My knees, my poor beat up knees.
Not a workout goes by that I don’t wear some kind of knee compression sleeves. Usually, the go-to is my blue Rehbands; but for the last month, I’ve been rocking the new Rocktape Knee Caps (no pun intended). These new compression sleeves took the Crossfit market by storm after they were released ensuing the USA vs the World Crossfit invitational. They were gone in no time after Rogue had put them up for sale on their site. Luckily I managed to snag a pair of smalls in 5mm from Amazon. Now the question is, are they good enough to dethrone the current king of knee sleeves, Rehbands, or should you spend a little extra and stay with the champ?
(Warning: I’m going to be referencing Rehbands quite a bit from here on out, because they are awesome and the standard when it comes to knee sleeves.)
Let me be honest, the main reason I sought out the Knee Caps wasn’t for the compression and extra knee protection. It was mainly because they look freaking awesome. The fact that I was looking for something a little bit more mobile to WOD in was just the secondary factor. Hence the reason I opted for the 5mm sleeves instead of the 7mm, as my Rehbands are of the thicker size. Putting the sleeves on works the same as you’d put any other knee sleeve on, flip them inside out and pull them over your knees. What’s different is that the bottom end of the sleeves tend to get stuck, causing me to have to pull them out and untuck them. Might have to do with the elasticity of the neoprene and being about half an inch longer than blue Rehbands. Now, they don’t actually ever feel much longer when they’re on. Aside from the fact that the top seems to slip down more than the Rehbands do. Let me assure you, I don’t have thin little legs and even size down to small to get the most compression out of the sleeves. Same as I do with Rehbands. Other than that, the fit and feeling is largely the same. The contouring looks like it would feel more shaped to your knee than it actually feels, as it feels pretty similar to having the grey Rehbands, which I think feel similar to blue Rehbands.
Performance wise, the Knee Caps are as you’d expect. They offer great support for your knees during the roughest of WOD’s, to the heaviest of lifts. They feel good, but nothing you wouldn’t get out of using Rehbands. Like I stated previously, you’re still going to probably have to pull them up from time to time, but I haven’t found a sleeve that you didn’t have to occasionally adjust. I’ve used these for everything from Oly lifts to burpees, and they perform just fine, mainly keeping my knees warm and moist but also offering a bit of “bounce” to my squats. I opted mainly to get the thinner versions because I don’t like running with the 7mm Rehbands because they seem cut off the circulation to my feet. These still kind of do, but that’s to be expected. As previously stated, fit feels mainly the same using both small (11.5 – 13.5″) Knee Caps and small (11.8-13″) Rehbands.
The Rocktape Knee Caps are sold in pairs, going for about $60. Current prices on Amazon for the 7mm Rehbands are $86 for a pair, and the 5mm pair for $80. Looks like that’s a pretty damn good deal right? Well I can tell you yes, with some reservations. While the Knee Caps offer the same kind of functionality at a much lower price point, who can really say they’ll withstand the test of time and abuse. My Rehbands have taken a TON of thrashing for the last year; they’re tanks and still fit the same use after use, wash after wash. I can’t really say if the Rocktape’s have loosened up in the last month of use, but they’re definitely showing an alarming amount of wear. The inner lining of one of my sleeves is starting to separate from the neoprene. While this doesn’t do too much to the fit or performance, who knows when it’ll rip off from the seams? From only one month of use too, if that. I’ve contacted Rocktape about this issue, just waiting on their response. They seem like a very reputable company, so I’m sure they’ll make this right. Let’s hope that I unfortunately just have a faulty sleeve.
Re-reading the review, it seems like I don’t really care too much for the Rocktape Knee Caps, which isn’t necessarily the case. They’re a welcome addition to a short list of good knee sleeves. Good enough to usurp the current champ? That’s going to take quite a bit, and I’m going to have to say no for now (which is okay, since they’re sold out everywhere anyways), due to the glaring durability issue. Hopefully Rocktape addresses this issue, assuming it’s a common defect. Which I really hope it isn’t, because they could really have a winner on their hands with the more affordable and stylish Knee Caps. Until then, you’re probably better off just spending that extra $20 for the tried and true king of knee sleeves.
UPDATE: Rocktape responded to me with this:
The warranty is absolutely the same. We stand behind our products no matter where they have been purchased. We will get the replacements sent out in mid january. I will have them shipped to the address in your Amazon screen shot.”
That works for me.
Update as of 4/8/14
I’ve had my new set of RockTape Knee Caps for a few months now and I can report that the durability case has been fixed in the revision. It seems like most places are getting them back in-stock now, but I applaud RockTape for making sure that people that had bought into the defective revision were taken care of first.