I have been curious about ToughBuilt’s knee pads – thanks to readers’ comments and feedback – and have also wondered how stabilization knee pads compare to more basic styles.
Thanks to ToughBuilt, I have been testing a pair of their GelFit Thigh Support Knee Pads (model TB-KP-G3).
These ToughBuilt knee pads are said to be “the new benchmark for all-day kneeling ergonomics, comfort and functionality.”
This review is sponsored by the TOUGHBUILT SCRAPER KNIFE.
ToughBuilt’s new scraper knife is a 2-in-1 tool that combines a scraper with a utility knife. Read more about it here.
Here is the rest of the official marketing description:
Provides ultimate stability while maintaining easy side-to-side movement. Integrated thigh support keeps the knee perfectly centered, never twisting out of the kneepad. The lower platform raises the shin off of the ground alleviating pressure on the ankles. Ergonomic gel and foam design embraces the natural shape of the knee and upper shin, maximizing pressure distribution for an extremely comfortable fit.
Until now, I haven’t used any stabilization knee pads before, I only have experience with simpler styles. I also have some experience with knee pad inserts, where a cushioned pad slips into the leg pockets of specially-equipped work pants, and kneeling pads.
Unfortunately, I am also very familiar with what it feels like to kneel without cushioned support.
This has been a very interesting experience so far.
To start off, the materials and construction are fantastic. The [hard] caps are wear-resistant and the gel and foam cushioning are every bit as comfortable as promised.
Like other stabilization knee pads, these definitely look bulky. Compared to more basic styles, they’re huge!
However, these ToughBuilt pads might look big, but they’ve been quite comfortable to wear, and they don’t feel as big as they look.
There are two parts to the closure mechanisms – the main hook-and-loop flaps, and a smaller elastic strap.
When putting on the knee pads on, I fasten the main hook-and-loop flaps, and then affix the quick-release clasp, which is connected to an elastic strap that gives the knee pads a secure feel.
This process is a lot quicker than it sounds, taking just seconds to complete.
The large flaps quickly secure the knee pads to your legs, and then the quick-release latches allow for easy attachment or removal. The elastic straps can be adjusted to provide just the right amount of tightness.
The elastic strap is usually “set and forget” for me. When I do want to tweak the tightness of the elastic strap, it’s almost effortless.
The knee pads are surprisingly quick to put on and take off.
As for the experience of actually wearing them, these knee pads do make their presence known, but inoffensively. I can’t bend back as much as I could with simpler knee pads or no knee pads, but it’s a reasonable tradeoff.
This style of knee pad is said to “provide ultimate stability while maintaining easy side-to-side movement.”
As far as I can tell, these knee pads have two main benefits compared to smaller non-stabilizer knee pads – i) less undesirable shifting around when walking, and ii) they stay in place when moving around on the floor (such as side to side).
Or at least, this is what my experience has been so far. If I had to summarize things, I’d say that compared to other styles of knee pads, these stay where I want them, while still enabling full mobility when I’m up and on my feet.
ToughBuilt says that the shin supports alleviate pressure on the ankles, another selling point. I have found that these knee pads definitely promote correct posture. When kneeling, my legs are positioned perpendicular to the ground, or close to it, rather than being bent down near parallel where my thighs touch my calves. The knee pads also really help to better distribute my weight.
When I’m kneeling unsupported, I tend to lean back to take some of the weight off my knees, but this position forces to bend my toes. This is bad, as it tires me out quicker, and I’m sure it has at least contributed to some of my foot injuries in the past. It has been a slow process to break bad habits, but these knee pads are slowly doing the trick.
I find myself wearing these much more than I anticipated. And, since they are easy to put on and take off, I don’t just reach for them when I’ve already been kneeling or crouching for a while, or when I’m prepping for a longer work session.
Is this style right for me? Frankly, I wouldn’t have thought so. I don’t need all-day comfort. But, I find them to be more comfortable to wear compared to smaller knee pads, and unlike kneeling pads, they move with me. They’re still probably way more than I really need, but I’ve been growing fond of this style.
Sometimes I wish that I could bend my knees all the way back without the straps pulling on my legs a little when they’re squeezed between my thighs and calves, but I can also adjust my footing or unbuckle the top strap when this happens.
Then, with the top strap unbuckled, moving around a little bit will immediately remind me why these stabilizer knee pads are growing on me. With the top strap unbuckled, the knee pads behave more like standard knee pads, rolling around as I try to move.
Looking closer at ToughBuilt’s features list, they say these knee pads offer the “ultimate stability combined with easy side-to-side agility.” Yup, that’s a great way to put it.
I’m kind of excited to try other styles now. For instance, I’ve never seen anything like the ToughBuilt flat-cap knee pads before, and it looks like it could work well. I really like how the stabilizer knee pads raise my knees and shins a bit, and these look to do that as well, although the wide surface area might be more stable but at the expense of mobility while on the floor.
If you’ve used other ToughBuilt knee pads before, which would you recommend?
Except for the single pivot point, those look a lot like motocross or downhill mountain biking knee guards. Pretty serious protection!
Motocross/biking knee guards in this style have a second pivot about 1-2″ away from the first, supposedly for more anatomically correct knee movement – but I bet that’s not really needed for kneeling work versus the constant leg motion for sports activity.
Those guards are also intended to protect against hits rather than constant kneeling pressure. They do look pretty similar though – and even use the same style of strap.
That’s what I was always worried/hesitant about, but there’s not a lot of added bulk and a lot more stability. I’m used to knee pads sliding up or down a little, forcing me to hunt for the sweet spot, or shifting side to side, but these stayed in perfect position the entire time.
I’ve heard knee pads like this help to stabilize the knee movements, but I don’t know enough about that to comment. The benefit for me has been in positional consistency when moving around, and overall comfort when kneeling.
I did attempt to try this lineup, the snap-fit line. I thought the stabilizer ones were missing the feature of the snap caps shown in the link. Then my knees blew out due to life stuff. I never ended up settling on buying a pair. But I did a lot of research into them.
The wide-base ones don’t slide at all. It’s like wearing workboots on your knees, only lighter. They are good for staying in one spot without pain for long periods of time, especially uneven surfaces like a roof. (Only an extreme example. I just mean anywhere you don’t want to slide due to a slant.)
The other hard caps in the snap-cap line are more for impact, and sliding around. Like doing flooring and such. The difference between them and the little knee pads you’re used to, is that these other models, including the wide-base ones, is the amount of gel and foam. They really are thicker, and more padded, than usual. If you’re average-sized, they’re comfy. Unfortunately… if you’re a heavier individual, you might as well be kneeling straight on the floor, with the benefit of either sliding easier, or the knee pads gripping you in place. It’s not meant for heavy folk. One of those reasons I don’t own a pair myself.
Though I would definitely look forward to seeing your writeup on the snap-cap line! I just regret that these stabilizer sets aren’t compatible with the snap-cap system, that’s all.
I have both the stabilizers and the interchangeable pads with the flat caps. I like both of them, I find they excel at different tasks. The tread pads are amazing when doing demolition work, for example. Removed a brick fireplace and had absolutely no issues kneeling on rubble. I have the no-mar pads, but have only used them a few times, all when doing a wooden floor and not wanting to scratch it up w the flats or the hard shell. Speaking of the hard shell, the interchangeable pad has an exterior pad they call the rocker, basically the same hard plastic shell as the support model. I would like to see the support model made to take the interchangeable caps(ya listening TB? lol)
I do find the surface of the stabilizers slightly slick on some surfaces. Few weeks ago we were winterizing one of the locks on the Fox River, and I found my knees wanted to slide apart while I was kneeling on the plate steel pit covering.
As far as the pads raising you off the ground a little bit, it’s actually kind of helpful when paired with a good pair of boots, stops you from dragging as much pants leg through whatever you’re working on. It was also helpful in the above-mentioned fireplace demolition, because my knees were up a little bit and the points of contact were basically the pads and the tips of my steel toes, I didn’t shin-kneel on any mortar chunks.
I do find my knees sweat a bit more than usual with both sets of pads, but I’m a big guy so I’m already used to odd sweat and its not a big deal.
BTW Stuart, I appreciate a little regular content sprinkled in amongst the deal posts at this time of year. I realize this must be the busy season for you, deal posts drive more traffic, require a lot of research time and probably take precedence. Even though they are rarely pertinent to me (because I’m in Canada) I still read them too. I would understand if you focused solely on deals this time of year- but it’s nice to have content like this to keep me entertained too!
Do these ride into the back of your legs over time/use. I’ve given up on all said styles and just prefer workwear pants with kneepad pockets in them. It’s sufficient enough for me without the while – leg strap-
Not in my experiences so far – the straps are pretty large and wide.
I’ve tried different pants with pad pockets, but am always hunting for the sweet spot.
I had a pair of the non-stabilizer version with the interchangable covers. They were a life saver when I did demo work for 8 hours a day. I could be up and down without any pain at all. No fear of kneeling down onto a nail/staple/screw. I could slide around on smooth surfaces (which I liked because I could just move around without having to get up and down)
Sadly I left them on a job site over night and never saw them again.
I would recommend them to anyone looking for knee protection
I bought these when they first came out. I have arthritis and bone spurs in both knees (doesn’t help that I’m an old oversize guy). These are the only kneepads that I can wear and work all day on my cars. Before them I would dread even placing the floor jack. Now I can literally drop on my knees and don’t feel it. The thought of brake or suspension work doesn’t worry me at all!
They keep your knees aligned (think knee brace), and the gel pads are awesome. I have tried all sorts of kneepads, and these don’t move around or chafe the back of my knees.
The only downside I have found is ladders, they won’t let you “snug” yourself into the rungs. They tend to push your knees back away from the ladder.
I would wholeheartedly recommend these especially if you have knee issues.
I have not tried these myself, but I’ve got a buddy who swears by Proknee knee pads. They’re available as a custom fit rig, and supposed to be good for bigger guys too.
Only thing is, they’re more for indoor work. So it’s out of my general scope of use. I tend to grab hardshell knee protection for outdoor, kneeling in rocky/gravel stuff that just chews my knees up.
I have had these for over 4 years and love them when I am on the ground in large spaces. They are only bulky when you takr them off. Lol When mostly stationary I use a foam pad.
I have used these a lot in jobs. I haven’t tried the competitors (Nocry, etc.) mostly for price and there wasn’t a place I could try them on. I have two additional comments but so far these are my favorites. I’m not a flooring guy so I don’t feel justified in spending hundreds on knee pads.
For me the biggest problem with knee pads aside from staying in place is they cut into the back of my legs and knees. There is either too much stuff on the back side or it’s too tight. These move the bindings out away from the back of my knees. It’s still there but MUCH less irritating. I can wear them all day instead of minutes.
Second at least for me they tend to ride too low shortly after I put them on. I think they drag my pants down a bit so I have to reposition once or twice. This does y happen with overalls on.
Hands down the most comfortable knee pads for me are inserts but that forces me to wear specific (and generally expensive) work pants or overalls with double fronts and clean outs. Very comfortable at least except summer but expensive. So these pads are not quite as good but for the money hard to beat.
Kneeling pads are a close second but tend to get filthy quickly. They are best if you are relatively stationary. I have pads and I’ve tried and they definitely work as good or better but for mobility, uneven surfaces, dirty floors, the stabilizer knee pads are all around more versatile.
> Do these ride into the back of your legs over time/use.
They can. You need to be careful when putting them on that everything is straight and aligned properly. If there’s any twist in the velcro or anything you’ll soon know it.
I’ve used these prob 100+ hours in a 3′ crawlspace. Were a big improvement over the cheap HD ones I had. Would recommend giving them a try.
I’m pretty impressed with the two Toughbuilt products you highlighted(knee pads & saw horses). Another Toughbuilt product that really impresses me is the gravity miter saw stand. Has solid rubber 8.8” wheels; 10’ wide extendable work supports; work stops on both sides; tool tray; two height work levels. Just looks like a very well designed & built miter saw stand.
I guess I should mention about the miter cart reviews. They claim the directions are pretty vague. Best to also use the large photo on the box for reference, during your approximate one hour assembly. Also the rubber tires they claim are foam filled. Once in awhile a customer will get one with a flat spot in the foam. This rolls like a square tire. Also the shipping containers are minimal, Many arrived with damaged cardboard and foam, with some parts almost escaping through the packaging. Those are the few cons, but mostly 4-5 star reviews by very satisfied customers.
These knee pads are a total scam.
They’re too stiff to be comfortable and too soft to give any knee support.
Material of piping is so hard that it just rubs your shins.
Hinges on the inner sides of knees are prone to hook up each other while walking. So forget about walking in narrow staircases with anything heavier in both of your hands. Tripping on your own legs is a feature not a bug.
Upper and lower straps are supposed to keep the pads in place without constricting blood flow. In fact they block the blood flow and slide down below your knees. And when you kneel upper fastening is just trying to cut your thighs in half. And yes, I adjusted them properly.
Gel pads themselves make your knees constantly overheated.