Backpacking over the years has taken its toll on my knees. I use trekking poles to help with the descents, and yes, they do help a considerable amount with that. However, I think I may need a little support on those days when my knees are screaming. I have a set of Rehband knee sleeves that I use when lifting/training; however, I don't feel they would be suitable for a long-distance backpacking trip because, to put them on or take them off, I will need to remove my boots, which is a hassle. I only want to put them on when I need them, not have to wear them all of the time.
Who out there uses knee braces, and which ones have you found to work the best?
I use a Bauerfeind brace. They make them for specific knee issues and they come in more custom-fit sizes than the regular S/M/L/XL. Like you, I use poles for descents... but with arthritis and a torn meniscus, I need more support. It is a pull-on brace, so that does involve the hassle of removing my boots to get it on/off, but I find that it helps to wear it for my entire hike (I love to bag peaks in the White Mountains!). It is designed to keep my knee cap in the proper location and prevent additional wear—my doctor recommended it. I have the one designed to help with arthritis and I highly recommend it!
With that said I found that any brace I have tried lacks in there own special way and my go to when my knees are acting up is a good ol’ strap support type : https://www.amazon.com/Arthritis-Basketball-Sports-Athletic-Volleyball/dp/B017CA2MOW/ref=asc_df_B017...
While specifically hiking any “brace” type would pinch me or simply just sweat too much. The link above is my go to. The trekking poles are a life saver too like you said. Hope it helps