The 4 Best Tactical Knee Pads — Military Accessory Reviews

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Photo by UK Ministry of Defence / CC BY

Knee pads are effectively one of the most overlooked pieces of kit on the market. Knee pads aren’t as sexy as plate carrier, or a good holster, but remain important. An unfortunate side effect of doing rough work is the eventual wear and tear on your joints, and when you are low to the ground daily you are going to stress your knees.

The best knee pads need to be able to first off protect your knees, everyone knows that, but protection from what is the question. This can be from the ground, or from violent individuals, or even to simply stay comfortable when taking a knee for an extended period. Knee pads need to be comfortable, and need to be durable. When protection, comfort, and durability come together you have a knee pad worth its salt.

Here are our recommendations for the 4 best tactical knee pads on the market:


5.11 Internal Pads

These knee pads are probably not what you traditionally picture knee pads being. They are designed to be used inside certain pants. Originally designed for 5.11 Tactical pads these pads will work with any utility pants cut for knee pads. The 5.11 knee pads are designed to provide comfort from prolonged kneeling, and from hard asphalt or gravel. These 5.11 knee pads are not necessarily designed to prevent injuries to the knees or protect them in traumatic events.

Made from a soft and bendable neoprene material, the 5.11 internal knee pads will fit in tactical pants designed for police and military and can be used to reinforce traditional hard shell knee pads. These pads are perfect for those in a profession where wearing knee pad is not allowed, but can greatly increase comfort. For example, EMS and firefighters may find themselves spending a lot of time taking a knee to treat a patient. Also, many competitive shooting sports do not allow for external knee pads, but there is nothing against internal though.

These pads eliminate the feeling of sharp gravel poking into the knee, as well as reduce the stress placed the knee from your bodyweight. These pads can ultimately aid in overall joint health for the knees for those who cannot wear an external knee pad due to dress regulations for professional or discretionary reasons. Sometimes, the best tactical knee pads are products that people often think don’t look like knee pads.

Arcteryx Kneecap

These are a little closer to traditional knee pads but are designed to ensure comfort and flexibility while maintaining adequate protection. The Arcteryx knee pads have a very unique cut to them that eliminates unnecessary material to place the protection solely on the knee. This loss of extra materials makes the knee pads lighter, more flexible, and less cumbersome for the user. The design allows the knee pad to flex and move with the user, and this completely eliminates chafing.

The pads feature low profile cam locks instead of velcro. These cam locks are much more secure and less prone to damage. Velcro can lose its sticky factor when clung with mud, dust, or any other battlefield debris. The straps are not elastic, and the pads do require proper adjustment.

The Arcteryx pads offer complete hard shell knee protection, as well as a bit or protection right below the knee for the calf. The inside of the knee pads is reinforced with foam that is softened for comfort, but adds a soft layer of protection. The Arcteryx knee pads are bit pricier than most, but are definitely more comfortable than most pads and are more reliable for heavy protection. These are among the best knee pads, tactical or otherwise.

Blackhawk Advanced Knee Pads

Blackhawk is a major player in the tactical gear community and is often one of the most cost effective options out there. Their tactical knee pad design was one of the first successful attempts to translate sportswear to the tactical realm. This is their Version 2 of their popular knee pad and Blackhawk has taken customer experiences and formed a better knee pad.

The Blackhawk knee pad took from the experiences of war fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan and provided a number of features you will not see anywhere else. They utilize closed cell foam padding to provide both shock absorption, but this also allows sweat to evaporate. To provide further sweat and moisture evaporation the padding separates a bit, but when flexed the pads come back together. Any time you take a knee you are going to be flexing the pad.

The Blackhawk Advanced tactical knee pads utilize an injected molded hard shell for knee protection, reinforced with internal foam. The hard shell portion is secured with six rivets for maximum retention. There is no reliance of glues or stitching to hold the shell on. The hard shell protection is also designed to flex just a it. This extra bit of flex allows for a longer life and reduces the chance of the shell breakings or cracking.

The Blackhawk Knee pads are also very affordable and are backed by a company with an excellent reputation for both their products and their customer service. These are among the best military knee pads.

Alta Tactical AltaLok Contour Knee Pads

The Altalok Contour Knee Pads are designed to provide the most protection possible. These knee pads may not be necessary for every task but do excel at a few. For example, these are the knee pads you want if you’re doing prisoner cell extraction. These knee pads are also perfect for urban combat, and room and building clearing. The Altalok Contour Knee pads offer protection above the knee, the knee, and below the knee.

This level of protection is often associated with bulk and loss of mobility. The Altalok pads aims to reduce this by designing the knee pad to contour to your moving body. The knee pad also features a flap free strap keeper to secure excess straps. The straps can adjusted as necessary for proper fit as well.

The Altalok is a bit more bulky than the standard knee pad, but offers an unparalleled level of protection. The Altalok is designed for those situations where you’re just taking a knee, but could be taking a beating. If you want the most protection, these are probably the best tactical knee pads you can buy.

Take a Knee

Knee pads protect a very vulnerable joint. not only are they protecting your from idiot injury and pain, but can also protect you from a lifetime of pain, discomfort, and joint health issues. I suggest anyone involved in law enforcement, military, or other rough work remember without their speed, and reflexes they are putting everyone at risk. Knee pads can help preserve those reflexes. An affordable investment into a solid set of knee protection is an investment in a long and happy life, even if they’re not as sexy as that tricked out 300 Blackout AR-15 you’ve always wanted.

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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One response

  1. Alta knee pads are absolutely excellent and can be used for a variety of uses, including tactical. I used this for kneeling in a warehouse. It stayed in place and made kneeling on concrete bearable. The straps are in no way infringing upon your activity. Most of the time I forget im wearing them.

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