Military knee pads

Knee pads may not be at the top of your shooting gear wish list, but maybe they should be. Tactical assignments often require you to drop to your knees, whether it be to assume a kneeling position for shooting, army crawl to safety, or duck and cover. Therefore, it is not hard to see how military operatives, police officers, airsoft athletes, and the likes can benefit from the added comfort, protection, and injury prevention provided by a solid pair of tactical knee pads. 

That's precisely why we've taken the time to bring you our top five best tactical knee pads. Read along to get all the juice on some exceptional products and find out more about how you can benefit from adding knee pads to your tactical attire. 

Buying Guide for Military Knee Pads

Who should use tactical knee pads and why?

In hunting, combat, and a number of other tactical occupations and sports, it isn't unusual to be down on your hands and knees. In such cases, inevitable and recurring encounters with rough terrain and sharp objects can be detrimental to your performance, aptitude, and physical health. Knee pads are an often overlooked yet tremendously beneficial piece of survival gear that can help protect your bodily assets while keeping you comfortable and in the game for longer periods of time. 

A solid pair of tactical knee pads can save your knees and pants from destruction, but that's not all. You may find that they come in handy in less extreme situations too. From gardening to installing a spare tire, knee pads are known for making a job easier and reducing the amount of wear on your body. Just be sure that they are comfortable, durable, and easy to adjust. 

What to consider?

If you're in the market for a new pair of tactical knee pads or aren't sure where to begin your search, we've got the rundown on what can make and break this integral article of protective gear. For starters, you'll want to be on the lookout for high-quality, comfortable, and durable materials. Most pads feature some sort of thick foam backing encased in a synthetic fabric that features a hard, flexible panel or cap. While materials vary, popular compilations include neoprene, polyethylene, canvas, and nylon. The pads should be somewhat shock-absorbent, flexible, and moisture-wicking, not to mention ergonomic and comfortable enough to wear the whole day through. 

Caps

Caps are typically made of rubber or plastic. They need to be flexible, yet strong enough to withstand the impact and stress of any surface or material they come in contact with. For this reason, the military uses high-density polyethylene, a material which is flexible, unyielding, and somewhat breathable. Keep in mind plastics are more susceptible to cracks and surface wear, but are also more robust. 

Straps

Don't underestimate the importance of knee pad straps. Stretchy elastic straps should be positioned near both the top and bottom of the knee pad to properly secure the protective sheath to your leg. Most straps have Velcro or buckle closures, each with its own set of benefits to consider. For example, while Velcro shows signs of wear sooner, it is easier to secure and adjust. Meanwhile, plastic buckles last longer but are more prone to damage. 

Padding

Manufacturers utilize a variety of foam padding to ensure knee pads are comfortable and resistant to falls and impacts. Some use closed cell foam, such as neoprene, and other utilize open cell foam. Neoprene is valued because it does not absorb moisture and is extremely shock resistant (CGR Products). However, it is more expensive than generic foam liners. 

Design

Now that we've given you a thorough rundown of the best materials for tactical knee pads, let's discuss how they can be brought together cohesively to produce a reliable piece of protective gear. Look for pads that have a low profile that and embrace the key anatomical features of the knee. Extra padding helps absorb shock but too much excess material adds a bulky burden that can slow or infringe on your tactical performance. 

Remember, there are plenty of knee pads that cost well under $!00, with standard-issue military ones being some of the cheapest. You shouldn't have to trade-off comfort for durability or vice versa. 

Military Knee Pad Reviews

Alta Tactical's olive drab AltaLok Contour Knee Pads are some of the most reliable combat-ready tactical knee pads around. They feature the best of Alta's patented technologies, including one-step fasteners and excess strap casings. Premium materials, including ultrathick neoprene, nylon, and Cordura nylon, make this one of the most comfortable and durable knee pads on the market. At just under $30 a pair, the AltaLok Contour Knee Pads provide a generous amount of protection. As a matter of fact, the contouring pads even extend above and below the knee. The sectioned neoprene padding is designed to protect your leg joints without inhibiting your natural range of motion. Widespread top and bottom straps are held in place with pivoting rivets. Buckle closures offer easy access and the option to air out your knees between tasks. While we would have preferred both the top and bottoms traps to be elastic, a single elastic strap on the bottom is only a minor shortcoming in an all-around choice product. When fitted properly, these pads shouldn't slip. However, the occasional movement is yet another minor trade-off for an otherwise superior product. 


The Alta pads are flexible enough to wear all day and withstand countless ups and downs. We'd recommend these padded wonders for a variety of tactical situations, including raids, shooting exercises, and airsoft deathmatches. They work best for repeated kneeling rather than harsh impacts. Save yourself from future knee operations and go home feeling good as new with the help of the Alta tactical pads. 
Pros
  • Neoprene foam padding
  • Skid-resistant rubber cap
  • Waterproof brushed tricot liner

Cons

  • Tendency to slip
  • Bottom strap is not elestic
Alta Tactical AltaLok Contour Knee Pads

The Alta 52913.00 AltaCONTOUR Knee Protector Pads are biomechanically-engineered to enhance your natural movement while guaranteeing the lasting protection and comfort of your knees. The pads consist of sectioned 1/2-inch foam pads and a flexible plastic cap. They are extremely lightweight and feature a black Cordura cover that wicks moisture and repels harsh battleground debris. These features come together cohesively to ensure flexible, low-profile protection for your lower joints. 

The Alta's straps are set widely apart to prevent bunching. Meanwhile, rubber lining strips help prevent slippage during periods of enhanced motion. The AltaLOK fastening system offers effortless on and off positioning. Whereas, patented strap keepers prevent pesky strap surplus from flapping around or snagging on objects. Topping it all off, the outer shell is designed for better skid resistance and traction. 

The nylon material is backed by a powerful Tricot liner. While this helps keep moisture and sediment at bay, it's doesn't mean the Alta pads are exempt from wear and tear. While you might not want to wear these for frontline action, they're perfect for when you're going about your rounds in a personal security unit, spending the day at the shooting range, or need some hardcore protection for that HVAC job that is guaranteed to have you on your knees. 

The Alta pads keep you covered from the mid-thigh down to the top half of your calf. If you're looking for unmatched protection that doesn't jeopardize your natural range of motion the 52913.16 has it. At just under $30 a pair, these beefy tactical pads can't be beaten. 

Pros

  • Lightweight (11.4 oz)
  • Non-Slip Rubber strip to prevent slippage
  • Waterproof brushed tricot liner

Cons

  • No elastic in bottom strap
  • Fabric breaks down easily
ALTA 52913.16 AltaCONTOUR Knee Protector Pad

Blackhawk has developed an affordable and beloved line of tactical gear, and the BLACKHAWK! V.2 Advanced Tactical Knee Pads are no exception. The pads feature a closed cell foam padding, a 600-denier nylon shell, and an injection-molded polyethylene cap. Contoured interior edges and reliable hook and loop closures keep the pads firmly in place. Meanwhile, padded sides give you a greater degree of protection and aptly position the nylon straps. 

Six metal rivets seal together the multiple layers and help to eliminate the possibility of a gap when flexed. Choose from matte black or army green to help you flawlessly blend into your surroundings. This flexible getup will allow you to forget the days of digging into spent shells, rocks, and glass and finally focus on utilizing your tactical talents to persuade the outcome of your battle. 

Unlike the Alta caps above, the Blackhawk pads don't extend above or below the kneecaps. For this reason, the straps are quite close together. Still, these compact knee pads absorb the shock and resist the brunt of potential damage from repeatedly taking a knee. 

Pros

  • Velcro closures hold tight and mimize sliding
  • Comes in black, Coyote tan, and green
  • Closed cell foam padding prevents mositure buildup

Cons

  • Straps are close to each other
  • Does not extend to lower or upper leg (kneecap coverage only)
BLACKHAWK! Advanced Tactical Knee Pads V.2

The Arcteryx Kneecaps offer lightweight, low-profile protection for military operatives, hunters, and airsoft athletes. The low profile hourglass caps feature the option of camouflaging crocodile or black colorways. Meanwhile, dual adjustable elastic straps and compact cap locks keep these pads in place during rigorous movement. 

The novel cut of the Arcteryx Kneecaps helps to keep them lightweight and slim but also fully capable of protecting your joints. As you can see in this video on military issue knee pads, these protective barriers will not only save you from getting banged up they will increase your mobility in difficult situations. 

Backed by thick EV50 foam and featuring Kydex covers, it comes as no surprise that these knee pads are a favorite of military personnel. Articulated patterning promotes ultimate flexibility and all-around compatibility. Don't let the premium price deter you from owning your own pair of Arcteryx Kneecaps, as they offer extensive, reliable protection. 

If you're not convinced, just check out this video of a Gerber knife digging into the Arcteryx Kneecaps to no avail. 

Pros

  • Low-profile, lightweight design
  • Anatomical shaping
  • Two elestic straps

Cons

  • Roll on hard surfaces
  • Ajustments don't always hold
Arcteryx Kneecap

Damascus DNKPM Imperial Neoprene Knee Pads

Damascus Protective Gear's DNKPM Imperial Neoprene Knee Pads offer camouflaged protection for your most valuable joints. Multilayered polyethylene foam is backed by neoprene caps to provide shock-absorbing, nonslip protection for your kneecaps. Kept in place with adjustable elastic straps and secure-fit Velcro closures, these knee pads will stay in place through it all. 

The outer pad is made from Trion-x, a reinforced, nonslip, gripping surface designed for action. These pads fit like a glove and perform silently. All things considered, this is a great product. We only wish that the Velcro was a bit more durable and minimal shifting wasn't an issue. 

It may be hard to believe these bargain-rate pads were designed for the intense pressures of military and law enforcement officers. However, at less than $30 a pair, they manage to live up to their promise. 

Pros

  • 10mm high-desisty closed cell foam AND polyurethane foam
  • Skid-resistant neoprene cap
  • Available in multiple colors and camoflauge prints

Cons

  • Inferior Velcro
  • Doesn't hold well during increased movement
Damascus DNKPM Imperial Neoprene Knee Pads

Final thoughts

In a recent study by the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers claim that knee pads have the potential to reduce the risk of leg and knee injuries by nearly half (Academic).They can also provide you with extra comfort and control in the heat of the battlefield. Not to mention, they will most likely save you a large chunk of money in medical bills. What's more, you can put them to good use around the house too. So, what are you waiting for? 

If you work or play in an industry were standing on your feet is imperative and dropping to your knees is a must, think twice before heading out there without wearing proper joint protection. The are plenty of affordable, reliable knee pads just waiting to be plucked up. While it might require you to put your dream rifle or utility knife on the backburner, we guarantee the extensive performance and health benefits are well worth it.

Plus, with all the money you'll save on purchasing a reliable pair of knee pads, you can move on to scoping out new gear, like a spiffy new tomahawk, a splendid pair of tactical gloves, or some spiffy new shooting glasses.