The best knee brace for hiking is the Cho-Pat Knee Brace. I use one when my knees bother me from carrying too much weight during a long backpacking trips and I have a few hiking buddies who swear by theirs. They wear two braces whenever they hike, one for each knee. At $23 per brace this is a good solution to keep me on the trail.
I’ve had knee problems in the past and lots of physical therapy, but I’ve found that strengthening my quadriceps and hamstrings has always resolved my symptoms. There’s no doubt that I have some patellar degeneration at my age (I look my younger than I am), keeping up my leg strength helps resolve the pain issues. The mistake I made this year was stopping my weightlifting and yoga workouts and focusing on pure cardio instead. That’s already changed. I’m working out with weights again and already seeing an improvement. Flexibility and balance workouts are just around the bend.
The Cho-Pat knee brace makes it possible for me to hike without pain. The top strap eliminates the symptoms of ITB that I have in my right knee (snapping tendon over the knee) by compressing my thigh muscle above the knee joint. The bottom strap helps align my quadriceps muscle with my patella better, lifting it, and reducing internal friction.
This photo shows a closeup of the Cho-Pat brace. It’s made out a Neoprene and encircles your leg fastening in front, using Velco, which lets you adjust the tightness. After an hour or so, I simply forget that I’m wearing it. It didn’t constrict my movement in any noticeable way and it also didn’t get hot and sweaty.
So if you’re having knee pain while backpacking, which can be very difficult to localize and isolate, I recommend trying a Cho-Pat brace on your next hike. It will provide your knee with a more internal stability and keep you on the trail without further intervention. Don’t ask me about doctors….I don’t trust them when it comes to knees.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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