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Best Knee Brace – Buyers Guide and Reviews

best knee brace

Let's face it knee pain can really hold you back from your chosen activity whether it's a training run, basketball game or going for your first marathon wearing the best knee brace might just help get you over the line. Wearing a knee brace or knee support band can dramatically reduce pain and help you towards your fitness goals. The best knee brace for running should be a perfect fit and offer increased support to the knee and its supporting tendons and ligaments. Finding a good one to suit your particular situation is not always easy. That is why we have created a list of Best Knee Braces for running which is made up of best knee sleeves, best knee straps or best knee bands, and best hinged knee braces that should help you to choose the best knee brace for running.

Best Knee Brace

Training in any sport can place a huge demand on the knee and its supporting structures that's why it's important to choose the best knee support or best knee brace for running. There is a huge range of knee supports available and choosing the right one can be confusing, especially if you have a new injury and have never worn one before. Choosing the wrong brace may not only increase the recovery time of and injury it may also exacerbate it further, so the choice of knee support band should be more than just choosing one that offers instant pain reduction, choosing the best knee brace for running can improve recovery time.   Here is a quick summary of the different types of knee braces that are available:

Knee sleeves: offers simple support, warmth and general compression. Best for minor injuries.

Knee Braces: Usually wrap around and tightened via velcro straps, can be useful if the knee joint is swollen as the size can be adjusted to find a comfortable fit, also comes in open patella design.

Knee strap: also called knee band, patella straps or jumpers straps a knee strap is best suited to adding pressure to the patella tendon which can improve kneecap movement.

Hinged Knee Brace: Hinged braces allow for more lateral support of the knee which is suitable for a ligament injury, is available with open patella support also.

Magnetic Knee Brace:​ It is hard to know how reliable the science behind magnetic therapy truly is but anecdotal evidence has suggested they can increase blood flow to the affected area and can relieve some of the symptoms of arthritic joints. However we have decided not to list these types of knee braces in our review best knee brace review due to lack of evidence of the scientific claims that are made by the manufacturers.

Best Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves for clarification are not technically knee braces however they can offer great knee support if used in the correct way. Knee sleeves are a pretty common sight amongst runners, triathletes, crossfitters and general fitness enthusiasts. In general a knee sleeve should not be used to support any kind of serious injury, the are best used as a preventative measure. The best knee sleeves do offer some level of support due to the added compression around the knee, however the main benefit from that compression comes from the increase in blood flow to the knee joint and the addition of increased warmth of the knee. A knee sleeve should never be worn with the intention of adding support to an injured knee, the sleeve cannot offer enough lateral stability around the knee joint. Knee sleeves are best worn to aid in recovery after a hard training session and as a preventative measure against future injuries due to the increased blood flow. The best knee sleeve can't offer the same support as an acl knee brace but it can be used effectively for the prevention of minor injuries. A lot of knee support sleeves are made from neoprene, neoprene knee sleeves are usually thicker than some of the higher performance knee support sleeves and as such may not be suited to long distance events. 

Knee Support Buying Guide

Bauerfeind GenuTrain Knee Support Review

The creme de la creme of knee support the Bauerfeind GenuTrain Knee support sleeve is German made to the highest design and quality standards. Its one of the best knee brace for running.

The Bauerfeind GenuTrain knee support sleeve incorporates a silicon Omega pad that covers the knee cap adding evenly distributed compression whilst still maintaining full blood flow to the surrounding tissue. It features a three dimensional knit that gives great compression but at the same time allowing for maximum breathability and consistent temperature even when worn for extended periods of time. Joint stability is maximized and can help recovery times between injuries and also as a safety precaution during athletic events. It's probably the best knee sleeve available.

The GenuTrain comes in a huge range of sizes so finding the perfect fit should be easy.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Anatomically knitted
  • Graduated compresion
  • Medial and lateral stainless steel stays
  • Viscoelastic insert

Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Review

The Elastic knee compression sleeve from Ultra Flex Athletics combines exception build quality from the latest materials with superior anti-slip performance.

The Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression sleeve should be suitable for all minor injuries and for just about any sport or activity. These knee sleeves have the added benefit of anti-slip silicone which should keep the sleeve in a secure and stable position on your leg whether running, at the gym or seated for long periods of time.

​The nylon and lycra blended construction gives a high durability finish that gives great comfort and flexibility around the knee joint even when worn for long periods of time. It is one of the top rated knee sleeves on Amazon and is great for any runner or sporting enthusiast looking for a bit of extra support/compression around the knee joint. Not quite as exceptional as the GenuTrain but still one of the best knee sleeve s available.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Four way stretch capability
  • Double silicon anti-slip wave
  • Lightweight

CopperJoint Copper Knee Sleeve Review

If you are looking for great compression, stabilization and release from knee pain from a knee sleeve then the CopperJoint Copper Knee Sleeve may well be for you.

The CopperJoint Copper knee brace is extremely comfortable, does not restrict movement, stays in place easily and has added anti-odour support.  The advanced odour reduction is due to the copper infused nylon used throughout the sleeve.  The fabric has superb moisture wicking properties and can be worn for long periods of time with little skin irritation. The high performance fabric also keeps the knee joint at an optimal temperature so as to promote blood flow to the area. 

One of the most popular and best knee sleeves available the copper knee sleeve is available in a large range of sizes so there should be a perfect fitting sleeve out there for almost anyone regardless of their thigh shape or size. 

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Thermal Stabilizer
  • Double silicon anti-slip wave
  • Anti-odour

McDavid 6446 HEX Padded Compression Leg Sleeve Review

The McDavid 6446 HEX padded compression leg sleeve features a 9mm HEX padded area across the knee so is better suited to field sports or workers who need to crawl or kneel whilst doing tasks.

Slightly longer than most compression sleeves the McDavid 6446 HEX incorporates what McDavid call hDc Moisture Management Technology to wick away moisture from the skin with the added benefit of being machine washable. The McDavid HEX although not as suitable for the serious long distance runner as some of the other sleeves in our review is a great knee sleeve for those that also partake in regular field sports.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Hex pad on the knee for protection from impact
  • hDc moisture wicking technology
  • A slightly smaller fit than most

Copper Compression Recovery Knee Brace/Sleeve Review

Great support and odour prevention are the stand out features of the Copper Compression Recovery sleeve.

The Copper Compression Recovery Sleeve has some of the highest claimed copper content of its nylon based compression sleeve which is said to greatly enhance the odour beating properties of the knee sleeve. If you intend to wear your knee sleeve for long periods this may be the one for you. Popular among active people and people with chronic knee conditions as something that can be worn all day whilst either at work or play whilst still allowing a full range of motion without pinching.

There may be a little bit of stretch over time so it is generally recommended to choose the next size down for a snug fit.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Highest Copper content for odour control
  • Unisex
  • Extremely comfortable

Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeve Review

The ​Rehband 7mm knee sleeve is quite thick and is better suited to athletes in strength and power sports or the average fitness competitor rather than a die hard competitive runner.

The classic Rehband 7mm sleeve is a long time favorite amongst athletes in strength and power sports and is even IPF and IWF approved for use in competition. It offer strong support for knees during strenuous activities and at 7mm has less range of motion available than the other sleeves reviewed in our best knee brace review. Still a great neoprene knee sleeve. 

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Anatomical shape
  • Preventive and recovery effect
  • Great for support and stability under heavy load 
  • Thick 7mm support all around

Futuro Moisture Control Knee Support Review

The main selling point of the Futuro Moisture Control Knee support is its moisture wicking abilities. Allowing excess moisture to drawn away from the skin can mean a huge difference in comfort levels whilst wearing a knee support for extended periods of time especially if under clothes in hot weather. Although the Futuro Moisture Control is technically a knee sleeve it does have the added bonus of having additional straps above and below the knee. Combined with the open patella design the additional straps give a lot more support than a standard knee sleeve. 

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Moisture wicking polartec material
  • Upper and lower straps for better stability than most knee sleeves
  • Open patella design for kneecap support

Best Knee Brace

Knee braces offer greater lateral support over a simple knee sleeve. However some knee braces are sleeve like in their design but they usually have wrap around straps and the addition of pins or support wires that offer superior support over a simple knee compression sleeve. This type of knee support is generally suitable for minor injuries such as ligament strains but should not be used for chronic knee injuries or ones that require specific lateral support throughout the knee joint in that scenario it is better to use a hinged knee brace that can restrict the plane of motion. Knee braces have an advantage over knee sleeves in that the are usually adjustable and can come with in an open patella design. The adjustability can increase the comfort levels greatly for a wearer especially in the case of a swollen knee joint. The open patella design can add greater stability to the knee cap and can be a good knee brace for meniscus injury. A meniscus knee brace should always have an open patella design and be easily adjustable. These style of knee braces along with knee sleeves can be worn for longer periods of time and are also used by people that are required to stand for long periods of time at work, with the added benefit better blood flow and warmth around the knee joint. However a knee brace should not be worn for excessive lengths of time, it's better to wear it only when needed and not all day everyday. A knee brace for running should never be worn so tight so as to restrict blood flow or result in a numb feeling in the legs. The best knee brace for running is the one that allows for maximum support and great comfort.

Knee Brace Buying Guide

Bracoo Breathable Neoprene Knee Support Review

Although the Bracoo Breathable Neoprene Knee support is technically a sleeve it is however tightened via three velcro belts similarly to a traditional knee brace.

It's open patella design can help relieve pressure on the kneecap and the added patella stabilizer helps to hold the patella in the correct position even during the most demanding of sports. It is available in one size only but is fully adjustable via three velcro straps so getting a snug fit should not be an issue. The neoprene material has moisture vents spread  throughout to maintain a constant temperature. One of the best knee brace for running.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • One size fits 12.5"-18" adjustable

Winzone Knee Brace Support Review

Next in our list of best knee braces is the Winzone Knee brace which features an open patella design and is designed for support during activities

The Winzone knee support band can be used both for all day use and during sporting activities. Its lightweight design means it does not interfere during running or basketball and yet is slight enough to be worn under loose fitting clothing without being overly noticeable. 

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Open patella
  • Lightweight design

Compressions Neoprene Knee Brace Support Review

Fits easily and securely with high quality velcro straps. The addition of steel side stays help lateral stability and support and can help piece of mind during running. The lightweight and durable neoprene material is easily washable and breathable. The best knee brace for compression.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Steel spring side stays
  • Open patella
  • Durable, lightweight design

EzyFit Knee Brace Review

The high quality construction of the Ezyfit neoprene knee brace gives great support thanks to its strong velcro support closure system and the double stitching used throughout. The stability of the knee is reinforced by quadruple side stabilizers and the brace is held in place for maximum comfort due to non-slip silicone strips that are top and bottom. A high quality runner's knee brace.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Quadruple side stabilizers
  • Durable construction
  • Silicon anti-slip strips

Tech Ware Pro Knee Brace Review

The TechWare Pro knee brace is a wraparound knee brace in the traditional sense built from durable moisture wicking neoprene. Its open patella design has the added benefit of non-slip silicone strips and also four flexible spring stabilizers to enhance lateral support across the knee joint.  A great knee brace for running.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Large:        14"-19"
  • X Large     19"-24"

Exodus Knee Brace Support Protector Review

The Exodus  EX-701 Performance stabilizing knee brace is a runner's knee brace which is great for patella issues as it features two smaller straps close to the kneecap for greater patella support which means you effectively get a patella band built into the knee brace. The materials used offer greater comfort than most knee braces and the open gap design at the rear of the knee means less pinching on the skin. One of the best knee braces for running.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • One size max 20"

Best Knee Strap

Knee straps are often referred to as knee bands, jumpers bands/straps, patella knee brace or patellar bands/straps. Their primary use is to apply pressure to the patella tendon and are useful when you have one of the following issues: patella tendonitis(jumpers knee), runners knee(Patella Femoral Syndrome) or any kind of mild pain around the kneecap or anterior knee issues. The compression around the kneecap can help increase blood flow to the area and a patella brace may also increase the stability of the patella which may help to increase the tracking of the patella across the knee joint. Knee straps come in single or double configuration. The single style knee band is suitable for the majority of cases outlined above. The double knee band however has the added benefit of above the patella support which can greatly help with Iliotibial band syndrome(ITBS), this could be the best knee strap. In general there is very little difference in the design of the single or double knee strap with the exception of the additional above knee band found on the double band.

Knee Strap Buying Guide

Mueller Jumper's Knee Strap Review

The Mueller knee strap is constructed of 80% Neoprene and 20% Nylon. It is designed to apply a uniform pressure on the patella tendon as a relieve from patella tendonitis. It aims to improve patella tracking by directing the pressure specifically on the patella tendon right below your kneecap. One of the best knee straps for running.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • One size, velcro adjusted

Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee Strap Review

The Cho-Pat Dual action knee band features both above and below the knee support. Each strap applies pressure to the tendon above and below the knee whilst also adding additional stabilization of the kneecap as a whole. The pressure that the patella brace enforces on the patella tendon absorbs and disperses pain causing forces that are commonly felt from excessive running and jumping and the likelihood of patella tendonosis that these activities can produce. 

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • ​X Small:     10-12"
  • Small:          12-14"
  • Medium:    14-16"
  • Large:          16-18"
  • X Large:     18-20"
  • XX Large:  20-22"

Mueller Max Knee Strap Review

The Mueller knee strap like the Cho-Pat dual action knee strap above features a dual strap configuration, with one above and below the knee. The lower strap targets the patella tendon whilst the upper target quadriceps misalignment.  The addition of compression tubes on either side of the Mueller knee strap to the patella brace assist in patella tracking and alignment.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Upper and lower straps
  • Side compression tubes
  • Mesh fabric at rear for breathability

Pro-Tec Athletics Knee Patellar Tendon Strap Review

The Pro-Tec Athletics Knee Patellar Tendon strap is a little more lightweight than the previous straps in our review and as such is only suitable for minor bouts of tendonitis.  It is constructed of high quality neoprene and features tubes running through the strap to add a comfortable consistent compression all the way around.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Tubular design
  • Constant compression
  • Lightweight

McDavid 414 Patella Knee Strap Review

The McDavid Knee strap is a patella strap that features a non-slip buttress with a tubular design that aims to provide constant uniform compression across the patellar tendon. It comes with a hook and loop closure system which allows easy adjustment of the strap. One of the best knee straps.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Hook and loop closure
  • Tubular design

Ipow 2 Pack Knee strap Review

The Ipow Knee strap features a segmented design that allows for easy adjustment relative to the shape of the curve of your patella. Available in one adjustable size they can be worn for long periods of time as patella support but probably not suited for heavy sports use or long endurance events.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Flexible slims
  • Segmented design

Best Hinged Knee Brace

Hinged knee braces can sometimes be referred to as an ACL brace or ACL knee brace. Hinged knee braces are most suitable when the injury to the knee goes beyond a light ligament strain, an ACL brace is of most use when a serious injury has occurred that requires some lateral stabilization of the knee joint. A hinged knee brace can contain metal bars or pins that run down the length of the brace from the hinge this helps to add lateral or sideways support. An knee brace for ACL is commonly used by athletes whilst recovering from a major knee injury and as such are used mostly to reinforce the knee joint and to help prevent a reoccurance of the original injury.

Hinged Knee Brace Buying Guide

Shock Doctor 875 Ultra Knee Brace with Bilateral Hinges Review

The Shock Doctor 875 Ultra Knee support is constructed with bilateral support hinges and also features tempered aluminum stays to greatly increase knee stability and support following a knee injury. The open patella design incorporates extra material around the patella for maximum support and alignment. It is anatomically pre-curved to reduce   pinching on the back of the knee, this area features a lycra mesh so as to enhance breathability and joint mobility. A great ACL brace and one of the best hinged knee braces. 

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • X-fit strap system
  • Bilateral support and aluminum stays
  • Finger tabs for easy on/off
  • Vented neoprene for better moisture wicking

Shock Doctor 872 Knee Brace with Dual Hinges Review

The Shock Doctor 872 ACL Knee Brace's construction is similar to the 875 above, however it it has a conically shaped upper strap and the same X-Fit lower strap as the 875. It is constructed of the same high quality materials as the 875. However, the 872 is better suited to medial stability than the 875. A great patella knee brace.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Enhanced medial support
  • Hyperextension stops
  • Stability stays

McDavid 422 Knee Brace with Dual Disk Hinges Review

The McDavid 422 Knee Brace with Dual Disk Hinges is one of the most advanced hinged knee brace available for the sporting community. It features independently articulated sidearms that is extremely lightweight. As with any ACL brace it is best not worn for an extended period of time as you may feel a slight numbness in the lower legs it standing for prolonged periods. A good knee brace for meniscus injury. One of the best hinged knee braces.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Independently articulated sidearms
  • Cushioned hyperextension stops
  • Perforated at back of the knee

McDavid 429x Hinged Knee Brace with Cross Straps Review

The McDavid 429X Hinged Knee Brace features bi-lateral geared polycentric hinges which provide maximum medial and lateral stability for the knee joint. The straps are elasticated which can be use to increase compression around the knee joint. It is an open patella design with added patella support to keep the kneecap centrally aligned. Extremely well made it has very strong stitching used throughout and bound edges that allow for minimized irritation on the user skin. Suitable as an acl knee brace or an mcl knee brace.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Small:           12-14"
  • Medium:    14-15"
  • Large:          15-17"
  • X Large:      17-20"
  • XX Large:   20-22"

Mueller Hg80 Hinged Knee Brace Review

The Mueller Hg80 Hinged Knee brace is designed to reduce lateral movement due to its triaxial hinges and Tibial Containment System. It's advanced HydraCinn fabric wicks away moisture and with an added antibacterial barrier can greatly help to reduce odour. The Mueller knee brace also has a secondary shell that adds maximum support for the patella, whilst the overall design is anatomically shaped to provide great comfort. A good MCL knee brace.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • HydraCinn fabric
  • Tibial Containment system
  • Added patella stability

NEO G Stabilized Hinged Open Knee Support Review

The Neo G Stabilized Hinged knee support is FDA registered as a Class 1 medical device. It has a two point geared hinged system that allows for constant control over knee flexion and lateral movement. The breathable neoprene construction has an adjustable three strap configuration and an open patella design for maximum patella tracking and stability. Its more of a knee brace to use during rehabilitation rather than during running or sporting activities.

  • Sizes
  • Features
  • Open patella
  • Two point hinge system
  • Good thermal properties


The Knee Joint

The knee joint acts as a hinge between the thigh bone(femur) and the shin bone(tibia). The contracting of the quadriceps muscle straightens the knee joint and the contracting of the hamstring muscles bends the knee joint back on itself. There is also a smaller joint on the top of the femur called the patellofemoral joint this is a comparatively smaller joint just where the patella(kneecap) sits on top of the femur.

knee-anatomy

Where the patella, femur and tibia come together there is a lining of cartilage to act as a lubricant and as a shock absorber, the joint is held together with ligaments that ensure the correct alignment of the knee and the stability. 

The cartilage contained in the knee is called the menisci and is made up of the medial(inside) and the lateral(outside) meniscus.

The main ligaments of the knee are:​

  • The PCL(Posterior Cruciate Ligament) inside of the joint
  • The ACL(Anterior Cruciate Ligament)  inside of the joint
  • The LCL(Lateral Collateral Ligament)​ outside of the knee
  • The Patellofemoral Ligaments which help to hold the kneecap in place.

Types of Knee Injuries

Pain in the knee can come from a variety of sources, some form of ligament strain, arthritis,  meniscal injury or an issue with the patellofemoral joint.

Medial Collateral Ligament(MCL) injury:​

  • ​Usually caused by some form of blunt trauma(blow or knock).
  • Often happens in field sports that contain a lot of contact
  • Injury site is the inside of the knee
  • Buckling of the knee under lateral pressure, can be accompanied by an audible pop at the point of impact.
  • A good MCL knee brace is one that is hinged

Lateral Collateral Ligament(LCL) injury:

  • ​Opposite of MCL injury, trauma to the inside of the knee causing the outside to stretch where the LCL is located and can result in stretching or full tear of the ACL
  • Usually the result of impact or excessive twisting
  • Swelling and feeling of instability of the knee on the outer side
  • A good LCL knee brace is one that is hinged

Posterior Cruciate Ligament(PCL) injury:

  • ​Located in the inside of the knee joint
  • Usually injured via a direct impact to the front of the knee, for example in a car crash

Anterior Cruciate Ligament(ACL) injury:

  • ​Usually the ACL is torn via a twisting motion
  • Like the PCL above can be accompanied with knee swelling

Runner's Knee

Runner's knee is the common name for "Patella Femoral Syndrome" or sometimes anterior knee pain. It is generally used to describe a condition where the movement of the kneecap has been changed from its natural track thus resulting in pain in the knee. It tends to be most prevalent in amateur runners and can be caused by a number of issues sometimes more than one at a time adding to the issue. It generally comes on gradually over time and is rarely due to some specific event. The kneecap sits in the trochlear groove on the front of the femur, issues arise when the tracking of the patella no longer matches this natural groove. Runner's knee can be caused by several issue such as: foot position, choice of running shoe, muscular imbalance, muscle tightness, overuse and general abuse and wear and tear from excessive training without following any kind of recovery programme.

Petzl Nao

petzl nao

Petzl Nao

petzl nao

The Petzl Nao is Petzl's offering in the high end segment of the headlamp world and has the usual high build quality that you would expect from Petzl. It is crammed full of high tech features, has a number of configuration options and is one of the brightest LED headlamps suitable for running/adventure sports around.  If you would like to see the full Petzl range see our review Petzl headlamp

Design

The Petzl Nao's strap is in a half cord half elastic configuration which gives really great support and comes with the added bonus of an optional top strap for over the head if needed. When worn directly on the head without the padding of a hat or helmet the strap remains comfortable even for an extended time. The headband can be adjusted via a simple draw cord system that the battery pack clips over and is super simple to adjust even with gloves on. If needed the rechargeable battery pack can be attached to a belt using the Petzl Nao belt kit, see here

The Nao headlamp is controlled by a very easy to use rotating switch that is located on the side of the lighting unit, the switch can be locked so as to avoid accidental usage when the headlamp is stowed in a bag or pocket.

Features
  • 575 Lumens
  • Reactive lighting technology
  • Rechargeable lithium battery(included) via USB
  • Water resistant
  • Optional top strap included
  • Battery release a little awkward
  • Battery life on full power could be better

The Petzl Nao implements Petzl's Reactive Lighting technology which adapts to the current lighting environment by analysing the amount of ambient light that a sensor on the top of the headlamp reads. The Nao headlamp will then adjust the current light beam accordingly to one of three possible modes: Proximity lighting, Movement and Distance. Proximity for focusing on objects close up, Movement is a mix of beams suitable for during an activity and Distance is a more focused beam for long range sight.

The Petzl Nao comes with a 2600mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery which is rechargeable(5 hours) via USB, the Nao can also use two AAA batteries if no charging point is available. It has two modes of lighting Reactive Lighting as explained above and Constant Lighting which has a low and high power setting. The battery level is represented as three red lights at the back of the battery pack which is a nice addition as the majority of headlamps do not have this feature however you must remove the headlamp to view it.

In terms of brightness at 575 lumens the Nao has enough to cover pretty much any scenario with the reactive lighting working so great that you barely even notice it adjusting, however its not perfect ad we wouldn't expect it to be either but for the majority of cases it's great. 

Verdict

​The Petzl Nao although at the pricey end of the spectrum packs a big punch in terms of features and performance. It's perfect for both trail running and around a camp. Combined with Petzl's legendary build quality it is a great investment worth making.

Petzl Nao Plus

petzl nao plus

The Petzl Nao plus steps things up a notch in terms of both power and features over the standard Nao. Power has been upped to 750 lumens and the standard modes are customizable via Petzl App.

Design

You get the same great build quality and comfort of the base model described above. The Nap plus can also be paired with the Nap belt kit as before.

Features
  • 750 lumens
  • Bluetooth integration for customization
  • Battery indicator
  • Can only take rechargeable battery pack

The first change over the standard model is upping the power to 750 lumens(on max setting). This should really be more than enough for even the darkest trails out there. The main feature change is the ability to fully customize the four standard settings, this done by pairing the Nao plus over bluetooth with the Petzl "MyPetzl" App which is available for free download from both the App store and Google play, and should pair to most modern cell/mobile phones and tablets.

Verdict

​The Nao plus should satisfy the most enthusiastic gadget freaks out there with the mode customization. If you are looking for a real high end headlamp for running then the Petzl Nao plus is a solid contender.

Petzl Nao Belt Kit

Petzl nao belt kit

The Petzl Nao belt kit/extension cable gives the ability to move the weight of the battery pack from the back of the head to the waist or onto a backpack. The chord is 106.5cm in length and comes with a clip that can attach to a belt easily and securely or to a backpack/camel pack. This means the weight on your head can be reduced by 131g which on excessively long night runs can mean a big difference in neck stiffness and general freshness. Moving the battery pack out of the elements to somewhere warm a may also result in a slight increase in efficiency. 

Petzl Nao plus battery pack

The Nao plus has the option of a separate rechargeable battery pack. So if you are planning on extended night trail runs or hikes it might be a good thing to consider. For the average runner who is doing night training it shouldn't really be necessary.

Petzl Headlamp Reviews(Ultimate Buyers Guide)

petzl headlamp

Welcome to our review of the Petzl headlamp range. Petzl has been synonymous with headlamps for over forty years. It prides itself on reliable, rugged and performant headlamps. Petzl headlamps are used the world over by outdoor enthusiasts and sportspeople. When purchasing a Petzl headlamp you can trust the build quality and materials used are of the highest quality and with some of the best lighting options around you can be sure that there is a Petzl headlamp available for pretty much any scenario.

The Petzl headlamp range

1. Petzl Tikkina

petzl-tikkina

The Petzl Tikkina is the introductory model in the Petzl headlamp range. Although it may be low cost it still comes with the same Petzl build quality and durability of the materials used.

  • Description
  • Features
  • 80 Lumens on max brightness
  • Dual lighting mode: either high intensity or longer battery life
  • One push button system for ease of use
  • Runs on three AAA/LR03 batteries

2. Petzl Zipka

petzl-zipka

The Petzl Zipka comes with a zip retractable cord that means it can not only be worn comfortably on the head but it can also be mounted around the wrist or backpack or any other suitable location in a convenient manner. It's a great lightweight Petzl head torch.

  • Description
  • Features
  • 100 Lumens on max brightness
  • Battery life extended by auto reserve mode
  • Runs on three AAA/LR03 batteries
  • Compatible with both lithium and rechargeable Ni-MH batteries

3. Petzl Tikka

petzl-tikka

The Petzl Tikka is the base model in the Tikka range. It's a simple yet effect workhorse and nicely compact to fit away easily in any pocket or rucksack. 

  • Description
  • Features
  • 100 Lumens at max power
  • Two lighting modes allow for power conservation
  • Phosphorescent reflector
  • Runs on three AAA/LR03 batteries

4. Petzl Tikka +

petzl-tikka-plus

The Petzl Tikka + ups the power to 160 Lumens over the base model tikka and features several different lighting modes for differing usage scenarios. Proximity mode for close range, movement mode for focused point with wide angle and mixed beam mode.

  • Description
  • Features
  • More powerful than the standard Tikka
  • Mixed lighting modes
  • Multi color beams
  • Super comfortable head strap

5. Petzl Tikka XP

petzl-tikka-XP

The Petzl Tikka XP is at the higher end of the Tikka range in terms of power and added features. The extra features include a boost mode for more power and a strobe mode for high visibility/safety.

  • Description
  • Features
  • Ups the power from the previous Tikka model
  • Strobe mode for added visibility
  • Long range vision

6. Petzl Tikka RXP

petzl-tikka-RXP

The Petzl Tikka RXP is the performance model of the Tikka range. It is rechargeable by USB cable and has an individual switch for it's power mode and it's choice of beam. The addition of a lock mode reduces the risk of mistakenly turning on whilst in your pocket or bag. The burn time is also customizable by downloading Petzl OS software.

  • Description
  • Features
  • 215 Lumens at max brightness
  • Dual switches, one for lighting mode and the other for power level
  • Reactive lighting technology
  • Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery via USB cable
  • Lock function that avoids accidentally switching it on

7. Petzl Reactik +

Petzl-Reactik-plus

The Petzl REACTIV + is a rechargeable Petzl headlamp the features Reactive Lighting Technology which can auto adjust the beam intensity for the user up to 300 lumens.

  • Description
  • Features
  • USB rechargeable
  • Two part strap for the most demanding dynamic activities
  • Reactive technology that adjusts light to the environment 

8. Petzl Nao

petzl-nao

The Petzl Nao is a rechargeable headlamp giving out 575 lumens. It has roughly a five hour charge time and features reactive lighting allowing for less manual intervention as the ambient lighting environment changes.  There is also an optional belt kit available so that the battery pack can be moved to the waist allowing for a much lighter load on the head.

  • Description
  • Features
  • 575 Lumens on full power
  • Reactive lighting technology
  • Can be used with two AAA/LR03 batteries if needed
  • Optional belt strap

For a more thorough review of the Petzl Nao and Nao plus see our post here.

9. Petzl Nao +

petzl-nao-plus

The Petzl Nao plus has smartphone integration via bluetooth and Petzl's MyPetzl-Light app which allows the headlamp to be controlled from your phone. The app can be used to monitor battery performance and adjust the intensity according to your needs. One of the best Petzl headlamps available.

  • Description
  • Features
  • Flagship of the Petzl headlamp range
  • Includes smartphone integration over bluetooth
  • Rear red light for added visibility/safety
  • Water resistant

10. Petzl Myo

petzl-myo

The Petzl Myo has an easily flippable lens that allows the user to go from a wide beam to a long range one in an instant. 

  • Description
  • Features
  • Flippable lens
  • Multi-beam functionality
  • Perfect for long runs

11. Petzl Myo RXP

petzl myp rxp

The Petzl Myo RXP is the first programmable headlamp in the Petzl range. It can be can be boosted all the way up to 205 Lumens. There are three lighting modes each of which can be have it's brightness selected from 13 up to 141 lumens.

  • Description
  • Features
  • 205 Lumens on max brightness
  • Runs on three AAA/LR03 batteries
  • Compatible with alkaline or lithium batteries
  • Emergency flash mode

Best Fitness Tracker 2017

best activity trackers

Welcome to our Best Fitness Tracker 2017 review where we try to find the best activity for you.

Best Fitness Tracker 2017 At A Glance

Editors Choice

fitbit charge 2

Fitbit Charge 2

  • Big screen
  • Multi-sport

Entry Level

xiaomi-mi-band-2

Xiaomi Mi Band 2

  • Price
  • Vibrate for smartphone notifications

Advanced

Fitbit Surge

Fitbit Surge

  • Smart phone integration
  • Lots of sensors

Best Fitness Tracker 2017 - The Review

1. Fitbit Charge 2

fitbit charge 2 purple
Design

The Fitbit Charge 2 comes with a large touch screen OLED display and a small button on the left that allows you to activate certain options and skip through parts of the display menu. The strap can be swapped out for alternative colors and materials with the basics range covering darl/blue/purple and a premium range with black/gunmetal/lavender/rose gold.

Features
  • Big screen
  • Multi-sport tracking
  • Great strap selection
  • Always on heart rate
  • No GPS
  • Lack of notifications
  • Not water proof

Continuous heart rate monitoring, activities, sleep, steps, stairs and calories. The side button allows you to toggle through each of the screens available: heart rate, stopwatch, clock and relax. The Charge 2 comes with all of the motion tracking sensors you would expect from a fitness tracker at this level altimeter, optical heart rate, three-axis accelerometer and vibration alert.

Verdict

Among fitness trackers the Charge 2 nails the combination of features, app and design. With a five day battery and always on heart tracking the Charge 2 tops the list of best fitness tracker.

2. Jawbone UP4

Jawbone UP4
Design

The Jawbone UP4's design is quite minimalist and for some people the lack of display screen is a big no no. However, the lack of display does increase battery life out to about 7 days between charges. The UP4 has three lights that indicate which of the modes you are in exercise, sleep and phone notifications.

Features
  • Stylishly designed
  • NFC payments
  • Battery life
  • App
  • Not waterproof
  • No real-time feedback of activity
Verdict

One of the best fitness tracker in the looks department, with integrated NFC payments functionality means you can potentially leave your wallet at home on those morning runs.

3. Garmin VivoSmart HR+

vivoactiveHR
Design

​The Vivosmart's design is more function over form and at 30g is slightly heavier than other fitness trackers. However, this may be in part to the screen size at 160 x 68 pixels which is larger and more user friendly than say the Fitbit Charge HR. The larger screen increases usability and when integrated with a smart phone allows for some basic notifications to be read. The screen can be configured to show a variety of data such as distance traveled, calories, heart rate, weather and notifications .

Features
  • Built in optical HR
  • Garmin Connect
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Find my phone option
  • Water resistant
  • Cannot pair to phone GPS
  • Back light easy to switch on by mistake
  • Battery life could be better

As you would expect the Garmin Vivosmart HR covers most of the industry standard metrics distance, steps, calories and sleep. As the HR in the name alludes to it also includes an optical heart rate monitor however the ability to pair the device with a more reliable heart rate strap is not supported unlike the original Vivosmart.

Verdict

Overall the Vivosmart HR is a very full featured fitness tracker it's larger screen is considerably easier to read that a lot of other trackers and it is crammed full of tracking metrics.

4. Garmin Vivofit 3

vivofit3
Design

The sceen on the Vivofit 3 is smaller than it's predecessors of the same name, at 64 x 63 it's at least half the size of the Vivosmart HR, this may be because Garmin has shifted it's focus for it's fitness trackers to follow the trend of form over function as per it's competitors. It is however waterproof rated to 50m unlike some other bands. The strap although quite bland is very comfortable for long term use.

Features
  • ​Long battery life
  • Waterproof to 50m
  • Data accuracy
  • Missing vibration alerts
  • Not the best looking
  • Smaller screen than most
Verdict

Although Garmin has attempted to sacrifice some function for looks it ultimately falls short in that department, however if you are looking for a waterproof activity tracker that can be worn continuously due to a year long battery life then the Garmin Vivofit 3 could be for you.

5. Fitbit Alta

Fitbit Alta
Design

The Alta has been hailed as the most stylish of fitness bands to date due to it's sleek look and slim design. At just 15mm it's one of the lightest and slimmest tackers available the strap also comes in three different sizes so there should be one to fit everyone. The small OLED display is the only interface to the watch via tapping, it allows you to cycle through each of the four screens.

Features
  • Battery lasts a week
  • Great design
  • No stairs counting
  • Not waterproof
Verdict

Sitting somewhere in the middle of budget and high end fitness tracker the Fitbit Alta is one of the more stylish wearables available for the fashion conscious.

Best Running Watches 2017

Best Running Watches 2017

Welcome to our Best Running Watches 2017 review where we try to find the best GPS running watch for you.

Best Running Watches 2017 at a glance

Editors Choice

TomTom Spark 3

  • Integrated Music
  • Route Tracking

Entry Level

garmin forerunner 25

Garmin Forerunner 25

  • Live Tracking
  • Phone Integration

Advanced

Garmin Forerunner630

Garmin Forerunner 630

  • Big on Metrics
  • Battery Life

Best Running Watches 2017 - The Review

1. TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music + GPS Review

The TomTom Spark 3 replaces the old TomTom Spark with the added bonus of the new route exploration feature and the ability to store music without requiring your phone. There are four models available in the Spark 3 range. The base level TomTom Spark 3 has the addition of route navigation over the original TomTom Spark. Next in the range is the TomTom Spark 3 Music + Headphones which has the rare addition in GPS watches of 3GB of storage for music, and comes with free Bluetooth headphones if bought through the US. Next the TomTom Spark 3 Cardio gains an optical heart-rate monitor however this is at the sacrifice of the music. The flagship model in the range the TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music unsurprisingly contains all of the features listed previously.

Design

Like the majority of GPS watches for running the TomTom Spark 3 isn't going to win any design awards, however it maintains a fairly clutter free easy to navigate layout. The watch is quite slim and is fairly non-descript in comparison to say the Garmin Forerunner 920. Although optical heart-rate monitors can be unreliable the strap on the TomTom Spark 3 ensures the it can be snugly fit to your wrist ensuring a reliable reading of your pulse. The backlight on the TomTom Spark 3 is one of the minor negatives as it can be fairly heavy on battery and unfortunately is somewhat of a necessity in low light situations.

Features
  • Music storage
  • Route tracking
  • Optical heart rate reliability
  • GPS reliability
  • Back light heavy on battery
  • No smartphone notifications

The addition of a compass sensor to enable the route tracking means that you can easily find your way home on a new training route or running trail. The accelerometer means the treadmill training accuracy is improved and once calibrated to pool size the TomTom Spark 3 can also track swim training.

Verdict

​The TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music wins our Best Running Watches 2017 review based on simplicity of design, ease of use and the integration of music which is still a rarity in running GPS watches these days. These things combined mean that it is a running watch the would suit a very large portion of the running world.

2. Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

Garmin Forerunner 235

The Garmin Forerunner 235 packs a big punch in the features department. It makes our 2017 Best Running Watches list easily as it's jam packed with the latest features and in an impressive color range that is a nice change from most other GPS running watches boring mate black. The successor to the ever popular Garmin Forerunner 225 it replaces it's old stable mate after less than a year and is one of the companies newest GPS watches with a built in wrist positioned heart rate monitor.

Design

In design terms it stays faithful to the rest of the Garmin watch range and it's one of the least clunky running watches available. With an attractive range of colors to choose from we are sure there is one to suit everyone's taste. Weighing in at a measly 42g it's not something that is going to be a distraction or annoyance on those long runs. The screen at a resolution of 215 x 180 pixels is more than enough for the average runner's needs.

Features
  • Optical heart rate monitor
  • Garmin Connect
  • Activity tracker
  • VO2 Max estimator
  • Big battery life ~ 11 hours
  • Storage to hold 200 hours of acticvities
  • No storage for music
  • Clunky app

For the average running enthusiast the Garmin Forerunner has all the features you would realistically need and a few extra thanks in part to it's addition of some basic smart watch features.

Sport tracking is the Forerunner 235's main feature. With four modes to choose from: free tracking, running, bike and running indoor. Packed with lot's of the features found in most high end running GPS watch it not quite up to par with the Forerunner 630. Included are the basics: time, distance, pace and calories along with more specialized cadence Training Effect and heart rate/max heart rate.

Verdict

A great blend of metrics and activity tracking with a dash of built in smart phone notifications makes the Forerunner 235 a solid choice for the mid to advanced trainer. A great GPS watch for running and a worthy addition to our Best Running Watches 2017 review.

3. Polar V800 Review

Polar V800

Polar V800

Design

The build quality of the V800 is one of it's standout qualities. Scratch resistant Gorilla glass that's water proof to 30m makes the screen something to last and alloy buttons and beefy case give a very robust feel. The rubberised strap has a double buckle and is pretty wide helping the V800 to sit well on the wrist.

Features
  • Cadence
  • Long battery life
  • Build quality
  • Running program
  • Heart rate variability
  • Fiddly connector
  • Clunky size

The Polar V800 includes the Running Program that give users personalized routines depending on distance. This can be configured from the Polar Flow web app, however you must go through the phone app to access it. You also get recovery status and VO2 MAX.

Verdict

Boasting an impressive array of running metrics the V800 should cover all the bases of an advanced level runner.

4. Garmin Vivoactive HR Review

vivoactive hr

Nestled somewhere in between an activity tracker and a mid-range runners watch the Vivoactive HR has something to offer most sports watch enthusiasts not just runners.

Design

Both light at 38g and a slim 8mm the Vivoactive HR has a much smaller form factor than the average runner's watch. The screen is pretty low-res at 205 x 148 and is quite dull, this is apparently to boost it's battery performance, we're not convinced the gain in battery is offset by the lack of brightness.

Features
  • Tracks lots of sports
  • Long battery life
  • Smart phone integration
  • Bland design
  • Low resolution screen

​The best feature of the Garmin Vivoactive HR is the multi sport ability, each sport has more than just standard time recording. Almost every mode includes distance, pace and HR whilst each contains some sport specific information such as ascent for skiing.

Verdict

Fills a void in the fitness watches market quite well, however it does lack the depth that a more advanced runner may expect so for that reason it is probably best suites to beginner runners or general fitness enthusiasts, one of the best sports watches for men or women available. If you would like to review some other fitness trackers check out our fitness tracker reviews here.


5. Garmin Forerunner 630

forerunner 630
Design

The large screen on the Forerunner 630 makes swiping through notifications easy however the low resolution(2015 x 180) isn't something you would expect of a watch of this caliber. Battery life is big and you can easily get several long runs in before needing a re-charge. The matte strap is offset nicely by the blue case and is suitably ventilated.

Features
  • Great metrics
  • Smart phone integration
  • Connect IQ app
  • Long battery life
  • No optical heart rate monitor
  • Low resolution screen

Being the top of the range Garmin watch for running the Forerunner 630 has a plethora of metrics that you would expect at this level. Vertical oscillation, balance, stride length, ground contact time all add up to a lot of data to pour over and analyse. They have pretty much covered every base and there's not much more you could ask for in a running watch.

Verdict

Is this the best GPS watch ? Possibly one of the best GPS running watches out there, one for the serious runner. A well deserved place in our Best Running Watches 2017 review.

6. Fitbit Surge

Fitbit Surge

The Surge occupies a place in the market similar to the Garmin Vivoactive as somewhat high end fitness tracker and mid range running watch. It is Fitbit's attempt to corner the multi sport wearable crowds attention.

Aesthetically the Surge looks quite dated. The display is not going to win an innovation awards however the rubber strap although very wide is both comfortable and well fitting.

Design

Aesthetically the Surge looks quite dated. The display is not going to win an innovation awards however the rubber strap although very wide is both comfortable and well fitting.

Features
  • Optical heart rate monitor
  • Smart phone integration
  • Multi sport
  • Bulky case
  • Dated looking
  • Battery life

The Surge has the ability to track a lot of different movement types thanks to eight different built in sensors. The combination of GPS, altimeter and and calorie counting from the app means lots of data can be logged and pored over on any given day.

Verdict

Garmin Vivoactive vs Fitbit Surge as our crossover device in Best Running Watches 2017? Well the Vivoactive has slightly better battery life however if great sleep tracking and step counting is what you are after then the Surge is the choice. A great fitness watch .

7. Suunto Ambit3 Run GPS with HR

suunto ambit3 hr

If you are looking for a solidly built multi use watch the Ambit3 may just fit the bill.

Design

At 74g the Ambit3 is quite heavy and as a unit that sits on your wrist feels quite bulky. The dot matrix screen looks a little dated, however it easy fairly easy to use.

Features
  • Great navigation
  • GPS accuracy
  • Multi-sport support
  • Bulky
  • No vibration alert
Verdict

One of the best running watches 2017, one of the top running watches ever!

8. Garmin Forerunner 25

garmin forerunner 25
Design

The Garmin Forerunner 25 makes our Best Running Watches 2017 list as the best entry level GPS running watch. It replaces the older Forerunner 15 as the most suitable watch for the beginner level runner. It comes in a range of colors and two different sizes to suit just about anyone.

Features
  • Bluetooth Smartphone Integration
  • Live tracking
  • Incoming Call, Text and Calendar notifications
  • Upload workouts to Web via Garmin Connect Mobile app
  • Only two data fields per screen
  • No additional sport modes

For the average runner all the basic features are covered, including GPS for tracking pace/speed/distance, accelerometer for tracking treadmill work, daily activity tracker and 5 different run modes Calories-goal/Time-goal/Distance-goal/Run/Walk/Virtual-Pacer.

With a battery life of about 8 hours between charges you should have most long activities covered and the waterproofing to 50 meters means that rain is never going to be an issue​. Although still only a low end watch the Garmin 25 is heart rate strap compatible, the heart rate strap can be bought separately or as part of a bundle.

Verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 25 makes our Best Running Watches 2017 review as the best entry level watch on the market. It offers great value for money for the casual/beginner runner and yet still has enough features to cover most bases when tracking training progress. If you are looking for a basic watch GPS then the Forerunner 25 should suit your needs. A cheap GPS watch that is hard to fault.

Running watch buying guide

Here we present a very brief guide to running GPS watches for each level of runner.

After reading through our Best Running Watches 2017 review you now know what's available we thought a quick buying guide should help. You'll get the best out of GPS running watches reviews if you know what you want. Choosing the right watch can be tricky, the best way to choose is look at what your needs are and try to match a watch to them. Whether you are a total running noob or are endeavoring to break your marathon PB tracking your training can act as both a motivator and chance to analyze each training session and how your overall plan is progressing.

Battery life is another big consideration. If you plan on regular use of the GPS functionality then you battery usage becomes an even bigger factor.

Beginner

Looking to bridge the divide between expensive watch and low end an activity tracker? Then you would be best suited to an entry level running watch. Those that are casual runners or trying their first couch to 5k program need not be concerned with the complexities or amounts of data that a more expensive watch might offer. The most basic features such as time, distance, calories, pace and heart rate should be sufficient for your needs. The inclusion of smart phone notifications may also be an added bonus.

Garmin Forerunner 25

As an entry level watch the Forerunner 25 should cover all the bases. You can read are review above here. Probably the best cheap running watch.

Intermediate

The intermediate runner has progressed beyond the simple training run and may start to incorporate interval training and hill sprints into their training regime. Organizing your training into specific blocks can help greatly when introducing periodization into your plan based around speed, endurance and conditioning. Mid-level watches can be a useful aid in collecting and analyzing your training data. Therefore at this level a GPS watch with heart rate monitor is a must.

Heart rate tracking features are a must if you intend to use heart rate zone training for enhanced interval training, the majority of watches in this category however may need the addition of a heart rate strap. In-built accelerometers can greatly help in tracking training runs done on a treadmill as the cold winter weather forces some runners indoors. At this level you get quite a good return on investment versus some of the more advanced watches.

TomTom Spark 3

The Spark 3 should meet all of features that an intermediate should need combined with integrated music storage it's proven extremely popular and ranks in first place in our overall review here.

Fitbit Surge

The Surge has most features you would need for the intermediate runner you can review the Surge can here.

Advanced

For the advanced runner a watch that is both big on training metrics and smartphone/app integration is expected as standard along with accurate GPS readings and heart rate monitor integration. One would also expect stride analysis and VO2 calculation.

Garmin Forerunner 630

The flagship of Garmin's running offerings the Forerunner 630 is big on metrics such as stride length and vertical ratio, it's easily the best Garmin running watch. Review it here.

Polar V800

Big on running metrics the V800 is for any serious trainer. One of the best watches for running. Review it here