Introduction: Military Surplus Weighted Conditioning Vest

About: I operate in a perpetual state of dehydration. Water is for plants.
Recently I saw a guy running along the beach with a weighted vest on and decided I needed to do the same thing. Running in a plate carrier with plates when I don't have to gives me a pretty gnarly heat rash.

Later that day while out and around I found a weighted vest and made a secondary decision that I didn't need to spend $50.00 to $120.00 that badly.

This is what I came up with instead, using a MOLLE military load bearing vest/equipment, some magazine pouches, bricks, and sand. I am active duty military and have extra gear sitting around all over the place, however, you can easily find a LBV/LBE at a local surplus store or online. Keep in mind that brand new brand name tacticool gear won't save you any money and some surplus stores attempt to rob you blind.

It took me approximately 2 hours to make and I don't have a store bought vest to compare it to. Personally I prefer the idea of being able to move the weight around on the MOLLE webbing, eliminating hot spots and carrying the weight best for your body. You can also add or take away weight as needed without having to purchase another vest in the next weight range.

Thus far it has worked well.

DISCLAIMER: Listen to your body. Carrying too much weight too quickly will do you no favors. Backs can be very prone to injury during high impact exercises without adding extra weight. I am in no way responsible for any injury/damage resulting from use of this system.

Step 1: Supplies

You will need the following:

MOLLE/PALS Vest - Free for me, can be picked up for $10.00 used
Various MOLLE pouches (I used single and dual magazine pouches) - Free for me, can be found for a couple dollars ea. used.

- Buying either of the above brand new will not save you any money over a store purchased vest. Although you will have the satisfaction of Doing it Yourself.

Bricks - $0.48 ea at Home Depot.
Play Sand - $4.48 for 50lbs at Home Depot.
Ziploc or equivalent Sandwich Bags - $1.00 at Walmart.
100 MPH Tape aka Duct Tape - Already had it, but around $5.00 anywhere you can find it.

My total cost: $8.36

With enough Craigslist/Surplus Store luck everything can be acquired for around $35

Step 2: Weight - Bricks

First I decided on the pouches I was going to use, which for me were both dual and single mag pouches.

I took one of each to the local Home Depot hoping to find bricks to fit in each.

Unfortunately the smallest bricks I could find fit perfectly in the dual mag pouches but nothing for the singles.

This part is really easy:

The bricks can easily be left the way they are, I found they snagged when trying to get them into and out of the pouch so I wrapped them up in duct tape.

I wrapped up six. You can decide for yourself how many you are going to use/need based on your pouch placement/selection.

Step 3: Weight - Sand

As previously mentioned, I didn't find any bricks to put into the single mag pouches so while at the store I decided to adapt the "Ruck Pill" idea that is somewhat known throughout the military and demonstrated here by Imminent Threat Solutions:

With the bag of play sand I poured 2 cups into each Ziploc bag to keep them relatively uniform. I used my dogs food cup to distribute the sand, she eats enough of it playing fetch on the beach and my wife wasn't thrilled with the idea of using her kitchen measuring utensils.

Compress and lock the bags then using duct tape tightly wrap the full bags trying to keep as much of a rectangle shape as possible.

I had a M16/M4 magazine on deck to compare size and made sure the first one fit into the pouch before continuing.

The more you make the more you get the hang of it.

Step 4: Distributing Weight

Once your done wrapping up your weights place the pouches on the vest by weaving the PALS/MOLLE straps alternating through the loops on the vest and pouch itself, finally snapping it into place at the end.

It's like sewing, and is usually just as frustrating.

If the webbing/straps are really stiff like mine are a long pair of needle nose pliers helps pull each section through.

Tactical vests are already designed to evenly distribute load placement (hence the name) with properly placed pouches.

Remember you want to carry most the weight on your shoulders and hips, not with your back itself. You will want to fit the vest tight so the weights aren't bouncing off you while exercising, sometimes it helps to have someone help you adjust the vest straps while you have it on.

Since you're not buying a box at a sporting goods store you can try on the vest in between each configuration and figure out what works best for you.

Step 5: Fin

That's it, your done.

With 4 bricks and 4 "Mag Pills" my vest weighed in at 25 lbs. I have 2 additional of each on standby with more pouches to increase weight as needed.

Get creative, if I figured this out, anyone can. Grenade pouches could be used, tape up a bunch of ball bearings or washers into the size of a baseball and shove them in there. If you happen to have an excess of non-functional rifle magazines, pull the follower/spring mechanisms out and fill them with cement.

The link to ITS website in the "Weights - Sand" step has a pretty good table that suggests weekly weight progression for running.

The vest can be used for a variety of other exercises like walking, lunges, squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and really pretty much anything you can think of. You don't need a gym to get into shape.

I find it is best to eat an apex predator before working out, like shark or bear.