The 7 Best Knee Pads to Buy in 2018

Stay protected now matter the sport or activity

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Whether you’re an active athlete or you spend long hours kneeling during your job, it’s essential to protect your kneecaps to avoid injury. A good knee pad can help protect your patella and the muscles surrounding it, especially after repeated impact (like when diving for a volleyball or wrestling). They can also help support the knee and avoid collapse due to overextension.

Whatever your reason, a good knee pad is a crucial piece of gear you shouldn’t overlook. Here, we round up the best you can buy today for every sport and every need.

Our Top Picks

Best for Basketball: McDavid Hex Padded Compression Leg Sleeve

A compression sleeve is a great choice for basketball players. Whether you play casually for exercise or competitively in a league, basketball can be rough on your knees—especially during jumps and fast sprints. The McDavid Hex Padded Compression Leg Sleeve is our pick for basketball players: Made from 80 percent nylon and 20 percent Spandex, it features a patented 9mm “Hex” pad that works to reduce shock during collisions. The fabric also reduces moisture and keeps the sleeve odor-free. It’s available in six sizes (youth through adult XXL) and seven different colors.

With over 1,700 five-star reviews on Amazon, the McDavid Hex Leg Sleeve is the preferred choice of everyone from students to athletes to professionals. Owners say it makes the sport much more pleasant for anyone with knee issues (and even if you don’t, it’s a smart way to avoid them down the road), but they suggest measuring carefully to ensure the right fit.

Best for Volleyball: Nike Streak Volleyball Knee Pad

With constant dives and jumps, volleyball is one of the hardest sports on the knees. The Nike Streak Volleyball Knee Pad protects delicate cartilage and muscle from repeated impact. These pads are made from 40 percent polyester, 30 percent rubber, and 30 percent EVA (a thick foam often used in gym mats and protective gear), and come in x-small/small, medium/large, and xx-large/large sizes. With ventilation panels on the back and fabric formulated to wick sweat and reduce moisture, they’re great for both outdoors and indoors. One of the best features of the Nike Streak is its streamlined design, offering optimal protection without any bulk.

Reviewers often use these volleyball knee pads for their school-aged athletes, but they also work well for adults. Just be sure to size up, as owners say they run small.

Best Low Profile: ASICS Ace Low Profile Knee Pad

Though low profile knee pads are great for a variety reasons, they can be extremely useful for anyone who wants more protection at work or during athletic activity without adding a lot of bulk. The Asics Low Profile Knee Pad is another popular choice for volleyball, but its seamless design also makes it easy to wear under pants. Consisting of 43 percent cotton, 33 percent rubber, and 24 percent nylon, the pads are only six inches long. The dual-density padding reduces tension on kneecaps without adding additional strain.

Do note that the Asics Low Profile Knee Pad only comes in one size, fitting up to 13.5 inches around. Amazon reviewers love them for all-day work, as well as exercising at the gym or playing sports.

Best for Wrestling: Cliff Keen The Wraptor 2.0 Lycra Knee Pad

Wrestlers need a knee pad that protects them from hits but doesn’t slip and slide during body-to-body contact, and the Cliff Keen Wraptor Knee Pad does just that. It has a slim, bulk-free design with mesh panels to allow circulation. The padding wraps around the entire knee to provide 360-shock absorption, and reviewers say it successfully avoids slippage during impact. The inside fabric is terry cloth while the outside is a mix of cotton, Spandex, and synthetic rubber.

Owners love that the Cliff Keen knee pad stays secure all day long, with many using them for everything from Jiu-Jitsu to American-style wrestling. If you or your child is on the hunt for a great knee pad that will keep up for an entire match, these are a great option.

Best for Mountain Biking: Fox Racing Launch Pro MTB Knee Guard

Extreme cyclers and mountain bikers put a lot of stress on their knees, both while bouncing and pedaling, and especially when they take a spill. The Fox Racing Launch Pro MTB Knee Guards were made with cyclists in mind, allowing for a full range of motion without getting in the way of pedaling. Made with Neoprene, the Fox knee pads have an elastic top and bottom with a silicone gripper behind the knee to ensure you’re not pulling them up during a long ride. They come in small/medium and large/x-large, but reviewers note they run slightly small.

Amazon critics love that these knee pads are lightweight and breathable, but most importantly that they don’t hinder movement on the road or on the trail. Do note that these pads are sold individually, so you’ll need to buy two for a set.

Best for Work: Brutus Contour Washable Knee Pads

Whether you’re doing hard labor day in and day out or you have a renovation project that requires a lot of kneeling, a worker’s knee pad is the way to go. The Brutus Contour Knee Pad was built with labor in mind, with a velcro easy-on-easy-off strap and a pad that cradles the knee. They work well on any surface, from carpet to hardwood, and help reduce strain and pressure on the kneecaps.

Owners say they’re lightweight and comfortable even when working for hours on end. They do recommend crisscrossing the velcro straps to reduce rubbing, but overall the Brutus Contour Knee Pads are a wonderful choice for any type of work.

Best for Arthritis: McDavid Knee Support Compression Sleeve With Gel Pad Insert

Anyone who suffers from arthritis, bursitis, or tendonitis can benefit from a compression sleeve, and the McDavid Knee Support Sleeve has a gel insert to add additional protection for contact sports. Made from latex-free neoprene, the McDavid pads provide impact absorption and support the knee from collapse while adding compression therapy for injuries. It comes in small, medium, large, and x-large, and owners say the fit is true to size.

Reviewers love the McDavid Knee Support Sleeve for every sport, saying it stays in place no matter how long you’re active. If you’re recovering from an injury or working through arthritis or other knee issues, this knee pad will give you the support you need to stay fit.

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