CAMPING & HIKING

Best Knee Brace for Hiking: Putting the Proper Support on Your Best Foot

hiking with knee support
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

The knee is one of the most important joints that we have, and it comes under a lot of pressure and a lot of stress on a daily basis, which is why it is also the joint that often times fails us first. This is why we should look for the best knee brace for hiking and other such activities early on.

Having an extra bit of support early on does not just give you a more comfortable experience, it also helps protect and preserve the knee, alleviating a lot of the stress and taking most of the weight off of it. This means that the joint can move freely and efficiently, lubricate itself and even heal if an injury was sustained, without any added hindrances.

Keep in mind that the braces themselves have to work well with the rest of your kit and be able to not only handle the stress and weight that they will come under but also provide the much-needed respite for your knees. Safety is the main concern here and it pays to pay attention.

There are a lot of braces on the market, each and every one of them bringing something different to the table from the rest. It is up to you to look through them and figure out what you need for your knees.

Product NameAvailable SizesLevel of ProtectionTypePrice
EngloS, M, L (14.5 - 22 inches)LightUnisexCheck price on Amazon
ActiveGearXS, S, M, L, XL, XXL (10 - 20 inches)HeavyUnisexCheck price on Amazon
KuangmiS, M, L, XL, XXL (11.4 - 24 inches)MediumUnisexCheck price on Amazon
EzyFitM, L, XL (9 - 24 inches)MediumUnisexCheck price on Amazon
MyBody Dr.S, M, L (14,5 - 22 inches)LightUnisexCheck price on Amazon
TechWare Pro SupportL, XL (14 - 24 inches)HeavyUnisexCheck price on Amazon
Exodus Support ProtectorOne size with special measurementsMediumUnisexCheck price on Amazon
Ace KnittedXL (19.5 - 22 inches)LightUnisexCheck price on Amazon

Things To Consider When Choosing A Knee Brace For Hiking

There are quite a few things that you should first consider before choosing the knee brace that you will hike with.

You will need to take a good look at what kind of outdoor activities you are interested in, how intense they are and how taxing they are on your knees. Then you will have to look at your gear and apparel, keeping in mind that you will have to fit in a knee brace comfortably.

There are different kinds of knee braces out there, some focusing more on support than others while some being designed for as much mobility as possible. Figuring out which one is best for you gets easier when breaking it all down into smaller pieces.

The Grip

Because of the more or less cylindrical shape that these braces have and the fact that they have to cope with all the movements of the knee, more often than not they tend to slide down and off the knee.

That being said, grip and gripping solutions are important when picking out your brace, unless you want to spend a lot of time adjusting your brace and dragging it back up.

There are some that employ silicone strips, some that come with a special interior sleeve and some that sport multiple straps that allow you to adjust how tight you want it and where.

The Range Of Movement

This one is rather simple. In order to figure out which one gives you the most range of movement, simply look carefully at the design of the brace. The less the brace moves around your knee, the better the brace.

Elderly hiker with bandage on knee

If there is exterior stitching that is angled in the shape of a knee, or the padding itself is made into small sectors rather than large chunks, or if it has openings like an open patella, then it will offer a very large range of movement, without much in the way of limitations or restrictions.

The Type Of Brace

This can be interpreted in a lot of ways, however, the vast majority of hikers split them into 3 main categories:

Light Braces

Usually consisting of textile and light fibers, they are very easy to wear with tight fitting clothes and are able to provide enough support for the knees.

The usually focus on the sides of the knee, sometimes around the kneecap, without being able to cover all the sides of the knee in terms of support. They are mostly used in medicine and in light outdoor and day to day activities.

Medium Braces

These are the most common braces on the market, and for good reason. They are able to provide a lot of support, usually supporting the entire joint on all sides, while still being able to blend in with different types of pants.Great for outdoor sports and general outdoor activities.

Heavy Braces

As the name implies, these braces mean business. They are designed to take a lot of punishment and provide as much support as possible to the knee. These braces are usually worn over pants and other such clothing because of their bulky design and are favored by strong athletes and people that practice extreme outdoor sports.

The Best Products On The Market

Hare are some of the products that we have picked out as being among the best on the market.

Englo Knee Sleeves

Englo Knee Sleeves

Price: Approximately $12

Type: Unisex

Dimensions: S (14.5 – 17 in.), M ( 17 – 19.5 in.), L (19.5 – 22 in.)

Specific features: 3D stereo braiding technology, ventilated weaved popliteal design

Best use: General outdoor activities, short hikes

There are not many knee braces out there that are versatile enough to be worn in all situations and under all types of pants. The Englo Knee Sleeve is one of these few braces though, allowing the user to wear it without any kind of problem underneath almost any kind of pants.

With its patented 3D stereo braiding technology, it is able to provide ample amount of support and functionality without employing the same amount of tightness as other braces do. That can be a small negative at times because the brace in of itself will often feel loose and can cause a bit of discomfort in certain situations.

It’s great for people that have inflammation problems in their knees as well as people that suffer from the effects of repeated strain on the lower half of the knee joint. It can also be used while in the great outdoors to give you that extra bit of support and comfort while alleviating some of the pain off of the joint.

All in all, it is a handy and versatile little brace, which will provide you and your knees with the support that you need.

PROS:

  • Easy to wear
  • Allows the skin to breathe
  • Highly elastic

CONS:

  • Not as tight as other braces
  • Can fall down if it is not the exact size as the knee

Related: Englo sports, the manufacturer of the knee brace, also sells the Englo Sports Foot Sleeve which allows hikers to protect their ankles and feet while wearing them as a set with the knee brace.

Check the price on Amazon

ActiveGear Knee Brace

Knee Brace Arthritis

Price: Approximately $20

Type: Unisex

Dimensions: XS (10 – 11.5 in.), S (11.5 – 13.5 in.) M (13.5 – 15 in.), L (15 – 16.5 in.), XL (16.5 – 18 in.), XXL (18 – 20 in.)

Specific features: Heavy duty neoprene fibers, IWF and IPF legal for use in competitions

Best use: Hard and punishing athletic activities, very demanding outdoor activities

This brace is proof that you do not have to sacrifice comfort and style in order to gain extra protection. While this brace is a heavy duty knee support brace, it does not feel like one when wearing it. The user does not feel the weight or the bulk of the brace, but rather the support and compression that it offers.

One thing to note is the fact that the ActiveGear Knee Brace itself sports a more bulky design, which is normal for heavy duty braces, however, it renders it very difficult to wear underneath tight and slim fitting pants.

While it does cover the full range of motion that the knee is capable of, there are certain situations where the user will feel a bit restricted and unable to reach the angle that he or she was aiming for. This is something normal as well for heavy duty braces, however, it is a lot looser and a lot more forgiving than other such braces on the market.

It is especially useful for mountain climbing and agility-intensive sports like wrestling or martial arts, where you need to have a wide range of movement and a lot of support at the same time.

PROS:

  • Heavy duty protection
  • Sturdy
  • Gradual compression

CONS:

  • A more bulky and dense design
  • Can be a bit restrictive in certain situations
  • Difficult to wear with tight pants

Related: The knee braces go well the Calf Compression Sleeves, sold by the same manufacturer, ActiveGear, relaxing your calves and protecting them from muscular stress.

Check the price on Amazon

Kuangmi Knee Brace Compression Sleeve

Kuangmi Knee Brace Compression Sleeve

Price: Approximately $20

Type: Unisex

Dimensions: S (11.4 – 17.3 in.) M (13.3 – 15.7 in.), L (15.7 – 18.1 in.), XL (18.1 – 20.8 in.), XXL (20.8 – 24 in.)

Specific features: Close-knit anti-slip cross edge, professional popliteal FOSSA design, 55% Nylon 45% Spandex fiber ratio

Best use: General outdoor activities, medium intensity athletics

Although a strange brace at first sight, in terms of design and presentation, it is rather popular with the high-performance outdoor athletes. This is because it is designed in such a way that makes it fulfill their needs while at the same time offering them an extra bit of comfort and support.

The Kuangmi Knee Brace Compression Sleeve because of its low profile, it can be worn with a lot of tight fitting outfits and slimming pants, like high-performance cyclist outfits, without having to sacrifice any of its support properties.

Something else to note about this knee brace is the fact that it is able to accommodate a large array of knee sizes, including the more demanding ones. This is because of the way in which it was stitched up.

The downside here is the fact that often times it will not feel as elastic and as versatile as other braces, despite the fact that it actually is, sometimes bordering on excessively constrictive.

One last thing to mention about this brace is the fact that it comes in 3 different models, each with its own level of support, in order to better fit your needs and your lifestyle without forcing you to make compromises.

PROS:

  • Can be worn with tight fitting clothes
  • Can fit a wide array of knee sizes
  • Breathable sweat releasing fabric

CONS:

  • Comes in 3 different models
  • Can feel a bit restrictive at times
  • Not as elastic as other braces on the market

Related: Kuangmi also makes it possible for users to purchase the Kuangmi Ankle Brace, making it easy to protect the ankle and keep it out of harm’s way.

Check the price on Amazon

EzyFit Knee Brace

EzyFit Knee Brace

Price: Approximately $25

Type: Unisex

Dimensions: M (9 – 14 in.), L (14 – 17 in.), XL (16 – 24 in.)

Specific features: Non-slip silicon strips, open patella design, triple strap bracing system

Best use: Physical recovery, general outdoor activities

The first thing you will notice right off the bat with the EzyFit Knee Brace is the fact that it has an open patella design, meaning that the kneecap is exposed. While it is not an unusual design for a knee brace, it is unusual on medium grade ones.

It was this open patella design combined with the rather light design of the brace that made it a roaring success in the medical area, more specifically physical recovery and treatment.

Although it is a great brace to have while recovering from an injury, it is also a great brace to have in order to prevent such an injury in the first place. It makes for a great brace to wear while in the great outdoors too, especially when it comes to long slow hikes that require you to lug your gear around.

The reason behind that being the fact that it is able to take a lot of the cumulative body weight off the actual knee and divert it around it, thus sparing you of joint pains and sores. All in all, it is a great piece of kit to have and to use preventively, making sure that you don’t batter your knee.

PROS:

  • Hardly ever slips off
  • Open patella design
  • Offers support on all sides of the knee

CONS:

  • Can cause light chafing when used in heavy athletic activities
  • Can be difficult to clean

Related: Ezyfit also makes it easy for users to purchase the EzyFit Ankle Support Brace, which helps brace and protect the ankle along with the knee.

Check the price on Amazon

MyBody Dr. Knee Sleeve

MyBody Dr. Knee Sleeve

Price: Approximately $14

Type: Unisex

Dimensions: S (14.5 – 17 in.), M (17 – 19.5 in.), L (19.5 – 22 in.)

Specific features: Antibacterial substance coating, textile fibers, bamboo fibers and charcoal particles weaved in

Best use: Light athletic activities, general outdoor activities

More is not always better, this is particularly true when it comes to supporting braces and joint protection because you risk over-encumbering it and lowering mobility.

This is not an issue with the MyBody Dr. Knee Sleeve though, mainly because it is lightweight and sporting a light design. This makes this little brace incredibly easy to wear with tight fitting clothes and slimming pants, while at the same time doing your favorite activities without having to worry about the health of your knee.

The brace has a couple of support stabilizers on the sides which, when combines with the light and elastic knitting of the brace, provide the user with more than enough support in order to perform his or her daily activities.

It also shines in the great outdoors, especially when it comes to light athletic activities, being able to support the knee without having to keep it stiff.

Although it is a lightweight brace and it is comfortable and breezy, there can be cases, especially when dealing with excess sweating, in which minor chafing can occur. This happens usually at the back of the knee and it is hardly noticeable, however, the user should keep an eye out for it regardless.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Very easy to wear
  • Antibacterial protection
  • Easy to wash and maintain

CONS:

  • Does not handle intense activity
  • Can cause minor chafing when dealing with large amounts of sweat
  • Can be difficult to wear on hot days

Related: It is often times recommended to use the Ostaflex Joint Support Supplement alongside this and any other brace in order to strengthen the joint and help keep it lubricated and safe.

Check the price on Amazon

TechWare Pro Knee Brace Support

TechWare Pro Knee Brace Support

Price: Approximately $26

Type: Unisex

Dimensions: L (14 – 19 in.),  XL (19 – 24 in.)

Specific features: Neoprene fiber body, reinforced stitching, four spring stabilizing coils around the open patella

Best use: Intense and demanding athletic activities, heavy lifting, long hikes over rough terrain, demanding and punishing outdoor activities

While most of us try and go as light as possible or as comfortable as possible, sometimes we just have to go all out heavy. Such is the case with TechWare Pro Knee Brace Support, which was built for all out heavy support and protection.

Great for weightlifters, mountain climbers, parkour enthusiasts and veteran hikers, because of the enormous amount of support that it is able to provide, especially around sensitive and fragile areas of the knee.

It sports an open patella design, which is common with heavy duty joint braces, however on the inside of the brace, around the open patella, the brace packs a few support springs. These springs essentially act as backup tendons, shifting the weight off of the knee and onto themselves.

The sides are reinforced as well with strong stitching and a dense weave, packed under the straps themselves, making the brace capable of providing the knee with lateral support as well. This ensures that the knee gets as much support as possible from all sides, without having to compromise the mobility and overall safety of the brace itself.

All in all, this is a great brace to have if you plan to take on physically demanding activities.

PROS:

  • Heavy Duty protection
  • Stabilizing springs around the patella
  • Non-slip silicone strips

CONS:

  • Rather uncomfortable to wear underneath clothing
  • Can be difficult to clean

Related: The manufacturer also makes it possible for the users to purchase the TechWare Pro Tennis Elbow Brace which helps by supporting the elbow and relieving any pain or stress that is put on it.

Check the price on Amazon

Exous Knee Brace Support Protector

Exous Knee Brace Support Protector

Price: Approximately $30

Type: Unisex

Dimensions: One size with special measurements: 20 in. max above the knee, 13 in. min knee circumference, 16.5 in. max calf size

Specific features: 62% neoprene 20% polyester 17% nylon 1% spandex fiber weave, anti-slip internal design, interior elastic sleeve

Best use: General athletic activities, general outdoor activities

Medium protection braces are among the most popular, especially with hikers and outdoorsmen, and this one is no exception.

While Exous Knee Brace Support Protector it is among the very few medium protection braces out there that sport an open patella design, the actual opening is larger than in most other braces with this design.

The reason for that being the fact that this brace has to account for nearly all kinds of knees and kneecaps due to the design limitations imposed on it. The Exous has a more one size fits all approach, with a strict set of measurements posted in order to help the user figure out it is a good fit for him.

That is not to say that it is a bad brace, on the contrary, it is one of the best because of the fact that it is able to provide a lot of support and comfort on both the outside and the inside of the knee joint.

As long as the kneecap can fit through the opening in the front of the brace, the actual bodyweight pressure is taken off of the join and placed on the brace itself, giving the knee ample time to heal and recover.

PROS:

  • Interior sleeve to protect from rashes and irritation
  • Extra-thick edge tabs
  • Strong stitching

CONS:

  • One size with strict measurements
  • Can cause mild discomfort when worn underneath long pants

Related: Exodus also sell the Tennis & Golfers Elbow Strap which is designed to take any pressure off of the elbow and relieve any joint or muscle pain.

Check the price on Amazon

Ace Knitted Knee Brace

Ace Knitted Knee Brace

Price: Approximately $13

Type: Unisex

Dimensions: XL (19.5 – 22 in.)

Specific features: Flexible metal side stabilizers, lightweight knitted material

Best use: Light athletic activities, general outdoor activities

The Ace Knitted Knee Brace focuses mostly on the day to day activities of the user as well as a few light general outdoor activities. Often times the most recommended by doctors, this nifty little brace sports one of the lightest designs out there with a knitted body and enough elasticity to support the vital areas of the joint.

The main support does not come from its body though, it comes actually from the 2 flexible metal side stabilizers that it packs in its lateral grooves.

While the most popular approach, especially with heavy and medium braces, is the full joint one, this one focuses on the lateral in order to help the knee hold a proper position and alleviate the pressure off of it.

Because of the lightweight design, it can be worn under any kind of pants, regardless of how tight or slimming they are. It can also be worn throughout the day, from dawn to dusk, without causing the user to experience any discomfort.

The only small drawbacks that this brace has is with the metal stabilizers on its side, which can cause a couple of issues with some more demanding movements that tend to add a lot of pressure.

PROS:

  • Very easy to wear
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight with no constrictions

CONS:

  • Metal side stabilizers can cause a few comfort issues from time to time
  • Cannot handle heavy lifting or strenuous activity

Related: Another product that is frequently bought alongside the knee brace is the Ace Deluxe Ankle Stabilizer which helps protect and alleviate stress off of the ankle.

Check the price on Amazon

In conclusion

While it can be a bit of a hassle, finding the right knee brace can be very rewarding. No more joint pains, a slow and steady healing process, and being able to enjoy your favorite activities without being worried about their impact on your knees.

This can all be achieved with a clear head, time to look through what the market has to offer and a clear idea of what are the needs that you want to address.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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