What Is a Running Vest?


Running is one of the most popular outdoor activities, combining fitness and exploration and requiring minimal initial investment. You can run anywhere — in the city or the countryside, on a track or off-road, at any time of the day.

To maximise performance, enjoyment, and comfort, the most important purchase is a good pair of running shoes. Your other clothing should be breathable, lightweight, and flexible. This guide will focus on running and hydration vests. For a deep dive into other running gear, check out The North Face guides to running clothing, winter running essentials and our helpful footwear finder.

What Is a Running Vest?

A running vest is a lightweight, sleeveless top designed to be comfortable and flexible while running. In warm conditions, light vests can be worn by themselves, while in colder weather, insulated vests may be worn over a long-sleeved base layer. Breathable fabrics allow sweat to be wicked away from the skin.

The North Face trail running tops have been designed with off-road adventures in mind, combining sweat-wicking FlashDryTM fabric with featherweight construction for maximum comfort and peak performance.

Choosing a running vest

Choose your running vest based on the type of conditions you are likely to encounter on your run. The vest should be a close fit, as baggy clothing increases the likelihood of chafing. 

Lightweight fabrics avoid carrying extra weight and breathable materials allow air to circulate when you start to sweat. Consider combinations of clothing that will work well together so that you can easily add or remove layers in different conditions.


What is a Hydration Vest?

A hydration vest is a lightweight, small backpack used to carry water on long runs or hikes. Also known as hydration packs or race vests, water can be stored in a bladder with a tube for drinking directly or simply in pockets designed for bottles.

The North Face tank tops and vests have been created in collaboration with athletes to provide durable, lightweight vests ideal for running and training. Innovative fabrics and a range of designs mean that you’ll find something for hard nights on the track or race days on the trail. 

How to Pick a Hydration Vest

Hydration or race vests come in various shapes and sizes and have multiple pockets and features. Consider the following factors to choose the ideal race vest for your needs.

  • Run Length - The longer your run, the more water you will need. Pockets for a small bottle are useful for shorter runs while water bladders are more comfortable for carrying larger volumes on extended runs.

  • Fit - Vests such as The North Face Training Packs are made to fit your body without any gaps or creating any pressure. You shouldn't feel them bounce while you run, nor should they chaff or make you feel uncomfortable while you are moving. 

  • Pockets - In addition to water, you may need pockets for items such as your phone, keys, extra nutrition, sunglasses, etc. These pockets should be located somewhere easy to access, so you don't have to stop running to reach for them.

  • Additional Features - If you plan on running at night, reflectivity is vital to keep you safe. A whistle is useful to alert people that you're coming or signal your distress if you're running in a secluded area. Water-resistant material is ideal if you encounter rain.


Discover your gear

The North Face is proud to equip outdoor adventurers of all kinds, from elite athletes to weekend warriors. Wherever you are on your running journey, we want to use our knowledge, experience and innovation to help you find the right gear. Whether you’re hitting the streets or the trail, our focus is on clothing that performs well under pressure, allowing you to concentrate on enjoying your run.