Harbinger Power knee wraps

Harbinger just launched some new knee wraps, and they sent me some to try out. This was really great timing, because I am just coming back from a bad training-related knee strain. When I tentatively started getting back to business, I rolled out (literally) the black "Power" wraps and bound up.

You probably are familiar with red line wraps, Harbinger's or not. The red line motif is the industry standard for competition knee wraps. Harbinger's Red Line was introduced in 1997 for competitive athletes and anyone who goes heavy. They are competition-grade (read: thick) elastic, 3” x 78”, black with two red stripes down the center. They are made in Pakistan.

The new addition to the Red Line is solid black, and it's called Power. (I think I'll call mine black power.) The Power wraps are 3" x 72", and the smooth elastic is thinner than red lines.

I'm really pleased with them, and not just because I tend to wear a lot of black in the gym. The elastic is extremely pliable and a cinch to adjust from light support all the way to tourniquet, and every grade in between. Standard red lines (not just Harbinger - think Inzer) are so thick that the stretch is considerably less yielding, the wrap takes up a lot of space on the knee, and if you do it powerlifting-tight, it's like wearing a cast. Sure, this suits the needs of a lot of lifters, but I'm reaching for my new Power wraps instead of my Harbinger or Inzer red lines in the gym because while this thinner elastic can grab as tightly as you like, it is much friendlier to work with, wear, and flex in dynamically instead of statically . . . which I do in weightlifting training. It's easier to tuck in the end, and it's easier and quicker to unwrap and wrap in between sets. Now since they are thinner, I'm going to watch and see how long they keep their shape; when I asked about how long they last, Harbinger said on average, their wraps last two to three years, but made no distinction on lifespan between the types of wraps.

Harbinger's official stance is that they are introducing black wraps because they show less dirt than the white version they are replacing, but come on, isn't the black just a simple aesthetic option? After all, the Red Lines are mostly black anyway; generally it's not dirt that shows on knee wraps - it's chalk; and if you go hard enough to need Red Lines, chances are you aren't the type to be overly concerned with showing a little grit for your efforts. I'm not ashamed to say I like the look of the black ones better for myself and appreciate the fashion option.

Director of marketing Chanin Cook says the company has no plans to release wraps in other colors in the future. Here's a quick interview I did with her.

Q. What does your market research tell you about who uses your knee wraps the most today – powerlifters, Olympic-style weightlifters, weight training enthusiasts? When you use the word weightlifter in your media release below, are you referring to Olympic-style weightlifters or weight trainers in general?

A. Powerlifters and Olympic-style weightlifters are the primary users of our Red Line knee wraps. Weightlifting enthusiasts are more likely to use the Power knee wraps.

Q. Do you find the wraps are used more commonly among competitive athletes or noncompetitive? How about in training versus competition?

A. Red Line are more used by competitive athletes and the Power by noncompetitive. In general, I would say they are used more for training vs. competition, but it really depends on the individual.

Q. How have the design, materials, and consumer changed since your wraps were introduced, if at all?

A. The design and materials have not changed. Our customer base has grown. This may be due to an aging population that needs more joint support while working out.

As for availability, (at this writing, in December 2011) Cook says, "The new black knee wraps are shipping now to all of our retail customers worldwide. Depending on store purchasing cycles, some retailers will have them on the wall earlier than others. For immediate gratification, you may order them on Amazon.com right now."