WebMD quite correctly identifies the knee(s) as “one of the largest and most complex joints in the body.”

It’s safe to say that you need to look after them.

And this is especially true if you’re regularly running around, diving into undergrowth, crawling on the floor, and sniping from a kneeling position.

Or flipping 360s on a skateboard.

Or downhill mountain biking.

Or if you’re simply doing the gardening.

That’s why the best tactical knee pads are highly sought after items by anyone who puts any kind of stress on this sensitive region.

(Unless, of course, you’ve already got a pair of awesome tactical pants with knee pads built in.)

So, without further ado, let’s get into the review, and see if we can’t find you something to protect your patellas.

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TOP 14 Best Tactical Knee Pads 2022

5.11 Knee Pad Inserts

An article on tactical gear wouldn’t be an article on tactical gear without 5.11 Tactical gear. If you catch my drift. And we start things off a little outside the box with a pair of knee-pad inserts that are designed to fit in 5.11 pants.

However, methinks you can easily sew them into any pair of tactical trousers you might already happen to have, and save yourself a bit of coin.

Made from neoprene, they’re flexible, strong, and lightweight, nicely contoured for mobility. In a pinch, they’re a great option and much better than nothing.

Pros

  • Cheap price.
  • Name to trust in tactical gear.
  • Highly rated.
  • Nylon/polyester backing.

Cons

  • Best used in 5.11 Tactical pants.
  • Might be a bit of an effort to fix/sew in.
  • Not the thickest protection available.

Takeaway

Add six millimeters of protection for your ever suffering knee caps with this affordable option from 5.11. They’re just not going to be anywhere near as good as polymer versions, though.

Bodyprox Protective Knee Pads

Another alternative option to the more traditional-style tactical knee pads we’ll cover later in the review, are these thick sponge sleeves from Bodyprox.

Designed to be worn under your outer layer, they’re a unisex option, latex free, and made from a combination of polyester, rubber, and EVA.

This makes for breathable, comfortable, and elasticated knee protection to not impede your range of movement, while offering a high-density, strengthened foam to keep your knees happy.

And with the additional benefits of adding warmth and extra support to your joints, this is a solid alternative to plastic external knee pads.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Discreet protection.
  • No slip grip.
  • Impact resistance.
  • Improves blood circulation.
  • Very highly rated (like, wow).

Cons

  • Again, not as much protection as polymers.

Takeaway

They might not be the best “military” knee pads out there, but boy do these things offer a lot of health benefits for the whole knee joint. Perfect for all kinds of outdoor sports, the only complaint might be that they’re not “tacticool” enough.

Flexzion Tactical Knee & Elbow Pads

This complete set of elbow and knee pads is offered at a great price, and ideal for use during any number of outdoor activities.

Made with a high-impact resistant TPU material, it’s still flexible with a durable 600 Denier polyester that is breathable and water-resistant.

Quick-release buckles allow swift on and off when required, and the Spandex strapping is practical and comfortable to wear.

The X-shape design isn’t restrictive, and the internal EVA high-density foam absorbs shocks like a champ.

Pros

  • Outstanding price for what you get.
  • Space for extra padding inside.
  • Adjustable Velcro straps.
  • Attractive aesthetic.

Cons

  • Not suitable for people of larger builds.

Takeaway

All being equal and for the price – this is probably the best tactical knee and elbow pads set out there. And they look pretty badass, too.

Valken Tactical Knee Pads

Paintball company Valken will know a thing or two about protecting one’s body when you’ve got 350 fps pellets flying at you.

This is their take on the tactical knee pad, made from a combination of cushioned, durable nylon, and high-impact polymer.

While it might not give you all the health benefits of the Bodyprox pads, it’s light years ahead for protection if you come down hard on your knee caps.

Improved flexibility ensures they don’t restrict movement, and the shock absorption technology can deaden impact from all angles.

Pros

  • Name to trust in paintball protection.
  • Affordable price.
  • Soft cushion pad on the back.
  • Two tactical color options.
  • Unique ‘X’ shape design for mobility.

Cons

  • They can run a little small.
  • Some users report that kneeling is uncomfortable.

Takeaway

Perhaps better suited as last-resort protection rather than spending several hours kneeling in a bush waiting for that kill shot. Still, this is a decent knee pad effort from the paintball stalwarts. And check out some of the best paintball guns while you’re here.

Rothco Tactical Protective Knee Pads

In the tactical, military, and outdoor scene since 1953, US-based Rothco was bound to show up on our review at some point.

Introducing their simple but highly effective tactical knee pads, quality tested to ensure they don’t let you down in the heat of engagement.

The heavy-duty rubber cap is non-slip, while the back is 1/2-inch thick foam padding covered by durable 900 Denier polyester.

Very comfortable and highly supportive, the dual hook and loop fastening system won’t slide or loosen during play.

Pros

  • Nice price point.
  • Name to trust.
  • Easy-to-use design.
  • Choice of colors available.

Cons

  • Not as durable as higher-end models.

Takeaway

They’re not going to light the world up with a design award, but these simple knee protectors from Rothco will get the job done. The choice of camo colors is a nice touch.

Alta Industries AltaFLEX Knee Pads

Alta Industries are no strangers to the tactical knee and elbow protection scene – they’ve been in the game for 42 years and counting, supplying military and law enforcement personnel around the world.

Here they offer these AltaFLEX knee pads with buckle fastening system that minimizes readjustments and is designed for wearing over long hours.

The pads are backed by DuPont Cordura nylon for superior strength and durability; field-tested to withstand whatever is likely to come your way.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Fully adjustable.
  • Large coverage.
  • Premium materials.
  • 1/2-inch foam padding.

Cons

  • Might be a little stiff for some users.
  • Prone to slipping depending on size.

Takeaway

Altogether a decent protective knee pad from tactical suppliers Alta Industries. And if you’re keen on some more awesome kit, check out these tactical backpacks for carrying all your gear in the game.

ProJointz Knee Pads

Okay sure, it might say that these knee pads are just for construction, DIY, and gardening, but I say there’s nothing wrong with using them as tactical knee protection either.

They’re all designed to do the same thing, anyway – and this product from ProJointz certainly does that.

Optimized to be super comfortable, they feature gel and foam padding for cushioned protection, with a tough and durable outer PVC shell.

A Velcro and clip system ensures they don’t slip, and they can be easily adjusted to suit the wearer.

Pros

  • Versatile use.
  • Very highly rated.
  • Thigh-high option available.

Cons

  • They’re not strictly “tactical.”

Takeaway

Haters gonna hate, but these things will do exactly the same job as tactical knee pads – even if they don’t look like armed forces might use them. MilSim players – look away now.

Condor Outdoor Knee Pads

Offering maximum flexibility and ease of movement, these Condor outdoor knee pads utilize a Velcro strap adjustment system for comfortable, all-day wear.

The plastic buckles allow easy removal when required, and the contoured foam padding interior provides extra support and cushioning when you go to ground.

That all-important outer cap is water-resistant, and made from non-slip rubber for the best performance.

Pros

  • Easy to adjust.
  • Durable outer cap.
  • Choice of colors.

Cons

  • Padding is not as thick as on other models.
  • Prone to slipping with aggressive use.

Takeaway

At the suggestion of one reviewer, it might be preferable to sew Velcro strips behind these to keep them from sliding (but that’s great advice for most pads that share the same issue). Still, they’re a solid tactical knee pad that most users will be perfectly happy with.

Blackhawk Tactical Knee Pads V.2

Manufacturer of tactical holsters, protective gear, and apparel, Blackhawk is a company born out of the failure of equipment, and built by professionals for professionals.

This is their advanced tactical knee pad, made with a 600 Denier nylon shell, with an anti-slip, flexible, molded polyurethane cap.

Inside, there’s a contoured ledge that is designed to prevent slippage, while the hook and loop elastic straps keep everything in place.

Closed-cell foam padding provides excellent shock absorption and comfort, while ensuring moisture doesn’t build up and cause you problems in the field.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Highly rated pads.
  • Easy to put on and take off.
  • Adjustable, comfort fit.

Cons

  • Another pad prone to sliding.

Takeaway

This popular knee pad is perfect for target shooting and combat sports. But like all products in this class and price range, they might need some adjustment to stay in place.

NoCry Professional Knee Pads

Known for their work safety gear, NoCry are well worth considering when it comes to tactical knee pads.

This model certainly looks the business, and the ratings don’t lie. The flexible neoprene straps and an ergonomic design keep the knee pads where they should be all day, but the quick-release buckle clips allow you to get them off in a flash should you need to.

With a soft-core gel and EVA padding to keep your knees cushioned and protected, the 600 Denier polyester mesh is highly breathable and ensures things are kept cool.

And as for the outer cap – just watch the video evidence and you’ll get the drift.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Outstanding protection.
  • Very highly rated.
  • Versatile use at home or outdoors.

Cons

  • None to speak of (unless you’re a die-hard MilSim player).

Takeaway

Another work safety gear company with a product that can easily make the transition to “tactical” knee pad protection. Just let those reviews speak for themselves. Probably the best knee pads at this price point in the game.

Alta AltaContour Knee Protector Pads

A return to Alta now with these full coverage knee pads that are designed to attach onto the thigh and calf.

Made with durable cordura nylon fabric, the internal neoprene foam padding provides unbeatable support and shock absorption, as the tricot liner offers breathability in wicking away moisture.

Fully adjustable to fit most sizes, it has an all-important non-slip strip that helps keep the pad where it should be, and reduces bunching behind the knees.

Biometrically designed, you’ll have the maximum range of movement without restriction, and you’ll look badass to boot.

Pros

  • Wide set dual strapping system.
  • Name to trust.
  • Highly rated.
  • Excellent knee joint support.

Cons

  • Might be a bit overkill for some – not exactly subtle.

Takeaway

Another quality addition to the Alta protective gear range, these knee pads offer plenty of padding and protection, while being very comfortable to wear. The size and style of them might put some people off, though.

Elite Tribe Tactical Knee Pads

Elite Tribe brings us this pair of tactical combat knee pads, in a style that is designed for full, articulated movement and does not hold you back.

Based on pads worn by the military, they’re made with a DuPont 1000 Denier cordura material, which means they can seriously take a beating before giving out.

The rubber non-slip caps stay in place to protect your knees, while the soft, cushioned padding internally keeps things comfortable and absorbs impact and shocks.

Fully adjustable buckles ensures this is a one-size-fits-all pad that’s perfect for outdoor activities.

Pros

  • Premium materials.
  • Highly rated.
  • Great for hunting.

Cons

  • Might need some breaking in.
  • Padding is not as thick as on other models.

Takeaway

A quality effort from Elite Tribe, these pads are ideal for shooting and target sports, and will keep paintball and airsofters perfectly happy, too. They just might be a little on the stiff side to begin with.

HK Army Crash Knee Pads

In paintballing circles, HK Army are very well known, so it’s no surprise that they have come up with a solid pair of knee protectors to play the game.

After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time on your patellas in this sport – especially if you’re playing speedball.

Aside from that, you will likely be putting a lot of stress on this area in general, and as such, HK has included a built-in neoprene upper leg support.

The contoured padding allows freedom of movement, is dual-layered, and can withstand high impacts, while the lightweight sleeve has been optimized for maximum breathability, with a four-way stretch for comfort.

Designed to fit under the pants, adjustable Velcro straps ensure a solid fit no matter your size – of which there is a choice.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Premium materials and construction.
  • Choice of sizes.
  • Enhanced comfort and durability.

Cons

  • Pricey for knee pads.
  • Not that tactical.

Takeaway

If you can get away from the fact that they don’t have that typical tactical aesthetic, these pads are super-comfortable, durable, and will protect and support a large area around the knee joint.

Nobody will see them anyway – if you’re wearing them under a pair of these awesome tactical pants for women, (or any pants, for that matter). Great stuff from the Hostile Kids.

Black Diamond Telekneesis Knee Pad

Outdoor company Black Diamond are a household name in the climbing community, designing and manufacturing high-end safety gear and equipment for mountaineers around the world.

And if these things are built to save your knees from rocks, then they will sure as hell stand up to the rigors of combat sports.

The fully articulated design moves with you, at the same time offering full coverage to the knee cap, and the brushed poly interior is very comfortable against the skin.

Marketed for skiing, climbing, and canyoning, there’s no reason these awesome knee pads won’t look just as good on the battlefield.

Pros

  • Premium quality construction.
  • Name to trust in outdoor sports.
  • Highly rated.
  • Slimline profile.

Cons

  • Very expensive.

Takeaway

Perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities, they’ve been designed to fully protect your precious knees against seriously hard falls. Get them in your locker and you won’t regret it.

How to Choose the Best Tactical Knee Pads

If you’ve never purchased knee pads before, or even if you’re just looking for a refresher, below you’ll find some handy tips on what to bear in mind before you add anything to that cart.

man wearing tactical camouflage and pointing his airsoft pistol

Why Use Knee Pads?

Your knees are a sensitive part of your body. Over the course of your lifetime, they’re probably going to be worked more than most other parts of your being.

You need to look after your knees while you can, especially if you’re involved in any activity where you do a lot of running, bending, or kneeling on the ground.

Used in many outdoor sports and in work environments, knee pads are designed to protect against impact, and will save you a world of hurt if you happen to fall on your patella – your knee cap.

Some knee pads provide additional support to the joint itself – ideal if you’re running – which can happen regularly if you’re playing combat sports.

So, aside from reducing the risk of injury, supporting the joint, and improving your game – why else would you possibly want to wear knee pads…?!

Look after your knees and they will look after you.

But go ahead and check out the video below if you’re still not convinced.

Size

Most knee pads available today will come as a one-size-fits-all kind of deal.

You might be able to pick up smaller versions for kids, or anyone slight of build, but for the most part, with a couple of exceptions, they come in a standard size, and you don’t have an option to choose.

That being said, they should all be fully adjustable, and you can mess around with them until you find a comfortable fit.

If you think you’ll struggle to find a pair that fits you for whatever reason, check the reviews and find reports from people who share a similar build size.

That way you can find out if a product runs small or large and give you a better idea of what might work for you.

Protection

Probably the most important part of the knee pad, is the protective cap that covers your caps. Knee caps, that is.

This can be made from a variety of materials, from high-density polymers, to PVC, and rubber. Some knee pads don’t have a hard shell, and simply use extra foam padding instead.

And the quality of this protection can vary greatly. Sure, pads might look tough, but how do they stand up to a full day of power sliding behind cover in airsoft?

Again, check the reviews and watch some YouTube videos on your chosen pads to see how well they perform in the field. Nobody wants a hard shell knee pad to break apart when it’s most needed.

man holding airsoft pistol in hands

Comfort and Padding

It’s no use having a solid knee cap shield that would stop rusty nails, sharp rocks, or broken glass, only for it to be one of the most uncomfortable wearing experiences in all your gear.

So, make sure you check what sort of padding and impact protection the pad has. Does it have shock-absorbing technology? How thick is the foam or other material? How does it fit and contour to the knee?

Straps and Fastenings

Likewise, straps and fastenings can often be overlooked when it comes to choosing the most comfortable tactical knee pads.

This kind of product often has a recurring problem of not being able to stay where it should. Even good quality knee pads are subject to unwanted slips and slides – especially if you’re on the go.

Look out for pads with solid fastenings and straps – fully adjustable if possible. Velcro is good, but buckles are better. A combination can work well, too.

Some styles have a quick-release system to allow easy on and off when required.

And if the pad uses rivets, be sure to check they’re not going to pop out if you land on your knees hard.

Aesthetic

You might have noticed I included a few work safety gear options in the review. Now, I know they’re not strictly “tactical,” but they do one hell of a job protecting your knees.

And that is what they’re primarily being used to do. Protection first, aesthetic after.

However, I understand the need for accuracy and a military/tactical look when it comes to playing airsoft – especially if you want to get into MilSims (Military Simulations).

Bear that in mind when choosing the look of your knee pads – but think protection before you think “tacticool.”

There’s no reason why you can’t have both.

airsoft players holding guns amid smoke in forest

Extra Support

While some knee pads are designed to protect the knee cap only, some offer additional support to other parts of the knee, and the joint itself.

High impact sports can cause the cartilage in knees a real problem – especially if you’re running on hard surfaces.

So, it’s nice to have some additional support in this area. Look out for knee pads that offer this if it’s going to concern you.

Cost

Thankfully, tactical knee pads aren’t going to break the bank.

Unless you’re looking at motorcycle knee protection, or full shin guards included, $60 is around the maximum you should be paying for a (very) good pair.

For the most part, you’ll get adequate knee coverage around the $20-$30 mark.

But like all the protective gear you purchase, you should do your best not to cut corners and always get the best you can afford.

You never know when that little bit extra might make the difference between walking wounded and a serious injury.

set of military tactical equipment

FAQs

Do I need knee pads for airsoft?

You don’t need them to play the game. What you definitely need is a good set of airsoft goggles to protect your eyes though – at the very least.

However, if you’re a player that likes to get down and dirty, using a kneeling position for firing, then a pair of knee protectors is highly recommended.

Do I need knee pads for paintball?

Likewise, you don’t kneed(!) them, but they are very useful. Particularly as in paintball, hits are likely to hurt more than airsoft.

So, as well as protection from kneeling and crawling along the floor, they’ll also be effective at absorbing impact shock.

But don’t forget you definitely need a quality paintball mask for this sport.

What knee pads does the military use?

Armed forces and law enforcement around the world will use very similar knee pads to the ones included in this review – if not the same.

Do soldiers wear knee pads?

Yes. They do so to protect their knees from impact, and they make for a more comfortable firing position.

However, not all military personnel use them. Sometimes, it’s just down to an individual’s preference.

You might also see a combat trooper wearing only one pad – that’s the side they use to kneel on when engaged in a firefight.

If you’re going for realism in your airsoft or paintball game, you don’t have to wear knee pads – but they will give you the edge if you do, and your precious knees will thank you for it.

What can I use as a knee pad?

See the review above for plenty of options!

Alternatively, if you really are on a budget, check out the video below on how to make your own.

What are the best tactical knee pads?

It depends on what you’re looking for, the kind of coverage and protection you need, and the aesthetic you would like to achieve.

There isn’t one “best” tactical knee pad set out there. All the products in this review are excellent options.

Do knee pads work?

Yes. 100%.

Imagine, if you will, falling hard on your knees during a game of airsoft.

Picture the impact on cold, hard concrete – with no protection. Just your own bare knee caps. Listen to the sound of the…I’m sorry, I can’t even continue this. Yes, they work.

Do you wear knee pads over or under pants?

It depends on the type of knee pad. Some you wear underneath – particularly the knee-joint support-style pads.

Others, like the hard-shell designs, are meant to be worn on the outside.

While some are designed to slip inside the pants in a specially constructed pocket for receiving them.

The kind you choose will be up to your personal preference, comfort, and the look you’re going for.

How do I prevent knee pads from slipping?

Ahhhh, the eternal question. By their very nature, knee pads are prone to slipping and sliding from where they’re supposed to be.

You’ll even see this with the pros, as after crawling around on the floor the pads have slipped to their ankles.

This is especially true if they’re ill-fitting, or haven’t been strapped in correctly.

Methods to prevent this include – ensuring the straps are tightened, tightening the bottom strap only, adding extra padding, or even sewing in an extra Velcro strap to hold it in place.

Of course, if you’re wearing the kind of pads that you slip over your leg – then you’re not going to have this issue. That’s one of their many advantages.

But If you find the perfect solution for real tactical pads – do let me know in the comments below!

Summary

Knees – you kneed ‘em. (Sorry, I’ll stop cracking that joke).

I hope this article has helped you find the best tactical knee pads for you – no matter what activity you’re getting yourself involved in.

Let me know which type you would go for and why.

Stay safe out there, and protect yourself at all times!