Designed with lightweight, breathable mesh fabric
The front pocket works very well
It can move around a bit while you run
Let’s just get this right out of the way; this is not a fashion statement. This model is designed to provide enhanced visibility when you run at night, for the most part.Read more
It is not specifically claimed but it is implied by various users to order a size down here because this will move a bit while you run.
You will be hard-pressed to find a lighter and more breathable model out there. This is all thanks to the mesh fabric that was used to design it.
Let’s just say this is not exactly designed for downpours or winter nights. It is made of mesh so it will not provide virtually any weather resistance, quite frankly.
In addition to the built-in zippered front pocket, the bright yellow nature and reflective detailing of this allow you to be seen in the dark from over two football fields away.
For the most part, not too many previous buyers have had issues with the durability of this garment. Do not be too aggressive with it, though.
Is this going to be for everyone? Absolutely not as it is more designed for safety for those of you who enjoy late night runs. If you are primarily a daytime runner, you may have little interest here.
10. RUNFAST WEIGHTED
Different weight options are available
It is designed to whip your butt
The weights can be removed
It is too big for petite, in-fit users
Many of you will probably have zero interest in running with a weighted piece of clothing on but if you are looking for a more serious experience, then take a look at this.Read more
As opposed to the others on this list, this is a one-size-fits-most vest. Unfortunately, as one “fit” reviewer alluded to, it is simply not the best for smaller and more petite users due to its size.
You can actually buy this with or without shoulder pads. Now, these are supposed to enhance the comfort, in theory, but some reviewers have reported they can actually cause chaffing.
The manufacturer did not optimize their design to be weather-resistant; let’s just leave it at that.
Without question, the addition of the weights is the deal breaker. What is nice is you can select between different weights (from 12 to 60 pounds) and you can also remove them.
Durability is arguably the most impressive aspect of this model, quite frankly. This is because it is made of heavy-duty ballistic nylon.
Though this may not have been engineered with the sole purpose of runners in mind, it can certainly be used for such. The addition of the weight can completely change the experience that is for sure.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Ladies and gentlemen, this section really should speak for itself.
Really, this should not be much of a surprise. Look, it really does not matter what article of clothing you are buying, it needs to fit you properly and comfortably. It sounds simple and it really is but it is also easy to overlook it. And, clearly, you simply can’t afford to do that. So, let’s dive into a little bit more. The nice thing about running vests is they typically are not your base layer of clothing. This means there is a little bit more room for error in regard to the fit. Even with this in mind, though, you may not be willing to deal with a little extra tightness or roominess. If this is the case, you need to prioritize researching previous consumer feedback to see what others have had to say. If the general consensus is that a particular model runs small or large, then you can bank on that being the case.
However, let’s talk about adjustments and elasticity. There are some models out there that will sport adjustable features and this can help you achieve a superior fit. The same concept applies with elasticity as some options will have this near the armholes to, once again, enhance the fit.
Who really wants to wear an article of clothing that is uncomfortable?
The comfort is a byproduct of the fit but it also is an important entity in and of itself. And, there is actually quite a bit to address here so let’s not waste another second rambling. First off, when you are running, your body is going to generate sweat and in order for you to remain comfortable, the clothing you are wearing needs to wick said sweat away. With this in mind, look for vests that have breathable membranes and even those that have moisture-wicking properties. Along the same line, most designs will be light in weight and this is done intentionally. The last thing you want is bulky clothing when you go for a run, right?
Of course, what will also enhance the comfort are some specific features. For example, look for collars that are soft and padded to avoid chafing. Oh, and speaking of chafing, models with flatlock seams are nice too. And, lastly, you can’t forget about the main fabric composition. Two of the main ones are nylon and polyester and among the two, nylon is a bit softer and some users prefer it for that reason (though polyester is not uncomfortable in any stretch of the imagination).
If you plan to run in all weather conditions then you will need to pay close attention to this section.
If you allow the weather to dictate when you can run you may never get the chance to get out and do so. The reality is sometimes it will be raining, windy, or even snowy when you want to go for your daily or weekly run. What this means, if this pertains to you, is you need to look for a running vest that is resistant to the weather. But, what exactly does this entail? It actually comes down to three things; insulation, water resistance and wind protection.
Clearly, if you only plan to go on summer runs then insulation will not be a factor for you. But, considering most models sport lightweight insulation, in the first place, these particular options can be ideal for spring, fall, and winter usage. As for water resistance, this one is pretty easy. Rain happens year-round and though there are heavier months, owning a vest that can repel rain could be a must. For the record, most will do so with some sort of DWR (durable water repellent) treatment. Lastly, as for the wind, this is where the outer shell comes into play. With a proper shell, any model out there can keep the wind at bay (winds of non-ridiculous speeds that is).
There are actually just two main features that you need to take into consideration here.
Okay, so there is not a boatload of features that need to be addressed here. However, the two that do need to be assessed are quite critical and can make or break your purchase. The first one is the pockets. Even though you may end up storing some items in your pants pockets, you may want zippered pockets on your vest as well. But, it goes farther than this as you also need to figure out where you want the pockets. You see, some models will have chest pockets, others will have hand pockets, and then some will have interior pockets. Of course, certain models may also employ a variety of such.
The other main feature is visibility. You may be wondering why this is relevant at all but if you ever plan to run in low-light conditions or even at night, you will want to be seen. For safety reasons, look for models with reflective elements. Look, even darker colored vests (including black ones) can allow you to be seen if they have reflective detailing.
There is no need to over-complicate this section as you want to spend your money wisely.
Even though this section is the caboose, a lot of you will feel that it is the most important buying consideration. That is fair but overall, looking at the grand scheme of things, it is not as important as the others. Then again, the durability of any product is still vital to assess. So, the question then becomes, how do you do it in this case? The first and most prominent characteristic, so to speak, to look for, is the fabric composition of any given model. For the most part, the two most popular in the world of running vests are polyester and nylon.
Now, both of these fabrics are fantastic and are widely used by top-end brands for a reason. Between the two of them, however, nylon is a bit stronger though it is also lightweight at the same time. Then again, on the flipside, polyester is going to resist pilling more than nylon. While this seems a bit odd, the individual fibers are simply less prone to unraveling. Oh, and also, you can always look through consumer feedback to see what others have said about the build quality and overall durability.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
At the end of the day, your clothes need to fit, right? Well, why should this concept not pertain to this particular garment? You could literally strip everything all away because if the model you pick is too tight or way too loose, nothing else is going to matter. Besides looking for some specific features, it is also important to see if a particular model runs small or large.
Ironically, the fit does a lot to dictate the comfort so you are done here, right? Well, not exactly as there are a number of other factors to take into consideration here. Not the least of which is the fabric blend that is utilized. Oh, and you also do not want the design you pick to cause chafing as this will completely ruin the experience.
Unless you always plan to go running when the weather is perfect outdoors, you will probably want to look for a model that is at least somewhat resistant to the weather. Now, this requires more than simply buying a vest that can repel the rain (though this is important). You also need to take the climate and the wind into consideration. For this, look for insulation and a protective shell, respectively.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What does running with a weighted vest do?
So, even though there was only one instance of this type of product on this list, it seemed important to address it. The primary reason why you would want to wear a weighted vest is to make your muscles stronger. You see, what is going to happen when you run with one on is the load transmitted through your bones is going to be increased. This enhanced load will lead to increased bone mass.
q: How long will a DWR treatment last?
What if we told you that a DWR treatment was not designed to last forever? Well, sadly, that is exactly the case but the question then becomes: how long is it designed to last? This question can be a bit difficult to answer and requires a bit of analysis. First off, a lot of it depends on the usage of the garment that has the DWR treatment on it. For example, it will last longer if you only use the garment once or twice a month as opposed to several times a week. Additionally, the treatment will naturally last longer if it has been applied at a factory.
q: How do you wash these vests?
As with any article of clothing, the most essential factor to consider when washing your running vest is what the care label recommends. Do you know that tiny little tag that you cut off for comfort reasons? Well, that can provide you with essential care information. Secondly, you should probably just avoid putting yours in the dryer and allow it to naturally air dry (away from direct sunlight). And, lastly, you may want to use a detergent that is specially designed for sportswear.
q: Can you apply a new DWR treatment?
Not only can you apply a DWR treatment to a vest that currently does not have one but you can also do so to a model that has one that can no longer be reactivated (which will be touched on later). Either way, there are wash-in and pump-spray DWR treatments out there. Both will suffice but it may not be a bad idea to check with the manufacturer (or the label if it has the information) to see which one is preferred.
q: Would these be okay at motorcycle speeds?
This is a question that has actually been brought up a few times around the web. In theory, a vest that is windproof should be ideal for motorcycle rides, right? Well, a lot of factors come into play such as the ambient temperature outdoors. But, for the most part, there is no reason to say that you can’t use your running vest for this purpose. If it is too thin, though, massive wind gusts could end up wearing down the fabric quicker.
q: What about restoring existing water repellent coatings?
All you really need to do to pull this off is to wash and apply heat to your model. You can follow the manufacturer’s care instructions and if it is not advised to tumble dry your model, you can iron it. However, when doing so, you want to make sure that you place a towel or a cloth between the fabric and the iron. This will protect it from damage but will also allow heat to reactivate the DWR coating.