The 11 Best Running Vests of 2022, According to a Running Coach

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Vest will keep you dry and warm on your runs

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Whether you're an experienced marathoner or a new runner, a running vest is indispensable. It keeps you warm and protected during cold weather running, while also allowing ample shoulder and arm movement and rotation.

Tested & Approved

“Running vests can be beneficial because they keep your core warm so that your body doesn't need to borrow blood flow from other areas,” says Lauren Sheu, certified running coach and owner and founder of Running for Wellness. "Some running vests can also give you a place to store water and other essentials and may also be reflective to keep you safe during runs in low-light conditions."

We selected the best running vests based on comfort, the level of protection they offer from the elements, if they are warm and breathable, and are sweat-wicking enough to keep you dry on your runs. Our certified running coach and product tester put the best vests on our list through further scrutiny by wearing them on runs in various conditions.

Based on our research and testing, these are the best running vests on the market.

Best Men's Overall: The North Face Men’s Apex Bionic 2 Vest

4.6
The North Face Men’s Apex Bionic 2 Vest

Courtesy of The North Face

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Technical Quality
    4/5
  • Waterproof
    4/5
  • Overall Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Great storage options

  • Water- and wind-resistant

  • Very durable

Cons
  • Expensive

  • No reflectivity

Runners looking for a comfortable, versatile, and high-performance running vest can’t go wrong with our top pick, The North Face Apex Bionic 2 vest. It’s lightweight, and the vest’s wind-resistant material makes it an ideal layer for cold weather running. It features a durable water-resistant coating, high collar, and adjustable cinch-cord hem to help keep out the elements. Our tester found that the low-profile design also made it a good insulation layer under a running jacket for very cold days.

During test runs, our tester was impressed with the zippered chest pocket which offered a secure and stable place for a phone, while the two hand pockets had ample space for multiple items. He also liked the quality of the zippers, which were easy to use, even while wearing gloves.

Practical yet stylish, this versatile vest can serve double-duty for casual wear. It’s available in sizes XS to XXL in several attractive colors.

Price at time of publication: $109

Materials: Polyester | Storage: Zippered hand pockets and zippered chest pocket | Care: Machine wash warm, tumble dry low | Sizes:  XS-XXL

What Our Testers Say

"This is a high-quality vest that is versatile for general wear or for fitness. It is on the pricier side so there are more economical vests, but those options will likely not offer the same durability and quality." —Brad Luff, Verywell product tester

Best Women's Overall: Lululemon Women’s Another Mile Vest

4.8
Lululemon Women’s Another Mile Vest

Courtesy of Lululemon

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Technical Quality
    5/5
  • Waterproof
    5/5
  • Overall Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Water-repellent

  • Insulated and warm

  • Great storage options

Cons
  • Expensive

It’s possible to stay warm and protected from the elements while still looking chic on a run, thanks to Lululemon’s Another Mile Vest. The flattering vest features stretchy fabric, so it’s form-fitting and easily moves with you. Made with PrimaLoft insulation, it kept our tester’s core warm but didn’t feel at all bulky or difficult to move in. The vest also has a water-resistant outer layer to help repel rain or snow.

Runners love the zippered pocket with a hidden phone sleeve, as well as the side pockets. Our tester also appreciated the versatility of the removable hood, which proved to be a very useful option during a drizzly run. While it’s pricier than some other winter running vests, the high-quality construction and materials are well worth the investment.

Price at time of publication: $168

Materials: Nylon, polyester, Spandex | Storage: Zippered pockets with hidden phone sleeve | Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low | Sizes: 2-14

What Our Testers Say

"Although this vest is on the expensive side, you get what you pay for in terms of quality, performance, and durability. I would definitely recommend it to any runner looking for a comfy, chic vest with good protection and storage options." —Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified running coach and product tester

Best Men's Budget: Columbia Men's Steens Mountain Vest

Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece Vest

 Columbia

Pros
  • Lightweight and soft

  • Stylish, athletic fit

  • Wide range of sizes and colors

Cons
  • Runs small

  • Some colors look different in person

While some running vests can cost nearly as much as a winter jacket, the Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece vest is low in price but still high in quality. Comfortable, soft, and lightweight, it has an athletic fit and is perfect for layering. We like that it allows for a good range of motion as a top layer over a long sleeve, but can also be used as a mid-layer for extra insulation under a jacket.

The fleece keeps your core warm, while the stand-up collar provides additional protection from the elements. Available in several different colors and in a wide range of sizes, it has large, zippered front pockets to hold your phone, gloves, and other running essentials. With a stylish, casual look, this vest is a great, affordable pick, whether you wear it when you’re hitting the trails or running errands around town.

Price at time of publication: $34

Materials: Polyester | Storage: Front zippered pockets | Care: Machine wash, tumble dry low | Sizes: S-6X

Best Women's Budget: Baleaf Lightweight Softshell Vest

4.2
Baleaf Lightweight Softshell Vest

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    4/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Technical Quality
    5/5
  • Waterproof
    4/5
  • Overall Value
    4/5
Pros
  • Good storage options

  • Windproof and waterproof

  • Stylish

Cons
  • No reflectivity

  • Runs a little big

Versatile and budget-friendly, this lightweight vest from Baleaf provides good protection during windy, cold runs. Designed with windproof and water-resistant fabric, it keeps the elements out while still feeling soft and comfortable. The stand-up collar shields the neck, but can easily be zipped down once you warm up and need some more ventilation. A drawcord at the hem allows you to cinch when the wind picks up or if you prefer a closer fit.  

We love the vest’s ample storage space, which includes roomy front zippered pockets that could easily hold a large phone. Our tester also utilized one of the convenient interior stash pockets to store an ear warmer that wasn’t needed halfway through a run. 

Available in several attractive colors, this practical yet stylish vest is a great addition to any winter running wardrobe.

Price at time of publication: $40

Materials: Polyester | Storage: Zippered hand pockets, two interior stash pockets | Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low | Sizes: XS-XXL

What Our Testers Say

"It’s well-constructed, comfortable, and extremely functional. It offers great protection from the elements and has plenty of secure storage options. The budget-friendly price seals the deal on it being a worthwhile addition to a cold-weather running wardrobe." —Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified running coach and product tester

Best Splurge: Patagonia Nano Puff Vest

4.6
Patagonia Nano Puff Vest

REI

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Technical Quality
    4/5
  • Waterproof
    4/5
  • Overall Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Windproof and water-repellent

  • Great storage options

  • Very packable

Cons
  • Expensive

  • No reflectivity

This popular Patagonia Nano Puff vest provides the warmth and comfort of a thicker, insulated vest, without the bulk. It’s filled with lightweight and very compressible PrimaLoft Insulation Eco, an eco-friendly material that’s made with 55 percent post-consumer recycled content.

We love the vest’s low-profile, streamlined fit, which layers nicely over a wicking shirt, under a jacket, or both. Our tester found it to be warm enough for runs with temperatures in the 30s and still comfortable in the 40s, with the zipper down a bit. Designed with windproof and water-repellent material, it also provided excellent protection against the elements. Plus, the drawcord-adjustable hem helped to seal in warmth and keep out wind.

There’s plenty of room to stash your phone, gloves, or other essentials in the front hand pockets. The zippered internal chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack, so the vest is extremely packable and a great option for bringing along when traveling or hiking. With its stellar performance and comfy, flattering fit, this vest is definitely worth the splurge.

Price at time of publication: $179

Materials: Recycled polyester | Storage: Front zippered pockets | Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low | Sizes: XS-XL

What Our Testers Say

"The vest is insulated without feeling bulky, so I felt comfortable and warm but not weighed down. The streamlined and low-profile fit also allows for good range of motion. I also liked the vest’s stylish and flattering fit, which makes it a great option for casual wear." —Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified running coach and product tester

Best for Trail Running: Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set Hydration Vest

Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set Hydration Vest

REI

Pros
  • Great storage options

  • Good for long trail runs

  • Can hold hydration

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Needs to be hand washed

When running on trails, you need a convenient and comfortable way to carry your essentials. The lightweight Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set hydration vest is an ideal gear-stashing choice, with plenty of room for everything you might need. Made with a very breathable, stretchy material, it’s designed for a snug, comfortable fit that keeps your essentials close and within reach.

The abundant storage options include one main stretch compartment with a side zip opening, two front stretch pockets, two top stretch pockets, one back compartment with a mesh pocket, and one low back pocket. It even comes with two soft flasks that can be held securely by loops in the front pockets. With so much space to hold your stuff, your only problem may be remembering what essentials you stashed in which pocket.

Price at time of publication: $160

Materials: Polyamide, elastane, polyester, foam | Storage: Seven pockets | Care: Hand wash, hang dry | Sizes: XS-XL

Best for Visibility: Amphipod Full-Visibility Reflective Vest

4.8
Amphipod Full-Visibility Reflective Vest

REI

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Technical Quality
    5/5
  • Waterproof
    4/5
  • Overall Value
    5/5
Pros
  • 360-degree reflectivity

  • Lightweight and easy to run in

  • Well-ventilated

Cons
  • Runs small

  • Some runners may prefer more length

Wearing a reflective vest is a simple way to make yourself more visible when running in low-light conditions. This affordable one from Amphipod looks very basic, but it boasts 360-degree visibility and uses 3M Scotchlite high brilliance reflective material.

We like the vest’s lightweight, well-ventilated construction that helps prevent overheating. Our tester found it easy to put on and adjust for size, whether they wore it over a tank top or jacket. Designed with runners in mind, the vest features a short length and roomy shape that allows for a full range of motion.

Our tester was also pleasantly surprised by the large front zippered pocket that was easy to use and roomy enough to hold a phone, gloves, and tissues. Available in two sizes and high-viz colors, this vest is a great option for runners looking to increase their visibility on the roads.

Price at time of publication: $35

Materials: 3M Scotchlite reflective material, polyester mesh | Storage: Front zipped pocket | Care: Hand wash, lay flat to dry | Sizes: S/M and L/XL

What Our Testers Say

"I would definitely recommend this vest to anyone who runs in low-light conditions. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and offers excellent 360-degree visibility, as well as some easily accessible storage space. " —Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified running coach and product tester

Best Cooling: HyperKewl Evaporative Cooling Ultra Sport Vest

HyperKewl Evaporative Cooling Ultra Sport Vest

Amazon

Pros
  • Cooling lasts up to 10 hours

  • Lightweight

  • Comfortable for running

Cons
  • May not be as effective in very high humidity

  • Runs small

While you may think it’s best to wear as little clothing as possible during hot weather runs, putting on this TechNiche cooling vest that's powered by HyperKewl can actually help you feel more comfortable. Designed specifically for runners and cyclists, this lightweight vest can provide five to ten hours of cooling.

Simply soak the vest with water for one to two minutes, gently squeeze out the excess water, and then put it on. The vest’s water-resistant inner liner keeps you dry, while the water slowly evaporates and takes your heat with it. With a form-fitting style, it’s comfortable and allows for a good range of motion. Because it relies on evaporation to keep you cool, the vest does work better in lower humidity. It also comes in a variety of sizes, from extra-small to triple extra-large.

Materials: HyperKewl | Fabric: Mesh, nylon, elastic | Storage: None | Care: Not listed | Sizes: XS-3XL

Best for Warmth: Smartwool Smartloft 60 Hoodie Vest

Smartwool Smartloft 60 Hoodie Vest

Courtesy of REI

Pros
  • Water-repellent and wind-resistant

  • Insulated and warm

  • Odor-resistant

Cons
  • Hood is not removable

  • No plus-size options

Ideal for cold runs, this versatile vest will keep you warm and protected from the elements. The coated nylon shell repels wind and water, and the recycled wool insulation provides lightweight warmth and breathability. A comfy hood offers additional protection and zips up for a secure, no-bounce fit. Plus, the vest is lined with odor-resistant, sweat-wicking merino wool, so you can wear it multiple times in between washes.

The stretchy panels on the sides allow for excellent mobility, while the zippered hand pockets, internal zippered chest pocket, and internal stash pockets provide ample storage. Available in sizes XS to XL and in several color options, this stylish vest offers a flattering fit, so it could definitely serve double-duty for casual wear.

Price at time of publication: $230

Materials: Merino wool, polyester | Storage: Zippered hand pockets and internal chest pocket | Care: Machine wash cold gentle cycle, tumble dry low | Sizes: XS-XL

Best for Racing: Ultimate Direction Race Vest 5.0

Ultimate Direction Race Vest 5.0 Hydration Vest

Courtesy of REI

Pros
  • Great storage options

  • Lightweight and comfortable

  • Breathable and adjustable

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Limited size options

For racing, runners need a lightweight, comfortable option for holding essentials. This lightweight Ultimate Direction race vest is perfect for distance races as well as training runs, providing convenient access to both fuel and hydration. Made of breathable, four-way stretch fabric, it’s extremely durable and allows for good mobility. The shoulder straps help distribute weight evenly and the vest’s Comfort Cinch technology offers easy on-the-go adjustment.

A front zippered pocket is ideal for stashing your phone, fuel, and valuables, while the corded elastic strategically placed on the vest can hold extra gear. Plus, the vest comes with two 17-ounce collapsible soft flasks that fit into front hydration holsters.

Price at time of publication: $125

Materials: Knitted monofilament mesh | Storage: Front zippered pocket, rear pocket, two bottle holsters | Care: Hand wash | Sizes: S-L

Best for Hydration: Nathan QuickStart Hydration Pack Running Vest

Nathan QuickStart Hydration Pack Running Vest

 Nathan

Pros
  • Good fluid capacity

  • Great storage options

  • Lightweight and moisture-wicking

Cons
  • May not work for very large or very petite runners

  • Not waterproof

Running vests are a convenient way to carry essentials, and this one from Nathan gives you easy access to an absolute necessity: fluids. The 1.5-liter hydration bladder provides ample room for every runner's hydration needs, and the zippered storage pocket is perfect for stashing your phone, money, keys, and other valuables. A front stash pocket fits a 22-ounce flask when more fluids are needed for especially long runs.

You don’t have to worry about the vest bouncing and moving, as the adjustable front and side straps allow for a snug, custom fit. The lightweight, comfortable material wicks away sweat, and the binding is soft and non-irritating, so chafing is not a concern. Plus, there are some reflective elements for better visibility in low-light conditions.

Price at time of publication: $70

Materials: Polyamide | Storage: One front zippered pocket, one front stash pocket | Care: Hand wash, air dry | Sizes: One size fits most

Final Verdict

The Women's Lululemon Another Mile vest stands out for its performance, comfort, and protection. Made with a lightweight, stretchy fabric, it provides exceptional coverage, insulation, and moisture-wicking capabilities.

Runners also can’t go wrong with the high-performance Men's Apex Bionic 2 vest from The North Face. It’s warm, windproof, water-resistant, and offers many features that runners want in a versatile running vest, including zippered pockets and an adjustable cinch-cord.

How We Rated the Running Vests

4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best running vests we tested. We recommend them without reservation.

4.5 to 4.7 stars: These running vests are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.

4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great running vests, but others are better.

3.5 to 3.9 stars: These running vests are just average.

3.4 and below: We don't recommend running vests with this rating; you won't find any on our list.

How We Selected and Tested the Best Running Vests

To select the best running vests on the market, we considered more than 35 vests from at least ten different athletic wear companies and looked at product details and customer feedback. We carefully considered features such as warmth and protection, comfort, design, performance, and price, and also asked runners, gear experts, and coaches for recommendations of their favorite vests.

Once we narrowed down our options, we put five of the best vests on our list through our regimen of testing. We spent a total of 20 hours wearing the vests and running in all types of weather conditions, including cold, wind, and rain. Each vest was scored on a scale of one to five in the categories of durability and quality of material, fit, the technical benefit for running, warmth, waterproofing, and overall value. These scores were then averaged to calculate an overall average score for each vest.

What to Look for in a Running Vest

Storage 

Storage is one of the main benefits of wearing a vest while running, so you should take into account the vest’s pockets and how much they’ll hold. Pockets are useful for stashing on-the-run items such as your phone, credit card, ID, sports gels, and other nutrition. You can also use them to carry a hat or gloves for when the weather changes during your run. Zippered pockets are preferred to open ones, so you know your stuff won’t fall out as you’re running.

Materials

“Look for vest materials that are synthetic, such as nylon—which is moisture-wicking, breathable, and stretchy,” says running coach Lauren Sheu.

Other good fabrics for running vests include polyester, Lycra elastane, spandex, and nylon. Stay away from vests that are puffy and thick; they cause you to overheat once you start warming up. Don’t run in a vest made of cotton, as it holds moisture and can put you at risk for frostbite or hypothermia.

“You want a vest that is bright so you can be seen by cars on lower visibility days, with some breathability so you don't sweat excessively after you warm-up,” says David Roche, Strava runner and coach at SWAP Running.

Weather Protection

Many running vests are wind- and water-resistant, offering some protection from harsh weather. A hood can also be a nice-to-have feature because it can shield your head from wind, rain, and snow. But for full weather protection, you'll likely want to layer a hardshell jacket over a vest.

Comfort and Fit

A running vest should be comfortable, fit snugly, and allow for a good range of motion. For the right fit, look for a vest with a range of sizes, made of stretchy materials. Some vests may also have an adjustable strap or drawcord to get a more custom fit.

Reflectivity

“It’s nice if a vest has reflective properties for safety if you're running in the dark,” Sheu says. Although you can always wear a vest or armband with reflective elements or lights, it’s convenient when a vest has some built into the design. Look for reflective trim, stripes, or other designs on the front and back.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How should a running vest fit?

    “A running vest should fit snugly without being too tight,” says Sheu. “You also want to be sure that the vest does not rub or move too much, which can cause chafing. Look for vests that have an elastic or draw-cord at the bottom, so you can get a snug fit and keep out the cold and wind.

  • How do I wash a running vest?

    Some vests can be machine-washed and tumble-dried but, like most running apparel, handwashing and air-drying a running vest can help it last longer. To do so: First, empty all the pockets and then shake out and brush off any loose dirt. Fill a sink with lukewarm water and add a tablespoon or so of mild or sports laundry detergent, which is specifically made to remove sweat and odors from sportswear.

    Submerge the vest under the water and swish it around, rubbing and squeezing each section of it. Focus on areas that might be particularly dirty or sweaty, such as under the arms. Rinse the vest with clean water, while squeezing it with both hands. Wring out any excess water and then let the vest air-dry on a hanger.

  • What do you pack in a running vest?

    “It is nice to have a vest that has pockets with zippers so that you can store things like your phone, fuel, or keys during your runs,” Sheu points out. For safety reasons, it’s also smart to have a form of ID on you, as well as a credit card or cash. Other items you may want to bring along are gloves, a hat, and hand warmers, in case the weather turns cold. Hydration running vests have room to stash your water bottle or hold a hydration bladder.

  • What do I wear under a running vest?

    If you’re wearing a running vest for warmth, you’ll want to wear a breathable, sweat-wicking long sleeve base layer underneath. For reflective or racing vests that you might wear in warmer conditions, you may opt for a short-sleeve moisture-wicking layer. Just make sure the vest isn’t rubbing against your bare skin, which may lead to chafing.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Certified running coach and fitness writer Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, has spent years researching, testing, and recommending fitness and athletic products and knows that the right gear can tremendously improve performance and comfort.