Product Test: Kneeling Mats

Product Test: Kneeling Mats

KNEES are surprisingly important, and if you’ve ever taken a stray bolt to the kneecap while genuflecting, you’ll know the misery an injury to the joint can bring.

A prang to the patella can cause serious problems. The knee joint supports most of your bodyweight when upright and does the bulk of the effort when you stand up, sit down, negotiate stairs or – as you’ll remember from a manual handling and lifting course – carrying any objects.

Keeping them protected in a workshop is no easy task either, as all sorts of dangers lurk at floor level, from stray bits of car and fasteners to fluid spills. Even just kneeling on a cold concrete floor may cause you annoying and distressing problems down the line.

With that in mind, we’ve been investigating a selection of kneeling pads and mats to see which ones stand up best to workshop life and will preserve the health of this vital bit of your anatomy.

How We Tested Them

The number-one goal here is giving the knee a comfortable surface to rest on, regardless of what’s beneath, so we’ve been kneeling on the pads on a variety of surfaces to feel which one stands up the best. We’ve also looked at how they resist things such as screws with full bodyweight on them and for resistance to a variety of everyday workshop fluids.

Machine Mart Kneeling Pad

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 14.03.50

How much: £8.39 inc VAT
Where from: machinemart.co.uk

This item seems and feels cheaper than the others here, so it’s a surprise just how comfortable it is. It’s a lot thicker than the other mats, with a double-layer of compressible foam in the centre which allows the firmer outer layers to provide support. The plasticky material isn’t great to the touch compared to some of the softer and more rubbery outers here, but should provide good resistance to spills and it’s more durable against penetration from loose screws. It could stand to be slightly larger, though, but as it’s roughly shoulder-width you probably won’t notice.

Three Stars

Draper MM2

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How much: £55.68 inc VAT
Where from: drapertools.com

You can probably consider the MM2 as the much bigger brother of the MM1 – in fact it’s four times the size! As you’d imagine this means that some of the positives and negatives are switched, with the MM2 being much harder to store but easier to fling into muck on the floor and easier to work with. It’s such a vast item that you could lie on the whole thing and use it instead of a creeper! It appears to be made of exactly the same materials as the MM1, so the comfort of the top layer and damage resistance of the bottom layer are comparable.

Four Stars

Demon Tweeks Kneeling Work Mat

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How much: £11.99 inc VAT
Where from: demon-tweeks.co.uk

This mat shares characteristics with most of the other items here. Like the Draper mats it has a decent- quality outer material, and like the Machine Mart pad it has an extra-thick internal soft foam layer. The net result is that it’s reasonably comfortable to kneel on for a decent stretch and fairly resistant to marking by debris and fluids. However, the small size means it’s not ideal for long-term use – it’s not quite as small as the Draper MM1 mat, but even so, you’re not looking at a lot of room to manouevre.

Three Stars

Sitesafe Contractor Knee Saver Mat

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How much: £14.56 inc VAT
Where from: cromwell.co.uk

When it comes to comfort, the Sitesafe mat is second to none – there are harsher hotel beds – but conversely this is the mat’s Achilles’heel. It’s simultaneously the most compressible and thinnest item here, which means that you sink to Earth pretty quickly, and if you’re kneeling for a long period of time you’ll certainly know about it. The soft material is also incredibly easy to damage and won’t last long if there is any sharp detritus on your workshop floor. With another layer of some slightly harder material on the bottom – perhaps mounted to some fibreboard – it would be ideal though.

Two Stars

Draper MM1

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 14.14.55

How much: £19.49 inc VAT
Where from: drapertools.com

By far the smallest of the mats we tested here, the size of the MM1 has advantages and disadvantages. The tiny dimensions mean that it’s easy to store and portable, and when you throw it onto the floor it’s less likely to land on any spills or debris, but it’s really only good for use over short periods of time. Any change in your position will see you slip off it and it’s not really possible to kneel with your legs apart when you need extra leverage. The harder bottom surface is no less robust than other mats here, however, and the soft upper surface is pretty typical of this product type.

Three Stars

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