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TOP 15 Best Knee Sleeves: Lift More, Recover Faster & Outperform in 2020

Knee sleeves are great for:

  • supporting the knee while lifting heavy
  • improving lift performance
  • keeping knees, joints ligaments and tendons warmed up
  • preventing knee injury
  • healing an existing knee injury
  • minimizing pain from a current knee injury
  • speeding up recovery post workout

With all these benefits it’s no wonder you are looking for a pair of the best knee sleeves.

You are in luck!

I have been digging around, doing some research on knee sleeve and I created this list of the 15 best knee sleeves for each sport or purpose.

Plus…

I included a quick buying guide to knee sleeves so you know what features to look out for before you buy, and an FAQ section that answers all your questions.

Let’s get down to business!

TOP 15 Best Knee Sleeves of 2020

man with knee sleeves picks up barbell

Best Knee Sleeves for Squats

Knee sleeves are a great tool to use to increase your squat numbers a little and protect your knees during a squat.

Knee sleeves are stretched the most at the bottom of the squat and the energy from that stretched compression assists you back up from the bottom of the squat.

The tighter the better!

Tighter knee sleeves work best for squatting. Here are three of my favorite sleeves for squats.

If you want to see more sleeves for squatting, I have a list of the best knee sleeves for squatting here.

Sling Shot Mark Bell Strong Knee Sleeves

Review: These Sling Shot knee sleeves are rated level three, which is the highest rating for strong knee sleeves.

They are nice and thick, at 7mm, and they are really stiff, so they offer a lot of support while doing heavy squats.

They keep your joints and ligaments warm, won’t slide down and they will make you feel secure.

Pros
  • 7 mm thick.
  • Level three compression, very tight, superior compression.
  • Stiff and secure.
  • Gives a “slingshot“ effect to help you back up from out of the squat.
Cons
  • Tend to bunch up and wrinkle behind the knees.
Takeaway

Snug fit and a lot of energy return to help you out of the hole during a squat.

RockTape Assassins Knee Sleeves

RockTape Assassins Knee Sleeves

rogue large button

Review: These Rocktape knee sleeves are designed to give compression in just the right spot, so they stabilize the knee as you squat.

They are also a little longer than others, so the support the quad muscle above the knee. Both these features make them a great choice for weight lifters and functional fitness athletes who squat heavy.

They are manufactured with attention to detail like double Mauser stitching and a dynamic graphic on the front side that sets them apart from others.

PROS
  • Secure double mauser stitching.
  • 5mm thick, longer length.
  • Good compression.
CONS
  • They loosen with wear and need re-adjusting.
TAKEAWAY

These knee sleeves are some of the best knee sleeves for squats. They function great and look good doing it!

ProFitness Knee Sleeve

Review: Looking for bargain-priced knee sleeves for squatting that don’t suck?

These ProFitness knee sleeves look as good as higher-priced sleeves at about half the price.

They have excellent rebound to help you out of the hole and are a hearty 7 mm thick so they are plenty stiff making them great sleeves for squats.

These knee sleeves run true to size. Use the size chart and don’t size up. If you are between sizes, go for the smaller size.

PROS
  • 7mm thick – plenty stiff for squats.
  • Great rebound to help you up as you squat.
  • True to size, not too tight nor loose.
CONS
  • Sleeve is narrow at the top, and can be tight if you have thick quads.
TAKEAWAY

Quality knee sleeves for squatting, at a great price. Best squatting knee sleeves for the money.

Best Knee Sleeves for Weightlifting

Weight lifters and powerlifters know you need knee sleeves that support you as you do weighted lunges, deadlifts, squats and more.

Thick neoprene, longer lengths that cover the lower thigh, patellar and upper calves and a nice tight fit are what you are looking for.

Plus, knee sleeves for weightlifters need to have plenty of rebound to support you as you return back up out of a squat.

Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves

Review: Nordic Lifting sleeves are perfect for weightlifters. They keep joints and tendons warmed up to help prevent injury.

They have pretty high compression and ward off inflammation and keep the knee tracking properly during squats and lifts.

This sleeve returns energy to your lift and keeps your knee well supported as you lift. They are very supportive and the price is not too bad either.

PROS
  • 9 inches long.
  • Strong compression.
  • 7 mm neoprene is strong and relatively stiff stable.
CONS
  • Tend to wear or rip faster than other brands.
TAKEAWAY

Snug, supportive knee sleeves for weightlifters.

Klokov Knee Wraps

Review: These Klokov weight lifting knee straps are a great choice for powerlifters and weightlifters because they were designed by one of their own, who knows the struggles they face lifting heavy.

3.5 meters long with the perfect balance of elastic and tension to stabilize your knee during power lifts, squats, lunges, and other heavy moves.

I love the wrap style because they can be made to cover as much or as little of the knee as you like and can adjust to be as tight as you want and fit your leg and knee, no matter how thick or thin they are.

PROS
  • 8 cm wide and 3.5 foot long elastic wraps w/ Velcro close.
  • Olympic weightlifter, Dmitry Klokov designed.
  • Cotton/polyester/lycra blend is washable and will not retain nasty odors.
  • Adjusts to your ideal level of support, comfort, and size.
CONS
  • Takes longer than sleeves to adjust and place correctly.
TAKEAWAY

Klokov knee sleeves allow you to adjust the tension to where your knees need it!

Stoic Knee Sleeves

Review: My favorite feature is Stoic knee sleeves is the extra length that covers and supports the lower quad, knee and upper calf.

Even though these sleeves are longer, they do not slip. They have a special anti-slip material on the inside that keeps them in place. I will say this though, they can be a challenge to get on!

They have great rebound from the bottom of the squat and are some of the best knee sleeves for powerlifting and weight lifting.

PROS
  • Supportive -7mm thick, dense neoprene with plenty of energy return.
  • 30 cm long for complete coverage.
  • More durable than most, especially at the seams.
CONS
  • Seam down the back can be irritating.
TAKEAWAY

These Stoic sleeves are some of the best knee sleeves for weightlifting due to their length, durability, and great rebound.

Best Knee Sleeves for CrossFit

The best CrossFit knee sleeves stabilize your knee so it tracks properly, helping you improve your lifting form and protect your knees.

If you do CrossFit, you want sleeves that keep your knees warmed up, and also offer good rebound so you feel confident going low during heavy squats and other lifts.

If you have or have had a knee injury, or want to prevent a future knee injury, seriously consider using knee sleeves for lunges, squats, and all other heavy lifts.

Here are three great CrossFit knee sleeves. If you want to see my entire collection of the best CrossFit knee sleeves, check them out here.

Bear KompleX Compression Knee Sleeves

Review: Bear KompleX knee sleeves are popular with the CrossFit crowd – and with good reason. They are comfortable and stylish and are flexible enough to work for a wide range of movements.

You can choose from 3 mm, 5mm or 7 mm to get the level of stiffness you desire, whether you need more flexible support for box jumps and metcon type movements, or you need a stiffer knee sleeve for heavy lifts, bear KompleX has your knees covered.

PROS
  • Available in 5 or 7 mm based on how stiff you like ‘em.
  • Over 11 inches long for complete knee coverage.
  • Available in many styles and colors to individualize your style.
CONS
  • Tend to wear faster than other brands.
TAKEAWAY

A good, affordable knee sleeve that works well for CrossFit.

Rogue Knee Sleeves

Rogue 5MM Knee Sleeve

rogue large button

Review: Rogue takes pride in every product they make, including these American made knee sleeves designed for weight lifting and CrossFit.

These Rogue sleeves are manufactured with carefully thought out materials like the SBR/neoprene blend inner, which is more abrasion resistant and impervious to aging than standard neoprene other brands sleeves are made of.

You will love the natural contour built into the design. The contour prevents the sleeves from bunching up behind your knee as you bend, squat, lunge and jump.

PROS
  • One of the few knee sleeves that are American made.
  • Available in 3, 5 and 7 mm to suit your desired level of stiffness and support.
  • Made from TOP quality SBR/neoprene blend.
  • Stays put, does not roll or slide down.
CONS
  • Runs a little small.
TAKEAWAY

Snug fitting, supportive, contoured knee sleeves for CrossFit that stay in place.

Rehband Knee Sleeve

Review: If you like a longer knee sleeve, go with the classic Rehband 7751 knee sleeve which is Rehbands bestselling sleeve and is nearly 11 inches long.

These knee sleeves have an anatomical, 3D fit, which means their shape is not a straight tube like cheaper knee sleeves, but is contoured to the shape of your knee, thigh and calf, and allows you to bend your knee naturally while still giving you strong support.

These knee sleeves keep your knees warm and well prepared for whatever the WOD has in store for you. They have evenly dispersed compression providing joint stability and better muscle coordination.

PROS
  • Almost 11 inches long, classic, full coverage.
  • Just enough pressure and compression, without being uncomfortable.
  • 3D contour fit conforms to the shape of your knee, thigh and calf.
CONS
  • Runs just a bit too large.
  • Sold as 1 single sleeve, not pairs!
TAKEAWAY

Your only regret will be not purchasing a pair of these classic full coverage Rehbands earlier.

WOD Nation Knee Sleeves

Review: You cannot get a better pair of knee sleeves for the money than these WOD nation sleeves designed for the functional fitness athlete.

These sleeves are flexible enough to allow you to do any WOD, but stiff enough to support and stabilize your knees during heavy lifts.

You can do thrusters, squats, box jumps, lunges, and wall balls comfortably, but if you are rowing or running, they tend to slide down your knee a bit from the repetitive motion.

PROS
  • Cheap in terms of price, not quality
  • The 5mm thick sleeves are pretty stiff and stabilize the knee.
  • Flexible enough to do any CrossFit movement.
CONS
  • Tend to pull apart at the seam and wear faster than more expensive brands.
TAKEAWAY

Good quality CrossFit knee sleeves at a fair price, with the perfect balance between flexibility and support.

Best Knee Sleeves for Running

The best knee sleeves for running are a little different than knee sleeves for lifting, squatting or CrossFit.

If you are nursing a knee injury, running with a bum knee, or want to minimize the chance of knee injury in the first place, consider a pair of running knee sleeves.

Running knee sleeves are different from others!

When you run, you need knee sleeves that are flexible, breathable, made of moisture-wicking fabric, with compression that promotes circulation, but is not too tight. Running knee sleeves should be made with anti-slip material so they do not move and slide as you run.

Weight lifting and CrossFit knee sleeves are too tight, too thick and not flexible enough for running.

I have three great knee sleeves for runners below. If you want more, see my complete list of the best knee sleeves for running here.

TechWare Pro Knee Brace Support

Review: These Techware Pro knee straps are specifically and thoughtfully designed for runners with minor knee injuries.

They have bi-directional straps that creates uniform compression on both sides of the knee, an open kneecap area that creates pressure and stabilizes around but not over the patella, which is quite comfortable and supportive.

These sleeves have an adjustable design, so they will not cut off circulation or restrict your range of motion.

PROS
  • Open patella/kneecap stabilizes patella while running.
  • Bi-directional straps ensure even compression on both sides of the knee.
  • Silicone ant slip stripes on the inner edge to prevent slippage.
  • Velcro adjustable strap, conforms comfortably to your leg circumference.
CONS
  • Velcro tends to lose stickiness after a while.
TAKEAWAY

Great running knee sleeve for injured knees, will not restrict motion and aptly supports patella.

Crucial Compression Knee Sleeve

Review: This knee brace compression sleeve has a not too thick, streamlined fit that will not restrict movement or cut off circulation.

The compression is moderate, not too tight, while still supportive enough to keep the knee cap from moving around.

The compression, thickness and weight of these running knee sleeves is just about right, not too stiff, nor too flimsy.

If you are looking for “just enough” support for running, these sleeves are a great choice.

PROS
  • Silicone grip – stay in place.
  • Breathable and flexible – will not restrict movement or cut off circulation.
  • Compression is not too tight, yet supportive.
CONS
  • Silicone anti-slip dots inside can irritate your skin, especially after a few hours of wear.
TAKEAWAY

These running knee sleeves are made for Goldilocks herself, not too much compression nor too little.

Cambivo 2 Pack Knee Brace

Review: These Cambivo running knee sleeves support runners with minor knee injuries or those who are rehabbing a knee.

They are compression style sleeves that reduce inflammation and minimize movement of the patella, reducing pain. They are not super tight or restricting and allow you to run and bend the knee comfortably.

Be careful and hand wash and air dry these sleeves or the elastic may wear prematurely.

PROS
  • About 10 inches long, complete coverage.
  • Medium to moderate level of compression.
  • Perfect support for running injuries like bursitis, patellar pain and runners knee.
CONS
  • These run a little small/tight, but don’t order a size up, it will not give enough compression.
TAKEAWAY

These running knee sleeves reduce pain and inflammation from injury and allow you to continue to run comfortably.

Best Knee Compression Sleeve

Compression knee sleeves have many beneficial uses.

  • Compression knee sleeves can work to prevent knee injury by keeping your knees warmed up and ready.
  • Compression knee sleeves are great for recovery because they promote blood flow and reduce inflammation or swelling.
  • Compression sleeves can help your body heal a previous knee injury and minimize knee pain.

Compression knee sleeves are more comfortable and flexible than knee sleeves used for heavy lifting. They should not be stiff or tight. Compression knee sleeves are not as thick, structured and supportive as powerlifting or CrossFit knee sleeves.

Here are a few of the best compression knee sleeves out there.

Hookgrip Knee Sleeves 2.0

Hookgrip Knee Sleeves 2.0

rogue large button

Review: Hookgrip knee sleeves are not designed for powerlifting, weightlifting or CrossFit, although they can be used after your workout to recover from these sports, or during your workout to keep your knees warmed up.

These knee sleeves are flexible and are designed to prevent knee injury by keeping your knee joints and tendons warmed up.

They are also great for recovery because the compression they provide helps blood flow in the knee area and works to keep swelling and inflammation down.

PROS
  • Blend of nylon, rubber and spandex for a softer, more comfortable sleeve.
  • Keeps your knees warmed up without restricting movement at all.
  • Great for recovery after a workout.
  • Thinner and a bit shorter than weight lifting knee sleeves.
CONS
  • Tend to slip more than other styles.
TAKEAWAY

Perfect knee sleeves for keeping knees warm and aiding in post workout recovery.

Bear KompleX LITE Knee Sleeves

Review: Bear KompleX LITE knee sleeves are a lighter version of the Bear KompleX original CrossFit sleeves.

They are just 4mm thick and offer moderate compression, but are not as constricting or inflexible as the originals. They are not bulky and are made with anti-slip technology so they won’t slide down.

Like the originals, these have a contoured shape designed to fit the form of your knee, so they will not bunch up in the back or hinder you from bending your knee.

PROS
  • 10 inch length for full knee coverage.
  • Contoured, anatomical shape.
  • Anti-slip technology.
  • Thinner, more comfortable sleeve with a medium level of compression.
CONS
  • Run a little large.
  • Expands or stretches out after extended use.
TAKEAWAY

Minimize pain, maximize recovery and stay warmed up with Bear KompleX LITE knee sleeves.

Buying Guide to the Best Knee Sleeves

man is doing squat exercise with barbell at the gym

What are Knee Sleeves Good for? Do Knee Sleeves Work?

Yes!

Knee sleeves DO work!

There are 6 ways knee sleeves benefit you and help your knees.

  • Knee sleeves stabilize and support the knee during heavy lifting.
  • Knee sleeves provide return energy that can help you lift more or lift more confidently.
  • Knee sleeves can keep joints ligaments and tendons in the knee ready for action, which can prevent injury.
  • Knee sleeves can stabilize the knee and prevent movement so an existing knee injury can heal.
  • Knee sleeves make you more aware of your knee position so you naturally improve form and position, preventing damage or further harming an existing injury.
  • Knee sleeves promote recovery post workout by improving circulation, providing compression that massages tired and sore muscles, and stabilizes the knee so it can rest.

What Factors Should I Consider Before Buying Knee Sleeves?

Before you choose the best knee sleeves for you, keep these 4 simple factors in mind.

Weightlifter wearing lifting shoes

What is Your Purpose for Using Knee Sleeves?

There are several reasons folks use knee sleeves and you should have a good idea of your reason before you start looking for your knee sleeves.

Purpose 1: Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, Squats or CrossFit

If you plan to use the knee sleeves to support you during heavy lifting, Olympic lifting, squatting, lunges and deadlifts, you need stiffer, thicker knee sleeves.

Weightlifting and CrossFit knee sleeves may inhibit your ability to bend your knees, but they can be rolled down between sets, or during metabolic conditioning when you need more flexibility.

Thick, stiff knee sleeves will help you rebound “out of the hole” or from the lowest point of a squat, possibly allowing you to lift more weight.

Purpose 2: Recovery or Injury Prevention

Compression knee sleeves are the best style for post-workout recovery, offer light protection during low impact, light weight workouts and keep your knees warmed up during a workout that involves heavy lifting.

Compression knee sleeves can prevent injury because the simple act of wearing them gives you a subconscious awareness of your knee position and movement, called proprioception that automatically allows your nervous system to detect any aggravation of an existing injury or potential cause of new damage.

Start wearing knee sleeves now!

You may not be in any pain today, or have any soreness, tenderness in your ligaments, tendons, patella or bursa inflammation, but if you start to have discomfort, you will wish you had a pair.

Purpose 3: Knee Support while Running

If you are a runner, you know that knee injury can stop you in your tracks.

Compression style knee sleeves can stabilize the knee to prevent pain, or to minimize paid if you already have it.

A knee sleeve for running should ideally be quite flexible and somewhat thinner than heavy lifting sleeves. Running knee sleeves are also long enough to cover the lower thigh and upper calf, keeping the knee warm and steadying the patella.

The right knee sleeve for running will have you back on the road again in no time.

man running into sunset

How Long Would You Like the Knee Sleeves to be?

Both runners and weight lifters can benefit from longer knee sleeves.

Longer sleeves cover more leg area, increasing the awareness of your movement, and keeping more of the knee and leg area warmed up, and the blood flowing well.

How Stiff or Flexible Should Knee Sleeves be?

That depends.

Knee sleeves for weightlifting, Olympic lifting, powerlifting, CrossFit lifts and any heavy lifting or squatting should be stiff and tight.

Knee sleeves for recovery, running, walking, healing an injury and keeping your legs warm should be lighter, thinner and more flexible.

How Long will These Knee Sleeves Last?

Knee sleeves have a useful life of anywhere from 3 months to 2 years, depending on the brand.

WOD Nation Knee Sleeves may last from 3 to 6 months, whereas Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves can last from 6 months to a year and Rehband or Rogue knee sleeves can last anywhere from 9 months to up to 2 years if you treat them well.

It goes without saying: You get what you pay for!

athlete lifting barbell in gym

What’s the Difference Between 3 mm, 5mm and 7mm Knee Sleeves?

The difference between 3mm, 5mm and 7mm knee sleeves comes down to the thickness and stiffness of the sleeve material.

7mm is generally the thickest knee sleeve you can get.

The thicker the knee sleeve, the more stiff and inflexible it is.

Stiff, inflexible knee sleeves work well for squats and heavy lifts because they provide the most support and stabilization of the knee.

Thicker and stiffer sleeves have more rebound than thinner sleeves, making them better for returning from the low end of a squat.

Thicker Knee Sleeves

Both 5mm and 7mm knee sleeves work for heavy lifting and squats, so it is really a matter of preference as to which ones to choose.

Keep in mind the 7mm thick knee sleeves will feel tighter and firmer.

Thinner Knee Sleeves

Thinner sleeves, like the 3mm sleeves are better for running, recovery and keeping the knee warmed up.

Thinner sleeves are easier to get on and off, more comfortable to wear, and are flexible enough to run in or wear during non-weight bearing CrossFit movements like box jumps.

What Size Compression Sleeve Should I Get?

Be careful when choosing a size for your knee sleeves. Be sure and check the manufacturer’s size chart because they are all different.

Be sure to measure your knee, upper calf, and lower quads before you order a pair of sleeves. Obviously, if you size up, the sleeves will be looser, but they will also not be as supportive.

Most knee sleeves have a little wiggle room, but in my opinion, if you plan to use the sleeves for heavy lifting, size at or below what the size chart recommends.

Hot tip: If your knee sleeves are REALLY tight, put them on before you warm up and start sweating or get the blood flowing in your knees, otherwise they can be near impossible to get on.

You can keep them at your calves, and slide them up over your knees before you start lifting and slide them back down once you are done with the set, if they are uncomfortable to wear for a long time.

Knee Sleeve FAQs

two men lying on CrossFit gym floor beside Olympic barbell

Why use Knee Sleeves for Lifting?

Knee sleeves benefit your knees and your lifting ability in a few ways.

Knee sleeves may allow you to lift a little more because the stiffness and tightness can give you a little lift when you bend your knees.

The tightness also keeps the knee stable and helps you prevent injury as you lift.

Are Knee Sleeves Necessary?

Knee sleeves may not be absolutely necessary, they are smart to have on hand, especially if you are prone to knee injury or pain.

Knee sleeves keep the muscles, tendons and ligaments warmed up and keep the fluid around the knee flowing.

The compression can stabilize the knee and make injury less likely, while giving you the confidence to lift more.

Do Knee Sleeves Help with Arthritis?

Compression knee sleeves may help alleviate pain in your knees that is caused by arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Studies show that knee sleeves help increase functionality, improve performance and reduce pain in those with osteoarthritis (source).

If you suffer from arthritic knee pain, you should consider using knee sleeves. They are easy to use, practical and affordable help for those with knee osteoarthritis.

What is the Difference Between a Knee Brace and a Knee Sleeve?

What is a knee brace?

A knee brace is designed to stabilize the knee after surgery or injury. A knee brace limits movement far more than a sleeve.

Knee braces usually have Velcro straps that allow you to get a tight fit without the need to slide a sleeve up your leg.

A brace may also have other mechanical inclusions like a hinge that prevents lateral, or side to side movement while still allowing you to bend your knee normally.

How is a knee sleeve different from a knee brace?

A knee sleeve is softer and more flexible compared to a brace. A sleeve is designed to slide up over your knee, almost like a sock.

Sleeves are made entirely of fabric like neoprene, nylon, cotton and spandex, with NO added mechanical inclusions.

Knee sleeves support, stabilize and place compression on the knee, but they do not prevent movement to the same extent that a knee brace does.

The Wrap Up

Now that you have seen the best knee sleeves and what the differences are between each style you should have no problem getting the best knee sleeve for you.

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