April 20, 2009 by Genevieve 15 Comments Many people avoid wearing gloves and knee pads to garden because they see these kinds of protective gear as getting between them and the experience of gardening. That’s totally valid, but there are things you can do to ensure you’re choosing protective gear that will fit you well and actually enhance your enjoyment of gardening. Here are some of the features I look for when choosing knee pads and gloves, and my recommendations for the best ones I have found.
Firstly, I don’t want the kind that you have to carry around with you – those sheets of foam that you must pick up and move about. The pads with one strap usually attach below the knee, and I find they are prone to slipping down my leg.
I don’t actually recommend these knee pads, but they have a feature that deserves mention: the rubberized plastic shell with an almost-flat surface. The other cool thing about the nearly-flat shell on this knee pad is that it keeps your knee pads oriented to the front instead of having them gradually slip sideways, since the flat part wants to stay flat on the ground.
I’m on the lookout for a pad that has that flat-shell feature, with two neoprene straps, and quality padding – but isn’t too heavy or hard to walk in. The only problem with these is that they have a single strap which attaches below the knee, so they often want to slip down, and they collect loose soil because there’s no top strap holding the pad’s top close to my leg. The brand I’ve been using for ten years or so, Kneelons, have firm, sturdy foam which lasts a long time (I get about two years of 20-hour-a-week use out of them before I start to wear holes in the foam). There are two neoprene straps which attach securely with velcro above and below the knee, and they flex nicely when I bend. Many people love to feel the soil on their hands, but most gardeners know that the soil really saps moisture from our skin. My favorite type for fussier work like deadheading annuals or planting veggie starts is the Atlas Nitrile Glove. I prefer using a slightly thicker style of glove so that I can prune roses and grab brambles in between weeding and planting. The Atlas Fit (Mud Gloves are another similar brand) are much nicer than leather gloves for feeling what you are doing. Gen, A while back I saw some really cute knee pads (my kind, though) at Target–they had wonderful colors and patterns.
I have to admit, when I see the carry-around pads with the cute patterns, I almost want one even though I like the kind that straps onto my knees!

I’ve used these knee pads that work without straps and they’re very comfortable! Either kneeling pads pinch the backs of your legs uncomfortably, or you can’t feel what you’re doing while wearing gloves.
I personally find that I lose myself in the act of gardening much more easily when I’m protected; if I can just plunk down and start weeding without hurting my knees on a rock, or reach for a blackberry bramble without worry of thorns, I feel so much more able to enjoy what I’m doing. It’s just too silly trying to remember to move that pad around the garden with you; much easier to get some that strap on. I have tried knee pads with inflexible straps and they are a recipe for unhappy legs – either you get a rash from the strap rubbing the back of your leg, or you lose circulation every time you kneel. That helps them stay on since they’re attached above and below the knee, and also helps keep soil and grit from slipping between your knee pad and your knee. The single-strap ones also tend to hang away from the knee a bit at the top, so they catch any falling bits of soil and end up pretty dirty on the inside. You don’t think of this as a feature on a kneeling pad until you try to kneel on concrete with a pad with a hard plastic surface. Your kneecap area does not actually touch the ground, instead the edges of the shell make contact with the ground. The foam is easily crushed, the single strap is stretchy, but made of thin materials with a poorly-done velcro closure, and they aren’t machine washable.  But if you want to try out this feature and see if it works for you, these aren’t bad for the price. I’m having to pull these up every fifteen minutes or so, which makes me only want to wear them for jobs on concrete or gravel, when I really need the extra cushioning. When I spoke with the company about their product, they gave me a coupon code for my readers to use which will give you guys 30% off your purchase of these kneepads on Amazon. Cracked, dry hands are no fun to garden with, and it’s even less fun to stumble upon a grouchy insect or thorny plant without any protection for our hands.
There are some wonderful premium gloves out there, Bionic for example, that really let you feel what you are doing, but I go through gloves so quickly that I really don’t want to spend $30 on a single pair. These are super-thin cloth gloves with a light coating on them to make them stronger and better for gripping things. I use a generic version of the Atlas Fit Glove, and I quickly got used to being able to do any task I wanted with just the one pair of gloves.
The owner of North Coast Gardening, she is also a contributing editor at Garden Design Magazine and has written for numerous print and online publications.

I prefer the kind you carry with you since I absolutely positively HATE the feel of anything strapped around my knees.
They had lots of pockets, including one for carrying pruning shears and, best of all, knee pockets that held a neoprene pad. I keep scrapping away the debris that the velcro attracts but they still don’t stay shut. There is no reason I cannot get the guy to make ones just for my knees and a bit of padding he can post to me.
You only have to pull a muscle once from having your knee slide suddenly, to swear off hard plastic-shell knee pads in future. This keeps your kneecap suspended within the padding (gel and foam types are available) and really helps if you have patella pain.
I love the wide neoprene straps, strong velcro closure, and the fact that the pads are machine washable.
I always wear pants while gardening, never shorts, and so maybe that’s part of where we differ on the knee pad issue.
I agree that if one weren’t so weird about things that the advantage would be not having to carry them with you, but I just tuck the kneeling kind in my bucket that I carry with me, and I only use it if the ground is wet or prickly. I am going to invent an elastic closure with clips and sew it on to the old Kneelons which after several yeas of daily use (I’m a professional), are still good and comfy. Use of them does not imply any affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement or support of this site. I have tried to find something like them again but the best replacements I’ve found are Carhart pants with a an extra piece of fabric over the knee (I think this is more for making the pants last). I cut a small opening in the bottom of that extra piece, making it into a sort of upside-down pocket, and I put my neoprene pad in there.

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