How Do I Choose the Best Running Vest?

Dan Cavallari

A running vest is a great way to cut down on wind cooling you off during a chilly run. Choosing the best one starts by narrowing down your search: men's and women's vests are usually designed differently, and a woman is likely to be uncomfortable in a men's vest and vice versa, although this is not always true. Think carefully about how much you want to spend on the running vest as well as what features you want it to include. Some vests, for example, feature reflective piping, and others feature pockets, mesh backs, waterproof materials, and more.

Woman exercising
Woman exercising

The main function of a running vest is, in most cases, to resist wind. The front of the vest should be made of a wind-resistant material, and this material is usually synthetic. Synthetic materials tend to dry more quickly, and in many cases, the material can wick moisture away from the body so you will stay dry throughout your run. Think about the back of the vest carefully: some vests feature an open-back design with no material at all touching the back, while others feature mesh backs to aid in breathability. Still others feature the same material throughout the entire vest, which can be advantageous in colder conditions.

If you plan on running on the road at night, or even in the woods at night, consider a running vest with reflective materials. A brightly-colored vest will help ensure motorists see you, but reflective materials go even further: the headlights of cars will reflect brightly off the material, ensuring you get noticed and reducing the risk of contact between you and a vehicle. Some vests feature reflective piping, which runs the length of specific seams on the garment. This is a good option because the vest will be reflective without significant weight being added to the garment.

The weight of the running vest should be a key concern when shopping for the model that's right for you. Warm weather running will require a very lightweight vest, but such a garment may not be especially useful in cold weather. Heavier-weight garments are great for cool weather, but they may prove too bulky for warm weather runs or for storing in a backpack when not in use. Some cool weather vests are even insulated or lined with fleece or other warm materials. Consider what you will be using the vest for to choose the weight that will be best for you.

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