The best tactical knee pads can mean the difference between training injuries and much improved comfort. That’s a wide gap, and that’s why this topic requires a bit of explanation. The use of knee pads may seem overkill for some users, but you’d be surprised how much that variable changes over time and as conditions worsen. Not having knee pads when you need them makes life suck.
But yes, it’s a market segment that doesn’t appeal to everyone overtly. As you get older, what you thought you could do with your knees, like the quick dives to catch a ball, or to take a shot tend to get harder to do. The last thing you want in a legitimate tactical shooting scenario is a lack of mobility due to a preventable injury.
There is this thing with knee pads too, that means you really have to look at the right products: that is that most commercial style knee pads are not suitable for the specific needs of most tactical users. Additionally, any knee pads are better than no knee pads if you are actually planning to use them. Good knee pads can be a vital part of a bug out bag or a good addition to your car trunk or behind your truck seat.
This article will attempt to help you navigate the ins and outs of the somewhat convoluted tactical knee pad market and eventually get you to the point where you can confidently pick a set of the best tactical knee pads for your use case.
Quick Pick – Top 3 Tactical Knee Pads
Who Needs Knee Pads
The one who needs knee pads the most is the person who for years has been using their knees in competitive sports or work/profession without the use of knee pads. These sets of knees are invariably damaged when compared to those who do not use their knees as part of a daily or recreational experience. This is true even though you won’t feel knee pain for years in some instances.
That said, anyone can find utility in knee pads, especially when training. Having pads with you in case of a SHTF scenario or a TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it) will be helpful, but their best utility is getting you ready to handle tactical scenarios to stay in good condition while learning and experiencing the skills that will be needed in times like that. Note: that this article is not JUST for the people who think that such apocalyptic events are a foregone conclusion. Normal users can find excellent utility in knee pads, especially during tactical training classes and other tactical events.
Men or women can easily find a use for knee pads.
Do I need hard shell pads?
If you can get them and justify the use of them despite their added bulk and weight means you will have a much-improved experience in the worst conditions, though a soft knee pad is better than no knee pad.
If you are in a scenario where you will need to avoid cuts on your knees or for when you are in very poor conditions, like the aftermath of a major event (like a bombing, earthquake or hurricane, etc.) the added protection against sharp objects will be a very good thing to have.
Built in pockets
Many pants have built in pads for knee pad inserts. These are useful for softer ground and for occasional use or for daily wear. They are certainly a much more generous comfort accessory than normal pants and can be used for many things, but they are not nearly the protection offered by dedicated knee pads.
For daily use
Unless you are in law enforcement, military in training drills, etc., or a first responder, there is likely no reason to have daily wear tactical knee pads. Many professions require commercial knee pads and that can be an important addition to your everyday wear. A lot of blue collar professions basically need to use pads throughout the day. Having a pair of the best knee pads available in the trunk of your car or your everyday carry bag can be a great choice though, even if you don’t plan on using them daily.
How long will they last?
Most knee pads, even the best in the market wont outlast hard daily use for more than a year or two. Truly heavily used tactical knee pads might only last 3 months for some hardcore users that are up and down in the dirt and rocks often. For those who are just planning and use them occasionally for a tactical training class or from out of their trunk can expect to have a pair last the better part of 6-7 years with proper care and cleaning after harder uses.
Given the relatively low expense of the tactical knee pad, it is an obvious choice to buy, even if it is a totally discretionary budget line item for most people as they don’t see the day-to-day benefits of the humble knee pad.
Here is a list of our favorite tactical knee pads. It’s hard to select the best tactical knee pad, because each of these offerings is exceptional at some level or even on multiple levels. Have a look and let us know what you think.
Best Tactical Knee Pads
5.11 Tactical Knee Pads
- 3/8 inch neoprene
- Designed to contour with knee
- Nylon backing for easy insertion
- Fits Tactical, TDU and HRT pants
These are simply the thinner inserts that can be used (specifically for 5.11 pants, though some carryover will exist) with pants that have built in knee pad pockets.
They are a bare minimum generally for tactical use, though they can double up for legitimate tactical conditions while giving a day-to-day pair to use until there is a more specific need.
These are well made and while thin, do offer some basic protection for the knee cap on cement or other smoother surfaces. Can also be used on soft ground for extensive kneeling, like you might find on a regular basis (like on carpet or in the garden).
- Very simple
- Can be used in a couple of brands of tactical pants with minor user modification
- Quality brand
- Relatively inexpensive
- No real CONS
WHY IT IS RECOMMENDED: These 5.11 Tactical Knee Pads are entry level at the very heart of the phrase but do offer a good price point and some protection and can be stacked up with external knee pads.
ToughBuilt GelFit Fanatic
- ✔️ PREMIUM GEL CUSHION -- Comfortable GelFit gel cushion and foam design
- ✔️ EXTREMELY DURABLE -- Abrasion-resistant 1680D fabric - Built to Last.
- ✔️ ALL DAY COMFORT -- Pro EVA elastic leg straps comfortably hold their place without cutting off circulation.
- ✔️ SUPERIOR DESIGN -- High side wall greatly reduce twisting off of the knee. Protective Knee Pads with Anti-slip.
- ✔️ GAME CHANGER -- Maximizes pressure distribution for all-day comfort and the perfect kneepad for every job
Toughbuilt GelFit Knee Pads are definitively NOT in the “tactical” category from a looks perspective. They are however, a very tactical choice when it comes to having a pair around the house or in the car.
They are built to a good specification and will work for most normal civilian tasks and will double well for occasional tactical use, though you might get a few looks on the range if you are wearing them.
They are a bit more Civilian than other options on this list. Who cares when it comes to comfort? These are by far the most comfort-oriented build on this list, and with the price, it’s maybe harder to justify buying them until you actually put them on and use them to lay tile or work on your car at home, where they shine.
- Easy to justify for having around the house
- Exceptionally comfort centric
- The least “tactical” looking
WHY IT IS RECOMMENDED: Most people can justify having a pair when there are more uses than just a once a year tactical training or having in the bug out bag; ToughBuilt GelFit Fanatics are unmatched for comfort.
Alta Contour Knee Protector Pad
$30.21 in stock
- Soft coyote flexible cap provides protection and flexibility
- Strong durable Cordura nylon fabric construction
- Thick neoprene recovery foam padding for support
- Tricot liner wicks away moisture and keeps dirt out
- Adjustable to fit most sizes
ALTA practically owns this tactical knee pad market with this offering, as it is as simple as it gets with great durability, tactically minded build and yet, they are very comfortable.
These are the standard for those who legitimately want a low-key look with good performance and comfort. The Alta Contour offers good sharp object protection and a slippery knee pad surface for enhanced movement on the ground.
- The simplest choice for those who want a proven tactical knee pad
- No real CONS
WHY IT IS RECOMMENDED: Alta are the industry standard because of its harmony of comfort, durability and looks.
BLACKHAWK! Advanced Tactical Knee Pads V.2
$11.99 in stock
- 600 denier Nylon shell
- Injection-molded flex cap design
- Closed-cell foam padding provides excellent shock resistance and little or no moisture retention
- Allows maximum flexibility for ease of movement and comfort
- Minimizes gap between bottom of cap and Nylon carrier when flexed
Depending on the color you choose, for the money, Blackhawk are probably the most versatile small profile pad on this list and are perfectly suited from the looks of the product to the specific design for any tactical scenario. At the price, it’s an easy to justify purchase too, even if you rarely use them. Long lasting build quality and top brand name makes a difference here.
- Straightforward and proven
- Small profile
- Small price
- No real CONS
WHY IT IS RECOMMENDED: Blackhawk have a long lasting build, with a proven design and it’s not a huge thing dangling off your knee cap.
NoCry Professional Knee Pads
$23.95 in stock
- EASY TO ADJUST FOR A TIGHT, SECURE FIT. Flexible neoprene straps and an ergonomic design keep the knee pads snugly in place all day long. Plus, the quick release slip buckle clips make putting on and taking off your pads a snap
- DESIGNED FOR COMFORT AND SAFETY. Soft gel core and durable EVA foam padding cushion your knees for hours on end. A heavy-duty thick poly shield protects against cuts or scrapes on any terrain
- USE AT HOME OR ON THE JOB. Ideal for working on concrete and hardwood floors, construction work, flooring and carpet installations, welding, stocking shelves, gardening, cleaning, and more
- BUILT TO WITHSTAND HEAVY USE. Heavy-weight nylon thread ensures long-lasting durability. 600D polyester mesh breathes for all-day comfort
- BACKED BY THE NOCRY GUARANTEE. NoCry stands behind every item we make. If there's an issue with your knee pads, we'll make it right by replacing them or giving your money back
NoCry Knee Pads are another consumer grade kneepad that is easy to justify to have around the house, which will double as a tactical knee pad.
The “rubbery” textured surface means you will need to accommodate for the sticky-factor on the ground that could cost you some precious seconds in moving if you don’t practice.
That is what makes them good for day-to-day use though, so if you have the experience with them to understand how to use them, you will be fine.
- The company is constantly improving the design with real user feedback
- Decent trial terms/money back guarantee
- Priced right
- Multi-use from a form and a functional perspective
- Not a true tactical knee pad
WHY IT IS RECOMMENDED: NoCry Knee Pads have a lot of features that make them desirable, and that may mean you actually buy them instead of passing on a tactical knee pad that will come in handy, and whose benefits only truly manifest after you use them a few times.
Bodyprox Protective Knee Pads
$13.99 in stock
- 1 Pair Kneepads (Left and right), Unisex design, two sizes available.
- Your Safety is Our Priority-made of high-density strengthen foam, good elasticity, breathable fabric keeps skin dry, and more comfortable.
- Ergonomic design, super lightweight, provides freedom of movement. An ideal knee protector for outdoor sports.
- Protect and Prevent knee injuries during exercise. Keep warm, prevention and reduction of stiff muscles and joints. Effectively impact resistance, increase blood circulation.
- Warranty Guaranteed- your money will not be wasted, we always put value to your money. Satisfaction is our optimum concern. Your business with us comes with our no-risk, no-question, asked Money Back Guarantee, and Top-Rated Customer Service.
BodyProx are the best under your pants, incognito knee pads on the list. Their comfort level and close fitting, non-noticeable build means you will get, at minimum, some protection on your knees without having to also look the part.
- Super easy to conceal
- Very comfortable
- Don’t slip down
- Can be used in conjunction with other pads if absolutely needed
- Not made for long term hard use, even though they will last a while if worn daily without rigorous usage
WHY IT IS RECOMMENDED: BodyProx have a top quality comfort level with an ability to hide under clothing, for those who want the advantages of knee pads but don’t want to look the part.
ALTA Contour Knee Protector Pad
- Extra flexible with sectional foam padding
- Finished brushed tricot liner wicks away moisture and keeps out dirt and debris
- Non-Slip Rubber Strip on back to hold comfortably in place
- Offered with the Original AltaLok Easy On/Off Fastening System
- Adjustable to fit most sizes
The Alta Contours are substantially similar to an earlier list item by the same company (ALTA), and they are equally as good at leading the market for the dedicated tactical knee pad.
These are among the best tactical knee pads on the market given the specific build details that cater to a dedicated tactical use case. The price is right, the creature comforts are right, even if they aren’t as low key as some other offerings, they still perform admirably.
- Well built
- Made for the specific use case of tactical operational scenarios
- They don’t slip out of place due to rubber piece on the back of the pad
- Good adjustability
- A bit over the top for some users who want to be more low-key
WHY IT IS RECOMMENDED: The Alta Contours offer a great harmony between comfort, durability, features and price.
ZAPT Tactical Pants with Knee Pads
- Check Size Chart below to insure proper fit, the size detail in photo and Product Description.
- Located in front thigh pockets rope style kneepad height adjustment system
- The unique low-profile Velcro Velcro waist adjustment system. Designed for use with removable Knee battle
- Unique gusseted crotch stitching.
- After long waist plus a large cloth panels, pull more lateral force Oversized front thigh pockets. Knee pad is included
NOTE: we reviewed these pants in the Best Tactical Pants Article which you can find under the tactical gear category. They are every bit as applicable for their excellent knee inserts built into the pants.
If you are a little overweight and would consider yourself more of a tactical wannabe (no offense meant), do not buy the Zapt pants. Although available in larger sizes they are designed for rigorous use and although there are bigger sizes it doesn’t mean they can handle proper use.
For many users these pants will see over the top. The additional functionality is excellent and these have been designed for the tactically skilled individual.
- Made ready for the impending Zombie Apocalypse
- Built in kneepads
- Pockets on the lower leg
- Good price point for quality
- A little too over the top for some
WHY IT IS RECOMMENDED: Highly tactical yet highly functional, Zapt pants are designed for the toughest of tough. The built in knee pads saves the hassle of finding additional knee pads.
The tactical knee pad you need is something you may not even realize exists. Most people who use tactical knee pads now, never considered themselves candidates for the accessory. But when you use them for one hard training, or around the house for a little while; getting used to them, you will be sold on their utility and importance for normal activities as well as hardcore, extreme conditions you might be able to envision.
The best tactical knee pads are those which fit your use case – for some that will be the weekend sports player who can justify the purchase because of a rugby or basketball or volleyball league, that can also justify having them in the house or in the car for tactical purposes. It may be a law enforcement officer that can play the part on a day to day basis that opts for a more specific tactical design. Either way, your use case dictates which design is best for you – with all of these choices having a credible build and many uses.
We are confident that among these choices you will be able to find your favorite pair, even if you are still on the fence. Consider trialing one with a money back guarantee or take full advantage of the Amazon eco-system for returns.
Best Tactical Knee Pads
Best Tactical Knee Pads
Choosing the best tactical knee pads is made easier with these detailed reviews!