Anyone who has ever knelt on a hard surface will likely know the sheer discomfort and the extreme awkwardness of maneuvering. Comfortable knee pads can help solve that issue—and more. Whether users are planning to kneel for 30 minutes or 3 hours, the best knee pads feature protection, support, and comfort for knees and other joints. They can also save wearers from serious impact injury—and a potential trip to the hospital after a fall or hitting a hard surface like a rock.
Shoppers might find their search for the best knee pads a bit overwhelming. Options abound, from padding materials to different types of fasteners to breathability. Read below for some of the highest-rated knee pads for various activities and choose the most suitable option.
- BEST OVERALL: Sellstrom Hybrid Ultra Flex III KneePro Knee Pads
- RUNNER-UP: Prolock Impact-Absorbing Gel Knee Pads Plus
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ToughBuilt GelFit Rocker Professional Knee Pads
- BEST FOR FLOORING: Rexbeti Construction Gel Knee Pads
- BEST FOR GARDENING: NoCry Home & Gardening Knee Pads
- BEST FOR ROOFING: DeWalt Custom Leathercraft Professional Kneepads
- BEST FOR THE HEAT: Bodyprox Thick Sponge Anti-Slip Protective Knee Pads
- BEST FOR THE COLD: Thunderbolt Cushioned Knee Pads
Types of Knee Pads
Knee pads are essential protective gear for various tasks at home and work. Roofers, landscapers, floor fitters, and athletes are just some of the professionals who may regularly wear knee pads. Whether users are gardening, scrubbing a home’s floors, working on a car, or frequently kneeling for any other activity, knee pads can ease the pressure on the joints and patellar region, prevent injury, and maximize efficiency. When shopping for a pair of knee pads, consider the environment in which they will be worn.
Although multipurpose knee pads are available—and several may suit a shopper’s needs—it’s smart to compare products. Small details about knee pads can make a significant difference in comfort level.
A knee pad’s primary purpose is to protect and stabilize the kneecap, 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 lightweight 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 felt 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 on 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. Hard-shell caps are ideal for projects that require mobility because they give 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 provide 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, so they aren’t ideal for projects requiring kneeling for long periods.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Knee Pads
When choosing the best knee pads, consider which qualities are essential for the project. Shoppers will want to gauge the right combination of comfort and function, the level of protection needed, and the project’s duration.
While the choices can seem daunting, choosing the best knee pads doesn’t need to be complicated when narrowing down the main types noted above. Consider the following ideas to select the best knee pads, because the goal should be to enjoy a project, not merely survive it.
It is important to choose knee pads that fit correctly. If the knee pads are too small, they may restrict movement and become uncomfortable. If the pads are too big, they may slip and not offer protection. Choose the best fit when considering the essential elements of the job. A likely feature will be adjustable straps. To choose the best knee pads, try them on and mimic the movements that are likely to be made when wearing them. If trying on the knee pads before purchasing them is not an option, consult the manufacturer’s measurement guides to determine the best fit.
Cushioning Material and Thickness
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 kneeling for long periods.
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. Shoppers must determine if a product that combines thick padding with unlimited mobility on the ground is a priority. If a project includes 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 wearing the pads over different clothing, such as shorts one day and long pants the next. If shoppers are planning to kneel frequently and stand up when wearing the knee pads, adjustable straps allow them to be tightened 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 correctly adjusted. 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
Those who often work outdoors in hot or cold climates may prefer more breathable knee pads made from woven fabrics that allow airflow around the knees while also providing padded support. Some hard-shell knee pads can lack this breathability and lead to a buildup of sweat, which can occur when wearing knee pads for extended periods. Shoppers looking for the durability of hard-shell caps will want to make sure to look at the fabric components of the knee pads to ensure that they offer the required breathability.
Some materials are also better suited for cooler or warmer temperatures. For example, neoprene soft-cap knee pads provide breathability, but thick padding layers act as thermal insulators on cold days.
Our Top Picks
Consider some of the most highly rated knee pads to choose the ones that are right for the project at hand.
Sellstrom’s Ultra Flex III knee pads receive top ratings for their combination of hard outer shells and breathable half-inch interior foam pads. The outer shells protect the 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 the knees. Don’t be deceived by the bulky appearance—although the hinged knee may look cumbersome, the knee pads weigh only 9 ounces each. These lightweight pads are easy to clean and come with a manufacturer’s warranty.
- Type: Shell caps
- Material: Foam and plastic
- Additional features: Built-in gel pack, adjustable Velcro strap
- Articulating hinge helps keep it in place
- Thick foam and gel insert for comfort
- Adjustable straps fit most people
- Hard plastic shell can slide on slick surfaces
Get the Sellstrom knee pads on Amazon.
Prolock Impact-Absorbing Gel Knee Pads Plus are durable and shock-resistant yet lightweight for all-day comfort in any environment. The polyethylene outer shell protects wearers from abrasions and lacerations. Plus, they are nonslip on materials such as shingles, tiles, and tarps. The ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam works to distribute the body’s weight and keep the knees stable within the pads—no rolling sideways.
Another major bonus is that they offer the sheer comfort factor of the compression gel. The fully adjustable straps are a comfortable fit for leg circumferences that range from 12.5 inches to 29 inches. The straps are made from a combination of elastic and neoprene materials that keep the straps secure but don’t pinch. A surprise perk is the built-in pencil/ruler holder for tool storage.
- Type: Shell caps
- Material: Polyethylene shell, polyester lining
- Additional features: Adjustable straps, impact-absorbing gel
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Thigh and calf straps for added support
- Good weight distribution away from user’s knee
- May be too large for smaller users
Get the Prolock knee pads on Amazon or at Lowe’s.
ToughBuilt GelFit Rocker Professional Knee Pads are safe on various surfaces and worth considering if working in the garden one day and on flooring projects the next. The pads feature nonmarking heavy-duty poly shields so wearers 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 kneeling for long periods. These pads’ high sidewalls protect wearers from twisting their knees.
The pads are fitted with 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 moving. The straps are flexible, though, so they won’t cut off circulation. They feature abrasion-resistant fabric, rounded design for mobility, and shatter-resistant plastic.
- Type: Shell caps
- Material: Plastic shell, fabric interior with foam and gel support
- Additional features: Interchangeable SnapShells
- Outer shells snap on and off
- Great for side-to-side movement
- Elastic straps lack adjustability
Get the ToughBuilt knee pads at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
These 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 nonslip design.
Plus, the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) exterior shell helps steady wearers on slick surfaces and protects them and their clothing from stray screws and glass. These pads protect flooring from marks and scratches as well.
Whether wearers are primarily standing or kneeling—or 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.
- Type: Shell caps
- Material: PVC shell, foam cushion with gel
- Additional features: Extra strap for larger users
- Easy to put on
- Made from durable materials
- Excellent cushioning, very comfortable
- Ideal for uneven surfaces
- Pad can roll to the side during use
Get the Rexbeti knee pads on Amazon.
Whether shoppers want to plant seeds in the garden or spruce up planters, consider NoCry Home & Gardening Knee Pads. These lightweight, easy-on/easy-off knee pads keep knees comfortable while weeding, watering, and even scrubbing patio floors. The manufacturer makes these knee pads with ergonomic 0.5-inch thick high-quality EVA foam caps that cushion the knees. These pads are very lightweight and easy to put on and take off, so they can even be worn for yoga and other activities that require fluid movements. Another bonus—the pads are contoured to fit around the knees with a flexible and elastic neoprene strap. That means the pads stay in place without pinching or irritating the backs of the legs.
- Type: Padding caps
- Material: EVA
- Additional features: Adjustable strap
- Great for tighter budgets
- Available in multiple colors
- Waterproof and easy to clean
- Not suitable for heavy-duty activities
Get the NoCry knee pads on Amazon.
The DeWalt Custom Leathercraft Professional knee pads with layered gel and neoprene fabric liner provide excellent comfort and pain-free movement—all day—even when kneeling on rough, hot roofs. Their neoprene liners are breathable and keep wearers cool, even when shingles heat up during the summer.
The pads and heavy-duty latch security clips minimize slips so wearers can securely move on a variety of surfaces without needing to readjust the pads. They have a lightweight construction, so they don’t feel cumbersome when wearers are climbing ladders or straddling beams.
- Type: Shell caps
- Material: Plastic shell, neoprene liner, foam, and gel padding
- Additional features: Adjustable straps, nonskid cap
- Reputable brand
- Made from high-quality materials
- Heavy-duty cap prevents skidding
- Suitable as everyday construction knee pads
- Pricier than other options
Get the DeWalt Custom Leathercraft knee pads on Amazon or at Acme Tools.
A common complaint of knee-pad users is the lack of breathability around those hard-working joints, which can result in a buildup of sweat leading to uncomfortable working conditions. These Bodyprox protective knee pads are made using a breathable woven sleeve to help allow air to circulate while still providing adequate padding to keep knees comfortable and protected.
Available in two sizes, these knee pads slip on and off easily and have no hard shells to restrict movement, allowing users the freedom to bend and move as they wish during a variety of activities in the garden, on the volleyball court, or at the skate park.
- Type: Padding caps
- Material: Polyester, rubber, nylon, spandex, EVA foam
- Additional features: None
- Affordable price point
- Breathable fabric
- Easy slip-on design
- Allows full range of movement
- Padded areas can flatten over time
Get the Bodyprox knee pads on Amazon.
Cold weather is no friend to arthritis and old injuries. These Thunderbolt knee pads’ neoprene, ballistic nylon, and PVC construction provide all-day comfort when working in colder temperatures. Hard surfaces like concrete, tile, and marble lose heat quickly—and when these surfaces make contact with the body, they sap body heat. Whether projects include 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 winter wear. The Thunderbolt knee pads are equipped with an above-the-knee strap that offers extra support for the quadriceps and patella, too.
- Type: Shell caps
- Material: Neoprene, PVC, ballistic nylon
- Additional features: Adjustable straps, extension straps
- Suitable for most user sizes
- Durable nonslip shell
- Great for heavy-duty work
- Can shift when bending knees
Get the Thunderbolt knee pads on Amazon.
Users will appreciate the durability of the Sellstrom knee pads. The hard-shell cap is flexible enough to move with the user and tough enough to withstand heavy-duty work. For a more budget-friendly solution, consider the ToughBuilt knee pads with interchangeable protective shells and impressive gel and foam interior support.
How We Chose the Best Knee Pads
When gathering the best knee-pad options for this list of recommendations, we made sure to include products with the most sought-after features. Our top picks cover both hard-shell and padded-cap knee pads with a range of additional features such as nonslip outer layers, extra straps to fit a wider range of user sizes, as well as foam padding and gel inserts for additional comfort. Many of these knee pads also use elastic straps to make them easy to slip on and off.
We are aware that many users wearing knee pads do so for extended periods, so we made sure to include several picks that feature breathable fabric to prevent a buildup of heat and sweat. Many also offer both calf and thigh support for added stability to prevent shifting during use. From gardeners to heavy-duty construction workers, our list includes a suitable option for most shoppers.
The Advantages of Owning Knee Pads
There are quite a few moving parts in the knee, and the kneecap itself has a limited cushion. Knee pads offer protection and support against strains and tears when performing activities that could compromise the knee’s structure.
Knee pads should be worn anytime users anticipate putting pressure on the knees or when a project calls for protective gear. Here are three reasons to avoid beginning a project that includes kneeling without pads:
- Knee pads offer support and comfort during long durations of kneeling.
- Knee pads allow for more efficient work because they enable movements that are more natural and quick.
- Knee pads protect wearers from injury due to uneven working surfaces and stray materials.
Depending on the type of knee pad chosen for projects, the pads may be hardly noticeable if users are wearing a lightweight set, or they may initially feel a bit awkward if wearers opt for more support. But the pros of protection from strains and stress outweigh the cons of the slight awkwardness. Here are a few common questions shoppers may have as they research the best knee pads for their needs.
Q. How do knee pads work?
Knee pads stabilize and protect the knees when working on hard and uneven surfaces by absorbing pressure—and shock, should someone 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, 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, soap and water can be used to hand-wash knee pads to remove dirt and sweat. It’s advised not to put them into a washing machine, and submerging the pads in water should be avoided unless recommended by the manufacturer. Be sure to allow the pads to air-dry before storing to prevent mildewing.