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There aren't many mental health aids out there that offer you results without you having to roll the dice on potential side effects of medications, supplements and the like. So when I learned a brand called Pyvot was launching a brand of weighted vests and jackets, designed to offer the mental health benefits of weighted blankets in an on-the-go fashion, I was interested. I was even more into the idea when the pieces ended up looking sleeker than what I had imagined for a vest designed to weigh down your anxiety.
Vanity aside, weighted vests and jackets offer some serious calming and grounding benefits in a functional, everyday-wear type of way. (You're totally free to bring a weighted blanket to the office, on your commute or on a walk, though it might be a little more challenging.) For the dog-owners out there, they're basically Thundershirts for humans.
Below, we review some of Pyvot's pieces, which launched this week. We also get into what weighted vests, jackets or any other type of weighted apparel can do for your mental health and general well-being.
The benefits of weighted apparel
We've listed the best weighted blankets and have written about how they might ease some people's anxiety, be good fits for people with autism spectrum disorder and more. But how do weighted vests and jackets that stay glued to your body compare?
Sanam Hafeez is a neuropsychologist based in New York. She says that the benefit to trying a weighted anything – blanket, vest or jacket – is that they apply pressure that has the ability to help some people with sensory issues, anxiety or other mental health concerns or conditions.
"The idea really isn't that it's a blanket or a vest," Hafeez said. "The idea is that weight can stimulate pressure points, and in turn decrease anxiety, depression, ADHD, sensory issues." Hafeez said that while weighted apparel has been shown to decrease cortisol or produce serotonin in some people, whether it will work for you is simply a matter of trying it out.
What's more, weighted clothing may help people who never fully developed their proprioceptive abilities, an ability to sense our body's movement and the world around it, that Hafeez describes as riding in a really fast car.
"We're in a car, and the car's moving really fast," she said. "Even though it may be bouncing or shaking, the things outside still seem stable to you." Some people never fully develop this ability, and weighted materials may help. Also, while a feeling of constant restlessness could be due to executive dysfunction, seen in people with ADHD, for example, "a lot of it is the body's need to move around or not know what to do with themselves," Hafeez said.
Note: Hafeez wasn't involved in the review process for any of the items below, and doesn't endorse any product listed in this article.
Pyvot's weighted vests
All of Pyvot's clothing are weighed down with glass micro-pearls dispersed evenly, which give all the clothing a beanie baby feel. Pyvot also says its fabric is water-resistant, but I didn't test this.
None of the gear I tried felt particularly heavy – the women's style vests start at 4.5 pounds for size extra small, and go up a half pound per size, with an extra large weighing 6.5 pounds. Men's sizes start at size small (5.5 pounds) and go up to size XXL (7.5 pounds).
Pyvot markets two types of vests for men, and three types of vests for women. I tried the Spark vest, which is designed for more "active" activities, like jogging, and the Verve cap sleeve vest, which Pyvot says is for more casual wear.
Verve cap sleeve vest
I will start with a high note and say this was my favorite thing I tried from Pyvot. By accident, I chose the vest one size smaller than I typically wear, and that turned out to be to my benefit because I liked the snugger pressure it offered. Also, because it's a vest, I didn't have to worry about the sleeves being too short by going one size smaller. The vest is a really simple design: snap buttons, and a diamond quilted design throughout.
Now for the calming benefits: This vest gave me a subtle grounded feeling and caused me to move around less through an even pressure on my shoulders, lower back and chest. I'm a really fidgety person, and my frequent trips to the pencil sharpener as an excuse to get up and move around when I was a kid have been replaced by a need to pace while brainstorming or thinking, or simply squirm around in my chair.
To help calm down and slow down, I do short yoga or stretching routines at least once a day, and try to practice mindfulness with deep breathing exercises. And to my surprise, wearing this vest while simply sitting down gave me a similar – albeit smaller – calming benefit. But bonus points for requiring zero effort besides snapping on a vest.
I didn't love this vest quite as much as the Verve, or get the exact same calming benefit, but it might be because this one was a slightly looser fit (I got the size I normally wear). It could also be because this vest doesn't have weight on the shoulders like the Verve. But the Spark is designed for people on the move, and it has a stretchy, thin material on the sides. Weight or no weight, this is a comfortable vest to wear.
I didn't go running in this vest, because I've never run with weights before, so I didn't know what to compare it to. But having no weight on the shoulders would free you up for more arm movements, if you do like exercising with a little extra weight.
Both the Verve and Spark vests are $245 – definitely not cheap. Pyvot also has a vest called the Focus (for women) and Journey (for men) that are similar to the Spark but advertised as an "all-around-town" garment. Those are the same price.
Pyvot has a weighted Revolution jacket marketed towards women and a twin Output jacket for men. Both are $295 and have hoods that aren't weighted, which is a nice touch when you're heading out in fall or spring weather. Strictly style-wise, the jacket was my favorite because it looked like a nice spring jacket I'd keep in my closet and either dress up or down and also wear exercising.
The weight in the Revolution jacket is on the shoulders, the back and the chest, with weightless sleeves and a weightless hood. I enjoyed wearing this jacket and did feel more calm and balanced wearing it, but not to the same extent of the first vest I tried. This tells me I do like a snugger fit in my weighted apparel, and I'd probably like this jacket even more in a smaller size. However, the sleeve length and overall fit might be a gamble when sizing down for a jacket.
All in all, I like this jacket and while it's the most expensive item in Pyvot's line-up, it's a good quality coat for spring and fall with an added calming effect. If you're in need of both those things, I'd say it's worth the money. Again, people like me who enjoy a slightly tighter feeling when using a weighted blanket or anything else might also be better off going in smaller in size as opposed to larger.
Pyvot's Swirl Scarf is a "closed loop" type of scarf that's designed to be wrapped, and it's made from the same comfortable material as the outside of its vests and jackets. It's also the cheapest piece in the catalog at $65. I was intrigued by the idea of a weighted scarf because I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the extra weight hanging around my neck.
I didn't end up getting any benefit from wearing the scarf around my shoulders or around my neck – it felt like it moved around too much and put too much weight in front of me, as opposed to the even, all-around pressure of the weighted vests and jackets. However, once I tried draping the scarf around my middle, it was a total game-changer.
By setting the scarf directly on my hips and letting the weight drop forward, it put an even pressure on my lower back and corrected my posture – which I didn't realize needed correcting. Although this probably wasn't how the scarf was designed to work, and the lower-back method will only work when you're sitting down (preferably with your feet flat on the floor so your spine is better-aligned), I would still consider buying this scarf just for its posture-correcting and "grounding" properties (unless I could find a similar product at a cheaper price). However, if your back is already perfectly straight while sitting, or you don't like feeling pressure on your lower back, this method probably won't do it for you. It's also possible that it won't fit quite as comfortably on people who have very narrow hips.
I enjoyed trying Pyvot's line-up and will absolutely be wearing some sort of weighted apparel in the near future. While it's possible some of the benefits I got could be a placebo effect – maybe my hopes were so high I'd feel calmer or less fidgety I pulled it out of thin air – the subtle soothing feelings I felt were real. And while Pyvot has two distinct lines made for men and women (and I only tried a few items marketed towards women) there aren't big differences in the look of the clothes and it's possible you'll find a more comfortable size in the other line, depending on your preferences.
For a limited time (it's not clear how long), Pyvot is offering free shipping and free returns on orders over $100 – everything in this review except the scarf. So if you think there's a chance you'll benefit from a weighted jacket and have the $100 to $300 to spend right now, it's definitely worth a try.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.