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How to choose a trail running vest

March 30, 2022

How to choose a trail running vest

By Kirsten 

Running season is well and truly upon us! And while training for your next race may seem daunting, buying a running vest can often seem like an equally daunting prospect. There are so many brands on the market, different sizes, different features and price tags that make you wonder if they do the running for you. To try and make the process a little simpler we have listed some key things to consider when buying your first vest, a new vest or another vest!

What are you using your running vest for?

Everyone runs for different reasons. Whether it’s short weekly runs on local trails, occasional local events, longer runs such as a 50-100km (or even a miler!) or maybe overnight Fastpacks are more your style.

Whatever your reason for running it is worth considering what your future goals might include, ensuring you get the right running pack to meet your requirements. Trail races often require you to carry mandatory gear and the amount of gear required can increase along with the distance you are running. Depending on your use there is sure to be a vest to suit your needs:

·      Everyday use just to carry your keys, phone and water? Consider something smaller such as the
Dynafit Vert 3 vest
Grivel Mountain Runner Light
Osprey Duro/Dyna 6
Salomon Sense Pro 5 
These are all 3-5 litre capacity.

·      Maybe an occasional local event or a long-distance weekend run where you might also want to carry some additional clothing or food? Consider the
Dynafit Alpine 9
La Sportiva Sky Vest
Salomon Sense Pro 10
These are all 8-10 litre capacity.

·      Looking to really test yourself with a longer event? You will need additional space to fit all the mandatory gear so something like the
Ultimate Direction Mountain or Ultra Vest
Dynafit Enduro 9
Salomon Advanced Skin 12 
These are all 9-12 litre capacity.

·      Maybe you’re keen to do some overnight runs into some more remote areas? Check out the Ultimate Direction Fastpack range.

Trail running vest

How should my trail running vest fit?

The way your trail running vest fits can make or break your run. Too big and you risk bouncing and pressure points, too small and you risk rubbing and discomfort. You want to make sure to get a comfortable fit so you have enough room under your arms to avoid friction and enough room through the front of the vest when it is full (think about this if you try the vest on empty).

A lot of vests now have women’s specific models, the main differences are the placement of the bottles, the shape of the bottles and the shape of the front vest straps. Keep in mind that the unisex version may still be a better fit for you.

Salomon Active Skin 8 Comparison

Trail Running vest fit comparison

What vest features do you want?

There are lots of different features available across the different brands of vests and some might be more important to you than others trail runners.

Flasks vs Hydration Bladder

Almost all running hydration vests will be flask compatible but depending on the shape of the flask pouch, not all brands of flasks will fit all vests. Most vests will be reservoir compatible however very few will come with a hydration reservoir so make sure whichever reservoir you want to use with your vest will fit.

Rigid or Soft

Some vests are soft and elastic, so they wrap around your body like an extra layer. Because this type of vest is designed to stretch and move with you, they often don’t have a lot of adjustment points. Other vests might be a little more rigid with boning down the front. Having this rigidity may mean they feel a little stiffer when they are on, but they will have more adjustability.

Zip pockets or stuff pockets

Being able to easily access your gear is one of the most important features of your vest. Some vests will have elastic stretch stash pockets while others might have zippered pockets. It’s worth trying some vests on to make sure you can access all the stash pockets without removing your running vest.


If you use poles ensure your vest has adequate attachment points for you to stash your poles when not using them. 

If you need any advice on choosing which trail running vest is right for you we are here to help.

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