Hiking is an outdoor activity with a lot of participants. It’s something that can be done at any locale and it can be as easy or as challenging as you want. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare by taking measures to learn concepts like what to wear hiking.
Aside from just standard gear, though, you’re going to need to consider safety as well. For instance, you probably already know that you need to pack some hiking first aid medical kit essentials. Gear like knee braces, though, can also help handle knee injuries. If you’re suffering from hiker’s knee, as an example, a good knee brace can help keep you comfortably mobile. To get the job done, you’ll want the right brace. That’s why we’ve gathered all the information you need to choose the best knee brace for hiking.
How To Choose A Knee Braces For Hiking – Buying Guide
When it comes to the design of a knee brace for walking and hiking, you have four basic options: hinged braces, sleeves, supports, strap braces, and stabilizers.
Hinged knee braces allow you to move your knee freely. This is a particularly good choice as far as knee support for hiking because it doesn’t restrict forward and backward movement of the knee but it does restrict side-to-side movement. If you’re prone to slipping your knee caps, this can help keep them in place. Stabilizers are often thought of alongside hinged knee braces because they use a duo built-in spring system made of steel to both support your knee and facilitate movement.
Sleeve braces simply pull up from the bottom of your leg up to around your knee. These help keep your knee warm as well as enhancing circulation thanks to the compression they offer. This, paired with their slim design, makes them a good knee brace for running.
Supports are the type of knee brace that you wrap around your knee yourself. However, they offer more support than a standard elastic bandage wrap would.
Finally, strap braces don’t cover the knee but instead sit underneath your knee cap. These add focused pressure to your knee for stability and they support your kneecap, specifically, very well. These can be the best hiking knee brace if you have problems such as patellar or tendonitis that cause pain when you walk or hike.
The two primary styles of knee braces are slip-on and wrap-around braces. Slip-on braces are slipped over your foot and pulled up into position on your knee. Wrap-around braces are “open” and you hook them around the knee. The biggest challenge you’ll find with these is that on lower-grade or old wrap-around braces, the straps might wear down and become loose. Once a knee brace gets loose, no matter what style or design you’re wearing, the support of brace is less effective.
When you’re hiking, you’re going to encounter different types of terrain and your body might also change over time. This means that knee braces with adjustment capabilities are going to be especially helpful. This is often seen in wrap-around knee braces since they have straps that are typically easy to pull as tight or loosen as much as you need to. Unfortunately, knee sleeves aren’t typically adjustable.
The vast majority of knee braces use elastic material. This is usually a latex-free material such as neoprene. Not only is this non-allergenic but it also applies supportive pressure well and this type of material is strong and will last you quite a while.
If you’re buying a stabilizing or hinged knee brace, those supports are likely to use polymer or metal.
Looking at the material a knee brace is made of it an important part of finding a top rated hiking knee brace. Another part of this is making sure the knee brace is breathable and easy to wash since you’re going to be exerting yourself.
Finding the right knee braces for walking or hiking means finding the size you need. To start, sit on the edge of a chair and straighten your leg out down to the floor. Then, use a tape measure to measure your thigh, six inches above your knee. Then, measure your leg six inches below your knee. Compare these sizes to the size chart of the product you’re looking at.
When you’re looking for the best knee brace for hiking for you, you might also run across one-size-fits-all braces as well.
Whether you’re looking for a knee brace for hiking downhill, uphill, or long distances, you aren’t going to want something that makes you uncomfortable. Specifically, you’re going to want to make sure that you choose something that won’t bunch up which means you have to get a knee brace in your size. It’ll also go a long way for comfort and support if your knee brace absorbs sweat.
Open or Closed Patella
The terms “open patella” or “closed patella” refer to whether your knee cap is visible while it’s supported by the brace.
Closed patella knee braces cover your whole knee and apply greater pressure. Open patella knee braces relieve some of this pressure and often allow greater movement and better tracking of the knee. This makes them a great choice as a knee brace for long distance hiking.
There are a few types of knee braces that you have to choose from. We already discussed one in knee straps that sit just below your knee rather than pulled up over it. There are also patella stabilizers and dual-action knee straps. Patella stabilizers focus on preventing irregular movement of the knee and are usually open patella knee braces. Dual-action knee straps are fairly self-explanatory since they’re simply knee braces with a pair of straps. This locks the patella into place and reduces improper movements.
It goes almost without saying that you want anything you purchase to be of high quality. When it comes to knee braces, this means that you want a knee brace that will do its job, be comfortable to wear, and won’t break down anytime soon even under strenuous hikes.
Q: Who needs a knee brace for hiking?
Knee braces help provide stability and support to your knee while you walk. This stability can help any hiker have a little support as they make odd steps and exert themselves. They’re well-suited for any hiker but are especially helpful to hikers that have knee pain. This doesn’t need to be hiker’s knee either. Any sort of knee aches and pains can be helped along with a knee brace and keep you in top condition as you hike. The best knee brace for hiking is a good piece of gear to have alongside items like hiking poles and high-quality hiking shoes.
Q: Can I wear a hiking brace as prevention from injury?
The evidence that wearing a knee brace to prevent injury is fairly scarce. There is some evidence that suggests that athletes wearing knee braces when they run can help offer support to prevent knee injuries such as ACL tears. If you’re prone to your knee cap slipping, a knee brace can also help prevent further problems by giving your patella extra support to stay in place.
So, wearing a knee brace can help keep your knee in place to avoid slight twists and jars but it isn’t going to completely prevent injury. That being said, you aren’t going to cause injury by wearing a knee brace just in case. If you’re wearing a knee brace without knee pain, though, it’s a good idea to start with something simple like a light knee sleeve rather than a heavy-duty brace.
Q: What is hiker’s knee?
Hiker’s knee is sometimes also referred to as runner’s knee and medically referred to Chondromalacia. This knee pain is felt when you’re adding particular strain to your knees such as walking uphill, downhill, on stairs, and high impact activities like running or rock climbing.
This is pretty common in older hikers because hiking often requires awkward steps and strain on your knee. Younger hikers can also suffer from it if they suffer trauma of the knee or overuse. The condition can also be caused by using gear that isn’t up to par like worn-out hiking boots.
While a knee brace won’t cure hiker’s knee, it can help handle some of the strain and add the support you need to comfortably hike with it.
Hiking puts a lot of strain on your knees because hikes are full of odd steps and sometimes terrain that’s complicated to navigate. Luckily, if you have the best hiking knee brace on hand, you can reduce the aches and pains you have to deal with while you do something you can truly enjoy.
While it can seem like an overwhelming task at first, this guide gives you everything you need to know to find the best hiking knee brace for you. From our frequently asked question and buying guide to our knee brace for hiking reviews themselves, you’ll be able to find something that works perfectly for you.