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Reviews > Health & Safety > Accessories > Zamst Knee Brace ZK 7 > Test Report by Marina Batzke

ZAMST ZK-7 KNEE BRACE
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
LONG-TERM REPORT
September 14, 2014

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) hotmail (dot) com
AGE: 54
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in spring 2013. Since then, I have selectively purchased new, more lightweight gear, while I still carry some heavier gear from my car camping trips. I always hike with a group and I like the gear talk when in camp. I am a tent camper looking for ways to lighten my pack. My backpacking trips are currently weekend excursions in Southern California, USA. If my business travel allows me to get away, I try to backpack one or two weekends a month.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: SIGMAX AMERICA, Inc dba ZAMST
Year of Test: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://zamst.us
MSRP: US $79.99
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 6.1 oz (173 g)
Other details:
Available sizes: S-M-L-XL-2XL-3XL-4XL
Available colors: black

The ZAMST ZK-7 is a knee brace designed for athletes to provide lateral, medial and anterior stabilization of the knee. The small 'Instructions for Use' booklet that was inside the cardboard box points out that the ZK-7 is not for medical treatment and will not prevent all knee injuries but shall be used as knee support. If the wearer has any cuts or fractures, experiences any numbness, swelling or a rash where the product is to be worn, the ZK-7 shall not be used. The booklet holds the instructions in 8 languages and has three graphics that show how to pull on and tighten the knee brace. It also lists a range of Safety Precautions, plus how to apply the knee brace and its washing instructions.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The ZAMST ZK-7 is a lightweight, soft-fabric black knee brace with a semi-open design. It is not made specific to one knee, so may be worn on the left or right knee. The user has to measure the circumference of the thigh 6.5 in (16 cm) above the center of the kneecap. If the measurement falls between two sizes, the user shall choose the larger size. I measured 18 in (46 cm) for my right thigh and selected the Medium size.
My medium size ZK-7 measures 6 in wide x 11 in tall x 1.5 in thick (15 cm x 28 cm x 4 cm) when resting on a flat surface. In the front, the Zamst logo is imprinted in white/red. I can feel a well-cushioned foamy material to be positioned above the knee. This cushion is a bit thicker in a crescent shape right above the kneecap hole. Below the kneecap hole, the knee brace uses a hook-and-loop system: there is a wide, soft loop strap and across from it, there are two hook straps for below-kneecap tightening.
There are two additional, crisscrossing straps for additional hook-and-loop tightening below the kneecap.
IMAGE 1
Front View

In the back, the ZK-7 has a mesh-type fabric plus two horizontal straps (one at the upper and one at the lower end), each approx. 2 in (5 cm) tall.
IMAGE 2
Backside View with 2 Parallel Straps

On its left and right sides, I feel thick, oval inserts from top to bottom: the resin inserts for medial and lateral stability.
Once I pull the ZK-7 open by separating the two below-kneecap hook-and-loop front straps, the ZK-7 opens up below the kneecap hole and I see that on its inside, part of the back is black while the majority of the inside is bright blue.
IMAGE 3
Right Inside View

I notice a small white tag imprinted with the ZAMST logo, website, ZK-7 product name, Made in China, the washing and care instructions and the material description. The ZK-7 is made from nylon, polyurethane, chloroprene, polyester and acrylic rubber.
IMAGE 4
Left Inside View

All seams on the ZK-7 are top intact. I see no loose threads. The knee brace looks professionally designed and well-made.

TRYING IT OUT

After reading through the 'Instructions for Use' booklet, I tried the ZK-7 knee brace on my right leg. I opened the lower portion of the knee brace by separating the two hook straps from the loop strap of the hook-and-loop system. I inserted my right foot through the semi-open brace. By holding both sides of the knee brace, I pulled the ZK-7 up over my knee and stopped when the kneecap hole was centered over my kneecap. For proper fit, it is important to position the knee brace such that the center line of my knee is positioned just under the knee brace's center line. I then closed the portion below my kneecap by attaching the two hook straps to the one soft loop strap. Afterwards I crisscrossed the two front straps over the lower portion of the knee brace for a tight but not restricting fit. The medium size feels like the right fit for my knee.
To take off the ZK-7, I pulled away the two crisscrossed front straps and removed the two hook straps from the soft loop strap. It was then easy to pull the semi-open knee brace down over the knee and take it off my leg.

INITIAL SUMMARY

I am looking forward to testing the ZK-7 knee brace and finding out if and how it allows me to keep up my conditioning activities plus how it performs when backpacking off-trail with a heavy pack on.
Thank you to ZAMST and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to try out this knee brace.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA
Backpacking trip duration: 2 days/1 night April
On-trail and off-trail hiking
Temperatures: 50-90 F (10-32 C)

Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA
Backpacking trip duration: 2 days/1 night April
Majority off-trail hiking with a scramble up a peak and down a ravine
Temperatures: 50-93 F (10-34 C)

Location: Island of Norderney, Germany
Hotel trip duration: 4 days May
Day hikes in the sand along the beach + bike riding across the island
Daytime temperature: 63 F (17 C)

Location: Mount Baldy, Southern California, USA
Trip duration: 1 day June
On-trail hiking
Temperature: 75 F (24 C)

Location: Mount San Jacinto, Southern California, USA
Trip duration: 3 days/2 nights June
On-trail and off-trail hiking
Temperatures: 59-76 F (15-24 C)

Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Trip duration: 4 days/3 nights July
On-trail and off-trail hiking
Temperatures: 47-79 F (9-26 C)

Location: San Gorgonio Wilderness, Southern California, USA
Trip duration: 4 days/3 nights July
On-trail and off-trail hiking
Temperatures: 59-75 F (15-24 C)

Location: Sugarloaf Mountain, Southern California, USA
Trip duration: 1 day August
On-trail hiking
Temperatures: 55-75 F (13-24 C)

Location: Innsbruck, Austria to Bozen, Italy
Hotel trip duration: 6 days September
Bicycle trip
Daytime Temperatures: 61-79 F (16-26 C)

I have also used the ZAMST ZK-7 knee brace at the gym for these 50-minute group activity classes:

Cycle (indoor stationary bike at the gym)
13 50-minute classes

RIPPED (high intensity Resistance, Intervals, Power, Plyometrics, Endurance work-out)
14 50-minute classes

BodyBlast (muscle conditioning class)
10 50-minute classes

PERFORMANCE DURING USE

In April 2014, I first started wearing the ZAMST ZK-7 knee brace at the gym while conditioning for a couple of upcoming backpacking trips.

Typically twice a week (if in town) I participate in a 50-minute cycle class. The instructor guides us up imaginary mountains, through sprints and runs. The risk during strenuous uphills is that my knees do not point straight ahead for healthy knee rotations. In 2013, I started getting - at times - severe pain in my right knee. I assume improper posture caused my right knee to get inflamed and it more and more hurt during cycle. I was even forced to stop taking yoga classes because I could not bend my right knee into easy pose without severe pain any longer.

Since starting to wear the ZAMST ZK-7 knee brace during cycle, the firm support of the brace has helped me keep the right knee pointed straight ahead and has helped me maintain proper posture above the pedals. Comparing my various gym classes (described below), I feel I benefit the most from the ZK-7 during cycle.
IMAGE 1
During cycle class

RIPPED is a gym class with upbeat music and during each catchy song, the instructor guides us through a different athletic activity: one song may focus on kickboxing moves; another on quick steps with jumping jacks and scissor jacks; the plank, knee lifts and squats ... and many more fun workouts in the course of 50 minutes. RIPPED involves a lot of jumping, bouncing and direction changes at high speed inside a gym studio with fellow students nearby. Before wearing the ZK-7, I had often experienced a weak, unstable right knee. Since April, the ZK-7 has provided firm support for my right knee. I feel a true benefit especially during jumping and sideways moves.
IMAGE 2
Getting ready for RIPPED

Another class is BodyBlast which sometimes incorporates a stepper, quick sideway steps including grapevine, jumping, working with an elastic band and other aerobics type workouts. I have felt very secure with the ZK-7 knee brace.

While I also do Mat Pilates at the gym, I have not worn the ZK-7 during these non-cardio classes. Mat Pilates focuses on balancing, on yoga inspired moves, on the flow of postures. I cannot sufficiently bend my knee for easy pose, tree, pigeon and child's pose (some of the many positions that require extreme bending of the knees) wearing the ZK-7.

In the very beginning, the resin stays (one on each side of the knee brace) that improve the lateral stability were rather rigid and stiff. I felt a strong resistance when doing e.g., knee lifts and squats. I feel that over time I have conditioned those resin stays to a degree that I now can bend my right knee better while still having sufficient support.

After all the gym conditioning, I of course also wore the ZK-7 on my dayhikes and during backpacking trips.

During the hot Joshua Tree National Park backpacking trips (max. 93 F = 34 C), my knee area got really sweaty underneath the ZK-7. At the end of the day, when I loosened the hook-and-loop bands to open the knee brace below my knee, the ZK-7 was often virtually suction-stuck to my skin. I had to pull really hard to get the knee brace down and off. The same frequently happened after cycle classes, as I sweat hard during those indoor classes.
IMAGE 3
Mt. Baldy dayhike

The Yosemite trip had extensive downhill. I used my hiking poles to brace some of the downhill impact. Additionally, I felt the ZK-7 provided excellent support for my weak right knee and I felt very strong throughout the whole downhill hike.

On the San Gorgonio trip, on the one day we did the sustained Class 3 climbing rather straight up the mountain side, I did not wear the ZK-7 knee brace. We scrambled up big rocks and boulders, always having three points of contact. The bigger the boulders, the more I had to lift up a leg at a 40 degree or less knee bend. Such a reduced angle is hard to do against the resin stays that are on each side of the knee brace.

THE KNEE BRACE OVER TIME

After five months of intensive use, the Zamst ZK-7 kneebrace is still in great shape: I closely inspected it and it has no loose threads, no pulled seams or any other flaws. It still looks virtually new.

After each work-out at the gym, I am air drying the knee brace by standing it upright and rounded, so that the inside can dry overnight. The knee brace is dry the next morning, ready for the next activity.

I am noticing that the knee brace has developed an odor over time that is hard to wash out. It is like a plastic-sweat-dust combination smell. At the end of the Yosemite 4-day backpacking trip, I perceived it as so strong that I noticed the odor while standing in the parking lot getting ready for the ride back home. Recently I have been washing the knee brace much more frequently to keep it clean and refreshed.

I have hand washed the ZK-7 at least fifteen times so far. Each time, I fill warm water into the sink, add some Woolite detergent and hand wash the knee brace. I then hang the knee brace in the shower area to drip off and to air dry.

SUMMARY

I feel the ZAMST ZK-7 knee brace has helped protect my right knee during intensive work-outs. My right knee is no longer inflamed.

Especially during my indoor cycle classes and during the week-long outdoor bicycle trip, the knee brace has helped keep my right knee straight during the strenuous leg work-outs.

Additionally the knee brace has provided strong support especially hiking downhill on my backpacking and dayhike adventures.

Only drawback is an odor that quite easily develops after extended very sweaty workouts.

CONTINUED USE

I will continue to wear the ZAMST ZK-7 knee brace on my dayhikes and backpacking trips that involve extensive downhill and during my cycle work-outs at the gym.

Thank you very much to ZAMST and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to experience the many benefits of the ZAMST ZK-7 knee brace.

Marina Batzke

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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