The Most Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to Knee Sleeves

This site is the most comprehensive buyers guide to knee sleeves. If you’re new to knee sleeves or a serious athlete exploring your options, we have the most comprehensive reviews for you.

Our reviews are based on a combination of personal experience and feedback from other users of the knee sleeves.

There are a lot of different brands of knee sleeves to choose from, the sheer volume of recommendations can be overwhelming and confusing.

This guide is intended to be simple and will provide you with a short list of quality knee sleeves depending on what you intend to use them for. This will help you decide which sleeves are right for you based on your situation.

Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to Knee Sleeves- Featured

Since this is a long article, we have included a Table of contents to help you more easily navigate to the points you are most interested in:

Factors to Consider When Shopping for Knee Sleeves

Value for Money

Different people have different needs so the consideration for what is valuable may vary depending on what your goals are.

The value for money is based on the overall merits of a knee sleeve at it’s price point. This may change depending on what stage you are in your fitness journey.

  • Are you recovering from injury?
  • Are you just getting started with fitness?
  • Are you a serious athlete?

The answer to the above questions will help you select which knee sleeves are worth your money and which are not.

Squatting in Nordic knee sleeves

 

Flexibility

Flexibility is a key indicator of how well a sleeve can enhance your performance.

If you are lifting heavy, you will want tight sleeves with less flexibility and more support.

If you are running, cycling or doing MetCon work, you’ll want moderate flexibility and support because too much will restrict your movements.

If you’re recovering you’ll want greater flexibility and very little support.

Heavy lifting require compression and stability so knee sleeves used for heavy lifts tend to restrict fast movements like running, cycling and boot camp activities that require slightly thinner knee sleeves.

Durability

Despite having the same material, a key variable in durability depends on the production quality and standards with how the knee sleeves are put together. Looking at the type of stitching used, and shape of the sleeve can go a long way. Any product that gets used for workouts will have a limited lifespan, but just like you, we prefer products that last longer.

Typically, knee sleeves should last between a year or two with heavy use. Less than that can be really disappointing and pretty much a waste of money.

Wear and tear should also be gradual and only be visible close to a year of use and not within the first few months.

If you encounter unexpected damage to your knee sleeve, that’s probably just a factory defect. This is where the level of customer support becomes a key component. Reputable knee sleeve brands often provide return and replacement instructions on their website and contacting them should be easy.

Squating in pink Workt 5mm

 

Purchasing from questionably cheap no name brands and hoping the knee sleeves doesn’t break is a lot like playing Russian roulette with your time and money.

Finding out whether a pair of knee sleeves is durable or not will require you to go through a combination of trial and error, feedback from peers who are using the sleeve for the same activities you intend to use it and feedback from other users.

Fortunately for you, we have taken the time to provide you with information from gathered from all three sources.

Warmth

A primary benefit of wearing compression gear and knee sleeves is better blood circulation that improves both recovery and performance.

Different athletes have different situations and priorities. Some prefer the extra warmth and some don’t. Warmth often depends on your personal preference and heat sensitivity.

In most of the sleeves that we have reviewed, the thicker sleeves tend to be warmer and the thinner sleeves tend to be cooler.

Take note that this information is still subject to personal preference as some athletes still find the thinnest knee sleeves to be warm and some athletes still find the thickest sleeves to be inadequate.

Comfort

This is a very personal component to picking your sleeve. One person may find a sleeve super comfy, and the next, not so much! The ergonomics of the sleeve is a critical factor to whether you’re happy wearing the sleeve or not.

Believe it or not, being happy about your sleeves is a key factor in excellent performance. Comfort plays the biggest role in this here.

  • Some sleeves look good and make you feel good, allowing you to breeze through workouts effortlessly.
  • Some sleeves are well designed. You wear them and they just work for you.
  • Some sleeves are too short or too long. The traditional path is trying a bunch of sleeves and seeing what works.

Here at RxdSleeves, we’ve put a lot of effort in weeding out poorly designed sleeves and that is a reason why our list is short and only has the best sleeves.

Unfortunately, this aspect of the sleeve also depends on your personal preference, so we recommend that you try a sleeve out and be honest whether a pair of knee sleeves are comfortable for you or not.

slingshot knee sleeves - female squat

Putting the Slingshot knee sleeves to the Overhead squat test

Read more: How to Put on Knee Sleeves Properly – 3 Different Options

The best knee sleeve brands have a return policy. It you are ordering online and they don’t have return option, don’t even bother with them. Most do though.

 

We do our best to indicate in the review, if a pair of knee sleeves are comfortable or not.

This will hopefully save you extra trips to the store and be confident in purchasing your sleeves online.

Compression and Support

The fastest way to determine the level of compression and support is to look at the athletes using them.

Higher amounts of compression and support require higher quality production and materials. That’s why you’ll notice that the cheaper sleeves are used for recovery and light workouts, while the premium sleeves are for CrossFit and Weightlifting.

After going through our reviews, you’ll notice that you’ll recognize your favorite athletes wearing our top picks.

Also read: 5 Best Compression Socks for Edema and Leg Swelling

Choosing the Right Size

Different manufacturers have different size guides. If you don’t have access to a store to try out the sleeves, it’s important to check the manufacturer for their specific size guide.

Many athletes recommend sizing down from your measurements. This is because you usually want the sleeve to be nice and tight for more support. You will also find that after a couple of months, the fabric wears a bit becomes looser with use. A loose sleeve is pointless.

In our reviews, we included manufacturer’s size guide and feedback from other athletes who have used the said sleeve on whether to size up or size down.

Also read: How to Measure for Knee Sleeves – Finding the Right Size and Fit

Knee Sleeves vs. Knee Braces vs. Knee Wraps

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Knee Sleeves provide compression, stability, support and are commonly used in CrossFit, Olympic lifting and thinner ones for running and recovery.
  • Knee Braces are intended for correction and to help recover from injuries.
  • Knee Wraps are intended to assist the performance of powerlifters and general heavy competitive lifting athletes.

We prepared this article to provide you a more detailed explanation about how they compare and when you should or shouldn’t use each type..

Benefits of Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves provide compression, stability and support.

  • Compression, along with warmth, improves blood flow and speed up the recovery.
  • Stability improves the balance of the athlete especially with heavy lifts.
  • Support limits the stress on the knees and distribute the tension between the knees and the sleeves.

There are more benefits and disadvantages to the use of knee sleeves, but these listed above are them main points to consider.

Choosing Thickness of Knee Sleeves

Squating in blue 5mm workt

Knee sleeves come in three different thicknesses and each have a specific purpose. This is a very important factor when choosing the perfect sleeve for you and what you intend to use it for.

  • 3mm – Best for light support and is common among everyday use, running and recovery.
  • 5mm – Provides significant support and enough flexibility and common among CrossFit athletes.
  • 7mm – Most often used for the heaviest weights and common in weightlifting competitions.

Different Kinds of Material

The kind of the material used in the knee sleeves will contribute greatly to your experience with a pair of knee sleeves.

It is also important to note that different brands have different manufacturing standards so you may find that while a higher tier and a lower tier brand may use the same base material. There are several small fractures that contribute to the quality of the sleeves.

Knowing the material helps you determine what to expect from the sleeves.

Neoprene

The most common material for knee sleeves. You will see it in most brands of knee sleeves. You’ll also notice that some brands will try to differentiate by adding the words high quality or high performance or impressive sounding words to the neoprene, in a lot of cases, these are just to make the sleeve appear more marketable.

Nylon and spandex

Common in thinner knee sleeves used for running and recovery. Zensah, one of the well known sleeves for running and uses a combination of nylon and spandex.

Copper-infused sleeves

Steadily gaining in popularity due to copper’s ability to reportedly speed up healing and regenerative process of the body, and its anti-microbial properties. Personally, we like how smell doesn’t build up as much as neoprene. Tommie Copper is an example of a copper infused knee sleeve that we have recently reviewed.

There’s more to quality than the name of the materials used. So in the event that you are unable to physically inspect the sleeves, you can use feedback from others to know what to expect.

Best Knee Sleeves for Squats

Squats are often referred to as the king of all exercises because it targets the hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings and the core.

Common problems with squat movements involve not dropping low enough, knees drifting inward, the body leaning too forward and descending too quickly may lead to sub-par gains or worse injuries that will set your progress to a downward trend.

The knees are the most important joints being used in this movement so it is really important to use quality knee sleeves with heavy lifts.

Here are the top three knee sleeves that we have enjoyed testing and have consistent positive feedback among the other users in the fitness community as far as squatting is concerned.

SBD Knee Sleeves Rehband 7051 Rocktape Knee Caps
sbd apparel knee sleeves rehband 7051 knee sleeves

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rocktape 5mm knee sleeves

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Material High Grade Neoprene Neoprene SBR SBR Neoprene with 4-way Lycra Liner
Thickness 7mm 7 mm 5mm & 7mm
Available Sizes XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL XS, S, M, L, XL
Colors Red and Black Royal Blue Pink Camo, Manifesto, Red
Rating 4.9 4.8/5 4.2
Price USD 90.00/pair USD 40.00/pc USD 60.00/pair
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View More knees sleeves for Squatting here

Best Knee Sleeves for Weightlifting

Weightlifting movements such as squats, snatch, thrusters, deadlifts, clean and jerk employ full use of the knees. Enthusiasts of weight lifting often train with maximum effort to surpass their one rep max.

While knee sleeves is not a  substitute to poor technique or insufficient recovery, it does help prevent injuries by providing support, compression and pain reduction due to lifting heavier weights.

We have selected the best knee sleeves with the maximum support and notable durability. These sleeves are tried and tested not just by our team but by the top weight lifters and athletes. You may often see these knee sleeves make an appearance in competitions, and for good reason.

Please note that the weight lifting knee sleeves offer maximum support and are not ideal for activities that require fast movements such as running, cycling and bootcamp movements.

Rehband 7051 Nordic Knee Sleeves  Slingshot Knee Sleeves
rehband 7051 knee sleeves

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nordic knee sleeves

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sling shot knee sleeves

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Material Neoprene Neoprene Neoprene
Thickness 7 mm 7mm 7mm
Available Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL XS, SM, L, XL, XXL S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colors Royal Blue Black Black,Red, Pink
Rating 4.8/5 4.4/5 4/5
Price USD 40.00/pc USD 50.00/pair USD 65.00/pair
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View More knees sleeves for Oly Lifting

Best Knee Sleeves for Running

Running has a significantly higher risk of injuring the knees compared to CrossFit and other weight lifting regimen.

Running is not bad exactly bad for the knees however poor form and factors like poor genetics, sedentary lifestyle, pre-existing conditions, etc increases the chance of getting injured. Knees can take a lot of abuse with bad running form that’s easy to miss when you’re exhausted or determined to win.

We selected knee sleeves for running that has more flexibility for comfortable runs whether you’re competing or training.

More importantly the running knee sleeves needs to have the right amount of support to help prevent injuries when you go hard on your runs.

Ultra Flex Athletics Zensah Compression Knee Sleeve McDavid 5mm Knee Sleeves
ultra flex athletics knee sleeves zensah knee sleeves

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mc david knee sleeves

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Material Nylon and Lycra blend 75% spandex and 25% nylon Neoprene
Thickness NA NA 5mm
Available Sizes S, M, L S, M, L, XL S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colors Black and Red Beige, Black, Neon Pink, Blue, Grey Black
Rating 4.8/5 4.3/5 3.90/5
Price USD 19.99/pc USD 75.00/pair USD 11.00-30.00/pc
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View More knees sleeves for Running here 

Best Knee Sleeves for Recovery

Knee sleeves intended for recovery enables the athlete to recover comfortably from the strain of high impact sports and workouts.

The knee sleeves provides some compression and reduces the muscle’s vibration and fatigue while increasing the speed of the blood flow through constriction of the blood vessels. This combination results in less pain and swelling.

Feeling good allows the athlete to relax and allows the body better to facilitate recovery. Recovery knee sleeves usually get a bad rap due to incorrect use.

While reputable recovery knee sleeves can be used by recovering athletes to participate in light workouts and active recovery, the full benefit is experienced when worn while resting. Do NOT workout if you have injured knees! Knee sleeves do not cure injuries that require time to heal.

Recovery knee sleeves often offer light to moderate compression and minimal support due to thinness and material and that is the primary design.

It is also important to note that recovery knee sleeves are not intended to compensate for not allowing enough time for the body to recover. Instead, you should wear recovery knee sleeves after workout to make the recovery comfortable.

We have selected the following knee sleeves based on how well they have assisted our team and other athletes in recovery from fatigue and injury.

Zensah Compression Knee Sleeve McDavid Level 1 Knee Support Tommie Copper
zensah knee sleeves

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mc david knee sleeves

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 tommie copper knee sleeves

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Material 75% spandex and 25% nylon Neoprene 57% copper nylon, 29% nylon and 14% spandex
Thickness NA 3.2mm NA
Available Sizes S, M, L, XL S, M, L, XL, XXL S,M,L,XL, XXL, XXXL
Colors Beige, Black, Neon Pink, Blue, Grey Black Black, Cobalt Blue, Slate Grey, Nude, White
Rating 4.3/5 3.96/5 3.90/5
Price USD 24.99/pc USD 16.99/pc USD 29.00/pc
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View more Knee Sleeves for Recovery Purposes here

Best Knee Sleeves for Women

Some knee sleeves are specifically designed for women. According to Rehband they designed their women’s line of knee sleeves to possess both “hot colors that looks as good as support functions.”

Men and women often have different tastes but despite that, it is important to remember that design and flair are second to utility and function.

This selection of knee sleeves for women are hand picked with both in mind. Rocking a pair of knee sleeves that both look good and feel great will allow you to unleash your full girl power.

Rehband 7751 Rx Women’s Support Rehband Knee Support Rocktape Knee Caps
 rehband 7751 knee sleeves

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rehband 7051 knee sleeves

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rocktape 5mm knee sleeves

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Material Neoprene Neoprene SBR Neoprene with 4-way Lycra Liner
Thickness 5mm 5mm 5mm & 7mm
Available Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL XS, S, M, L, XL
Colors Pink, Purple Camo, Turquoise, Green, Black/Pink, Black/Pink Stripes Pink Camo, Manifesto, Red
Rating 4.92/5 4.8/5 4.2
Price USD 42.75/pc USD 75.00/pair USD 60.00/pair
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Best Knee Sleeves for CrossFit

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program used by elite athletes, police, military organizations. It’s emphasis on short constantly varied high intensity functional movement is both punishing and addictive.

Whether you are lifting heavy or fighting to overcome your limits in a MetCon, one thing is consistent, you will be using your legs and bending your knees a lot.

CrossFit is a fitness regimen and a sport where athletes and practitioners are consistently building physical and mental toughness to surpass their limits. That said, we recommend getting adequate rest for optimum performance, the best knee sleeves can help reduce the strain on your knees so you can go give the WOD your all without cutting down your reps.

For CrossFit activities it is important to use knee sleeves that have a good balance of flexibility and support. When you begin to lift heavier, you will benefit from weightlifting specific knee sleeves.

WOD Nation Knee Sleeves Rocktape Knee Caps Rehband 7051
WOD Nation knee sleeves

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rocktape 5mm knee sleeves

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rehband 7051 knee sleeves

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Material Neoprene SBR Neoprene with 4-way Lycra Liner Neoprene
Thickness 5mm 5mm & 7mm 7mm
Available Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL XS, S, M, L, XL XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colors Slate Grey Pink Camo, Manifesto, Red Royal Blue
Rating 4.5/5 4.2/5 4.8/5
Price USD 30.00/pair USD 60.00/pair USD 40.00/pc
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View More Knee Sleeves for Crossfit here

The final say to what you will be buying belongs to you. However, depending on what your goals are, a different pair of knee sleeves will give you a different set of advantages that will help you achieve your goals.

RXD Sleeves is designed with the intention of making your decision making simpler. If you’re considering a pair of knee sleeves to buy and would like our experience on the sleeve, check our reviews.

If you have any requests or questions, feel free to visit the contact page.