Knee sleeves are supportive pieces of strength equipment that come with a variety of options. Like most pieces of supportive equipment, their use comes with a time and place, so it’s not a bad idea to keep yourself equipped with a pair for times you need them most. Strength athletes typically reach for knee sleeves for joint protection, warmth, and stability.

A sleeve’s benefits will be dependent on your strength sport, preferences, and knee sleeve wants/needs. We’ve been on a mission to find the best knee sleeve for general support, weightlifting, functional fitness workouts, knee warmth, and even squats.

Keep in mind, this list was built off of our judging criteria for each knee sleeve, and you may find that a different fit from our top choices works better for you. At the end of the day, our goal is to connect you with the best sleeves for your lifting preferences, or at least make a knee sleeve’s presence known to you if you had never seen them.

Best All-Around: Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves

Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves
Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves
Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves

A 7mm knee sleeves that offers support and mobility for weightlifting. These sleeves are IWF approved.

The Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves are a good option for weightlifters for three reasons. First, they’re rigid, but not mobility limiting. This is key for weightlifting because you want support without compromising mobility. Second, they form fit the knee really well. We never experienced air pockets in them or bunching. Lastly, they’re comfortable to wear for long workouts, which is common in weightlifting sessions.

Why We Love the Rehband Knee Sleeves

  • Durable and proven 7mm neoprene that has reinforced stitching.
  • Meets most federation knee sleeve requirements, aka eligible for competition.
  • Patented design and stitching for long-term durability

Best for Functional Fitness: Bear Komplex 7mm Knee Sleeves

Bear Komplex 7mm Knee Sleeves
Bear Komplex 7mm Knee Sleeves
Bear Komplex 7mm Knee Sleeves
Four panel constructed knee sleeve that offers a durable and supportive 7mm neoprene.

The Bear Komplex knee sleeves have a little bit of every feature you’d want in a versatile sleeve, which we thought was fitting for functional fitness workouts (a little bit of everything). First, these sleeves are composed of a rigid 7mm neoprene, but didn’t limit mobility too much. They were able to provide a little pop out of a squat, but not hinder Olympic lifting performance.

Why We Love the Bear Komplex Knee Sleeves

  • Stiffer, yet mobile neoprene, so you feel stable, but not limited.
  • Four-panel design that provides a comfortable form fitting feel.
  • Reinforced stitching for durability.

Best for Squatting: Stoic 7mm Knee Sleeves

Stoic 7mm Knee Sleeves
Stoic 7mm Knee Sleeves
Stoic 7mm Knee Sleeves

The Stoic 7mm Knee Sleeves are great for heavy squat and powerlifting due to their tight, form fitting design and reinforced patent pending triple stitching.

The Stoic 7mm Knee Sleeves are designed specifically to support heavy squats and powerlifting. These sleeves are composed of a strong 7mm neoprene and have patent pending triple stitching throughout. If you’re looking for a supportive knee sleeve for training and competition, then Stoic is a good bet.

Why We Love the Stoic Knee Sleeves

  • Form fitting and supportive 7mm neoprene.
  • Patent pending triple stitching to promote long-term durability.
  • Cost efficient compared to other competition-level knee sleeves.

Best for Joint Warmth: MAVA Sports Elastic Knee Supports

Mava Sports Elastic Knee Supports
Mava Sports Elastic Knee Supports
Mava Sports Elastic Knee Supports
A lightweight knee sleeve that is designed to be both versatile and somewhat supportive while keeping the knee warm.

The MAVA knee sleeves are composed of nylon and spandex and provide very minimal support in heavy strength movements. The reason they made our number one pick was not for their support, but for their ability to specifically keep the joint warm. If you’re looking for a sleeve that can be worn in virtually every exercise for joint warmth, then these are a good option for you. In addition, these sleeves are friendly on the bank and start at $19.95.

Why We Love MAVA Sports Elastic Knee Supports

  • Flexible nylon and spandex sleeve that keep joint warm in multiple settings.
  • Lightweight and easy to wear for different activities/exercises.
  • Cost efficient for the casual knee sleeve wearer.

Best for Weightlifting: Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves

Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves
Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves
Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves

A 7mm knee sleeves that offers support and mobility for weightlifting. These sleeves are IWF approved.

The Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves are a good option for weightlifters for three reasons. First, they’re rigid, but not mobility limiting. This is key for weightlifting because you want support without compromising mobility. Second, they form fit the knee really well. We never experienced air pockets in them or bunching. Lastly, they’re comfortable to wear for long workouts, which is common in weightlifting sessions.

Why We Love the Rehband Knee Sleeves

  • Durable and proven 7mm neoprene that has reinforced stitching.
  • Patent pending design that form fits and doesn’t slide when wearing for longer workouts.
  • Meets most federation knee sleeve requirements, AKA eligible for competition.

How We Tested

Throughout our best knee sleeve search we looked at multiple aspects that make up a great sleeve. The first factor we look for is the knee sleeve’s stability and material. Secondly, we look for the mobility or rigidness of the sleeve during a variety of movements. Third, we assess the sleeve’s ability to keep our joints warm during a workout. Lastly, we assess the construction and durability, or actual design of the sleeve and how it will function for certain athletes.

Knee Sleeve Stability and Material

A knee sleeve’s material will often influence how stable a sleeve is under the bar. The most common material used in knee sleeves is neoprene, which is composed of a family of synthetic rubbers. This material is used for a variety of applications, but has gained its popularity in lifting due to its ability to remain flexible and stable over time.

Thickness of neoprene will also add to a sleeve’s stability. Common neoprene thicknesses range from 3-7mm, and the most common thicknesses used by strength athletes are 5mm and 7mm. Other materials used in addition to neoprene are nylon, spandex, and various cotton blends. The mixture of these materials with neoprene is what give sleeves their soft flexible nature.

Nylon and spandex are often used in lighter sleeves and tend to be more form fitting to the joint. These materials stretch very well and allow a sleeve to hug the knee tightly without slippage. Cotton is also a common material you’ll find in a sleeve and give them their soft texture on the skin. With our stability assessments, we analyzed a sleeve’s actual make and the activity it was being applied to.

Mobility and Rigidity

This assessment shadows the above point and often comes down to a sleeve’s thickness. A thicker sleeve will often limit mobility, and provide more support throughout movements. Conversely, thinner sleeves will work best with mobility focused athletes like Olympic lifters and functional fitness athletes. Material plays a role in this assessment, but so does the actual knee sleeve design.

For this assessment, we analyze how a sleeve follows the joint in different movements. A more mobile sleeve won’t hinder performance due to mobility issues. On the flip side, when we analyzed a sleeve’s rigidity we looked for support in bottom lifting positions. For example, the pop coming out of the hole on a squat.

Joint Warmth

Before sleeves became popular for recreational lifting purposes, they were often used solely for joint warmth. In fact, some athletes use sleeves without even realizing that one of their main purposes is to keep the knee warm. Material, strength sport, and fit will all play a role in this factor, as the level of compression will also influence some of the joint’s warmth under a sleeve.

In our warmth assessments we look at multiple factors that influence a sleeve’s ability to keep the joint warm. For example, we took into consideration how the sleeve fit and what type of material it was made of. The main factor we looked for was plain and simple, which was, how the actual sleeve worked to keep the joint warm.

Construction and Durability

A lot of athletes don’t realize how many knee sleeve designs there are, so we tried to identify as many as we could. For example, some examples of different sleeve designs include: four-panel, tapered, and cylinder. These different forms of construction will influence almost every other factor that will cater a sleeve’s perfect fit to you.

The most common sleeve design is a tapered fit, which is your standard fitting sleeve. This sleeve is versatile and will work for multiple athletes in a variety of sports, an example of this would be the Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeve. The cylinder-esque design is most commonly used in more rigid sleeves like Stoic sleeves. The four-panel design is the least common of the three, and has multiple pieces of material sewn together into one sleeve.

Different sleeve constructions will come with different rates of durability. For example, some sleeves have reinforced stitching, which can range from hooked stitching to quadruple stitching. In addition to a sleeve’s stitching style, the placing of stitching also matters for durability. You don’t want stitching to be in a place that is making constant contact with knurling, as this will cause them to fray quicker.

Another method to predict a sleeve’s durability is to look at its edges. Most sleeves have hemmed or enclosed edges that will prevent them from ripping or fraying prematurely. Also, the tighter a sleeve’s edges are cared for, then the less chance you have of them stretching out over time.

Possibly the biggest factor of a sleeve’s durability is the material used. A good sleeve will utilize a high-grade neoprene, spandex, nylon, or blend mixture that doesn’t stretch out quickly under constant load.

FAQ

1. Are Knee Sleeves a Must for Working Out?

BarBend: Absolutely not. Knee sleeves are a supportive pieces of equipment, which means they should be used sparingly and appropriately. Fitness enthusiasts should employ knee sleeves as a tool and not a crutch when it comes to their support.

2. I’m New to Working Out, Should I Buy Knee Sleeves?

BarBend: That depends. If you’ve had a previous issue with your knees and need a little support for both performance and proprioception, then knee sleeves can help support performance. However, if you’re healthy and moving properly, then you may want to train with “naked knees” until you feel that extra support is needed, AKA want to start competing or start pushing the upward limits of your strength.

Wrapping Up

Knee sleeves are useful pieces of supportive strength equipment and can be used for a variety of reasons including support and warmth. If you want a little extra support around your knee joints, then knee sleeves can be a useful to promote progress and confidence under the bar!