Get expert shopping advice and top-rated recommendations for the best knee pads that provide extra comfort, knee stability, even protection from falls on hard surfaces.
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If you’ve ever knelt on a hard surface for an extended period of time, you likely know the sheer discomfort and the extreme awkwardness of maneuvering. Knee pads can help solve that issue—and more. The best knee pads protect, support, and comfort your knees and other joints. They can also save you from serious impact injury—and a potential trip to the hospital if you fall or otherwise hit a hard surface like a rock.
You might find shopping for the best knee pads a bit overwhelming. Options abound, from padding materials to different types of fasteners to breathability. Read below for some top-of-the-line knee pads for different activities and choose the one that’s right for you.
- BEST OVERALL: KP Industries Knee Pro Ultraflex III
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ToughBuilt GelFit Rocker Professional Knee Pads
- BEST FOR ROOFING: Dewalt DG5204 Professional Knee Pads
- BEST FOR FLOORING: Knee Pads for Work, Gel Knee Pads Tools By Rexbeti
- BEST FOR GARDENING: NoCry Home and Gardening Knee Pad
- BEST FOR THE HEAT: BESKAR Knee Pads
- BEST FOR THE COLD: Knee Pads For Work By Thunderbolt
Types of Knee Pads
Knee pads are essential protective gear for various tasks at home and at work. Roofers, landscapers, floor fitters, and some athletes are just some of the professionals who regularly wear knee pads. If you garden, scrub your home’s floors, work on your car, or frequently kneel for any other activity, knee pads can ease the pressure on your joints and patellar region, prevent injury, and maximize efficiency. When you shop for a pair of knee pads, consider the environment in which you’ll wear them.
Although multi-purpose knee pads are available—and several may suit your needs—it’s smart to compare products. Small details about knee pads can make a significant difference in your comfort level.
A knee pad’s primary purpose is to protect and stabilize your knee cap, but features to accomplish that goal depend on the job. Knee pads are designed with flexible, hard, or soft caps to suit numerous project and safety concerns.
Consider the different cap types listed below to navigate the various stability and mobility features.
Knee pads with padding caps (soft caps) offer pliable protection composed of foam materials. A padding cap offers comfort and mobility for jobs on smooth or somewhat soft surfaces such as in the garden or on carpeting. Often soft cap knee pads are preferred for around-the-house projects because of their light-weight design and comfort. Padding caps offer the widest point of knee-to-surface contact, so they aren’t ideal for projects that involve a ton of on the ground movement, specifically side to side. But they’re a good choice to limit fatigue that you’d feel from long bouts of continuous kneeling.
Knee pads with shell caps have exterior surface shells, usually made of plastic or carbon fiber, that provide reliable protection and stability. Those working in rough, rugged surfaces, such as on roofs or construction sites, often choose knee pads with shell caps to protect their knees from lacerations and punctures. Hardshell caps are ideal for projects that require mobility because they give you the freedom to move and slide around. They are suitable for most surfaces, but not hardwood floors since shell caps can scratch them. Shell caps come with a variable amount of dense padding for additional support and comfort. Shell cap knee pads usually are held in place with either elastic sleeves or loop straps.
Hex pad knee pads have honeycomb designs that give a more secure fit while delivering maximum mobility and comfort. Hex pads are constructed with foam materials that ensure shock absorption, so many choose to wear them when they play sports such as volleyball, basketball, and weight-lifting. These knee pads also serve as compression devices in rehabilitation therapy. Hex pads are breathable, sweat-wicking, and laundering-friendly. They are primarily designed for athletes, though, so they aren’t what you want for projects that require kneeling for long periods.
What to Consider When You Buy Knee Pads
When choosing the best knee pads, consider which qualities are essential for your project. You want to gauge the right combination of comfort and function, the level of protection needed, and your project’s duration.
While the choices can seem daunting, choosing the best knee pads for you doesn’t need to be complicated when you narrow down the main types noted above. Consider the following ideas to select the best knee pads, because you want to enjoy your project, not merely survive it.
It is important to choose knee pads that fit correctly. If your knee pads are too small, they may restrict your movement and become uncomfortable. If the pads are too big, they may slip and not protect you. You can choose the best fit when you consider the essential elements of your job. If so, you will likely want adjustable straps. To choose the best knee pads, try them on and mimic the movements you plan to make when you wear them. If you’re not able to try on the knee pads before purchasing them, consult the manufacturer’s measurement guides to determine the best fit.
Knee pads are available with various cushioning materials. The most common of which are gel, foam, or rubber. Sport-related activities require impact-resistant padding to prevent injury during falls, while around-the-house projects and some workplace activities warrant padding designed to protect knees when you kneel for long periods.
Thickness of Padding
The thickness, or density, of the pads influences their protective elements and affects mobility. Thicker padding offers comfort during longer durations of kneeling. While roofing professionals and ardent gardeners spend most of their days kneeling, they still need the comfort of thick padding that doesn’t restrict movement. You’ll need to determine if a product that combines thick padding with unlimited mobility on the ground is a priority. If your projects include flooring installation, automotive work, or other work that requires up and down movements, be sure to take that into account.
Not all knee pads are equipped with adjustable straps, because they may not be necessary. Adjustable straps are handy when you wear the pads over different clothing, such as shorts one day and long pants the next. If you plan to frequently kneel and stand up when you wear the knee pads, adjustable straps allow you to tighten them as needed. Many models are designed with straps that are located both above and below the knee.
Straps on knee pads are commonly made from Velcro or elastic, although some straps are plastic or metal fasteners. Velcro increases the range of adjustability but can sometimes be cumbersome to fasten and uncomfortable. Elastic straps offer comfort if you correctly adjust them. Still, elastic stretches over time, so they may need early or frequent replacement. Fasteners provide both fit and longevity but may scratch surfaces or become hot.
Cooling vs. Heating Properties
The knee pad’s material determines if they are best suited for cooler or warmer temperatures. Neoprene soft cap knee pads provide breathability, but thick padding layers act as thermal insulators on cold days.
Our Top Picks
Consider these recommendations for some of the best knee pads available to choose the ones that are right for you and your project.
KP Industries’ Ultraflex III knee pads are highly effective for their combination of hard outer shells and breathable half-inch, interior foam pads. The outer shells protect your body and clothing against rough surface abrasions and stray material lacerations. The inner padding can handle all-day pressure and absorb shock from falls and blunt force. Even construction pros who wear these knee pads brag that they can go from standing to kneeling without worrying about the pads slipping or needing adjustment. The woven strap system is simple to use and won’t bunch behind your knees. Don’t be deceived by the bulky appearance—although the hinged-knee may look cumbersome, they weigh only 14 ounces. These lightweight pads are easy to clean and come with a manufacturer’s warranty.
ToughBuilt GelFit Rocker Professional Knee Pads are safe on various surfaces, so you’ll want to consider them if you work in your garden one day and on your flooring projects the next. The pads feature non-marking heavy-duty poly shields, so you needn’t worry that they will scratch floors, tiles, and other delicate surfaces. The manufacturers of these pads use gel and padding to ensure they are comfortable when you kneel for long periods. These pads’ high sidewalls protect you from twisting your knee. The pads are fitted with Pro EVA elastic leg straps and sturdy buckles that keep them firmly in place—so no endless distraction from the pads slipping and sliding around when you move. The straps are flexible, though, so they won’t cut off your circulation. These pads with abrasion-resistant fabric, rounded design for mobility, and a shatter-resistant plastic.
DEWALT DG5204 Professional Kneepads, with layered gel and neoprene fabric liner, provide excellent comfort and pain-free movement—all day—even when you kneel on rough, hot roofs. Their neoprene liners are breathable and keep you cool, even when shingles heat up during the summer. The pads and heavy-duty latch security clips minimize slips so you can securely move on a variety of surfaces without readjusting the pads. The pads have a lightweight construction, so they don’t feel cumbersome if you climb ladders or straddle beams.
These improved-for-2020 Rexbeti knee pads are an ergonomic blend of function and support for even the most laborious flooring and other projects that require long hours of kneeling. The manufacturer’s upgraded pads now include double-thick gel, high-density foam cushioning, and a non-slip design.
Plus, the PVC exterior shell helps steady you on slick surfaces and protects you and your clothing from stray screws and glass. Plus, these pads protect your flooring from marks and scratches.
Whether you primarily stand or kneel—or do both—the ergonomic design of the adjustable straps keep the knee pads secure, and the reinforced stitching extends the life of the pads. The pads come with a total of four 7-inch extension straps for a wide range of sizing needs.
When planting seeds in your garden, sprucing up planters, or attending to some other green-thumb duties, consider NoCry Home and Gardening Knee Pads. These lightweight, easy-on/easy-off knee pads keep your knees comfortable while you weed, water, and even scrub patio floors. The manufacturer made these gardening knee pads with ergonomic 0.5-inch thick, high-quality EVA foam caps that cushion your knees. These pads are very lightweight and easy to put on and take off, so you can even wear them for yoga and other activities that require fluid movements. Another bonus—the pads are contoured to fit around your knees with a flexible and elastic neoprene strap. That means the pads stay in place without pinching or irritating the backs of your legs.
BESKAR multipurpose knee pads are a great choice when you clean, kneel to play with kids or pets, or take on other kneeling-heavy projects during hot outside days or steamy inside conditions. You can wear these lightweight pads inside or out and the breathable polyester mesh webbing keeps you cool. The soft foam padding stays dry and extra comfortable even in the hottest environments. The pads are minimalistic in design, non-slip, and non-marking on most surfaces. The neoprene strap and plastic clip system is easy to use and secures the pads with no slipping. If the size is a concern, BESKAR’s adjustable straps range from small to XXXXL sizes.
Cold weather is no friend to arthritis and old injuries. Thunderbolt Platinum Pro’s neoprene, ballistic nylon, and PVC construction provide all-day comfort when you work in colder temperatures. Hard surfaces like concrete, tile, and marble lose heat quickly—and when these surfaces make contact with your body, they sap your body heat. For projects like roofing, landscaping, or household maintenance, the Thunderbolt’s durable construction is ideal for various surfaces, including floors and tiles. The pads weigh less than 2 pounds, boast an ergonomic design, and include adjustable straps that keep the knee pads comfortably in place, even over bulky pants and other winterwear. The Thunderbolt knee pads are equipped with an above-the-knee strap that offers extra support for your quadriceps and patellar, too.
The Advantages of Owning Knee Pads
There are quite a few moving parts in your knee, and your knee cap itself has a limited cushion. Knee pads offer you protection and support against strains and tears when you perform activities that could compromise your knee’s structure.
You should wear knee pads anytime you anticipate putting pressure on your knees or when your project calls for protective gear. Here are three reasons why you don’t want to begin a project that includes kneeling without pads:
- Knee pads offer support and comfort during long durations of kneeling.
- Knee pads let you work more efficiently because you can move naturally and quickly.
- Knee pads protect you from injury due to uneven working surfaces and stray materials.
FAQs About Knee Pads
Depending on the type of knee pad you chose for your projects, the pads may be hardly noticeable if you’re wearing a light-weight set, or initially feel a bit awkward if you opted for more support. But the pros of protection from strains and stress definitely outweigh the cons of the slight awkwardness. Here are a few questions you may have as you research the best knee pads for your needs.
Q. How do knee pads work?
Knee pads stabilize and protect your knees when working on hard and uneven surfaces by absorbing pressure—and shock, should you fall unexpectedly.
Q. How do you wear knee pads?
Knee pads can be worn both over pants or with shorts. Depending on the fastening mechanism, you either slide the pads into place or secure them with adjustable straps. Two important considerations are to ensure that the knee pads fit securely and that they will remain in place while changing positions.
Q. How do you wash knee pads?
Always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions, but in most cases, you can use soap and water to hand-wash your knee pads to remove dirt and sweat. It’s advised not to put them into a washing machine, and you should avoid submerging the pads in water unless recommended by the manufacturer. Be sure to allow the pads to air dry before storing to prevent mildewing.