Best Knee Brace for Hiking to Support and Strengthen
When you’re hiking, your knees are constantly under pressure. Add in a backpack, uneven terrain, and the average hiker’s tendency to “go big or go home,” and it’s no wonder knee pain is one of the most common injuries among hikers.
The good news is that today there are plenty of options for Knee Brace for Hiking. They are more durable and supportive than ever before. It’s also designed to help keep your knees comfortable so you can enjoy your favorite outdoor activities and keep hiking for years to come.
In this article we are going to explore the reasons why you should invest in a knee brace for hiking.
For those of you who want a quick solution we are also going to run through our favorite knee braces for hiking that will suit any budget.
Hiker’s Knee – What is it and How to Prevent it from Happening
Hiking is a popular activity for many people. In fact, the Appalachian Trail is the most popular hiking trail in the USA.
People who hike a lot are prone to experiencing a painful injury to their knee called “hiker’s knee” or “knee tendonitis”. Fortunately, this injury is easily treatable with a good knee brace. However, not all knee braces are created equally. Some are made to protect particular injuries while others are more versatile and can help with a variety of knee problems.
There are several good knee braces for hikers on the market. Their effectiveness is largely a matter of personal preference. The best way to find a knee brace that suits you is to follow our Buyers Guide for the Best Knee Brace for Hiking (below) and asking yourself the right question so you can buy with confidence.
What to Look for in a Good Knee Brace for Hiking – A Buyers Guide
Knee injuries are the most common injury among hikers, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. It’s not just because of the physical demands of hiking—it’s also the uneven terrain, steep hills, and quick changes in elevation that can cause knee problems. However, there are a few things you can do to protect your knees while hiking.
To start, it’s important to wear a knee brace that is specifically designed for hiking AND accommodates your personal preferences.
Let’s take a closer look at the questions you should ask yourself to find the perfect hiking knee brace for you.
Material of the Knee Brace
When it comes to hiking, you want to eliminate as many variables as possible that could derail your experience. This includes the unnecessary occurrence of your knee brace causing you to sweat too much and begin to chaff or cause a skin irritation.
To avoid these scenarios, you will want to consider the material that your hiking knee brace is made out of. Ideally the material will have wicking properties, to draw any excess moisture (sweat) away from your skin. Leaving it dry and irritation free.
You will also want to consider your personal preferences, so as to avoid any materials you know causes your skin to become irritated. This is particularly relevant to those individuals who suffer from eczema. If you suffer from this common skin condition, your material preference should also be breathable.
Degree of Restriction in Motion
By their very nature, some knee braces are designed to limit the amount of motion that an individual can move their knee joint. The idea is to prevent further harm to the knee and is usually used in instances when an individual has suffered a knee injury.
However, as a hiker you will want to avoid the restrictive knee braces and opt for the braces designed to support and strengthen your knee. Given the uneven surfaces and inclines of hiking trails, it would be counter-intuitive to prevent your knees from bending to their full potential.
It may not be the first thing you think about when you are looking for a knee brace for hiking, however it is well worth your while to consider how easy (or not) it is to put the knee brace on. Especially when you are out on the trail and you need to readjust or reapply the knee brace on-the-go.
Some knee braces can be cumbersome or complicated to fit. Some braces even need an additional pair of hands to help fit on the knee.
At the very least, we recommend you practice putting on and taking off your new knee brace BEFORE you hit the track.
By following these guidelines and leading questions, you should be able to identify the right knee brace for hiking suitable for your personal preferences.
Now let’s take a look at some of our favorite braces available on the market today.
Our Favorite Knee Braces for Hiking to Support and Confidence
- lightweight and minimalistic
- specifically targeting patellar tendonitis (great for hiker’s knee)
- breathable mesh material
- easy to put and take off
- doesn’t provide all round knee support (only targets patellar)
The Mueller Max Knee Strap is one of our favorite knee support aids when it comes to hiking.
We love the minimalist design of the strap that allows your skin to breath and sweat. This helps to minimize any potential skin irritations and odors. In addition to the design, the materials used to construct the Mueller Knee Strap has a breathable mesh backing, as well as antibacterial treatment controls built in for hygiene purposes.
The Mueller Max Knee Strap uses a very simple design and can is easily put on and taken off without the assistance of another person – perfect for those solo hikes.
It is important to note, the Muelle Max Knee Strap is designed to specifically target support for the patellar. This is great for those that suffer from Hiker’s Knee, for the Mueller will provide ample support to your knee. However, if you require other support in and around the knee joint, you may want to keep scrolling down to look at our other recommendations.
- lightweight knee sleeve
- advanced German locking edge 3D weaving for steady blood circulation
- packaged as a pair of sleeves
- sizing can be a bit misleading – we recommend contacting supplier for correct sizing
If you are after the knee support without the bulk, knee sleeves are a great option for hiking. They are slimline and due to their design, they have the added benefit of keeping your knees warm and flexible. Particularly useful when you stop for a break on your hike.
The Copper YFL knee compression sleeves are perfect for those looking to go down the knee sleeve path. They provide a state of the art 3D integrated knitting technology to provide an even compression around the knee. You may be asking yourself why this matters? A consistent compression helps to regulate the blood flow in and around the knee joint. This helps in delivering much needed oxygen to the cells in the knee – essential for pain reduction and recovery.
The unique design also ensures there is no bunching of the sleeve, to prevent the cutting off of circulation. In addition, there Copper YFL sleeve incoroporates rubber protective strips to ensure it stays where it should be (no more adjusting required during the hike).
We think it is important to note that you should carefully read the sizing instructions and order well in advance of your next hike, as some customers have had to exchange their sleeves for more appropriate sizes after trying the sleeves on.
- great all round support for hiking
- budget friendly
- many targeted areas of support
- can be a bit bulky (due to the additional support provided)
Vive are a well known brand within the knee brace space. And they do not disappoint with one of their most popular models, the Vive Hinged Knee Brace.
We have decided to include the Vive knee brace in our favorite Best Knee Braces for Hiking list for those that have a weak knee or pre-existing injury, and require the additional support that a patellar strap or knee sleeve lacks.
The Vive knee brace is classed as a hinge knee brace – which means you have supporting hinges/straps along the side of the brace for added stability. Particularly useful for those that love hiking too much to allow an old injury to get in the way of their passion.
Vive have truly outdone themselves with their design. It incorporates comfort, flexibility and most importantly all round support to the knee for a variety of activities. It is no wonder they have a stellar record with their customer reviews.
Final Verdict for Best Knee Brace for Hiking
Hiking is one of those activities that can be enjoyed by anyone.
The good news is even those with weak or injured knees can participate on a hike. The key for a safe and comfortable hike is to know which type of support aids or equipment will help you along the journey.
With the advancement of technology in the knee brace space there is a variety of options available on the market. We recommend taking a look through our buyers guide to help you make the best decision for your next hike.