10 Best Racing Vests Tested & Rated
One of the best pieces of running gear you can invest in is a racing vest. The best racing vest provides you with hydration systems that ensure you always have easy access to your water, additional storage features, and many even have reflective features.
Before you invest in one of the racing vests featured on our list, you will need to consider the distances you like to run as well as your own personal preferences and comfort needs—so, make sure to be picky and get the right vest to first time around.
Enjoy our list and get to running!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Lots of storage capacity
Bungee system to reduce bounce
Comes with two Flexform water bottles
Perfect for long-distance runners and trail runners
10 Best Racing Vests
1. Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT
Lots of storage capacity
Bungee system to reduce bounce
Comes with two Flexform water bottles
Perfect for long-distance runners and trail runners
Chest straps can be uncomfortable for some women
Not ideal if you are looking for a minimalistic vest.
This vest comes highly rated and reviewed by many users and was designed to help you move quickly and push yourself to the limit. It comes with a good bit of storage space and comes with 2 water bottles.Read more
It comes with 2 600mL FlexForm water bottles and can hold up to a 2L bladder--which you will have to purchase separately. As far as storage, this vest is perfect for long-distance runners and trail runners. It has 11 storage pockets and an extra easily accessible pocket for the belongings you want easy access to during your runs--it also has a spot for your trekking poles and bladder.
This vest is perfect for long-distance runners and trail runners alike. It is really lightweight and breathable thanks to its mesh areas. It is moisture-wicking and water and abrasion-resistant.
It is a great option for those of you who enjoy long-distance running and trail running. The only setback is the location of the chest straps, some women may find the placement uncomfortable.
This one is pricey and comes in 3 unisex sizes-small, medium, and large. It fits great and is really comfortable--after reading several user reviews, we found many users rave about the overall comfortable this vest provides during their runs.
Ease of Use
It has a spot for your trekking poles and comes with a whistle, so you can have it on just in case.
2. Nathan VaporAiress
Has reflective features
Easy to use quick release valve
Lots of pockets
No male selections
If you are looking for a racing vest that is comfortable, lightweight, and that has a lot to offer, then you will love the Nathan VaporAiress. Not only does the Nathan Vapor Airess look great, but it won’t weigh you down and offers tons of features you will love.Read more
The Nathan VaporAiress comes with a 2-liter bladder that will hold your water and help keep you hydrated while you are out on your run. So, whether you are a long-distance runner or short distance runner, you will love this one. The best part? This one won’t weigh you down, even when it is filled up.
If you want a racing vest, this one is built to last. It is constructed of highly durable material that is meant to last you the long haul. All of the vest’s components are designed to last and the pockets hold up over time, so you won’t have to worry about losing your belongings while you are out on your run.
One of the best features offered by the Nathan VaporAiress is how adjustable and flexible it is. It has adjustable chest straps that you can tighten to your liking, so it fits securely. You won’t have to worry about your vest slipping around or causing any chafing or blisters.
Not only is this vest lightweight, but it is also really breathable—so you can trust it will keep you cool and dry. The storage pockets on this vest securely hold your things without bouncing around and the shoulder lifters will ensure the vest stays securely in place. This vest is also made specifically for women, so you can bet it will hug you in all the right ways.
Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use, you will love the quick-release valve used by the Nathan Vapor Airess. This valve easily delivers water without causing any spillage.
3. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 4.0
Comes with 2 water bottles
11 storage compartments
Options for both men and women
3 sizing options
Not have heavy duty enough for extreme weather
This is a vest specifically designed for women--although there is a version made for guys as well, so if you like this one and you're a guy then check it out! It is really lightweight, has a ton of storage options to choose from, and is really breathable.Read more
While it is incredibly lightweight, this vest has a lot of storage capacity. It has a total of 6 storage pockets, with two front pockets that can each hold 500mL water bottles--and the water bottles actually come with the vest, although you can purchase your own if you'd like.
The front pockets are made of mesh is perfect for your phone, valuables and anything you want to keep at reach during your runs. This vest is on the expensive side. We can’t say that the price is low but in this case, you pay for what you get. This high-quality west is worth investing some money as it will last for a long time.
Its cinch tech allows for an adjustable and secure fit, so you don't have to worry about adjusting it during your runs.
This vest is made of Flex Mono Mesh, MicroMono Mesh, and nylon--making it really breathable and lightweight.
Ease of Use
This vest comes in small, medium, and large and while it is pricey it is an excellent option if you need a lot of storage options.
4. Ultraspire Alpha 3
Comes with 2 550mL water bottle
Compatible with a 2L Reservoir
Great for long-distance running
Only comes in two color options
Doesn't have a lot of extra storage space.
The Ultraspire Alpha 3 vest is ultra-lightweight and offers tons of awesome features! It looks great and comes in black or red. If you are a long-distance runner this vest is a great option to consider. It is priced a little above average and is a more affordable option on our list.Read more
This one comes with two 550mL water bottles that you can fit in its front pockets--and they are BPA free. It can also hold a 3L bladder--but it does not come with it, so you will have to purchase your own separately.
This race vest features a mesh back for optimal breathability and moisture-management. It also features high-quality materials throughout to ensure that the vest will last you the long haul.
The front of the vest features closure you can easily attach for a secure fit. So, while it is not the most adjustable vest on our list you will love the secure fit this one has to offer.
This vest is incredibly lightweight, but that does not take away from its durability or how much it can hold. It's really breathable, sweatproof, and moisture-wicking--so it doesn't start weighing you down as you go. Its Max O2 Sternum Technology ensures you can breathe with no restriction and won't feel restricted during your runs.
Ease of Use
It also comes with a rapid access pocket so you can easily access your belongings.
5. CamelBak Ultra Pro
9 stretch pockets
Comes with two flasks
Spot for bladder
Only Unisex sizing
This minimalistic vest is a high-quality and durable option for those of you looking for a lightweight and efficient vest. This one is simple and straight to the point--and you will love how easy it is to use.Read more
This vest comes with 9 stretchy storage pockets. It has a spot for a bladder in the back--although it does not come with a bladder--and it comes with two water bottles.
They are made with durable and breathable 3D mesh and comes with 2 17 ounce water bottles.
Its adjustable sternum straps allow for and it comes with reflective details for additional safety (in all 3 of its color options).
This vest is pretty affordable and a great investment if you're serious about crushing your PR's
Ease of Use
This one is perfect for those of you looking to increase your speed and push yourself to the limit while still being able to bring your water with you.
6. Osprey Dyna 6
Comes with a reservoir
3 great color options
Can be uncomfortable when all filled up
The Osprey Dyna 6 vest is great for long-distance runners and comes with plenty of storage for you to organize all of your stuff. It is lightweight and comfortable--and as an added bonus, this vest also looks great!Read more
It has a zippered vertical stash pocket, 2 lower side mesh pocket, a large easily accessible stash pocket.
Built to last, this race vest is made of lightweight and durable materials that will allow you to wear this vest for many races to come.
It's really breathable, lightweight, and its adjustable straps and buckles make it really comfortable
This one comes with a bladder and a zippered pocket to store it in.
Ease of Use
It comes with a bladder and is great for long-distance running. Pretty pricey but lots of storage.
7. Nathan HPL
Bladder holds 2 liters
Easy to adjust straps
Difficult to close and secure the bladder
The lightweight Nathan HPL 020 vest is a comfortable way to stay hydrated on your run. With a 2 liter bladder and a lightweight design, this vest is a great choice.Read more
The back of it contains a large pocket with a zipper for a bladder, which holds 2 liters. The Nathan HPL 020 vest has a total storage capacity of 6 liters. The bladder holds 2 liters.
True to the Nathan brand, this racing vest is built to last thanks to the high-quality materials it is constructed with. it is incredibly lightweight and breathable thanks to the materials used as well.
The straps on this vest are wide and made of a mesh material.
Unlike Nathan’s last vest, the HPL 020 has thin chest straps designed to reduce heat retention. A patented 3-way propulsion harness stabilizes movement of the bladder so you don’t have to worry about it bouncing while you run.
Ease of Use
Despite having a lot of storage capacity, this vest still manages to be lightweight, weighing in at only 13 ounces.
8. Nathan Fireball Race
Perfect pocket size
Breathable tough material
Main pocket is expandable
Some clients complained about pricing
The Nathan Fireball Race Vest is a highly rated and recommended racing vest this year. It is durable, comfortable, and affordable--a perfect fit for many runners out there.Read more
It can fit a 1.5-ounce bladder, the 12-ounce insulated hot flasks it comes with, and additional items such as your phone and keys.
This vest comes at a great price and is highly recommended. It also comes with reflective properties--to additional safety qualities.
if you want an adjustable vest, then you will love this race vest by Nathan. If features two front chest straps that you can easily tighten or loosen to adjust the fit as needed--so you always have a comfortable and secure fit.
This race vest is lightweight and has ample storage room.
Ease of Use
This vest has plenty of storage space and has a phone pocket that can fit up to an iPhone 6. You are well-equipped for your race thanks to the accessories you can carry along.
9. Inov-8 Race Elite
There are 7 pockets
The design is very breathable
Access to some pockets could be better
This vest is a little bit different than the other on our list as it has more minimalist in its design. This doesn’t mean that it’s worse. For some runners, this vest was the best. Check out all the info.Read more
For this vest, you can choose both water bladders or just simply bottles. There are many pockets and a bungee system. Two large mesh pockets can be used for storing smaller items and the access is still very easy.
It’s designed with highly breathable mesh so you stay cool and dry during the run. The overall construction is very durable.
There are 6 straps so you can easily adjust the tightness. The straps include special sternum ones that don’t slide.
The price of this vest is considered to be very reasonable, it’s not a very expensive product. As a runner who is buying a racing vest for the first time, it is definitely great for races.
Ease of Use
It will be great for marathons and racing.
10. Triwonder Marathoner
High-quality comfortable material
Light in weight
Comfortable fit due to elasticity
Wide shoulder straps
May not have enough storage
If you’re looking for an affordable yet high-quality hydration best, look no further. One of the most lightweight running vests on the market, the Triwonder Marathoner vest is so non-restrictive that you’ll barely notice it’s there.Read more
A stretchy, breathable mesh pocket on the front left side of the vest is great for storing your phone. This vest only weighs 4.6 ounces.
Made of a polyester net and nylon spandex yarn, the elasticity of this vest is incredible.
It has full side adjustability, so you can customize the size to fit you perfectly.
Not only that, but it’s extremely breathable, making it a great choice for hot days.
Ease of Use
This vest is one of the most affordable on this list. It has wide shoulder straps to ensure that weight is evenly distributed and minimizes bounce. In addition to the vest, you’ll receive two quality 8.5-ounce water bottles.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
We looked at how much water each vest can carry as well as any additional storage space the racing vest may have to offer.
All of the products on our list are capable of carrying plenty of water to keep you hydrated during a race. They do this by having both the ability to carry a hydration bladder as well as water bottles. For the most part the designs of the vests are fairly similar, with pockets on the straps that hold the water bottles making them easy to grab, and a compartment in the back that holds the hydration bladder.
A tube will then run from the hydration bladder to one of the chest straps where you can easily access it with your mouth. In addition to water storage, one of the great draws of a racing vest is the storage it offers runners for long races or to keep your hands free and your belongings secure while you’re running.
Many of the vests on our list have a back compartment that you can use by taking off the vest, as well as front or side pockets that give you easy access to the things you need. If you use energy gels or supplements (like caffeine pills or salt tablets), or if you need to bring along a cell phone or keyring you’ll get plenty of use out of this convenient storage.
Think about the kind of extras you’ll need to bring along with you, whether you’re racing, hiking, marathoning, etc. and what kind of storage you’ll find the most valuable. Then prioritize what's most important and choose an option that will meet your needs.
What a vest is made of determines it's durability, breathability, and overall quality. So, make sure you take a look at the materials the racing vest is made of before you make your final decision.
The best racing vests are composed of light cotton fibers, synthetic fibers, or synthetic cotton blends. The fabric determines how the vest will fit and features such as moisture-wicking abilities, breathability, comfort, and how lightweight it is. Vests made of 100% polyester are ranked among the best among the most breathable and apt at moisture management.
Blended synthetic and cotton fibers also provide adequate moisture management properties but are far less than vests made of 100% polyester. Racing vests made from pure cotton will provide the least amount of moisture management and breathability but provide you with a good fit and adequate warmth.
To help a racer be in control of their body’s’ temperature, in both hot and cold weather conditions, the best running vest material should be lightweight and of high-performance material designed to move moisture away from the skin. The best running vests are breathable and made of a blend of polyester, Lycra, or nylon.
They keep you warm and dry during the winter and in the summer they help to regulate your body temperature and provide maximum breathability, comfort, moisture-wicking properties.
In order to be comfortable and perform at your best, you should be able to easily customize the fit to your own unique body. Take a look at how adjustable the racing vest is to ensure it offers the right fit for you.
The last thing you want during a race is to have your hydration vest bouncing around. Not only will this slow you down and impair your comfort and performance, but it can also potentially cause chafing and blisters. Because of this, we looked closely at the strap system of each product. A good racing vest will be highly adjustable so that people with all different body types can use it comfortably.
During our research we found that one of the biggest complaints that people consistently had with their vests was the ability to get a good fit, so we did our best to choose products that were thoughtfully designed with a strapping system that can fit people of all different shapes and sizes. Please be aware, however, that people who are especially skinny or large may have special needs when it comes to finding a racing vest that fits them well.
They may need to somehow customize their vest by either reducing or enlarging the size of the belts and shoulder straps. This can be done the old fashioned way, by cutting, splicing, and sewing on or removing materials, but please be advised that this may invalidate any product warranty and could potentially affect the durability of the racing vest.
Performing at your best is much, much easier when you're feeling good. When it comes to anything you wear while you run, you need to make sure you are comfortable no matter how far or how short you run.
Racing vests are usually the most useful during long-distance runs, which means comfort is crucial. If you’re wearing uncomfortable gear while running, you’ll quickly become aware of how much your body moves and how easily things can rub and chafe. You don’t want to get caught in the middle of a race with something that’s painful and too uncomfortable to keep wearing.
A comfortable racing vest will be stretchy, adjustable, and breathable. Adjustable straps allow you to create a more custom fit which helps prevent any chafing due to unnecessary rubbing. Another thing to look for is a back panel and shoulder straps that have breathable mesh panels. These panels act as a way to improve airflow between your skin and the vest thereby increasing comfort and breathability.
Aside from analyzing the features of each product we also considered over 1400 user reviews to bring you a well-rounded view of the vests. If we only relied on our own opinions we could easily be caught in bias towards certain products, but by researching a wide variety of experiences we're able to give you the most realistic reviews.
Ease of Use
When you're racing you need to be able to access your water and nutrition quickly and easily. Look for the vests that are easiest to use to ensure that you are getting a racing vest that actually works for you and your needs.
This is an extremely important factor to look at when shopping for a racing vest. Every second lost to fumbling with your gear matters so we were careful about choosing products that have the features and design elements that make them simple to operate. We also considered user reviews to score and choose each product in order to help us expand our knowledge beyond our own viewpoints.
Some things to look at when shopping are the quality of the zippers, velcro, or whatever else is used to secure the pockets. It's an easy thing to overlook while shopping, but during a race, a stuck zipper can be a disaster. Another thing to consider is how easy it is to access the water bottles and hydration bladder mouthpiece.
In order to perform most efficiently, athletes will obviously need easy access to both of these. Finally, an efficient, effective, and easily adjustable strap system is a must in order for you to get your best possible race results. Every second spent unnecessarily adjusting the vest's fit can negatively affect your final race results.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Although many of the racing vests listed here offer impressive waterproofing and general weather resistance, they aren't the only thing you need to tackle a hardcore running session in inclement weather.
In addition to sturdy upper body protection, the most important thing for a runner to ensure safety and stability is a solid pair of trail running shoes.
If you start to notice leaking or a strange taste when drinking from your hydration vest, you don't have to immediately purchase a new one. Instead, most of these problems can be solved by purchasing a replacement water bladder or reservoir.
These are significantly cheaper than completely replacing what may still be a perfectly serviceable running accessory.
Other Factors to Consider
Many running vests come with weather-resistant features, additional protection from the wind and the rain, and help keep your body temperature regulated. They are lightweight thanks to their polyester or polyester blend material–others are made of high quality or compound blends.
While running vests can be worn in mild chilly weather, but more extreme low temperatures will require running jackets or hoodies.
Below are some additional features to look for when searching for your vest:
- UPF and UVR protection against rays from the sun.
- Reflectivity–enhances the safety of a runner
- Accents in the form of piping or reflective fabric.
- Moisture-wicking properties
- Pockets and storage space–and how accessible are they?
- Flat-lock seams that prevent chafing and provide a smooth fit
- Breathable mesh on the inside panel of the vest for optimal ventilation
Check for weather-resistant features: waterproof, wind-resistant, water-resistant, and quick-drying ability. These are important because they offer you additional protection from outdoor elements, such as harsh weather.
One important characteristic to take into consideration is the color and reflective features of the product. If you typically like running at night or on busy roadways, reflective fabrics and features are very important. This allows you to be seen by drivers and bikers, reduces the chances of an accident, and increases your overall safety.
Do keep in mind that each product is designed differently, and from different fabrics. You should not assume that every item is made with reflective gear. So, if you are planning on venturing off at night, be sure to find a product that will help keep you visible.
Typically racing vests are meant for the hot summer seasons, but some are great for colder weather–and even help keep you warm. This is why it’s important to choose your vest based on the climate you typically run in. If you are running in cold conditions you will need to layer up and go with vests made of pure cotton.
This will help keep you warm and comfortable during your cold runs. During the summer months, a light racer vest is recommended. These are typically made of pure polyester, polyester blend, or pure synthetic fiber. This allows them to regulate your body temperature wick moisture away from your body, and comfortable.
Breathability is of utmost importance during hot summer months–it’s important you stay cool and comfortable so you don’t overheat, so keep this in mind when choosing your running vest. During the winter, athletes should dress in warm running vest fabrics. It is important to note that whenever you exercise your temperature and heart rate elevates, so you need attire that will help keep this level.
When it comes to style, it’s important to note your own preferences and look for a comfortable and flexible option that works best for you. Some racing vests will have an open chest design to better accommodate people with breasts or those who like a minimalist fit. Some will offer more coverage and fit more like a true vest than a backpack.
There are plenty of different cuts and designs to choose from, so you’ll have a little liberty to individualize your comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Is there a specific size I should go with?
This completely depends on your needs and preference. If you’re running longer distances and need to be able to hydrate more you may want to go with a bigger bladder so you don’t have to worry about refilling. On the other hand, if you know you’ll have more opportunities to fill up and don’t want to bother carrying the extra weight, you might prefer a smaller size bladder.
Keep your needs and your environment in mind when making your decision.
q: The race I’m running doesn’t allow hydration vests–do I have any other alternatives?
Unfortunately, sometimes we’re restricted by the rules and regulations specific to each individual race. Don’t be discouraged though, there’s still plenty of options out there for you. Hydration belts are easy to wear alternative to their vest counterparts and may be allowed at more races that have banned backpacks or racing vests.
You could also try a handheld hydration pack that offers a small amount of storage and a compact design that won’t slow you down while you’re running. Race belts sometimes have extra loops and storage space to make taking extras with you on race day a breeze.
q: Can I consider style when selecting these vests?
Everyone wants to look good all the time. Despite the purpose or brand, some people hope to consider style and design first when selecting their vests. This complements your gear and boosts your confidence. However, it should not be the first thing to be considered because comfort, material, weight, and convenience come first.
q: Do I really need a racing vest?
It's totally up to you my friend. Your body is a highly adaptable machine, capable of all sorts of feats that might seem unimaginable. For example, the Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof set a world record by running a marathon in Death Valley without drinking any water during the race.
He also is very knowledgeable and experienced about such things and uses special meditation and breathing techniques to achieve such incredible feats. While we don't recommend running a marathon without water, there's nothing wrong with mindfully pushing yourself if you so desire. Just be sure to exercise caution and thoughtfulness, and have a backup plan in place.
All in all, the best racing vests are a great option for those of you who want to stay hands-free and ensure that you have the storage space you need.