For non-equipped lifters, the knee sleeve is one of the most important pieces of equipment available to allow the lifter to move more weight and support the knees in the squat. Below you’ll find the best overall knee sleeve, the best cheap knee sleeves, and what makes sense for you.
Best Knee Sleeves for Lifting
If money is no object for you, then you should probably just go with the SBD knee sleeves. These are widely considered the best knee sleeves for squatting, especially among powerlifters, and are the standard against which other knee sleeves are measured. They cost about $82.
The best bang for your buck sleeves are the Stoic knee sleeves (Amazon), offering comparable quality to SBD for quite a bit less. They cost about $67.
Lifters seeking a bargain sleeve should check out Nordic Lifting knee sleeves, offering a rock solid product for about $40 per paid (Amazon).
Recommended for lifters who want a high quality, tight fitting knee sleeve.
SBD knee sleeves are generally considered the gold standard of knee sleeves. They are known for their ultra-tight fit and quality build. If you have the cash, SBD sleeves are a solid pick for knee sleeves.
Sold by Starting Strongman for $82.
Stoic Knee Sleeves ($67)
Recommended for lifters seeking the perfect balance between quality and price.
Stoic knee sleeves are definitely a hot piece of powerlifting gear in 2020. They’ve been compared (see below) to powerhouse brands like STrong and SBD and come out roughly equal while costing quite a bit less. I have not personally tried these yet, but I think they’re going to be my next knee sleeve purchase.
I’ve seen nothing but good things written about them and they seem to be in it for the long run, looking to convince skeptics with quality and sturdiness.
Available from Amazon for about $67.
Slingshot STrong Sleeves by Mark Bell
Recommended for those seeking a slightly less expensive alternative to SBD knee sleeves.
Reputed to be as tight fitting and supportive as SBD Sleeves, Mark Bell’s STrong Sleeves have been a popular newcomer on the knee sleeve market and cost $10 less than the SBDs! These are constructed to last through the toughest squat sessions, year in and year out. Definitely worth the investment.
Sold on Amazon for about $80.
Rehband Knee Sleeves ($80 Pair)
Recommended for lifters who want a durable, high quality sleeve that is slightly shorter and slightly looser than SBD sleeves.
IPF-approved and renowned for quality, Rehband Knee Sleeves are some of the most popular knee sleeves amongst top lifters.
I find these are not quite as snug as the SBD sleeves, though they’re very well made and have served me well. If you need to wear knee sleeves for longer sessions (such as CrossFit WODs or long leg days in the gym) these are a great option for support and comfort.
Rehband knee sleeves are 27.5 cm long. This is slightly shorter than most knee sleeves, which utilize the full 30 cm allowed by most competitive equipment rules. I didn’t notice any major difference due to this and don’t think it should be a concern.
Sold on Amazon for about $80.
Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves
Recommended for the budget-conscious lifter who still wants a good knee sleeve.
The Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves are a solid choice for the budget conscious lifter. These are still solid sleeves that will serve you well, while costing about half what the leading brands go for.
Personally, I like to have a pair of “competition sleeves” and a pair of training sleeves to keep my competition sleeves in good shape. These are a great pick for training or competition.
Available from Amazon for about $40.
Why Are Knee Sleeves Important?
Knee sleeves are a key piece of lifting equipment for a few reasons:
- They keep your knees warm during lifting, reducing inflammation in the tendons.
- They provide you with support and “bounce” out of the bottom part of the squat.
In short: knee sleeves keep your knees safe and can add some weight to your squat.
In terms of essential pieces of lifting equipment, these are really a no-brainer.
Approved Knee Sleeves by Powerlifting Federation
It’s always important to abide by the equipment rules established by the federation you plan to compete in.
You can find links to official rules and lists of approved equipment for the IPF, USAPL, and USPA here: