The 5 Best Knee Sleeves for Running (2019 Buying Guide)

Man in a knee brace holding his knee

Our top pick for an all-around best compression knee sleeve for runners is the Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve. Although there are several similar top contenders for the best knee sleeves, we felt that this particular set of sleeves provided the ideal comfort levels people seek while running while also offering a right amount of compression and tightness without restricting the bending of the knee. On a personal note, I could feel a significant amount of compression relative to some of the other sleeves on this list that is a must-have for the recovery after a run. Now, this may be our best all-around choice for a knee sleeve, but we also have several runner-ups that have their aspects that may outrank our top pick for you. Our designated runner-up for compression knee sleeves are the FitXpert Knee Compression Sleeves. The great thing about this particular set of sleeves was their comfort. If we were basing things on this category alone, I would have picked these over the Ultra Flex. Once you put these on and go on your daily jog, you’ll be thanking yourself for getting them. The downside is the fact that it has lighter compression levels to the Ultra Flex that we will go into more depth later on in the article. If you want to know more about what you’re getting with these products, or if you’re curious if there is specific compression sleeve that meets your needs, I recommend checking out the rest of the products on this list to see if they’re up to par.

Table of Contents

  1. Read our #1 Choice for Best Knee Sleeves for Running
  2. See our Choice for Runner-Up
  3. Something Different: Copper Content Sleeve
  4. Most Durable & Protective Knee Sleeve
  5. Friendly for the Wallet: Budget-Friendly Sleeve

Best Knee Sleeve: Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

ultra_flex_run

The UFlex knee sleeve is the right fit for runners because it provides the stabilization for running while still giving you the range of motion to run. Earlier, we touched on the fact that these knee sleeves had a significant amount of compression for runners. But you might be wondering, “what does that mean?” It means that compared to other compression sleeves that we tested it out, it was at a “Goldilocks” level where the compression wasn’t too tight, but it also wasn’t loose where it wouldn’t have any effect. For a runner, having the optimal compression levels is critical. If you feel that the sleeve is too restricting, preventing your leg from extending to its full length with each stride, or if it feels loose, then there is no point to wearing the sleeve in the first place as you won’t be getting much benefit from it at all.

That sweet spot of compression makes it perfect for runners who need assistance recovering after a run. It may also help with conditions such as swelling, stiffness, and recovery after ACL surgery. This sleeve has a lightweight material that is a combination of nylon and lycra. For those that don’t know nylon is a better alternative to polyester when it comes to compression sleeves. It’s lighter and thinner, which is what you want, so it doesn’t weigh you down while still giving you the compression and fiber benefits. On the topic of the fibers: If you need a sleeve for the weather when it’s warm or cold out, you can count on these to regulate the moisture in the summer days or act as an extra layer for knees during the winter months. And when you’re doing your exercising across all four seasons, the breathability with the sleeve will still be there and contribute to the relaxed fit that will accompany you during the run. The design and stitching allow for air to cycle through while you wear it and perform any intense activities.

The Runner-Ups for Best Knee Sleeves for Running

Like I said earlier, you may have different needs that require different compression sleeves. That could range from things like budgetary reasons where you may need an inexpensive sleeve, several sleeves to cycle through, a thicker one for protection, or maybe you even have a preference on the style of the sleeve to go with your training outfit. Whatever the motivation is for buying one, I believe you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for in the runner-up sleeves below. Even if you want the top pick mentioned above, it is always good to compare with other products to make sure you’re getting what you want and need. With that said, browse through each looking for a knee sleeve that will help your next run.

FitXpert Knee Compression Sleeves

The reason behind making these compression sleeves our number 2 is because of the comfortability while running. The fibers infused in the compression sleeve are a lightweight component that hugs the skin. When you slip yourself into the sleeve, you’ll notice the snug fit immediately that feel likes another layer of your body that belongs. The reason that it isn’t as number one is that it wasn’t as tight or compressed like the top contender. But some other things that you might like: Unlike the Ultra Flex, when you purchase a set of these, you’re getting a pair of compression sleeves for a much more competitive price. While you would have to buy two separate sleeves with the other one, you don’t have to shell out as much cash as you would on this specific set. They still provide quality muscle and joint recovery in the knees, has excellent compression, and you will be able to save some money along the way. And last but not least: It has that simple plain black appearance that isn’t too flashy. There is minimal logo branding on the sleeve, and usually when you wear a pair of shorts that are somewhat long, they will cover the branding on the top. Check these out if you’re looking for a durable compression sleeve to assist with recovery by stimulating blood flow and supporting muscles and joints while jogging.

FitXpert_Compression_sleeve

CopperJoint Copper Compression Knee Sleeve

There is a sort of rumor in the athletic apparel industry of copper-infused compression clothing is better than regular old nylon and polyester. To some extent, there is some truth to it, and I have noticed a difference with copper-based apparel. Customers have experienced faster recovery times in their muscles and overall feeling better when performing various intense activities like hiking, running, lifting, etc. These are one of the most popular knee sleeves on Amazon with plenty of reviews to back it up. But what makes them superior? The magic is all in the fabric. It allows it to be more durable and act as a layer of protection from falls and scrapes. The copper elements assist in pumping blood and stimulating muscle recovery more efficiently. Also, it’s a thicker sleeve, yet it’s pretty comfortable and thin. And keep in mind that the copper element doesn’t hinder any of the other properties associated with it as well. You’re still getting that anti-odor and antibacterial aspect along with the moisture-wicking and regulation. This sleeve is ideal if you find yourself accumulating a lot of knee pit sweat (if it’s even called that) making this an excellent item to combat that. This sleeve is a top choice, but the downsides are that you only get a single sleeve and it is on the pricer end on the scale. I would only recommend getting these if you’re interested in the copper aspect will benefit your runs and also if you have the money for two sleeves.

copperjoint-compression-knee-sleeve

Chief Gear Compression Knee Sleeves

If you’re in the market for sleeves that offer a little more protection with thicker fibers and guards than I think these might be for you. The Chief Gear knee sleeves are 7mm thick, which is thicker than most of the other fibers on this list. This padding is ideal if you find yourself needing more protection for your knees. These are great if you’re hiking or running in a more dangerous environment like a forest or trail and want something to prevent against scrapes and scars that might develop when you come across branches and such on your path. They offer great support and protection for knees but at the cost of it somewhat restricting your movement. I’d recommend these for people who are doing light running or jogging and want something more durable that can guard against the elements. One thing the seller emphasizes is the patella protection the sleeve offers. To be honest with you, this was my first time hearing that phrase, ‘patella.’ But after a quick google search, I found it was a small bone in the kneecap that is one reason you can bend your knees. It acts as a cog in a piece of machinery moving the motors surrounding it. This particular sleeve was manufactured to protect that bone and in general the knee area, thus the thicker padding. Up until now, you’ve only heard about is the protection, but what remains is the muscle recovery process this sleeve provides from the compression applied on to the knee. It’s a great fit for runners who want support and need some relief and rest after a run. They’re a tight fit but are effective in handling muscle stimulation and growth after a workout. One last thing that they add that puts the cherry on top is the free knee straps they include. It’s nice to have that extra brace and support you can put under the sleeve. Having them together makes for quality training apparel to pick up.

chief-gear-knee-compression-sleeve

Joint Gears Copper Knee Brace and Compression Sleeve

Last but definitely not least are these budget compression sleeves by Joint Gears. And when I said budget, I meant it. At the time of writing this article, they’re hovering over the $10 mark and are a must grab for daily running, you can just put these on and put on and go out the door with. Unfortunately, you’re only getting a single sleeve, but in comparison with the other products, even if you buy two sets of these, they’re still cheaper relative to their competitors. I chose these with particular sleeves for people who are active and run every day but want several sleeves that they can buy in bulk so they can cycle through several pairs during the week. These are great budget sleeves that are cheap in price, and definitely, bang-for-your-buck that accomplishes what most people look for. They’re a lightweight material, and a snug fit that you can slip on at the beginning of the run. It has a light amount of compression, but enough to help you recover your muscles and joints while still keeping your blood pumping in the knee and leg area. They’re also a quality sleeve to pick up if you want something that can help with tendonitis, stiffness, or soreness you might be experiencing after a run. It also contains copper-infused fibers but not as much as the other sleeves that I’ve mentioned on the list. Although the copper is nice to have, what you should be focusing on is that it still performs the same duties as a brace. It will provide the basic necessities of a runner, which are protection, support, and recovery. Just remember the strong point of this particular sleeve is the quantity and price while still being a quality sleeve. These are the ones you’re going to be wearing every day when you go out and run to provide you that added assistance.

joint-gears-compression-knee-sleeve

Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying

I always say this for many of my buyer guides but always take a good look at what you actually need or want. I know it’s easy to brush that off and say you already know, but I advise you to at least double-check. Ask yourself: “Do I need sleeves for everyday running” or “Do I need high-quality sleeves because my knees are hurting” or maybe even “I’m a college student and don’t really have much to invest in the sleeve but want something for when I go on a jog.”Take a little time for some retrospection and stack which aspects you require more. As for sizing of the sleeves, all the manufacturers provide a sizing chart/table that have the given lengths. You usually measure from the circumference in the thigh area (4” above the knee) for most of these products, but some manufacturers specify sizing instructions differently. Also, be wary that compression material stretches so don’t be scared if the product seems too small because chances are it probably stretches.