Knee Pads for Metal Detecting – Reviewing Three Very Different Pair

At hunting spots such as this, the ground can have all manner of hazards. Having good knee pads can protect your knees and make the hunt much more enjoyable.

When metal detecting, I find that kneepads are a necessity.  As you kneel to pinpoint and dig targets, your knees are exposed to all manner of rough surfaces, rocks, and other hazards.   So, I go through 2-3 pair per year – and each time I’ve bought different types, trying to find a favorite.

For me, a knee pad for metal detecting needs the following qualities:

  • All-day comfort, even with shorts.
  • Stability – doesn’t ride up or down, or to the side
  • Durability – should last at least 6 months of solid hunting.
  • Reasonable protection.
  • Security – doesn’t fall off or require regular re-connecting.
  • Looks – least important, but they shouldn’t look ridiculous.
So, with that in mind, let’s go through three products I tried out point by point.

Alta tactical Superflex Pads  – $31.95

These pads are marketed as a “tactical” pad for law enforcement and paintgun use.  I used them for 8-10 hunts in late Summer 2012 at old houses and churches.

Pros:   Tough, Bad-Boy Look, Very Secure.  Lots of kneecap protection (probably more than you need), Quick Release buckle is awesome.  Available in camo.

Quick release rocks, but they slid down and were uncomfortable after a couple of hours. Tough as nails and good look.

Cons:  Uncomfortable, Slid down a lot – even when I really tightened them.  No good with shorts.

Summary:  These guys have something going with the quick release strap – it works really, really well.   And the material on this pad is top notch.  I’d guess these would last a long time.   The problem, I think, is that these pads are small, so you don’t really get to anchor the pad above the knee and below the knee to keep it in place.  They kind of strap “on the knee” rather than above and below it – so they slid down and I found myself having to pull them up just about every time I stood from a recovery.  So, trying to keep this from happening, I tightened the heck out of them.  This made the pads uncomfortable.  Especially when wearing shorts.  After 2 hours, I pulled them off.  With jeans, they are okay, but still not as comfortable as others in this test.

Buying them:  You can get them here.  I am not compensated for any sales.

Also Avoid: Alta Tactical AltaLok Contour Knee Pads ($30) – They are awful for detecting.  the knee pocket is tiny and they constantly roll to the side.  Plus all the “Cons” of the Altas.  Alta seems to be more focused on looks than function.


McGuire-Nicholas Gel-Foam Pads – $29.97

These pads are meant for construction type work and include a Gel insert for comfort.  I used them for 12-15 hunts in Spring of 2012.  They are available at Home Depot.  These are my choice for winter hunting or hunting in muddy ground.

Lots of good qualities, despite being bulky. The material stretches out after getting wet or washed. If you keep them dry and sweat-free, they may be a very good choice, especially for snow/wet hunting.

Pros: Protection.  Awesome wide “knee pocket” is great for detecting on uneven terrain.  Good “pant stain” protection on side due to wide strap make these very good for mud/wet/snow.  Good comfort, even with shorts thanks to single, wide strap.

Cons: Bulky, Difficult to wash.  Material, including strap, stretches out after it gets wet a few times.  They do slide down some due to single strap, but not as bad as the Superflex pads.  Gel wore out after 2 seasons of heavy use.

Summary:  Thick Gel Rocks!  These are big knee pads.  My goal was to get some “winter” pads that would have side protection against water / snow from soaking my pants when I dug.  These worked pretty well for that since the single velcro strap widens as it gets to the pad area, forming a layer between the ground and the sides of my knee area.  So the pads got wet, not my pants.

In hot weather, these were far less ideal.  I also found that the design of these tended to absorb sweat pretty badly.  I tried to wash them regularly but still it was hard to get them clean – partially due to the gel pad enclosure and eventually they just sort of disolved and stretched beyond usefulness.  Eventually, the straps were too long to fasten the velcro.

Buying them:  You can get them here.  I am not compensated for any sales.

Update:  The Dewalt DG5204 is a newer pad that is even better, runs around $30 a pair, which is really cheap.

My (Surprise) Favorite:  KneelOns from Wildflower Seed Company – $29

Kneelons were comfortable, lightweight and easy to clean.  A clear choice for metal detecting

I saw another review on a gardening site and was intrigued.

Pros: Comfort, Stability, Simplicity. Easy to clean (machine washable!) comfortable with shorts or jeans.  Lightweight.  Compact.   You’ll forget you’re wearing them!

Cons:  Not as thick as the gel pads – and you’ll notice this on sharp rocks.  You must get the velcro lined up just right or they’ll pop off.  Colors are limited to Green or Blue.  They look a little silly (I wish they came in all black.)   I REALLY wish they’d upgrade the velcro on these and offer an all-black edition!!!

Summary:  I really do need to sing the praises for these neoprene-based pads – they are nearly perfect.  The first time I wore them I was a bit sloppy lining up the male/female pairs on the velcro and they popped off when I knelt to get targets.  I’ve not seen any sign of stretching and wouldn’t expect it given the materials.

Buying them:  You can get them here.  I am not compensated for any sales.

Warning: There appears to be a knock-off on ebay.  Avoid this!

Update after 3 years of ownership:  The velcro does eventually wear out on the kneel ons and the front fabric will eventually start to tear.  I got 3 solid long seasons from them.  Use a wire brush to clean out the velcro.  Still using my original pair, but will replace soon.

Check out my other equipment reviews.

One Response
  1. Frank Pandozzi November 28, 2012 /