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Stoko K1 Summit Supportive Tights Review: Knee Surgery to Splitboarding in 3 Months Flat

Toss your other knee braces back in the closet — the Stoko K1 Summit tights are a close-to-perfect solution for those of us who need a bit more joint support to continue enjoying our sport du jour.

A Female Climber Wearing the Stoko K1 Summit Support Tights(Photo/Riley Marshall)
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When you undergo knee surgery, the surgeon may neglect to mention that besides the physical surgery, they’ll also excise a large portion of your confidence organ. It’s a quick snip, but after a few weeks of piloting your couch around your living room, it becomes readily apparent that something is missing.

At least, that’s how it felt for me. During 4 weeks post-op of a knee arthroscopy to remove an offending band of plica tissue, I tottered around my apartment like I was navigating a frozen-over lake. The friendly incoming text to try and make a tour happen soon? Ignored. The follow-up offering to just get outside? “I’ll see what I can manage.”

Stoko K1 Summit Hero
(Photo/Erika Courtney)

What I ended up needing was a shot of confidence, and the Stoko K1 Summit Tights landed at my door at an opportune time. These compression tights sport a lattice of faux ligaments that wrap around from the hips all the way to the ankles and mimic internal support in order to lend a hand in stability and control.

The verdict? After months of hard work, physical therapy, and more than a helping hand from the Stokos, I was back in the skin track, confident that my newly minted knee was going to be in for the long haul. But I wasn’t the only tester in the GearJunkie fold putting these to the test. Hundreds of miles away, my colleague was rehabbing from her own knee surgery. And, as we learned (and the old saying goes), your mileage may vary.

In short: The Stoko K1 Summit Tights are not a replacement for a rigid hinged brace. But these high-tech tights give those with persistent knee issues good support in a low-profile and comfortable solution. For getting back to sports, they provide a measure of support and confidence while avoiding the discomfort and appearance of more common knee braces.

Stoko K1 Summit Supportive Tights


  • Size range XS-XL
  • Adjustable support Yes
  • Material 79% nylon, 21% Lycra, Dyneema cabling
  • Pockets One side drop-in pocket


  • Body-mapped support where you need it
  • Low-profile tensioning dials
  • Machine-washable


  • Can be difficult to get on, off for bathroom breaks
  • Price

Stoko K1 Summit Supportive Tights Review

Stoko K1 Summit Supportive Tights Flex
Support that moves with you. The 90 feet of Dyneema cable run from the hips to the ankles; (photo/Erika Courtney)

When I first produced the Stoko tights in my physical therapist’s office, his opinion was immediate: “Now that’s interesting.” He took them up and studied them before handing them back. “I want to know how you fare with those things.” Now almost 4 months out of surgery, I can say that I’ve fared quite well.

The line of supportive apparel from Stoko is paradigm-breaking, which isn’t something I deliver lightly. After 5 years of neoprene sleeves, patellar straps, and double-jointed jobs, I can say that the support delivered by the Stoko tights is more all-encompassing than any brace I tried previously. It is a whole system solution.

But, I was lucky. My knee surgery was a simple one (an impinging tissue removal), and my road to recovery was far shorter than others. It’s important to keep in mind the limitations here and know that these tights won’t be a magic pill to solve all your joint woes. Doc says you need a full brace? Wear it. But as an extra helping hand? I’d take all I could get.

So, here are the brass tacks. The Stoko Embrace System is 90 feet of Dyneema cables laminated into the fabric of these tights, coalescing around the knee joint. They support and slightly unload the joint during movement, and they individually adjust the cables to fine-tune your fit. They act as a sort of soft limit to the types of motion that might aggravate a sore joint.

And the best part? It actually works. As I moved through my physical therapy, I slowly began introducing the tights into my workouts and found that they offered a soft bump stop to the lunges, squats, and stretches I needed to do to get back to baseline. They won’t do the work for you. But even during my initial tests, I could tell that they were helping shore up the muscles that I was aiming to strengthen.

Stoko K1 Summit Supportive Tights Adjustment
The Stoko K1s ride easily underneath ski shells; (photo/Erika Courtney)

A Second Opinion: Stoko K1 Summit After Major Knee Surgery

Fortunately (or, unfortunately), GearJunkie plays host to a number of folks who foster a love-hate relationship with their knees, which provided the opportunity to compare notes when it comes to the Stoko tights. 

After tearing her ACL, LCL, and biceps femoris tendon (hamstring), as well as cracking her knee joint capsule and breaking her fibula, GearJunkie sales rep Riley Marshall is the perfect foil to my own knee struggles. With considerably more going on with her joint, Marshall wore her K1s to physical therapy sessions, climbing, snowmobiling, light ski touring, and even paragliding after graduating from a rigid hinged brace.

“I found that they did in fact improve my comfort and confidence, but users should be cautioned that the primary benefit of this product is, as advertised, ‘improved stability and confidence,’ and you should not expect them to be a replacement for a rigid hinged brace, should you need a rigid hinged brace,” Marshall said. “This product is much more beneficial for the next phase of recovery, and for continual support post-recovery.”

(Photo/Riley Marshall)

Medical Device Verification

Stoko cites a number of studies on its website’s Technology page. In Stoko’s K1 Support Verification testing, it tested the K1 against a variety of other braces, applying multiple different axes of motion, and mimicking conditions similar to common injuries to the knee.

It found that while rigid hinge braces (like the Ossur Custom CTi) still performed the best in terms of load reduction when the model leg was displaced, the K1s came in above soft sleeve with a hinge (Donjoy Hinged Knee) and soft sleeve (Bauerfield GenuTrain) braces. This is in line with what I found while wearing them. While they do not give you the security and hard stop of a rigid brace, they can serve as a replacement for a sleeve-style brace. 

In Stoko’s K1 Biomechanical Assessment, it measured the lower body mechanics of 20 ACL-deficient individuals while walking, running on a treadmill, and single-leg drop landing in the Stoko leggings, as well as a control group pair of leggings. In this study, relative angles and external joint moments were calculated for the hip and knee with Visual 3D, as well as recorded perceptions of the individuals. 


The results of this study cited improvements in the lower body mechanics with the K1s on, as well as the individual’s perceived stability with K1s. This means they could have implications for improving confidence in movement, and also in potentially limiting injury risk.

Because Marshall is much more “ACL-deficient” (along with a few other deficiencies) at this time, she decided to replicate this second set of tests herself to see if the perceived stability changed.

“I did find that I felt more stable when wearing the Stoko K1s, compared to not, across all three movements. Again, it is hard to say whether they would prevent injury at full speed, so I am hesitant to trust them fully, but they were supportive, and I found the feedback they gave to be useful,” Marshall said.

She added that receiving feedback was the most benefical attribute of the Stoko K1 Summits, and I have to agree wholeheartedly. They provide a sensory reminder that brings awareness to the joint and where you are in your range of motion. This reminder triggers you to correct your positioning yourself.

(Photo/Riley Marshall)

Sizing and Fit

Remember, these are supposed to fit snugly, so if you’re like me and think, “There’s no way I’m fitting in those,” have faith. Stoko provides a handy sizing chart online to dial it in, and I found the medium size to be spot on.

To be exactingly clear, the Stoko leggings are not easy to get on, as both Riley and I can attest. It is an interpretive dance of a struggle to saddle up in these, but once settled in, the compression fit relays an immediate sense of control. I’ve found that the best way to sneak into these tights is by getting the ankles settled first (remember to unlock the support cables), and then working up the leg slowly, like a wetsuit. A squeeze around the belly is normal, reports Stoko, and will slack given a few wears.

There isn’t much direction in terms of how much to crank down on the adjustable knobs, but I found that even just a dab will do you. I will typically give the knobs three or four full rotations and find the support appropriate for all-day wear. And once locked in, there isn’t any faffing about for the rest of the day. Set and forget.

Stoko K1 Summit Dial Adjustment
The adjustment dials on the Stoko tights are easy to manipulate, and low-profile enough to pass under a backpack; (photo/Erika Courtney)

Testing the K1’s Performance in the Skin Track

When the rubber meets the road (or the skis hit the slope), here’s the deal on the Stokos. After a largely missed ski season, I got out recently in the Mt. Baker backcountry for some spring touring, where I wore the Stoko tights from bell to bell. They rode flawlessly beneath my hardshell bibs and didn’t give any guff to my ankles inside my snowboard boots.

During the tour up, I kept the dials only slightly turned, providing a little more gait length. I easily had enough stride to keep huffing up the skin track and noticed a distinct support that kept my knees from going bowlegged or buckling. The inherent compression of the tights also helped keep the blood moving, which I certainly needed—you’d be surprised how much of a shellacking 2 months on the couch will do to your cardio.

The K1 Summit version of the tight is designed for skiing, snowboarding, or otherwise cold weather use. And while my immediate impression was that the knob placement was going to be an issue with a touring pack, this proved to be unfounded. Located at just about the belt line, the knobs just clear the bottom of my airbag pack and are low-profile enough that they didn’t rub in the skin track.

By the time I hit the turnaround point, I had actually forgotten I was wearing the Stokos. A quick dial-up in tension had the tights set up for the downhill, and they were noticeably more supportive as I dipped my nose down-slope. From edge to edge, the tights helped remind me not to bend too deep, and when I did, they would provide a soft rebound to push me back into a more neutral position.

One good run was about all I had in the tank, but I can confidently share that it wasn’t just the support of the Stokos that made it possible, but more so the confidence they conveyed. It’s pretty incredible how far a bit of cable-assisted faith will get you.

Stoko K1 Summit Supportive Tight Detail
Loosening the support system on the way up provides for more stride length, while tightening at the top gives support when you need it; (photo/Erika Courtney)

Pricing and Insurance 

Let’s talk dollar signs. The Stoko tights don’t come cheap, and the $398 price point can be a little galling at first. But when you start digging into the prices of full unloader knee braces, the bill can easily climb into the $300-400 range. Obviously, that’s the extreme end of the spectrum, but when I survey the pile of recovery and support aides in my closet, I can easily see it all adding up to more than the Stokos.

Because the Stoko tights are registered as medical devices with the FDA and Health Canada, they are eligible for Health Spending Account reimbursement and may be reimbursable under your insurance coverage. You’ll likely need to wrangle a prescription to do so, but I’d gladly jump through hoops again to snag a pair.

Stoko K1 Summit Supportive Tights: Conclusion

Stoko K1 Summit Support Adjustment
(Photo/Erika Courtney)

Any time you can forget you’re wearing a brace is noteworthy, and the Stoko K1 Summits made it happen for me. As anyone with a long-standing joint issue will tell you, there’s not much else that will steal the wind out of your sails quite like sore knees. A brace focused on support during sport versus the day-to-day is a novel solution.

We will note, however, that as with any different injury and recovery trajectory, the Stokos won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. As Riley found, for those with more complicated knee issues, these won’t supplant the use of a rigid brace.

“It has been a really good stepping stone for me transitioning from a hard-hinged/functional brace to being able to ditch the brace. It has not only given me that little added support I was looking for, but also helped with the transition mentally,” Marshall said. “However, 7 months out from injury, I still turn to my rigid hinged brace if I am going to be doing higher risk activities because I do want maximum protection from injury.”

Beyond using these tights for outdoor activities, I also see the Stokos as an important training tool. I’ve even gone in jogs wearing the Stokos and have felt a noticeable support that doesn’t impede my gait. They aren’t something that I would use for everything, but for certain aggravating exercises, they have been key in pushing past issues.

The company also offers up a few different tights, including a run- and hike-styled 3/4-length version, as well as a multisport do-it-all cut with knit ventilation built in. These varied offerings make it possible to find a solution for whatever you do the most and get back to it.


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