We don’t give our knees enough credit.
Being the largest weight-bearing joint in your body, the knee experiences a lot of stress and is prone to a slew of injuries. In fact, studies show that the knee is the most commonly injured joint in the body.
It’s also not uncommon to see adults complain of bad knees due to arthritis, bursitis or some other chronic condition. According to stats, half of the adult population in America will most likely suffer from knee pain at any point in their lives.
It’s high time you took care of your knees.
If you’ve injured your knee, are afraid of injuring it or are healing from a surgical procedure that fixed said injury, you have to use the right cold therapy knee wrap to help lessen pain and hasten your recovery.
Cold therapy knee wraps are essential whether you’re healing from injury or are trying to prevent it.
These knee compression wraps come with a cold therapy pack that helps lessen inflammation and swelling by constricting your blood vessels. If you want to know more about vasoconstriction and how it works, check out this article.
What sets knee wraps apart from the usual ice bags is that they also provide adequate compression to help stabilize the knee joint and prevent further damage. The combination of cold therapy and compression helps heal those swollen tendons, joints or underlying muscles in no time.
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- Comfortable and snug fit
- Made with high-quality materials
- Stays cold for a long period of time
- Can be used for both hot and cold therapy
- Gel packs are removable and position can be customized
- Allows compression without impeding mobility
- Relatively high price point
- Stays cold for a long period of time
- Delivers even temperature all around the knee
- Covers a large area
- Easy to wear and adjust
- Pro model can be a bit rigid
O2 Compression Cold Therapy
- Air compression system complements ice pack nicely
- Stays cold for a long period of time
- Has snug fit but doesn’t impede mobility
- Water resistant cloth material on the gel pack
- Some people may find the air compression system complicated
- Distributes cold temperature evenly
- Can be worn directly over your skin
- Thermal backing is soft and thick enough to prevent ice burns
- Snug and comfortable fit
- Cold relief isn’t instant
- Relatively cheaper
- Minimalist open-patella design
- Gel pack can be used for both hot and cold therapy
- Wrap is not very stable
- Loosens when you move around
- Gel pack is not durable--- our pack got punctured during the review
- Cheaper than most knee wraps
- Fleece material is soft
- Easy to wear and adjust
- Panes don’t freeze all the way through after 2 hours in the freezer
- Doesn’t keep temperature for a long period of time
- Ice packs keep snagging on material
- Color combination is not discreet
- Very cold
- Snug fit
- Gel pack is not removable
- Wrap takes a lot of space in freezer
- Straps are not flexible
- Doesn’t stay cold for long
- High price point
However, there are hundreds of knee wraps available in the market today. Choosing the best one to fit your needs could be tricky. How do you know that they’ll actually work and relieve you of pain when all of them claim to be “the best”?
Well, that’s where we come in.
We’ve taken it upon ourselves to test some of the highest quality cold therapy knee wraps in the market today, so you don’t have to spend a fortune in trial and error.
In selecting the best cold therapy knee wraps we considered the following:
You want a cold pack that doesn’t freeze solid but stays cold long after you’ve taken it out of the freezer. We also considered how long it would take to activate or freeze the gel pack and how the cold temperature gets distributed around the wrap.
You’re already in pain--- you don’t want your knee wrap to add to the discomfort! We want a knee wrap that’s both effective and comfortable. We’re looking for a wrap with ergonomic design...something that’s easy to wear without assistance from other people. We also considered stable straps or belts and soft material that doesn’t chafe or irritate your skin.
A knee wrap’s ability to deliver compression is a crucial factor. A good knee wrap should hit the balance between flexibility and stability. The knee wrap should be able to give adequate compression without compromising your ability to move around.
A quality knee wrap should last for a long time. You want something that can endure everyday wear and tear. The gel packs should be durable and resistant to punctures as well.
Last but not the least, we considered the price point of each product. Should you go for a cheaper knee wrap, or are pricier wraps worth the extra bucks? We wanted to find out, so we selected knee wraps from various price ranges.
We searched high and low and read hundreds of reviews and customer feedbacks before selecting our top 7 knee wraps for cold therapy.
Once we got our hands on the wraps, it was time to subject them to some rigorous testing.
We did various tests and challenges to evaluate their coolness, comfort, and wearability. Various members of our testing team each wore a different knee wrap so we can see how the wraps fit on different body types.
We wore them while sitting, standing, walking across the street and up and down a flight of stairs to check for comfort, compression, and overall stability.
Then we popped the gel packs into the freezer---- twice.
For the first test, we froze the gel packs for 2 hours, which was the minimum freezing time. We wanted to see if the indicated time was actually enough for the packs to freeze. For the second freeze test, we let the packs stay in the freezer overnight to check the difference. We also noted each wrap’s cold duration, durability, and condensation during each test.
After the dust settled (or should we say, after the ice melted), we then ranked the knee wraps based on their overall performance.
Based on our review and testing, here are the best cold therapy knee wraps in the market today:
Leading the pack is ActiveWrap’s Knee Heat/Ice Compression Therapy Wrap. Yup, this wrap can be used for both hot and cold therapy, but we'll get to the hot part later.
First, let's take a look at ActiveWrap.
Even at first glance, you can tell that ActiveWrap is thoughtfully designed and made with high-quality materials. It looks every inch a professional knee wrap with its soft yet durable neoprene/nylon material. The black color makes the wrap look understated as well. You won't be too self-conscious about wearing it outside your home.
The wrap comes in two sizes: small/medium (which fits thigh sizes below 18 inches) and large/extra large, which fits sizes between 18-25 inches. We love the fact that ActiveWrap is so versatile, you can wear it on either your left or right leg.
Two straps secure ActiveWrap: one that goes below the knee joint and another that goes above. The straps are very stretchable, which is great since this allows the wrap to fit a wide range of body types.
The cool thing about ActiveWrap is that it comes with two detachable, patented Dual Layer Pouches (DLP) where you can place the accompanying gel packs. By placing the hot or cold gel packs in between one or two layers of material, they help control temperature and comfort levels, up to 5 degrees.
The pouches are also attached to the wrap using self-fasteners, so you can customize and adjust the position of the gel packs to target a specific spot. It also shuts close at the very top so you won't displace the gel pack by accident.
Attaching the wrap by yourself is easy and convenient. It's got a nice snug fit and the straps hold the wrap well. It's very comfy--- it compresses without being too rigid and allows you to move around with ease. There are no bulges around the side of the wrap, so you can be sure that the gel pack doesn't lose its shape.
We popped the ActiveWrap gel pack in the freezer for two hours, as per the label. It was cold enough, but some parts were cooler than the others so make sure to squeeze the pack to distribute the temperature evenly.
What's great is that the gel pack didn't freeze solid. It was still nice and pliant when we put it back into the wrap. Wearing it provided cool comfort around the front and sides of the knee, which is great if you've got patellar problems or if your kneecap is swollen. For this short two-hour test, ActiveWrap exceeded our expectations by staying cool for about an hour and 30 minutes.
A gentle reminder though: even if the cold pack stays cold for over 1 hour, each icing application should last no longer than 20 minutes. Wait until the skin returns to room temperature before the next treatment session.
When we froze the pack overnight, we found that it does have a lot of condensation when you take it out of the freezer. The gel packs, thankfully, don’t sweat through the fabric but still, it’s better to wipe the most of the condensation off before putting the gel pack back into the wrap.
ActiveWrap’s gel pack was indeed colder after the overnight test and it was still as pliant and flexible as ever. We had no issues in putting it in the wrap and wearing it. It also stayed cold for more than an hour during the second test.
ActiveWrap is one of the few products on this list that can be used for both cold and hot therapy. While hot therapy is not indicated for acute and recent injuries, it's very helpful in treating stiff muscles and arthritic pain.
To heat the gel pack, you have to put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. If that doesn't feel warm enough, you can reheat for 10-second durations until you get the right temperature. Just like in freezing, some parts of the gel pack tend to be hotter than others, so make sure to carefully squeeze it around to evenly distribute the heat. The gel pack retains heat very well and stayed warm for about 20 minutes.
Overall, the ActiveWrap Knee Heat/Ice Compression Therapy Wrap checked most of our boxes: it's comfortable, it stays cold for a long time and it's got a nice, snug fit. It's pretty easy to wear, too. The fact that you can use it for both hot and cold therapy is also a great bonus.
ActiveWrap may have a slightly higher price point at $54.95, but for its quality and effectivity, it's worth the extra dollars.
Right on ActiveWrap’s heels is ProIce.
ProIce products use a patented windowpane-type cryoblanket to help distribute the temperature evenly. Because of this technology, ProIce products can reportedly stay cold for an hour...and we’re pleased to say that the product delivered its promise.
There are two ProIce products that can be used for your knees: one is the PI400 model, which is a multipurpose wrap, and the other is the PI420 model which is the pro knee wrap. You can distinguish one wrap from the other through their appearance: the PI400 is smaller with thinner straps and is blue in color, while the PI420 is relatively larger in size and is black all over. The PI420 is the recommended product for professional athletes as it’s got a bigger size. It goes above your kneecap and wraps around the lower portion of your thigh.
Both wraps are pretty similar in function and feel, though. They’re made of Veltex®, a soft material that allows the straps to be attached virtually anywhere on the wrap. This allows you to fully adjust and customize ProIce to fit your needs. It’s pretty easy to wear by yourself, too.
On the opposite side of the wrap, you’ll find net backing to allow ventilation and better delivery of the cold sensation. This material really allows the cold to penetrate your skin, so make sure to wear clothing underneath the wrap to prevent skin damage and ice burns.
Like what we mentioned earlier, ProIce uses a removable cryoblanket with a windowpane design. Instead of one gel pack, you get a sheet full of small ice “windows”. This design delivers an even cold temperature all around your knee.
At first, we thought that we’d have a lot of trouble popping the windowpane packs into the freezer because they occupy quite a large surface area. But it’s fine--- the gel packs can actually fit in the freezer just fine. If you’re a little tight on space, you can even fold the gel pack. Don’t worry, it doesn’t freeze solid.
The ProIce knee wraps are easy to wear and adjust. They stay in place, and their tightness can easily be adjusted. One wrap can also be worn on either left or right limb.
What we love most about the ProIce wraps is that they stay cold for a very long time.
During our testing, the multipurpose PI400 stayed cold for 42 minutes during the first run and 54 minutes on the next. The pro PI420 lasted much longer: for both tests, it stayed cold for more than an hour.
Since the wraps go all the way around your knee, it really delivers even cold all around your limb. This makes ProIce great if you’ve got injuries or discomfort all around your knee area. It also doesn’t bulge around the sides, too, so it really keeps its shape.
Perhaps the only downside is that compared to ActiveWrap, ProIce is a tad more rigid. It doesn’t freeze solid nor impedes movement; it’s just that you might not be able to bend your knee as much as you’d like.
Overall, we think that ProIce is great for icing your knee after an injury. The windowpane cryoblanket allows the wrap to deliver even temperature all around your knee. The material is comfortable, soft and offers excellent compression and stability. The fact that you can easily customize and adjust it is also a huge plus.
Next, we have the O2 Compression Cold Therapy Wrap. This is probably the bulkiest wrap on the list, which is why we had to put it in third place. To be fair though, O2 does have a lot of features that you can’t find in the other wraps, which makes it a worthy runner-up to ActiveWrap and ProIce.
First, the wrap uses air compression in conjunction with cold therapy. Most of its bulk is due to the additional air bladder and pump that comes with the removable gel pack.
Looking at the wrap, you’ll notice that the material is pleasantly soft and that the straps adhere to the wrap quite nicely. The straps are stretchable and can be adjusted without a hitch, too.
O2’s removable gel pack is unique. Instead of the usual plastic, it’s housed in a water-resistant fabric that’s attached to the wrap via sel-fasteners. Some people might find it a bit challenging to place the gel pack back into position due to its unconventional shape, but you can get the hang of it after a couple of tries. We also noticed that the gel pack doesn’t have a lot of volume to it. When you press it, the contents feel somewhat thin and runny, but we soon found out that the air compression property of the wrap makes up for this adequately.
Speaking of which, O2’s air compression might look a bit intimidating and cumbersome to its users at first. One is likely to ask: what’s a blood pressure pump doing on a knee wrap? Don’t panic. The thing is, O2’s air compression system is quite effective and simple to use.
On the wrap itself, you’ll find a little valve that controls the air you put into the air compression bladder. If you want to pump in air, make sure it’s pointed to “on” before you pump away. Once you’ve achieved the right tightness, simply turn the dial to “off” and remove the tubings. The air is now locked into the bladder and will stay inside, even if you move around. If you want to deflate the wrap, just put the tubings back on and push the button to release the air.
Is the O2 cold enough? The answer is a huge yes. Next to Activewrap and ProIce, this knee compression wrap as the coldest. You don’t feel the cold directly; instead, it kind of seeps into your skin the longer you keep it on. And boy, you can keep it on for quite a long time.
The air compression really works well with the gel pack. It allows the knee wrap to deliver cold evenly without chafing your skin. You don’t need to tighten the straps much either. If you want more compression, you just pump in more air.
The O2 also remained quite flexible even when we froze it overnight. We were a bit worried that the fabric would soak up a lot of moisture in the freezer, but that wasn’t an issue at all. The material is water resistant and can take on a bit of freezer moisture just fine. The back sweats a bit, though, so as per usual, make sure to wipe down any excess condensation before attaching it back to the wrap.
O2 stayed cool for an hour and 20 minutes during both of our tests. It delivers an even temperature that doesn’t fade away easily. The open-patella design allows your kneecaps to breathe while still getting the cool relief that they deserve.
All things considered, the O2 Compression Therapy Wrap worked great. It looks bulky, but the air compression system combined with the cold therapy pack proved to be very helpful in delivering the wrap’s therapeutic effects.
The downside is that this design had to sacrifice some aspects of the sleekness department. The O2 also has a lot more moving parts than the rest of the knee wraps in this list, too, so if you’re not careful you might lose some of them and compromise the whole system.
Still, O2 performed well overall. If you don’t mind the extra bulk, this knee wrap would work great for swollen knees and post-op recovery.
Snagging the fourth spot is Ubertherm, which proudly claims that it doesn’t cool below 1 degree Celsius to avoid ice burns and frostbites. The product information also says that it can stay cool for over an hour. We proved that...and then some during our review and subsequent testing.
First impressions matter and Ubertherm gets that. The product comes in a nice box and it’s got little inserts that help improve the whole customer experience. Looking at the product itself you’ll see that it’s made of high-quality neoprene material that’s both flexible and comfy.
The wrap is secured with three straps--- there are two long straps that go one way and a short one that goes the opposite direction. This configuration keeps the wrap very stable yet comfortable.
The straps use the same self-fastening mechanism that you can usually find in most knee wraps. Unlike the other wraps, though, Ubertherm’s self-fasteners have a fine grain and don’t stick to places they’re not supposed to. It’s a nifty little adjustment that gets rid of a common pet peeve that we found in almost all of the wraps on this list.
Wearing the wrap feels snug and comfortable; it keeps its shape even when walking and it doesn’t slip down your leg.
What really sets Ubertherm apart is the backing that comes in contact with your skin. It’s a thermal composite pocket that’s soft, smooth and feels like suede. It’s specially designed to distribute the cold temperature slowly and gradually. It regulates the cold so well that you can wear Ubertherm directly over your skin. The fabric also has wicking properties that keep moisture away from your skin while you’re wearing it.
The gel pack insert has printed instructions on its body and is divided into four panels for additional flexibility. On our two-hour freeze test, the pack stayed cold for about 45 minutes. It did not freeze solid but was more flexible than the other packs. We had similar results during our overnight freeze test as well. This time, the pack stayed cold for almost an hour before it lost its ideal temperature.
Here’s the tricky part about Ubertherm: the coldness isn’t instant. When placed inside the sleeve, the gel pack doesn’t directly feel cool to the touch. Instead, the temperature kind of lowers gradually. This can either be a pro or con depending on your preference.
On one hand, you don’t have to worry about the cold stinging your skin. The wrap slowly and evenly introduces the cold sensation on your skin. Since the fabric has wicking properties, you don’t have to worry about condensation or sweating while wearing the wrap, too.
On the flip side, you have to wait for a few seconds for the cold to kick in. It will not give you instant cold relief if that’s what you’re looking for. We observed that when we removed the gel pack from the wrap, it was still pretty cold but you can’t feel the coldness through the sleeve as the material was a bit thick.
All in all, Ubertherm has a lot of good qualities: it’s made of high-quality materials, and it’s got a really comfy and snug fit. It’s ergonomic design and well thought out elements make it secure and easy to use.
We love the thermal composite pocket. It feels nice on the skin and using it prevents ice burns and stings. Some people might not like the fact that the wrap doesn’t instantly deliver the cooling sensation as the sleeve is made of thicker material. However, it prevents ice burns and stings, which is a good enough deal for us.
Like Ubertherm, Therapaq came in a box with comprehensive instructions on how to use the wrap and gel pack insert. Unlike the first few knee wraps on this list though, we weren’t super impressed by this knee wrap. You’ll find out why below.
We gotta admit, we had pretty high expectations with Therapaq. The knee wrap’s sleek and minimalist open-patella design appealed to us a lot.
Therapaq is smaller than most wraps and doesn’t extend to the thigh, so it focuses on the kneecap itself. The wrap is made of neoprene but is markedly thinner and lighter than Activewrap and Ubertherm. It comes with a removable gel pack that one can insert through a sleeve sewn into the wrap. The gel pack is dual purpose, too, so you can use it for both hot and cold therapy.
Now the gel pack is where our first issue began.
At first glance, the gel pack looks and feels sturdy; it’s made of opaque blue plastic and has instructions printed on it. However, a couple of days into testing, we discovered a tiny little puncture in one corner of the gel pack that caused some of the contents to ooze through. It was a small hole about the size of a needle prick, but having one at all is already a huge no-no in our book.
Next issue: the wrap bulges on the sides when worn and can even be displaced.
Therapaq has two straps to secure it, but it doesn’t seem enough to keep its form securely. The fit is nice and snug at the beginning, but you can feel it loosen the more you move around.
After popping it in the freezer for both freeze tests, we found that Therapaq can stay cool for 50 minutes. It also didn’t freeze solid and was still very pliant. Some parts of the gel pack weren’t as cold as the others, though, so make sure to press it to distribute the temperature.
Because of its open patella design, the knee wrap’s coldness is focused on the kneecap itself. This is great if you’ve got patellar issues, but don’t expect the coldness to wrap around your entire knee.
Therapaq delivers cold well enough but again, it has a tendency to bulge on the sides. The fit is pretty flexible, but it tends to loosen if you move around.
As we mentioned earlier, Therapaq can also be used for heat therapy. The only other gel pack with this property is ActiveWrap.
During our testing, we found that it takes about 30 seconds to heat the pack. Like in cold therapy, make sure to press it around to even out the heat. The gel pack stays warm for about 20 minutes and gives just the right amount of heat. For some reason, we prefer to use it as a hot pack rather than a cold compress. The heat is delivered evenly and wearing the wrap is comfortable.
Therapaq was kind of a hit-or-miss based on our testing and experience. We initially loved its straightforward design, but upon wearing it for ourselves, we found that it’s not the most secure wrap out there.
The gel pack, while multipurpose, bulges to the side and ends up getting displaced as you move. It also got punctured even when it wasn’t subjected to a lot of stress. This could be a good product if you specifically need relief from patellar pain, but if you’re experiencing discomfort on the side or back of your knee, this may not be the best fit for you.
Let’s get one thing straight first: Polar Ice is not easy on the eyes. The neon-lime and royal blue color combination do not make it the most discreet knee wrap out there. In fact, the glaring colors are like a huge arrow pointing at you saying “Injured Person Here”. If you’re self-conscious about your injury, this may not be the wrap for you.
Polar Ice is shaped like a sheet; it’s long and flat and divided into three sections for flexibility. Each section has a slot for a pane-type gel pack and is secured by fasteners at the very top.
The wrap has a fleece outer shell that’s comfortable and soft to the touch. It’s got wicking properties to keep moisture away from your skin. The entire wrap’s body is also compatible with the straps, allowing you to adjust the wrap’s compression and tightness according to your needs.
On the opposite side of the wrap is a comfy foam backing for extra insulation.
You can wear the Polar Ice knee wrap comfortably and easily without assistance. While Polar Ice conforms to your limb well enough, it can also bunch or loosen up in some places, especially up top. The regular size wrap may not wrap all the way around your leg as well.
The packaging says that the Polar Ice Compression Wrap can be activated in as short as 1.5 to 2 hours. Unfortunately, this freeze duration wasn’t quite enough based on our experience.
After our two-hour freeze test, we noticed that some panes didn’t cool all the way through. Some sections were cooler than others while other panes didn’t cool at all. We had better results after freezing the packs overnight. The temperature was more evenly distributed and the packs were cool without freezing solid.
It didn’t keep the temperature for long, though.
During both tests, the gel packs stayed cold for only 35 minutes, which is admittedly shorter than the rest of the wraps on this list. We also had a hard time putting the gel packs back into the wrap, because the edges kept snagging against the wrap on the way down the pocket.
Overall, the Polar Ice Compression Wrap has more cons than pros.
On the upside, the wrap is made of soft, comfy material that’s easy to put on or take off. The downside is, it doesn’t stay cold for a very long period of time. Although relatively flexible, the regular size wrap doesn’t go all the way around one’s leg. It can bunch up or loosen in some places. Lastly, we’re honestly not big fans of the color combination.
The least performing knee wrap on our list is from Cold One. We had high hopes for this wrap because it’s got a lot of positive reviews on Amazon. Unfortunately, we didn’t experience the same level of performance during our testing and evaluation.
Cold One is unique among all of the packs since it’s the only one that doesn’t have a removable gel pack. The gel pack is found inside the wrap, so you have to pop the entire thing inside the freezer. Some people like that bit, some people don’t, but more on that later. Let’s check out the physical attributes of the Cold One Knee Wrap first.
Like most of the wraps on this list, Cold One is made of soft neoprene material that’s compatible with the straps. The inner backing that comes in contact with the skin is generally smooth but has stitching that some may find a bit itchy.
It’s got three straps that all go towards the same way. You can wear the wrap on your knee without assistance, but it’s not as flexible as the other wraps on this list. In fact, it can be quite rigid. That’s because the straps themselves also have gel packs inside, making them a bit stiff when worn. You can’t stretch the straps too far and bending your knee can also be difficult, especially when the wrap is already frozen.
While some wraps have the self-fasteners incorporated into the straps themselves--- Cold One has an extra two inches of fasteners sewn at the very end of each strap. Since there’s no fabric backing, the material is pretty hard to pull off once attached.
Our main issue with Cold One is that its gel packs aren’t removable. Again, some people might not mind it as much, but we’re not big fans of putting an entire knee wrap inside the freezer. For one, it takes a lot of space. Second, wouldn’t it be weird to have a huge knee wrap sitting in your freezer with all your frozen food products?
To avoid getting the wrap wet, you have to place it inside the ziplock baggie before popping it in the freezer.
It doesn’t freeze solid, thankfully, but again, the downside is it takes a lot of space. Moisture also gathers at the back of the wrap, so make sure to wipe it down first. It’s cold to the point of stinging and the stitching on the hem can be itchy, so make sure to wear a layer of clothing underneath the wrap.
During our first freeze test, the wrap remained cool for 31 minutes. After freezing it overnight, it stayed cold for 39 minutes, which isn’t very long compared to the other wraps on this list.
Because of its performance, we’ll have to put this crowd favorite at the bottom of our list. The fact that it’s around $60 also doesn’t help. While it’s pretty cold, we think that there are better knee wraps out there in terms of design and overall functionality, especially for this price point.
Based on material, quality and overall price-performance ratio, ActiveWrap is our best bet when it comes to cold therapy knee wraps. It's sturdy, comfortable and its gel pack stays cold for a very long time.
ProIce comes in at a close second, with its ease of use, windowpane cryoblanket, and versatility.
O2 may have been a bit bulky, but it was very cold and effective nonetheless, earning a spot at third place.
The other knee wraps on this list did a pretty good job, too--- our top three just did a tad better than them.
Before making a purchase, make sure to weigh out the pros and cons of each product and align them with your needs. An open-patella design might be a better fit for your condition, while other individuals might lean towards a full wrap. Some folks may prefer detachable gel packs, while others don't really bother. In the end, choosing the perfect cold therapy knee wrap depends on you. We're just here to help you make an informed decision.
Which knee wrap fit your needs? Let us know in the comments below!