OUCH! Kneeling for any length of time, especially on non-skid, is hard on the knees. How to make it easier to DIY.

Save Your Knees

When we bought our first cruising boat, we were a little surprised to open a locker and find a pair of basketball knee pads. Well, the previous owner was tall . . .

We soon learned that we kneeled to change the oil, Cetol (later Semco) the teak, work on the engine, put away the canned goods, work on the windlass and more.

We also learned that knee pads were a great idea, but we both were less than enthusiastic about the basketball-style ones that had been left aboard. They tended to slide down whenever we stood and dug in uncomfortably when we kneeled. Well, duh . . . they weren’t designed for what we were doing.

We eventually got a different — and much better — pair in a Mexican hardware store. Of course, that pair stayed with Que Tal when we sold her.

On one of our very first trips to Home Depot to get things for Barefoot Gal (our current boat), Dave spotted a similar pair of knee pads and stuck them in the cart.

It was a great call. He used them a number of times while we were still in the yard and he was kneeling on deck to check things out. And I used them as I kneeled on deck to rejuvenate our windows. Kneeling even on a smooth surface gets hard on the knees, but kneeling on nonskid is downright painful from the start!

Trying to troubleshoot our engine woes and now helping to rebuild the diesel, those knee pads have seen even more use.

OUCH! Kneeling for any length of time, especially on non-skid, is hard on the knees. How to make it easier to DIY.

I asked Dave if he’d recommend the ones he got (photo above) and his answer was a resounding YES. His reasons:

  • The two elastic straps make it easier to get a comfortable fit than ones with a single strap. The single strap ones tend to fall down or be so tight as to be uncomfortable.
  • The hard outside surface holds up well on the rough nonskid and doesn’t leave marks.
  • One size fits all means that we can both use the same pair. They also can be worn over jeans or just on bare legs.
  • For what he (we) has been doing, the foam padding is sufficient and much less expensive than the ones with gel padding. It’s also a lot lighter weight. (NOTE: Gel padding tends to be called “professional grade” or labeled as for flooring professionals, plumbers, carpenters, etc.)

His are made by McGuire Nicholas, model 1DM-354, and are available at Home Depot for about $10:

Or you can get almost the same ones on Amazon (top strap is a clip instead of Velcro — Dave says he thinks it’d be better as he has to clean dirt and lint out of the Velcro at times):

We both prefer the knee pads  to using a carpet scrap or old pillow, as they move around with you. But we do use a piece of carpet and an old pillow “rescued” from the dumpster to pad our back and ribs when working in open lockers and leaning on that hard edge.

OUCH! Kneeling for any length of time, especially on non-skid, is hard on the knees. How to make it easier to DIY.

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  • Trish Vitaz
    Posted at 12 January 2015 Reply

    knee pads were our best purchase!! Made life SO much easier!!

  • Cindi Forrester Blackledge
    Posted at 12 January 2015 Reply

    DH never goes down into engine room without them!

  • Andrew Mcp
    Posted at 12 January 2015 Reply

    As someone with 5 years as a sailmaker, kneepads are highly recommended. Smart of you to use them.

  • Lisa Kirchenheiter
    Posted at 12 January 2015 Reply

    From the dual purpose file- my husband uses my kick board that I bought at the Publix in Palmetto, FL as a knee cushion. The guys at Snead Island Boat Works appreciated it too!

  • Allan Cobb
    Posted at 12 January 2015 Reply

    I like the gardening knee pads. You can find them at any store with a gardening center or Amazon. I keep a large one and a couple of the narrow ones on the boat. They are handy for use under the elbow or to pad you hip or other body parts while in awkward, contorted positions. You can also sit on them.

  • Bill
    Posted at 12 January 2015 Reply

    after a week in a DIY yard, on an all gravel surface, I’ll never do without them.

  • Diane
    Posted at 12 January 2015 Reply

    We have a foam yoga mat that we use for the rib, hip or back cushion when working on projects. Years ago I bought Croc knee pads (like the Croc shoes)….the straps were not comfortable. They do cushion well though.

  • Kristi Cilles
    Posted at 13 January 2015 Reply

    A must have after a certain age! And not to imply we are getting old, but after doing so much work our knees deserve the break!

  • Cheryl Buckner
    Posted at 14 January 2015 Reply

    We are new to learning about sailing and I love all these helpful tips. I never would have thought of this and yet I’m sure it makes a world of difference! Thanks!!

  • Cheryl Buckner
    Posted at 14 January 2015 Reply

    Hope you get your motor working soon!

  • john lincoln
    Posted at 15 January 2015 Reply

    Having had both my knees replaced I use knee pads a lot. I suggest the
    Custom Leathercraft 361 Ultraflex Non-Skid Kneepads
    by Custom Leathercraft as being the best I have found. They are soft on the outside as well as on the knees so there is no skidding. Amazon sells them for around $17.

  • Wayne
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    I had a pair of knee pads with hard pads and I slide around the deck to easily. I prefer something that has a little grip and love these

  • Kathy Orr
    Posted at 11 March 2017 Reply

    We have a gardening foam pad for kneeling. My husband had knee replacement surgery and cannot kneel on that knee at all without the pad. Since it’s flat it stores easily next to one of our captain’s chairs.

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