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High-quality knee pads for downwind in the cockpit?


New Member
Hey folks,
I developed painful bursitis in my knee by the end of last season from all the hours spent with my knee wedged into the forward-port corner of the Laser cockpit on the downwind leg of races (so mostly my left knee--consistent with my starboard preference! I'm often hard by the lee on starboard when everybody else is on port--another story....)

I started using some generic knee pads a couple of seasons back (instead of bare knees), but they were cheap and worn pretty thin by the end of the season. Looking for quality this time around!

Anybody have experience with this? Any product recommendations?


Rob B

Well-Known Member
This is why I went to the Zhik full cover bottoms with built in knee pads. Over the past 2 yeasr I've collected 3 sets. The hybrid for summer, the hyperbolic fleece for spring fall and the super warm for winter. The farmer john style fits me best. Waist high slide down. The hybrid wears out pretty quickly on the spandex part. Think I'm going to get two full seasons out of mine.


As an Athletic Trainer, knee pads are like varnish, you will eventually have to replace. I would advise buying a new and cheap set every season if that worked for you. The notion that a set will last you more than a couple of years is a gamble. The elastic never lasts long, especially if there is salt water, sun, and excessive use/stretch (from a bent knee position) to the elastic. Yes, there are some with better elastic than others, and have additional wraps/straps to keep them on, but even goalie gear, ace bandages or volleyball knee pads stretch and start to sag and wear out with increased use. Volleyball knee pads have the best padding I've found for the knee specifically, and bursitis. The best pad you can use would be a custom cut donut made out of a closed-cell foam (Belgium foam what we used to call it) and fit around the bursitis/bruised area. That might be more trouble than it is worth though when you just want to get in the boat and go sailing. Another option, but possibly more inhibiting due to wetsuit you are wearing and depending on where the bruised area is located on your knee, would be a neoprene knee sleeve that you can add padding underneath to hold it in place. Or if you can stuff the pad in the long wetsuits pants (as Rob B suggested) you are wearing might be a better long term solution. Good luck, and can't wait to hear the story about your starboard tactics preference.:)


Upside down?
Staff member
I am in accord with ProATC.
Just buy 'generic' knee pads, but make sure they fit your knees.
I got mine at Walmart (for about $10).


New Member
Thanks for the helpful feedback, all. I was wondering if there was some all-star brand of knee-pad out there that I was missing out on. It's good to know that well-cushioned volleyball pads, frequently replaced, are a simple and good place to start. I'd compressed my several-year-old pair down to a thin rind.

ProATC, I appreciate your expert comments. I'm aware that donut pads can be ideal for total unloading of the anterior knee, and I don't mind a bit of trouble if it's what I really need. My question is how to go about getting or making one? Do you know where one can buy Belgium foam online, or do you have any links on how to construct one? I presume they're reusable? I sail without a wetsuit for much of the season, so that shouldn't be a concern, and I imagine I could customize another pair for wetsuit legs? I'd appreciate your input on this!

PS. The starboard downwind preference isn't such great story. Partly it's like learning to stop on hockey skates or downhill skis--one side is always a bit better than the other, so you keep using the easier side, and the disparity just grows. My 'feel' for the rig, for sheeting angles, for everything--is just better on starboard, so I stick to it like dog with a bone. Partly it's because our course often ends with a short left-handed dog-leg around the leeward mark, to the finish line. I fight to get the inside track on starboard for all I'm worth--not only because it allows me a wide, tactical rounding of the mark, generating speed, and a nice reaching angle to the finish once I've gybed, but also because if I'm inside overlapped at the mark, I'll be the windward boat as soon as I gybe to port. So by staying on starboard I can literally sail across the bow of every single other boat (all on port tack) to cross the line ahead! This starboard tenacity--whether laze/preference or tactics, nevertheless has me sailing some pretty wicked lee angles, leach dancing on the edge of a guillotine gybe, praying against a sudden left-shift or gust....


Any closed-cell foam padding will work, and they should be reusable and water proof. The open cell padding will turn to mush quickly. You can try this website, and it looks like there has been a change in political sensitivity, it is now American foam;)...Econoline American Foam
You might also want to look at this product with built in padding, it will save you from cutting up a wetsuit...Search results for: 'knee sleeves' | Medco Sports Medicine
Use a pair of scissors to cut the shape desired, approx. 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches around the affected area should do. For the hole in the middle of the pad, just fold in half and cut a crescent moon shape. Add layers if needed. Keeping them in place is hard with your movement, and getting wet, that is why a wetsuit or knee sleeve would be preferred.
Good luck and let me know if you have any further questions.
Hi there -

Just thinking outside the box here a bit, have you tried a knees up position? Can take a little while to get used to, but perhaps could work well for you and even encourage a bit more time sailing narrow.

What condition do you mostly sail in or is it a wide variety?

Any chance for a picture or video of your body position downwind BTL, either on the water or in the boat park?

Where exactly is your knee contacting the boat?