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10 Best Racing Vests Tested & Rated

last updated Jan 17, 2019
Just like a painter or a sculptor, runners have their own tools of the trade that improve their performance and help give them the edge they need. One great piece of running gear that takes the functionality of several of these tools and wraps them all up into one is a good quality racing vest. The best racing vests often combine features like hydration systems, reflective materials, and accessible storage to bring you all the necessities for a long-distance race where you don’t have time to stop and fumble with a backpack.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research

icon
Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT
96.4/100 our score
Accessories
99
Materials
98
Weather Resistance
99
Comfort
92
Style
94
Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT
Why is it better?

Lightweight

Lots of storage capacity

Bungee system to reduce bounce

Comes with two Flexform water bottles

Perfect for long-distance runners and trail runners

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT
Test Winner: Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT
Researched Sources
13
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1385
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
17
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
20
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By Giselle Killebrew:

The five new vests we have added this season are the Ultimate Direction Vesta 4.0, the Ultraspire Alpha 3, the Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT, the Camelbak Ultra Pro, and the Osprey Dyna 6 racing vests. While some are pricier than others, each of these are durable and perfect for race day. You’ll find some have more storage and additional features than others, so you have options regardless of your preference.

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Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.4
Accessories
99%
Materials
98%
Weather Resistance
99%
Comfort
92%
Style
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$139.95
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.8
Accessories
98%
Materials
95%
Weather Resistance
97%
Comfort
95%
Style
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.2
Accessories
98%
Materials
96%
Weather Resistance
90%
Comfort
97%
Style
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$134.95
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Accessories
97%
Materials
95%
Weather Resistance
90%
Comfort
94%
Style
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$89.46
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Accessories
95%
Materials
93%
Weather Resistance
89%
Comfort
97%
Style
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$117.37
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Accessories
90%
Materials
96%
Weather Resistance
90%
Comfort
97%
Style
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$92.91
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Accessories
92%
Materials
94%
Weather Resistance
90%
Comfort
89%
Style
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$59.93
See Deal
$76.38
$99.99
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8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.2
Accessories
92%
Materials
87%
Weather Resistance
90%
Comfort
89%
Style
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$76.02
$149.99
See Deal
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.4
Accessories
87%
Materials
87%
Weather Resistance
85%
Comfort
88%
Style
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$92.40
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.2
Accessories
84%
Materials
80%
Weather Resistance
79%
Comfort
79%
Style
79%
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.01.19)
$66.99
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT
  • Salomon S-Lab
  • Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 4.0
  • Ultraspire Alpha 3
  • CamelBak Ultra Pro
  • Osprey Dyna 6
  • Nathan HPL
  • Nathan Fireball Race
  • Inov-8 Race Elite
  • Triwonder Marathoner
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best Racing Vests

1. Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.4
Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT
Accessories
99
Materials
98
Weather Resistance
99
Comfort
92
Style
94
best offer for today
$139.95
Pros:

Lightweight

Lots of storage capacity

Bungee system to reduce bounce

Comes with two Flexform water bottles

Perfect for long-distance runners and trail runners

Cons:

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

Features
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 comes with 2 600mL FlexForm water bottles and can hold up to a 2L bladder--which you will have to purchase separately. It has a spot for your trekking poles and comes with a whistle, so you can have it on just in case.

Storage
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.

Cost and Value
This one is pricey and comes in 3 unisex sizes--small, medium, and large. 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.

2. Salomon S-Lab

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.8
Salomon S-Lab
Accessories
98
Materials
95
Weather Resistance
97
Comfort
95
Style
94
best offer for today
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Pros:

Durable

Tons of storage

Doesn’t bounce while running

Doesn’t rub or chafe

Lightweight

Comfortable

Storage pockets are easy to reach

Comes with a whistle on a lanyard

Cons:

Pricey

This vest is one of the most brilliantly designed models on the market today. It fits more like a vest than a pack and is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a lot of storage space. It’s designed with top-of-the-line materials and its quality remains unmatched.

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Features

Rather than using a hip or waist belt, this vest uses a twin link fastening system with multiple fastening options. Many find this feature to be great, as it’s more comfortable and you don’t have to deal with the restrictive feeling of the usual belt.

Storage

The main compartment features a two-way zipper and is designed to provide the most amount of storage possible. A zippered pocket on the front is great for holding your phone, cash, or keys. Another zippered outer pocket, made of mesh, is stretchy and quite roomy. There are mesh pockets on either side of the vest for extra storage, and you don’t have to take the vest off or stop running to access them. The top-opening hydration system is held in place by a thermal sleeve, and the bladder can hold up to 1.5 liters.

Cost and Value

While this is one of the more expensive vests on the list; it’s designed so well and is so durable that you will definitely get your money’s worth.

3. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 4.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.2
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 4.0
Accessories
98
Materials
96
Weather Resistance
90
Comfort
97
Style
95
best offer for today
$134.95
Pros:

Breathable

Lightweight

Comes with 2 water bottles

11 storage compartments

Options for both men and women

3 sizing options

Cons:

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.

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Breathability
This vest is made of Flex Mono Mesh, MicroMono Mesh, and nylon--making it really breathable and lightweight. Its cinch tech allows for an adjustable and secure fit, so you don't have to worry about adjusting it during your runs.

Storage
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.

Cost and Value
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.

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.

4. Ultraspire Alpha 3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Ultraspire Alpha 3
Accessories
97
Materials
95
Weather Resistance
90
Comfort
94
Style
92
best offer for today
$89.46
Pros:

Ultra lightweight

Breathable

Comes with 2 550mL water bottle

Compatible with a 2L Reservoir

Affordable

Great for long-distance running

Cons:

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.

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Features
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.

Storage
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. It also comes with a rapid access pocket so you can easily access your belongings.

Cost and Value
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.

5. CamelBak Ultra Pro

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
CamelBak Ultra Pro
Accessories
95
Materials
93
Weather Resistance
89
Comfort
97
Style
94
best offer for today
$117.37
Pros:

9 stretch pockets

Comes with two flasks

Spot for bladder

Reflective features

Durable

Lightweight

Breathable

Cons:

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.

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Features
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. 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).

Storage
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.

Cost and Value
This vest is pretty affordable and a great investment if you're serious about crushing your PR's

6. Osprey Dyna 6

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Osprey Dyna 6
Accessories
90
Materials
96
Weather Resistance
90
Comfort
97
Style
95
best offer for today
$92.91
Pros:

Comes with a reservoir

Breathable

Lightweight

3 great color options

Cons:

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.

Read more

Features
It comes with a bladder and is great for long-distance running. It's really breathable, lightweight, and its adjustable straps and buckles make it really comfortable

Storage
This one comes with a bladder and a zippered pocket to store it in. It has a zippered vertical stash pocket, 2 lower side mesh pocket, a large easily accessible stash pocket.

Cost and Value
Pretty pricey but lots of storage.

7. Nathan HPL

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
 Nathan HPL
Accessories
92
Materials
94
Weather Resistance
90
Comfort
89
Style
90
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$76.38
$59.93
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$99.99
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Pros:

Lightweight

Bladder holds 2 liters

Belt pocket

Stabilization harness

Easy to adjust straps

Cons:

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.

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Features

The straps on this vest are wide and made of a mesh material. The back of it contains a large pocket with a zipper for a bladder, which holds 2 liters. 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.

Storage

The Nathan HPL 020 vest has a total storage capacity of 6 liters. The bladder holds 2 liters. Despite having a lot of storage capacity, this vest still manages to be lightweight, weighing in at only 13 ounces.

Cost and Value

This vest is moderately priced in comparison to other similar products. However, it does not dissapoint in features and material quality as it is worth every penny.

8. Nathan Fireball Race

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.2
Nathan Fireball Race
Accessories
92
Materials
87
Weather Resistance
90
Comfort
89
Style
88
best offer for today
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$76.02
$149.99
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Pros:

Reflective features

Perfect pocket size

Breathable tough material

Main pocket is expandable

Cons:

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

Features

This race vest is lightweight and has ample storage room. 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.

Storage

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.

Cost and Value

This vest comes at a great price and is highly recommended. It also comes with reflective properties--to additional safety qualities.

9. Inov-8 Race Elite

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.4
Inov-8 Race Elite
Accessories
87
Materials
87
Weather Resistance
85
Comfort
88
Style
85
best offer for today
$92.40
Pros:

Very affordable

There are 7 pockets

The design is very breathable

Reasonably priced

Cons:

Access to some pockets could be better

This vest is a little bit different than the other on our list as it has more minimalism 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

Breathability

It will be great for marathons and racing. It’s designed with highly breathable mesh so you stay cool and dry during the run. There are 6 straps so you can easily adjust the tightness. The straps include special sternum ones that don’t slide.

Storage

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. The overall construction is very durable.

Cost and Value

The price of this vest is considered to be very reasonable, it’s not the very expensive product. As a runner who is buying a racing vest for the first time, it is definitely great for races.

10. Triwonder Marathoner

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.2
Triwonder Marathoner
Accessories
84
Materials
80
Weather Resistance
79
Comfort
79
Style
79
best offer for today
$66.99
Pros:

High-quality comfortable material

Light in weight

Comfortable fit due to elasticity

Wide shoulder straps

Cons:

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

Features

Made of a polyester net and nylon spandex yarn, the elasticity of this vest is incredible. Not only that, but it’s extremely breathable, making it a great choice for hot days. It has full side adjustability, so you can customize the size to fit you perfectly.

Storage

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.

Cost and Value

This vest is one of the most affordable on this list. It has wide shoulder straps 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

Accessories

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.

Materials

The best racing vests are composed of light cotton fibers, synthetic fibers, or synthetic cotton blends. 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 weather conditions temperatures, the advisable running vest material should be lightweight and of high-performance material designed to remove 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.

Weather Resistance

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 these level.

Comfort

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.

Style

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.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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You Need More Than A Vest To Run In The Rain

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.

You Can Replace The Bladder Instead Of The Vest

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

Advanced Features

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
Thumbholes
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.

Color

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: What size of hydration bladder is best?
a:

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?
a:

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 an 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: Does wearing a vest with weight burn more calories?
a:

Typically, Yes. This is because when you have a weighted vest it would mean that you are burning more calories. Eventually, the cardio rate is higher and you will lose more weight as compared to when you have a lighter one.

q: Do I need to consider style when selecting these vests?
a:

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.

Sources

  1. REI Co-op, How To Choose A Running Hydration Vest, Article,
  2. Running Warehouse, How To Choose A Hydration Pack, Website,
  3. Trail Running, How to pack your race-vest for an Ultra adventure, Website,