8 Best Knee Brace for Surfing (2022) | Buyer’s Guide and Product Reviews

Written by on May 10, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By Mich Torres (PT)

First, let me get this off my chest: I love surfing. Riding the waves, feeling the salty air on my skin, the whole nine. But it also terrifies me. You see, I have banged up knees – and I sure as hell don’t want to catch an injury in the middle of the ocean. Thus began my search for the best knee brace for surfing.

I know I’m not the only person in the same predicament. You being here is proof of that. So, I tested dozens of products, did countless hours of research, and compared my experience and findings with those of other people. Eventually, I arrived at a handful of knee braces that I’m confident you’ll find useful, too.

Oh, and I wrote down a quick buyer’s guide that you can use. So, you ready? Let’s go!

Our Top Picks:

Best Overall: Knee Force Compression Sleeve

Everything you’d want in a compression sleeve, you’ll find here. It doesn’t matter if you’re newbie or a seasoned surfer, this sleeve has you covered.

Best for Recovery: Cocoon Knee Flex Pro

Surfing athletes know how extreme sports can be tough on your knees. Cocoon Knee Flex Pros help mitigate this problem with compression combined with hot/cold therapy.

Best Hinged Knee Brace: Bauerfeind GenuTrain S

If you have an ACL injury, MCL tear, meniscus damage, or any other sprain, you need more support for your knees – and Bauerfeind’s hinges do just that.

8 of the best knee braces for surfing

1. Knee Force Compression Sleeve

Pros

  • Uniform compression
  • Versatile
  • Boosts circulation
  • Mild-moderate pain relief

Cons

  • Limited color options
  • Not for surfing with sprains

Our compression knee sleeve works great regardless if you’re a beginner or a seasoned surfer.

Knee injuries do not discriminate between the kooks and the pros – and so do our Knee Force knee sleeves. Our not-so-secret secret lies in comfortable and uniform compression. This allows our sleeve to improve your blood flow, offer mild to moderate support to your knee joint, and provide pain relief.

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Granted, our knee brace is the “safe” choice on this list. Everything it offers – from comfort, to durability, to compression, to stability – is what you should be looking for in these types of products. So, if you’re still unsure about what to get, you won’t go wrong with us.

  • Material: Nylon, Spandex
  • Size: S-XL
  • Color options: Black, Green

Related: Scientifically-proven benefits of wearing knee sleeves

2. Cocoon Knee Flex Pro

Pros

  • Great for recovery
  • Super comfortable
  • Therapeutic heat/cold + compression
  • Durable

Cons

  • Slightly pricey
  • Only comes in 1 color

The therapeutic properties of the Cocoon Knee Flex Pros make it great for pre- and post-surf recovery.

These cocoons are built different than any other knee brace I’ve seen. For one, it’s the most comfortable knee support I’ve had the luxury of using. Second, it’s packed with hydrogel, making it capable of retaining hot and cold temperatures. This is what separates the Cocoon Knee Flex Pros from its competition and why they’re so therapeutic.

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Although, they’re not actually all that supportive. Hence, I suggest using them before and after you ride the waves. Use the warmth to warm up your knees before hopping on your board and use the cold to, well… cool down when you’re done.

  • Material: Lycra, hydrogel
  • Size: S, M, L.
  • Color options: Blue

3. Bauerfeind GenuTrain S

Pros

  • Great for MCL sprains
  • Durable, salty water-proof hinges
  • With straps for better fit
  • Wide size range

Cons

  • Expensive

I am stoked at how well the Genutrain S works for MCL injuries and other knee sprains.

Bauerfeind has a reputation for producing top of the line knee braces – and the GenuTrain S is another high quality knee brace on its massive list. What makes it specifically great for surfing, though, is that it’s hinged knee brace.

Research shows that MCL tears are by far the most common knee injury in this sport because of how we’re so dependent on our back foot for control.

The hinges on the GenuTrain S reinforces the sides of your knee, thereby reducing the risk of these surfing injuries. They also help limit excessive movement while maintaining maximum range of motion, so it works to prevent other sprains like an ACL injury and a meniscus tear, too.

  • Material: Unspecified
  • Size: Size 1-6
  • Color options: Titanium, Black, Beige

Related: The best knee braces for MCL injuries

4. McDavid Knee Support Straps

Pros

  • Great for patellar tendon issues
  • Lightweight and discreet
  • Adjustable straps (adjustable pressure)

Cons

  • Very specific purpose
  • Only one color

The McDavid Knee Support Straps are for the surfers who just can’t get enough of the water.

The McDavid Knee Support Straps have a very specific purpose: To relieve pressure on your patellar tendon. Thus, making it useful for those of you who experience knee pain from surfing injuries like tendonitis and Osgood Schlatter’s disease.

Mind you, these injuries are largely because of overuse. I suggest you get enough rest before hopping back on your board. But, if the waves are just shouting your name, these knee straps will help make the pain more bearable. Plus, they’re made of neoprene material and extremely lightweight. That’s always good for water sports.

  • Material: Neoprene
  • Size: Regular, large
  • Color options: Black

Related: The best knee supports for patellar tendonitis

5. TechWare Pro Knee Compression Sleeve

Pros

  • Affordable
  • With side stabilizers
  • With patella gel pad

Cons

  • Not the most comfortable
  • Contains latex

TechWare Pro brings side support and knee cap pads at an affordable price.

I see TechWare Pro’s knee brace as the poor man’s version of Bauerfeind GenuTrain S. Whatever Bauerfeind does, TechWare Pro does (at least) a little worse.

The fabric doesn’t quite feel as good; the side stabilizers are nowhere near as sturdy and there are no velcro straps to improve the fit.

Techware Pro’s version, however, is about 20 times cheaper. It still boosts knee support. And it still has a kneecap pad to cushion your patella. So, if you’re on a budget, this is definitely one you need to look into.

  • Material: Nylon, spandex, natural latex
  • Size: S-2XL
  • Color options: Black/grey, Black/pink

6. Nvorliy Knee Compression Brace

Pros

  • Made specifically for surfing
  • Top-notch fabric
  • Supportive
  • Solid compression

Cons

  • Inaccurate size chart
  • May roll down

This will be your go-to neoprene knee sleeve for surfing and water sports.

Neoprene products are popular all over the sporting world but the waves it’s made in water sports (no pun intended) have been profound. But, out of all the neoprene knee braces, Nvorliy has made one of the best ones for surfing.

In terms of the fabric itself, I have no qualms about its quality. It gives moderate support and a comfortable amount of compression that’s great for pain relief as well as injury prevention and management.

Although, the sizing chart can be hit or miss. And, when the knee brace isn’t snug enough, I find that it slides down quite often.

  • Material: Neoprene
  • Size: S-3XL
  • Color options: Black

7. BraceAbility Open Back Knee Sleeves

Pros

  • Specifically made for surfing
  • With open back and open knee cap design
  • Keeps knees warm in the water
  • Great compression

Cons

  • Very plain looking
  • Not the best quality fabric

This is the most straightforward knee brace for surfing I’ve ever seen.

BraceAbility has a massive list of knee braces but, out of all of them, this is the most plain-looking. But, it’s also the perfect representation of not judging a book by it’s cover.

It’s marketed (and designed) specifically for surfing and other water sports which explains why it’s made of neoprene. This material is used in wetsuits and has proven time and time again that it’s effective at keeping your body (knee joint) warm in cool waters. Solid compression, too.

But, to be very honest, it doesn’t look very pleasing and the quality isn’t comparable to that of Nvorliy, Cocoon Knee Flex Pros, or our own (Knee Force).

  • Material: Neoprene
  • Size: S-4XL
  • Color options: Black

8. McDavid Knee Brace with Side Hinges

Pros

  • Prevents ligament tears
  • Sturdy hinges
  • Velcro straps for customization
  • Doesn’t limit movement

Cons

  • Not as durable
  • Pricey

This sturdy knee brace is meant to keep your joint as stable as possible.

The side hinges in this knee brace are strong enough to protect your ACL and MCL from tears, while flexible enough to allow freedom of movement.

But the trade-off for this level of protection is less comfort. The Knee Force, Cocoons, or Bauerfeind are better options in that sense.

Also, the stitching is somewhat flimsy. It will get you out of trouble, yes, but this alone may not be worth it for some people given the price.

  • Material: Neoprene
  • Size: S-XXL
  • Color options: Black

Consider these when choosing the best knee brace for surfing (Buyer’s guide)

Comfort and Support

If you already have knee pain or injuries and you’re forced to wear a knee brace that you’re uncomfortable with, that, to me, takes away from the joy of surfing. So, this has to be at the very top of your priorities.

If you’re shopping online, find a knee brace with a reliable return policy so you can test the product out for a few days. But, if you can, try the knee brace out before you shell out your money.

Related: How tight a knee sleeve needs to be

Durability and Quality

Surfing in salty water can quickly degrade the life of fabric, especially when it’s not properly rinsed off. So, you better look for a knee brace that, in the first place, is durable and made of high-quality materials.

But, second of all, the seams also have to hold up well when washed – because you will need to wash the salt off of your knee brace.

Should you be needing hinges, make sure the hinges are stainless, too.

Other features

These are features that will be very specific to your needs. Now, while there are many products with these added features, only the best knee braces execute them well.

Here are a few features that are covered on this list:

  • Silicone strips – Found in our Knee Force sleeves to prevent slipping
  • Hydrogel – Found in Cocoon Knee Flex Pros for heat and cold capabilities

Value for Money

Despite our different budgets, we should still aim to get the most high quality knee brace that we can get. The tricky part here is that a higher price doesn’t always mean better quality. So, find products with similar features and pit them against each other.

Granted, this takes a heck of a lot of time. That’s why I made this list in the first place, so you don’t have to go through the same grueling search that I did.

Why you should trust Knee Force

Kris is a physical therapist who specializes in sports rehab and sustainable fitness. His expertise has led him to treat athletes from a wide variety of sports with an even wider array of sports injuries.

He also has his fair share of knee ailments, from full-grade ACL tears to MCL and meniscus injuries on both knee joints. Hence, he draws his medical opinions from both evidence-based knowledge and experience.

For this article, he tested several knee braces, took note of important features, and compared his own findings with other people’s experiences. Finally, he chose what he found were the best ones.

Conclusion

The best knee brace for surfing is one that helps you perform at your best, one that’s made of high-quality materials, and most importantly, fits your specific needs.

I hope this list accomplishes my goal of streamlining your search. If not, you can always refer to the buyer’s guide and form a short list of your own. Enjoy!