Knee injuries are common in CrossFit and, while they can’t prevent every injury, the best CrossFit knee sleeves can provide a good level of protection and support, letting you train harder, for longer.
There are various types of sleeves available. These include those designed to offer maximum support for powerlifting, as well as thinner knee sleeves that provide support while still being flexible enough for functional movements like squats, lunges, and running.
In this guide, we’ve reviewed 8 of the best CrossFit knee sleeves available to buy online, and also included a buyers guide to help you choose the right one for you.
Table of Contents
Best Knee Sleeves For CrossFit
These 6mm knee sleeves from Element 26 are made of neoprene, so they’re flexible while still offering good levels of support. The 6mm thickness means that they are suitable for most CrossFit activities but you may need something with more support if you’re lifting really heavy weights.
The Element 26 knee sleeves are priced about average. They have reinforced stitching to prevent them busting open and are contoured to more closely fit the shape of the knee. The material is non-slip and doesn’t bunch up in the middle of a workout.
The only real downside is that these 6mm thickness won’t offer enough support for some powerlifters and those looking for more support.
- Good for functional movements in CrossFit
- The neoprene doesn’t bunch or slip
- Reinforced stitching prolongs the life of the sleeves
- Not suitable for powerlifting
Rocktape Assassins Knee Compression Sleeves come in a choice of 5mm or 7mm thickness and are made from neoprene for its combination of support and flexibility.
7mm knee sleeves are usually preferred for heavy lifting because they offer more support but can lack in flexibility. 5mm sleeves are thinner so while they don’t offer as much support, they are more flexible.
5mm are more commonly used in CrossFit but it really depends on the amount of support your knees require. Rocktape sleeves come in either thickness and a good range of sizes. They are also very competitively priced, but as is a problem with a lot of support sleeves, the stitching can go after a few months, which means that you will have to replace them often.
The sleeves can be quite tight, especially on larger legs so choosing a size up can help avoid the sleeves digging in to the legs.
- Choice of thickness and size
- Good level of support
- Stitching can give, rendering them useless
- Can be difficult to get the right size
Rehband RX knee sleeves are 5mm thick, which tends to be the best thickness for CrossFit because of the flexibility requirements of WODs. Rehband has patented their anatomical design which means that the sleeve should fit perfectly around the knee although, as ever, do double check the measurement of the patella of the knee because size measurements can vary.
The knee sleeves are flexible while still offering support and they don’t suffer the same bunching problems as other sleeves. However, you do need to check the sizing and, although most people wear sleeves on both knees for CrossFit, these only come as single sleeves. By the time you’ve bought two of these, they work out expensive compared to others.
- Good anatomical design fits well around the knee
- No material bunching issues
- Good combination of support and stability
- Only one in the pack
Nordic Lifting are known for their supply of weightlifting and powerlifting accessories, so it is little surprise that these knee sleeves are 7mm thick and lean towards offering greater support at the expense of some flexibility. They are also suitable for injury recovery, for the same reason. They’re well priced and come as a pair.
The stitching on the Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves can give way after a few months but it’s also worth noting that Nordic Lifting have excellent customer service and regularly replace broken and torn sleeves.
- Offer excellent levels of support
- Nordic Lifting’s customer support is excellent
- Good for injury recovery
- Stitching can give way in a few months
- Not as flexible as thinner sleeves
The EXO knee sleeves are made from 3mm neoprene, and, like the Element 26 sleeves, they are contoured to fit the shape of the leg. The sleeves are really cheap, coming in at the lowest price on the list.
The neoprene is only 3mm thick which means that they are suitable for offering light support for running and for some CrossFit workout elements, but for lifting and intensive knee exercises, you may want something with additional support. It might be because of the thickness but the EXO sleeves also tend to bunch up, and the contoured shape and the size of these sleeves means they are better suited to smaller and petite frames.
- Lots of flexibility
- Material bunches up
- Not enough support for more intense workouts
- Only really suitable for small frames
ProFitness 7mm knee sleeves are good for the support required when lifting heavy weights and performing squats. However, because they are thick, they can restrict movement a little. Out of the box, the neoprene is tight and supporting and the ProFitness sleeves are a good price and come as a pair, rather than being individually sold.
Although the sleeves are secure out of the bag, the material stretches, especially if you manage to get a tight fit, as advised by the manufacturer. The neoprene in these can prove quite slick, especially after sweating, which means they have a tendency to slip and move up and down the leg during intense workouts.
- Offer plenty of support
- Sold as a pair
- Can slip when sweaty
- Material stretches easily
Bear Komplex Compression Knee Sleeves come in a choice of 7mm thickness, offering enough support for even the heaviest weights, or 5mm, which offer a little extra flexibility. Both sets feel thick and strong and the sectioned design means that they aren’t as inflexible as some other thick sleeves. They do come as pairs, although they are getting towards the expensive end of the price scale.
As well as being a little on the expensive side, the Bear Komplex Compression Knee Sleeves are bigger and cover more area above the knee, which can impede movement, and the design means that they are difficult to get over large calves.
- Choice of 5mm or 7mm thickness
- Design gives them good flexibility
- A struggle for larger calves
Gymreapers knee sleeves are another 7mm thick knee sleeve option made from neoprene. They come with a free bag and have reinforced stitching that should prevent them from bursting at the seams even during heavy use.
Although sleeves are designed to be tight, you will need to take careful measurements and might still find these to be too tight for functional movement. The stitching still has a tendency to break after a few months, presumably caused by how tight the sleeves are worn. And, while they are sold as a pair, the Gymreaper sleeves are more expensive than almost all others on the list.
- Reinforced stitching
- Thick and tight for added support
- Free bag
- Stitching still breaks, despite being reinforced
- Can be too tight
Buyers Guide To The Best CrossFit Knee Sleeves
Some gymgoers and CrossFitters resist the use of knee sleeves because they think they don’t need them or that wearing them is like cheating or getting some kind of artificial assistance.
Sleeves are purely designed to provide support to your knees, which are notorious for getting injured especially during those more intense CrossFit workouts. They ensure that you’re working the muscles around your knee and in the rest of your legs, rather than putting extra pressure on the knee joint.
What Are CrossFit Knee Sleeves?
Knee sleeves are pieces of material that typically slide onto your leg and sit tightly over the knee. Most commonly, they’re made of neoprene (a kind of synthetic rubber) because it’s a strong but elastic material that will contour to the shape of your legs and provide the stability required.
The Benefits Of Using A Knee Sleeve
Commonly worn for weightlifting and powerlifting sessions, knee sleeves can also benefit your CrossFit journey. They assist with:
- Injury Recovery – Knee injuries can be painful and prevent you from putting any real pressure on the joint, which means training will have to stop until you’re recovered. A knee sleeve provides extra support to assist the knee so that it can take more pressure. It’s important that you give injuries proper time to heal, but a knee sleeve can reduce rehabilitation time and enable you to start training sooner.
- Compression – Compression encourages good blood flow, and good blood flow prevents muscle soreness and reduces inflammation. Not only does this mean less pain during your workout, but it can reduce muscle soreness the next day, too.
- Warmth – When the joints are cold, they become inflamed more easily and they are more prone to injury. A knee sleeve keeps the area warm through compression and insulation, thereby reducing injury and stress.
- Support – When training the muscles in your leg, it can often turn out that joints like the knees and ankles prevent you from pushing harder and training longer. Knee sleeves support the knee which means you can keep running, doing squats, and lifting weights without having to break because of knee pain.
Things To Look Out For
Apart from different branding, most knee sleeves look similar. But there are some factors to consider when buying to ensure you get the best knee sleeve for CrossFit training.
The single biggest factor to consider when buying a knee support for CrossFit is the thickness. Thickness varies from 3mm to 7mm. 7mm sleeves are really thick and are designed to provide support for weightlifting, while 3mm sleeves are thin and provide little support but do offer joint warmth. 5mm and even 6mm offer a middle ground with some of the benefits of the more extreme thicknesses.
You will need to measure your knee to ensure a good fit. Just because you buy large clothes, doesn’t mean you need a large sleeve, and different companies have different sizing guides. To measure the knee, ensure it is bent slightly and measure tightly around the patella.
Shape also matters. Basic sleeves are straight up and down, but your leg likely doesn’t match this shape. Contoured designs should fit comfortably over the quads and the knee so that they offer better support and are less prone to slipping and bunching.
Durability is difficult to measure, but poor-quality sleeves can stretch after a few uses and the stitching burst or come undone. Read reviews and look for reinforced stitching and decent quality materials to ensure sleeves offer good durability.
Verdict – Which Is The Best Knee Sleeve For CrossFit?
Having good knee support can keep you training in CrossFit harder, and for longer. They prevent soreness during and after a WOD, and they’re effective for injury recovery, too. There’s a surprisingly wide range of choice (and quality) when it comes to buying the best knee sleeve for your CrossFit journey.
We believe that the Element 26 Knee Sleeves offer the best combination of flexibility and support for CrossFit workout. They’re reasonably priced and are very durable, making them best overall choice.
For a cheaper option, Rocktape Assassins offer good value for money and they come in a choice of 5mm or 7mm thickness.
More CrossFit gear review guides:
- Pull Up Stands
- Jump Ropes
- Resistance Bands
- Hand Grips
- Gymnastic Rings
- Weight Vests
- Plyo Boxes
- Ab Rollers