Any seasoned gardener would agree that taking care of your body is the first step to a happy gardening life. Without the proper equipment to ensure efficient gardening sessions, you’re likely to develop chronic pains that will eventually keep you from doing what you love. This is why it’s wise to invest in a proper pair of gardening knee pads or some other type of knee protection for when you’re getting down and dirty in the garden.
After spending some time researching and testing, I’ve come up with a lineup of the best knee pads for gardening so you can reap the benefits of gardening in comfort.
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- 8 Best Gardening Knee Pads 2021
- Gardening Knee Pads 101: The Basics
- Features to Look For in Good Gardening Knee Pads
8 Best Gardening Knee Pads 2021
KneeMate Knee Pads
With a lot of thought put into their design and with the comfort they provide at this price point, the KneeMate pads secure the easy win. They come in two color configurations and have a subtle yet utilitarian design so it can suit anyone’s tastes.
- Durable stitching all around edges.
- Dual strap design.
- Segmented padding increases comfort.
- EVA Foam padding.
- A little hard to clean off mud
ErgoKneel 5050 Handy Mat
It resembles a chopping board but trust me when I say that this is way more comfortable to kneel on. It’s a lot wider than the pads I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this list and is thinner at only 1 inch. It’s got a heavy-duty design that’ll make it look right at home amongst your garden tools.
- Lightweight at 8 ounces.
- Would be soft enough for those with knee injuries.
- Closed-cell foam rubber construction.
- Cleans easily.
- No color options.
- Can get dirty really fast.
Gorilla Grip Kneeling Pad
These are awesome for outdoor use and even better indoors. Thick and durable, the Gorilla Grip pad is an affordable choice that doesn’t skimp on quality. The carry handle is a nice touch too, and allows me to just swipe it off the ground and move to the next spot.
- 1.5-inch thickness.
- Many color options.
- Firm but comfortable.
- Water resistant.
- Can still absorb water if neglected.
NoCry Home & Gardening Knee Pads
They’re not the most expensive or flashy options out there, but if you’re looking for something to put in your cart on a whim for light outdoor use, the NoCry Knee Pads are the ones. Simple, discreet, and functional – perfect for the home and garden.
- Soft inner lining.
- Firm exterior lining.
- Form-fitting design.
- Easy and flexible velcro strap.
- Rough garden surfaces may easily damage the outer surface.
TomCare Garden Kneeler Seat
It’s a transforming stool and kneeler combo with some added benefits for convenience. The pad is made of high-density foam fastened into a frame that folds outward when deployed. The TomCare seat is a good option if you don’t want a kneeler and stool in one package.
- Simple and durable folding design.
- Firm pad.
- Pockets for various hand tools.
- Easy storage.
- A little heavy for those with bad backs.
BALENNZ Knee Pads
For both gardening and heavy-duty use, the BALENNZ knee pads are good if you just want to buy a single pair for both types of outdoor jobs. The pads have a hard plastic outer layer that makes kneeling on rocky surfaces feel like nothing at all. The dual strap design is highly adjustable and easy to use, which is one of the big reasons why I included this pair on the list.
- Thick inner EVA foam layer.
- Soft gel core.
- The strap and hook system is great.
- Not good for delicate floors.
KI Store Garden Kneeling Pad
Memory foam is the name of the game if you want to do anything comfortably. This pad folds outward to give you a place to kneel and has a water-resistant outer case that’s reasonably durable but one I wouldn’t consider as heavy-duty. It’s got a carry strap with a button lock mechanism for an added touch of portability.
- Memory foam is very comfortable.
- Removable and washable case.
- 2.36-inch thickness.
- Case can scratch or tear easily if you’re not careful.
- Only two color options.
Thunderbolt Knee Pads
The Thunderbolts double as protective gear for working on your other DIY projects too. I think it has a masculine aspect to it, making it a great option if you want the best knee pads for men for gardening outdoors. Nothing’s to say that the ladies can’t enjoy these chunky pairs of knee pads – they’ll fit anyone.
- Soft gel inner layer.
- Dual strap design keeps them secure.
- Ergonomically designed.
- Can get warm because of their size.
Gardening Knee Pads 101: The Basics
What are Gardening Knee Pads
Gardening knee pads are exactly what the name suggests. In other words, they’re specialized pieces of gear that make contact with your knees in order to cushion them against constant pressure that usually occurs when you’re kneeling on the ground.
Typically made of some form of soft material and often combined with tougher exterior material such as hard plastic, gardening knee pads are great additions to your gardening arsenal if you want to enjoy long, comfortable days out among your patches.
There’s really no knee pad designed solely for gardening, but scientists are making efforts to create designs that would fit all knee types.
Why You Need Them
The number one reason is for preventing pain. Kneeling on even the softest soil will eventually lead to developing pain in your knees, back, and shoulders. Gardening knee pads help you keep a steady posture while you’re working the garden. Same as gardening your roses with a good pair of garden gloves is always a good idea.
A good pair will protect your meniscus and kneecap from scraping, wear and tear and bruising when you’re kneeling for an extended period of time. Elderly gardeners can benefit from this protection by reducing the risk of developing or worsening pain in the knees, while the more youthful gardeners can enjoy added longevity to their knees thereby keeping them in good shape.
Remember that prevention beats a cure, and that knee pads are a proven way to prevent conditions like bursitis.
Types of Gardening Knee Pads
Wearable Knee Pads
These come in a couple of general designs. You have the slip-on type that functions much in the same way as a glove would, where you slip it through your foot and along your leg where it sits securely around your knee area. Another type is secured by straps and clips much like a hard hat or helmet. They can be secured either by clips or by velcro.
Mats aren’t technically knee pads but they serve the same purpose. These are great if you’re uncomfortable with anything strapped to your leg for a long time or if you get allergies, skin irritation, and whatnot. They’re also ideal for those with small gardens who can’t wear knee pads for some medical reason or another.
Some mats are also multipurpose in that they can be used elsewhere around the house too.
Pillows are types of gardening knee pads which are essentially waterproof pillowcases packed with stuffing like cotton or some synthetic cushioning material. It’s designed with a carry handle so it’s easy to take around the garden.
Stools / Seats
These are a little more complex because they usually have a mechanically folding design to make them easy to bring around. You flip them upside down in the kneeling position and then flip them right side up for when you need to sit or stand on them for better reach. They’re ideal for those who have trouble getting up from the kneeling position because the pad is a little elevated off the ground.
Features to Look For in Good Gardening Knee Pads
Knee Pad Material
Polyethylene but more specifically, expanded polyethylene (EPE) is a durable thermoplastic that has a low density and is semi-rigid. This makes for a knee pad or mat that’s easy on the knees but has enough cushioning to support all your weight. It cleans easily and retains its shape well over time.
Neoprene is used as exterior and interior lining. This material is usually found in sporting equipment for adding comfort, which is a benefit that translates well into the gardening scene. Neoprene does not bite into your skin when you kneel down, making it a big plus in my book.
Memory Foam is an extremely pliable material that contours around your knees for a really comfortable experience. Because of its properties, though, memory foam is not very durable. This is why it’s lined with materials like neoprene to protect the inner cushion.
Nylon is used to coat the knee pad or mat to give it water resistance and quick-drying properties. While it is resistant to water, nylon can still tear and you’ll risk water getting into the foam if you’re not careful with the mat.
Hard Plastic knee pads work the same way as sporting kneepads but have a slightly different design. They often have ridges outside to keep your knees from slipping against small rocks. These kneepads are typically made out of PVC.
High-Density Foam mats are made of the same stuff as your typical flip flops. Often found in thicknesses of 1.5 inches or so, this foam is good for all-around use though it doesn’t have good water-resistance.
Cloth is typically used in inexpensive models of knee pads and even then, it’s only used as an outer layer. It’s a material that’s best for indoor gardening use because of its high absorption unless it’s coated with a hydrophobic or rubber layer.
The best gardening knee pads should at least be water-resistant and waterproof at best. Some pads rely on a coated textile layer while others may use hydrophobic materials. You’re going to be dealing with wet conditions a lot, so you’re better off investing in a gardening knee pad with this feature.
Velcro makes the knee pads easy to wear. The straps are often made of flexible garter for a snug fit and better adjustability. The downside to these is that they can wear quite badly over time, preventing the velcro teeth from getting a firm bite onto the curly hairs on the other end.
The level of cushioning is the most important. Look into how thick the padding is on hard knee pads because chances are that over time the pads will permanently squish and never rebound to its original shape. This will make it uncomfortable to wear the knee pads, ultimately defeating their function.
Gel layers are great features because they provide a firm yet comfortable surface for your knees to rest. The gel layer is usually under a fabric outer layer to keep the gel intact.
Soft knee pads are great for light work. These are best for kneeling on hard surfaces like pavement and stone, but leave a lot to be desired when you’re kneeling on gravel shards and such.
Firm knee pads often have a hard plastic outer layer and a soft layer underneath. You can pick from an array of heavy-duty designs and call it a day, but do make sure that they are in your size if you’re on the bigger side since the outer “armor” layers aren’t adjustable at all.
What are the most popular gardening knee pad brands?
Gorilla Grip has been making a name for itself and so has KneeMate and NoCry. When it comes to kneeling pads, they’re all pretty much the same except for the rubber ones.
What thickness knee pads are best for gardening?
Don’t go anywhere below 1 inch. Memory foam may be thick but compresses easily down to an inch.
Is it better to have a soft or firm knee pad?
It depends on the conditions of your knees. If you’ve been injured or are recovering from surgery, get soft ones that don’t give too much. A firmer knee pad is good for everyone else, I’d say.
Can there be too much padding on a knee pad?
Yes. You really don’t need too much inner padding and it’ll get real hot real fast that way.
How long do gardening knee pads last?
It depends on your use, but they’ll last at least three years of heavy use. Check the manufacturer’s guarantee to get a better idea.
The verdict goes to the KneeMates because of their lightweight and breathable design that prioritizes your comfort above all. It also helps that it’s priced well enough that you can get a couple without really feeling the burn.
While I’ve named the best kneeling knee pads for gardening, nothing’s stopping you from getting more than one of the products I’ve suggested; it’ll actually be better for your knees if you get the extra protection.