Knee sleeves are hugely beneficial for anyone serious about strength training. They are great for injury mitigation and stability as well as increased performance, particularly when it comes to squats and other exercises that require knee flexion.
With a lot of knee sleeve brands currently on the market, it can be a daunting task to figure out which knee sleeves are the right choice for your particular needs or sport.
In this article, I will provide a high-level overview of some of the most highly recommended and popular knee sleeve brands and highlight their main features to make your decision that little bit easier.
Before reading on, have you read my beginner’s guide to knee sleeves? If you are new to knee sleeves, it is worth a look, as I answer some of the main questions often asked about knee sleeves here.
Up to speed on the basics of knee sleeves? Great, let’s dive straight in!
SBD Knee Sleeves
SBD is perhaps one of the best-known brands when it comes to apparel for strength sports, particularly in Powerlifting.
Their black and red styled knee sleeves are one of the most commonly seen on Powerlifting platforms around the world, and for good reason!
SBD knee sleeves offer a great blend of support and performance whilst remaining comfortable to wear.
Like the majority of knee sleeves, SBD knee sleeves are made from neoprene, which is more or less the standard now for knee sleeves for strength sports such as Powerlifting and Weightlifting.
One of their key features is the design of the seam and stitching. Unlike other brands that typically have a seam running vertically up the knee sleeve, the SBD knee sleeve’s seam runs at an angle, starting at the inner calf and looping around the back of the knee and finishing at the outer thigh.
This design minimizes interference from the seam when squatting or performing other similar exercises, ultimately boosting performance and comfort.
SBD knee sleeves are only available in one thickness, 7mm, so are more suitable for those who lift heavy and may not be the best choice for sports such as CrossFit where running and other more athletic movements are commonplace.
For lifters who have a competitive streak, the SBD knee sleeves are IPF and IWF approved so are an ideal choice for lifters who are looking to or are already competing in Powerlifting or Weightlifting.
SBD sizing is based around a kneecap measurement, I.E. you should take a circumferential measurement directly over the center of the kneecap and use the obtained value to determine the correct size.
SBD knee sleeves are one of the pricier options, however, in my opinion, are well worth the cost.
If your sport of choice is Powerlifting then I highly recommend the SBD knee sleeves and being IWF compliant, they are also a good choice for Weightlifting. Indeed, for any sport where the goal is to lift heavy without the need for a lot of endurance-based activities, the SBD knee sleeves will be right at home.
STrong Knee Sleeves
STrong knee sleeves are a product of the Mark Bell Sling Shot range. Like the SBD knee sleeves, they are designed first and foremost with Powerlifters in mind (which is no surprise given Mark Bell’s Powerlifting background).
They come in a range of color choices, from black to blue to camo options. The stitching runs vertically up the sides of the leg, which I find works great but I do admit to preferring the SBD seam design.
STrong knee sleeves are only available in 7mm thick neoprene, so again, like the SBD knee sleeves may be best for heavier lifting rather than endurance-based exercise.
STrong knee sleeves will cost you more than the SBD knee sleeves, you can check the latest pricing on Amazon. Are they worth the extra cost though? I personally prefer the stitching design of the SBD knee sleeves, however, there’s not a lot to separate either brand when it comes to performance.
If you are a Powerlifter or Strongman, STrong knee sleeves are an excellent choice. For Weightlifting, CrossFit, or more dynamic sports that are less reliant on pure strength, one of the other options in this article may be a better fit.
Rehband Knee Sleeves
Rehband has been manufacturing supportive equipment since the 1950s so it should be no surprise to see them feature on any article about knee sleeves.
Rehband knee sleeves are the first in this article to feature various thicknesses, with their RX knee sleeves supplied in 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm thicknesses.
This makes them a lot more versatile than the SBD knee sleeves or the STrong knee sleeves and comes recommended for endurance and dynamic oriented strength sports, particularly CrossFit WODs and Metcons.
The Rehband knee sleeves are designed with a deliberate bend in their shape so conform to the natural contours of the knee joint well. The stitching runs along the sides of the knee sleeve and follows this natural bend also.
This makes for a very comfortable knee sleeve overall, regardless of thickness.
The Rehband knee sleeves are technically IPF and IWF legal, so for Powerlifting and Weightlifting, this is a big plus. Note that only the 7mm thickness variant has been officially approved by IPF however.
One thing to note about the Rehband knee sleeves is that they are sold individually, not as a pair. I would suspect this is a knock-on effect from their other more general ranges of knee sleeves where someone would only require to buy one sleeve, but in this strength sport context its a bit unusual.
In any case, bear in mind that you will need to buy two if you decide to go with the Rehband knee sleeves!
Price, of course, varies depending on what thickness you go with, you can check the prices for each thickness of Rehband knee sleeves below:
As someone who predominantly trains for Powerlifting, I prefer to wear SBD knee sleeves during my workouts. However, I do like the 5mm Rehband knee sleeves for more general training as they are lighter and more comfortable overall.
The 7mm Rehband knee sleeves are no slouch though when it comes to Powerlifting and other pure strength sports.
If CrossFit WODs are more your thing, then the 5mm Rehband knee sleeves may be the one for you.
For more endurance-based sports such as running, the 3mm Rehband knee sleeves are a great choice.
Rogue Knee Sleeves
Rogue Fitness is pretty synonymous with the strength sports community.
Whether you’re into Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Strongman, CrossFit, or any other major strength sport, chances are you have heard of Rogue.
The Rogue knee sleeves could be seen as directly competing with the Rehband knee sleeves. Both are of a very similar design and shape and come in the 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm variants.
Like the Rehband knee sleeves, the Rogue knee sleeves are IPF and IWF legal, however, the 7mm Rogue knee sleeves are the only ones that are officially approved by the IPF.
Unlike the Rehband knee sleeves, the Rogue knee sleeves come as a pair, which I find to be a bit more convenient.
For sizing, Rogue recommends that a measurement is taken circumferentially around the calf, about 10cm below the knee cap.
The price of the Rogue knee sleeves is comparable with the Rehband pricing, which given how similar both brands of knee sleeves are, is not all that surprising.
Like the Rehband knee sleeves, I recommend the 3mm Rogue knee sleeves for lighter workouts and endurance work such as running.
The 5mm Rogue knee sleeves are ideal for CrossFit WODs or Metcons.
The 7mm Rogue knee sleeves are best suited to heavy lifting such as in Powerlifting and Strongman.
Mava Knee Sleeves
The final pair of knee sleeves are the Mava knee sleeves by Mava Sports. These are what I would consider the budget option, but don’t let that put you off, they’re a great choice for anyone involved in strength sports looking to save some cash!
The Mava knee sleeves only come in the 7mm thickness, however, Mava Sports do offer other types of knee supports, just not 3mm and 5mm strength sport specific sleeves (say that 10 times fast).
The Mava knee sleeves follow a similar design to the Rehband and Rogue knee sleeves in that they have a natural bend built into their manufacture. They do, however, have a seam that runs up the back of the knee which I am not particularly fond of.
Although the Mava knee sleeves are technically IPF legal, it is worth noting that they are not featured on the IPF approved equipment list. They are however USPA approved.
For sizing, Mava Sports recommends taking your measurement around the circumference of the kneecap.
As mentioned, the Mava knee sleeves are my budget pick and you’ll find they are typically close to half the price of some of the other brands listed above, which is a fantastic deal! You can check the latest pricing at Amazon.
As with the other 7mm knee sleeves brands, they can be a bit too supportive for more dynamic or endurance-based training so I would only recommend them for heavier workouts, I.E. Powerlifting and Strongman, although as they are not as widely accepted as other brands you may have a harder time using them in competition.
So there we have it, hopefully, now you are up to speed on some of the best and most popular brands of knee sleeves currently on the market to suit the vast majority of strength athletes.
No matter which option you choose, you can rest assured that you are getting a quality product that will invariably offer warmth and support to your knee joint whilst providing great performance benefits, increasing your workout potential in the long run.
Want to know which of these knee sleeves are best suited to individual sports such as Powerlifting, CrossFit and Weightlifting? Read my article, “Best Knee Sleeves for Lifting“.