If you’re looking to buy a new pair of knee sleeves or you’re buying knee sleeves for the first time, you’ve likely come across SBD and STrong knee sleeves in your research.
After testing both pairs of knee sleeves for several weeks during my heavy squat days, I came away with a clear favorite.
So are the SBD or STrong knee sleeves better? The STrong knee sleeves are better because they provide more support, they’re more comfortable, and you can get a good pop out of the hole when wearing them for squats. However, they can fray if you’re not careful about storing them, so the SBD knee sleeves are better for anyone who’s looking for more durability.
In this article, I’ll provide an overview of the SBD and STrong knee sleeves and compare the two so you can determine which ones will be best for you.
Quick Overview: SBD vs STrong Knee Sleeves
Before we get into the head-to-head comparison, let’s take a look at the SBD and STrong knee sleeves and discuss their pros and cons.
SBD was founded in 2013. Since then, the company has released a wide range of products for powerlifters, weightlifters, and Strongmen and Strongwomen. Its knee sleeves are especially popular in the powerlifting community.
The SBD knee sleeves are known for their unique, cylindrical shape and 30cm length that provides a lot of coverage and support. However, they’re not the most comfortable sleeves to wear for long periods of time.
In addition to the standard 7mm sleeves that many powerlifters prefer, SBD offers 5mm knee sleeves as well as sleeves specifically intended for Olympic weightlifting.
- Longer 30cm length provides extra coverage and support
- Available in sizes from 3XS to 5XL
- Approved for USAPL, IPF, and USPA
- 7mm sleeves can only be worn for squats
- Not a lot of variety in colors
- Not ideal for beginner lifters or anyone who hasn’t worn knee sleeves before
Before making your purchase, be sure to check out my article on the Best 5 Knee Sleeves For Powerlifting. In my opinion, there are better, more affordable knee sleeves out there.
Sling Shot, the brand that makes the STrong knee sleeves, was founded by world-renowned powerlifter Mark Bell. The company initially started selling the Sling Shot, a product designed to help people with their bench press. It eventually expanded into other products, including knee sleeves.
According to the Sling Shot website, the STrong knee sleeves provide a Sling Shot effect, which gives you more bounce out of the hole and can add more weight to your squats. Some lifters even claim that these sleeves add 15-20lbs to their squat, and while your results may vary, they can definitely help you feel stronger.
Want to learn more? Check out my dedicated article: STrong Knee Sleeve Review.
- Inclusive sizing options
- Don’t slide down when squatting
- IPF, USAPL, and USPA approved
- Offer a good amount of rebound out of the squat
- Rigidity might be too much for some people
- Not ideal for Olympic weightlifting or other dynamic workouts such as CrossFit
SBD vs STrong Knee Sleeves: Face-To-Face Comparison
Materials and Construction
The majority of knee sleeves are made out of neoprene, but the quality of neoprene that’s used and other components that go into their construction can dictate how well they perform and how well they stand up to near-daily usage.
The 7mm SBD knee sleeves are made out of high-quality neoprene with reinforced seams to boost their longevity and help prevent fraying. They also have diagonal stitching that not only offers a snug fit but also provides a lot of support to the knee joint.
The 5mm sleeves, which are more suitable for snatches and clean and jerks, are resistant to abrasions. You can lift without the bar getting snagged by them, and they’re also antimicrobial and more odor-resistant than the 7mm sleeves.
The STrong 7mm knee sleeves are made out of grade 3 neoprene, which makes them extremely rigid and supportive. Grade 3 neoprene also absorbs less moisture, so the STrong sleeves are less prone to developing strong odors from sweat.
Like the SBD sleeves, the STrong sleeves have reinforced stitching, but there are no seams on the front or back of them, which enhances their comfort.
The Winner: STrong
The STrong and SBD knee sleeves are both made out of high-quality neoprene and have some unique features. But STrong edges out SBD ever so slightly since its 7mm sleeves don’t hold onto odors, and they don’t have seams that can become irritating during training.
Every knee sleeve has a unique design that contributes to its functionality and determines which type of lifter it’s better for.
Unlike other brands of knee sleeves that have a contoured design, the SBD knee sleeves have a patented cylindrical shape. They were the first brand to introduce a knee sleeve with this type of design.
However, this is also what contributes to their rigidity, which makes them less comfortable to wear for anything other than squats.
The STrong knee sleeves have a tapered design, with the bottom more narrow than the top. This provides a snug fit from your quad to the top of your calf and helps prevent the sleeves from slipping when you get sweaty.
The Winner: STrong
SBD gets props for being the first brand to introduce a knee sleeve with a more cylindrical design, but the tapered fit of the STrong sleeves makes them less likely to slip during your workout.
The length of a knee sleeve is important because it not only dictates how much coverage they’ll provide but also determines whether or not you can wear them for competitions.
The SBD and STrong knee sleeves are both 30cm in length. This is the maximum length allowed in powerlifting meets, so neither one will pose a problem if you want to compete in them.
The Winner: Tie
Because the SBD and STrong knee sleeves are the same length, there’s no winner.
When deciding between two types of knee sleeves, you should consider how durable each one feels. You should be able to train in them multiple times per week and throw them in a gym bag without worrying about them falling apart.
I know some lifters who have had their SBD knee sleeves for years and have not had to replace them. They may become stretched out after a while, but it doesn’t get to the point where they’re sliding down during squats or becoming too loose to provide an adequate amount of support.
The STrong knee sleeves are known to fray if they’re left folded up in a gym bag for too long. I’ve heard some lifters say that the sleeves become worn out after 6-8 months even after caring for them properly.
The Winner: SBD
The STrong knee sleeves may not last for longer than 6-8 months, but the SBD knee sleeves can last for years.
Thickness and Versatility
The thickness of knee sleeves is measured in millimeters and determines how much warmth and support they provide. The maximum amount of thickness allowed in powerlifting competitions is 7mm, but many brands also offer 5mm knee sleeves that allow you to move more freely and are better for other types of training.
SBD offers 7mm and 5mm knee sleeves. The 7mm knee sleeves are ideal for heavy squats but are too stiff for dynamic movements. The 5mm sleeves are more flexible while still being supportive and are better suited for the Olympic lifts and CrossFit because they won’t inhibit your movement during fast, explosive exercises.
Even though the STrong knee sleeves are only available in 7mm, Sling Shot makes 5mm sleeves that can be worn for weightlifting or CrossFit.
It also offers 9.5mm sleeves. They aren’t approved for powerlifting competitions, but you can use them for training if you need a high amount of support.
The Winner: STrong
Both companies offer 7mm and 5mm knee sleeves, but STrong beats SBD since Sling Shot also offers a 9.5mm sleeve for people who need a maximum amount of knee support.
Size and Fit
Before you decide on which knee sleeves to get, you should understand how their sizing works. But not all size charts are accurate, and some sleeves stretch out after some time, which will affect how they’ll fit in the future.
SBD knee sleeves come in sizes from 3XS – 5XL. This wide range allows you to find a perfect fit no matter how small or large your legs are.
Each sleeve is also designed to fit either the right or left knee, which offers a more customized fit to each leg.
Other lifters I know who use SBD sleeves say they run true to size, but some of them like to have two different pairs — one larger pair to use for training and one smaller pair to wear for competitions.
STrong knee sleeves are available in XS – 4XL. They also generally run true to size, although some lifters whose measurements are at the lower or higher end of each size range choose to size up or down for a better fit.
The size chart on the Sling Shot website also provides two different sizing options — one for a comfort fit and one for a competition fit. Like the SBD sleeves, you can get two different pairs of STrong sleeves so you have one pair for training and another pair for competitions.
The Winner: SBD
SBD has a larger range of sizes, so you can get a pair of sleeves that fits no matter what your body type is.
Knee sleeves can cost a decent amount of money, but they’re a worthwhile investment for anyone who squats heavy. Still, it’s important to pay attention to their prices so you can ensure you’re getting a lot of value out of them.
SBD sleeves are sold in pairs. The prices vary based on the thickness, model, and country you live in.
STrong knee sleeves are also sold in pairs. You may be able to find them for a bit cheaper than SBD knee sleeves, but they’re still within a similar price range.
The Winner: Tie
There’s only a minor difference in price between the SBD and STrong knee sleeves, so it’s hard to declare a winner.
Approval for Competition
If you want to wear knee sleeves for a powerlifting or weightlifting competition, they need to be approved by the federation or governing body in which you compete.
SBD and STrong knee sleeves are both approved for use in USAPL, USPA, and IPF competitions.
SBD markets their sleeves as being IWF-compliant. However, the IWF has less stringent rules about knee sleeves than the powerlifting federations do, so the STrong knee sleeves can be worn for weightlifting competitions as well.
The Winner: Tie
Neither knee sleeve beats out the other since they’re both allowed in powerlifting or weightlifting competitions.
What Are The Differences Between SBD and STrong Knee Sleeves?
To recap, below are the main differences between the SBD and STrong knee sleeves.
- They have a patented design. SBD was the first company to make and patent knee sleeves with a more cylindrical shape. They offer a snugger fit than many other knee sleeves, but they’re uncomfortable to wear for anything other than squats.
- Each knee sleeve fits either the right or left knee. Unlike other sleeves that can be worn on either knee, the SBD sleeves are designed for either the right or left knee, so each sleeve provides a more customized fit to each leg.
- SBD knee sleeves are available in a wide range of sizes. Ranging in size from 3XS – 5XL, the SBD knee sleeves have some of the most inclusive sizes that I’ve come across.
- The bottom is more tapered than the top. This prevents the sleeves from sliding down or twisting when you start getting sweaty.
- They are made out of grade 3 neoprene. This is a very stiff level of neoprene and gives the STrong sleeves a lot of structure. They provide a level of support that many lifters say is comparable to knee wraps.
The Final Word
Even though they’re similar in several ways, the SBD and STrong knee sleeves are each suited to a different type of lifter.
Use SBD knee sleeves if:
- You’ve been powerlifting for at least two years.
- You want a pair of knee sleeves that will last for a long time.
- You wear knee sleeves for heavy squats only.
Use STrong knee sleeves if:
- You want knee sleeves that can add several pounds to your squat.
- You’re looking for a very rigid pair of knee sleeves.
- You don’t mind having to replace your knee sleeves every few months.
If you compete in powerlifting, I also recommend checking out the Titan Yellow Jackets. They’re the knee sleeve of choice for many world-champion powerlifters because of the high amount of support and stability they provide.
And if you’re still searching for a pair of sleeves that are right for you, check out my list of the best 5 knee sleeves for powerlifting.
Other Head To Head Comparisons
About The Author
Amanda is a writer and editor in the fitness and nutrition industries. Growing up in a family that loved sports, she learned the importance of staying active from a young age. She started CrossFit in 2015, which led to her interest in powerlifting and weightlifting. She's passionate about helping women overcome their fear of lifting weights and teaching them how to fuel their bodies properly. When she's not training in her garage gym or working, you can find her drinking coffee, walking her dog, or indulging in one too many pieces of chocolate.