Method putting vest onto shoulders: One needs to purchase a wood dowel made of oak (very strong) 1 ¼ “ in diameter and 36” long. One can then cut in down to a shorter length (mine is cut to 33”). These lengths allow one to do a shoulder press with various grips or it could be cut shorter if prefer a closer grip. Home Depot has a good selection of the oak dowels and will cut it to the desired length. I then sanded the dowel to a very smooth finish and coated with Tung Oil or Watco Oil. These creates dowel that will slide smoothly along the inner surface of the Weight Vest. The technique is as follows: Place the weight vest on a flat bench with the under surface face up. Straddle the bench with the vest in front of you. Slide the dowel side to side under the ridge between the top and second row of the vest. In a short vest it will only have two rows and in a long vest three rows. It works best if more of the weight is loaded in the lower rows. After sliding the dowel beneath the top and second rows buckle the vest upward, lean back slightly, and draw the vest slightly up the abdominal and chest region until one can put the dowel in a shoulder press position. Then press the vest upward until one can slot your head and neck through the opening and then lower to shoulders. Then slide the dowel to the side until it clears the vest.
This method works extremely well for vests without an add-on vest. I have never tried it with an add-on vest but it might work. By dragging the vest slightly up the torso one can lighten the load of the vest making it easier to get a heavy vest into place without assistance. Initially I used just my hands by slotting my thumbs beneath the crease of the top and second row. This is not a good idea as I learned as it will sprain the thumb. The dowel method works superbly without injuring yourself. Just keep your face away from the vest as you press upward.
Method for removing the vest from shoulders: After completing your exercise sit back on the bench. Then grip the front top row of plates and shift over the head and onto the shoulder. Then lean slightly to the side away from the vest and slide down the arm and torso back onto the bench.
Note that the long vests, especially when heavier are quite difficult to put on unless on uses either the above method, some sort of prop or assistance from a training partner. This method works!! It is worth it to spend some time finishing the dowel with sandpaper, including rounding the ends, and then coating with Tung or Watco Oil. It makes the dowel extremely easy to slide beneath the vest without putting wear on the vest.
One final thought: Weighvest.com has been around for decades and all vests are made in Rexburg. The know how to make a vest that will last a lifetime. Their company has my highest recommendation!!