If your knees hurt or your legs feel like they are on fire at the end of a 5-mile hike, it might be time for knee braces. Hiking and knee braces go well together, since these braces not only support the knee joint and also the musculature of the leg, but also permit those who were recently injured to build muscle strength and endurance with the support they provide. There are essentially three kinds of knee braces for hiking, and finding the best kind depends on your knee health and also on the kind of terrain you anticipate traversing.
Knee Caps for Rough Terrain
Check out Arc'teryx Knee Caps if you plan on hiking in rough terrain that might require the occasional mountaineering or might see you slipping and sliding in loose gravel. Fit them over your knees if wearing shorts, or over your outerwear, and protect your clothing and skin from scrapes, bumps and serious injuries. Since Knee Caps are made anatomically correct, they do not hamper your movement. Best of all, these knee braces are so lightweight that you can take them with you, but not put them on until you anticipate a rather bumpy leg of the hike ahead.
Knee Strap for Jumper's Knee
Pick up a knee strap that supports the knee cap from behind. At first glance, this is simply a strap that fits just under the knee and is made of soft cloth and a Velcro close. You can find this knee brace under the name Cho-Pat Knee Strap. It comes in a variety of sizes, and may be worn for extended hikes in changing terrains. Combine this knee strap with a fleece knee warmer to further ease any joint pain you might experience in cold weather.
Dual Action Knee Strap for Weak Muscles or Slipping Knee Joint
Try on dual action knee straps, which are by far the most commonly seen knee braces for hiking. They keep the knee free, but provide support above the knee and right below it. If you suffer from weakening muscles or joints, they are the best braces for hiking longer distances. Also consider using them if you are getting back into hiking after surgery or a broken leg that left you incapacitated and unable to exercise your leg muscles for a few months. The extra support a dual action knee brace offers also makes it perfect when joint pain might be weather-related. Since you can wear it over your clothes or under them, supplement your leg wear with thermal knee warmers to support joint functioning.