Best Mountain Bike Knee Pad Review – Top Rated Models with Buying Guide
With trails getting rougher and riders pushing their limits harder than before, getting the best mountain bike knee pads is not just a fad but a necessity. If you are short on time, we have examined the quality and value of the top models in this range and concluded that the one you should consider is the G-Form Pro X2 Knee Pad. The body of this pad is mapped with impact-absorbing SmartFlex material that hardens upon impact to keep your knee protected. The 2-panel design features multiple ventilation holes that allow the pads to act as a second layer of skin, keeping you cool and comfortable. They’re designed for long-distance off-road cycling thanks to the moisture-wicking and UPF 50+ compression fabric that will keep you dry throughout the day. If you find that our first pick is no longer available, another high-quality product that you can get is the POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pads.
The low-profile design of these pads allows them to fit like a second layer of skin. They won’t weigh you down or restrict your mobility thanks to the industry-leading SmartFlex technology. The sleeves are covered with an advanced material composition that hardens on impact to disperse the energy and keep your knees safe. After the impact, the pads become flexible again.
Sizing is inconsistent, and this means that it can take you a few tries to find the ideal fit.
These pads are light and comfortable so that you can wear them on the trail for the entire day. They also offer excellent protection thanks to the flexible yet sturdy padding that covers key areas of the knee.
The knee pad uses a VPD compound, which is a material that is light, soft, and pliable, but that hardens on impact. This means that you will retain your freedom of movement while wearing the pad as it won’t feel too tight when you pedal the bike. Once you put the pad on, it will stay securely on your leg since the product uses a reinforced stretch fabric that’s lined with anti-slip neoprene.
The padding is not substantial, which means that the product offers only basic protection.
This model offers basic kneecap coverage, and it is a good choice for riders who are looking for a product capable of keeping them safe without limiting flexibility and freedom of movement.
Also To Consider
This model uses a 10mm EVA foam padding that is coated with a tough Kevlar cover that will keep your skin and knee protected. This combination of materials delivers excellent protection without compromising comfort or freedom of movement. Moreover, the knee pads have a very light feel against the skin, and this makes them ideal for pedal-orientated gravity riders.
They run small, which means that if you want to get a good fit, you’ll need to order a larger size.
The use of high-quality and innovative materials allows this model to strike an excellent balance between protection and comfort. They’re light as a feather but tough enough to keep you safe.
9 Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads (Updated Reviews) in 2020
If you’re looking for more options, we have prepared a diverse list of products that range from cheap mountain bike knee pads to premium alternatives. All the models you’ll find below offer excellent quality, protection, and value, and they can cater to a wide variety of riding styles. Take a look below and see for yourself.
- 1. G-Form Pro X2 Knee Pad
- 2. POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pads
- 3. Demon Enduro Mountain Bike Knee Pads
- 4. Fox Head Enduro Knee Sleeve
- 5. Kali Protectives Strike Knee Guard
- 6. POC Joint VPD System Knee Pads
- 7. Dakine Hellion Knee Pad
- 8. Dakine Slayer Knee Sleeve
- 9. 7iDP Project Knee Pads
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions:
1. G-Form Pro X2 Knee Pad
One of the most impressive features of this model is the use of the revolutionary SmartFlex technology that allows the pads to deliver hinge-like flexibility and outstanding protection. The SmartFlex material provides uninhibited freedom of movement and an excellent fit, and it hardens on impact to keep your knee protected in case of a fall.
After the moment of impact has passed, the pads will return to the same level of flexibility and comfort so that you can easily get back on your feet and on the bike. The pads are also waterproof, and they don’t get damaged by perspiration. You can also keep them clean after a long day on the trail by tossing them in the washing machine.
The materials used for this model are not only flexible and durable but also lightweight. The low-profile design allows this product to feel more like a second layer of skin that won’t weigh you down and that you’ll soon forget you’re wearing.
The pads are equipped with multiple ventilation holes designed to maximize air circulation, and they’re covered with a moisture-wicking fabric that will keep you dry and comfortable.
A secure fit is very important, which is why the pads use silicone grippers and compression sleeves to ensure that the protective gear will stay in place even when riding in intense environments.
The gaps in the padding are placed in strategic positions along the knee, and this allows them to articulate very well so that you can bend your leg without any chafing.
The price is very reasonable, especially considering the advanced technology that’s found inside these mountain bike knee pads.
There are seven different sizes available, but the sizing is not always consistent, which means that it may take a second try to find the size that fits you just right.
The padding is durable, but the fabric around it can get torn easily, particularly by the pedal pins.
2. POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pads
If you’re the type of rider that finds regular knee pads to be too bulky and restrictive, this model seeks to provide superior flexibility and mobility along with adequate protection for all-day trail rides. With this product, you won’t have to deal with chafing knees when climbing or with overheating since the pads are highly flexible, lightweight, and well ventilated.
The padding that covers the knee is made from VPD material, which is soft and pliable when pedaling, but that hardens immediately on impact. It will create a shield between your knees and the impact surface. This material is also very light, and it doesn’t overheat, not even when riding in the summer.
The back of the pads doesn’t crease or bunch up so that you don’t experience the discomfort that rigid knee pad joints can create. Moreover, the pads are highly adjustable, and they come with an elastic strap with Velcro fastening that delivers a highly secure fit.
The sleeve that keeps the padding in place is made with stretch fabric that holds the protective gear close to your skin so that it won’t slip or chafe when riding.
The knee pads are available in both brown and black, and the multiple sizes are designed to fit both men and women comfortably.
The seller provides an in-depth and easy-to-read sizing chart that makes it simple to tell which size should fit you best, and we’ve found that the sizing is accurate for most people.
You can wear them in the summer without overheating since the material is very breathable, and while they can still get sweaty, they’re considerably more comfortable than other models and won’t cause overheating.
Once the weather goes below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the VPD material will get a bit rigid, but it will get back to its normal flexibility in a few minutes after your body heat warms it back up.
It doesn’t offer the best protection, but buyers looking for a good knee pad for trail riding won’t be disappointed.
3. Demon Enduro Mountain Bike Knee Pads
This model delivers a good balance between comfort and protection since one way in which it manages to stand out is due to how lightweight it is. All this is achieved thanks to the innovative mix of materials that Demon uses for this product. The 10mm EVA foam padding is coated in a Kevlar cover that’s tough, flexible, and lightweight.
You do get less protection with this design, but for riders who are looking for a product that can deliver more freedom of movement and comfort, this aspect won’t be a problem. That’s because even if delivering less protection than other models, it can still protect your knee in case of a fall.
It doesn’t get harder on impact, nor does it deliver side coverage. However, these compromises help the product deliver nonexistent pedaling resistance and such a high level of comfort that it will only take a few minutes to forget you’re even wearing the knee pads.
Once you put them on, they won’t slide down since they provide a compressed fit with two anti-slip silicone bands at each end.
The 10mm EVA foam padding is very breathable and comfortable even in hot weather so that you can keep your mind on the trail ahead.
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t like the feel of heavier pads, the lightweight design of this option is ideal for enduro racers and everyday trail rides.
The pads are not only light but also very thin, which means that you can also slide them under jeans when performing gravel landings on your mountain bike or when doing stunts in the park.
If you plan on doing intense mountain riding, then you might want to invest in heavier pads since this model puts a bigger focus on comfort, and it makes a few compromises as far as protection is concerned.
Because the sizes run small, you should order the next size up if your measurements are very close to the next size.
4. Fox Head Enduro Knee Sleeve
Similar to some of the other models on our list, the Fox alternative is focused on pleasing riders who don’t usually wear knee protection and who prefer ultra-light protection gear that doesn’t get in the way. This means that it won’t offer the same level of protection as the heavier models, but it is still considerably better than not wearing protection at all.
This model shines in long rides with large segments of climbing since there is no restriction to the pedal motion. The soft armor uses comfortable materials that feel very pleasant against the skin, and thanks to the multi-fabric construction that keeps sweat at bay, the knee pad is properly ventilated.
This model uses a pull-on closure, and as long as you choose the right size, the sleeve will conform naturally to the shape of your leg and stay securely in place throughout the day. This means that the risk of it slipping down mid-ride is minimal.
Compared to other similar models, this sleeve is quite long, and it covers a large area of the leg, providing sun protection and keeping your skin safe from branches and thorns.
This model uses padding that is very soft to the touch, and that extends from the top of the kneecap to the lower side of the shin and with some coverage on the sides as well.
The fit and comfort that this model offers make it stand out since the sleeve has a pleasant feel against the skin, and it doesn’t use bulky materials that could weigh you down.
The stretchy material provides a secure and long-lasting fit, and the soft padding in the front is breathable enough to let air flow in and keep your knees cool during the summer.
The soft padding can protect you in case of light falls, but it will likely not stand up to crashes at high speeds.
They’re a bit expensive, considering their simplicity, but the price may be worth it for riders looking for extremely pedal-friendly pads.
5. Kali Protectives Strike Knee Guard
The large protective padding on these knee guards is made of Xelion, which is an advanced nano-carbon compound known for its toughness and elasticity. This material is capable of absorbing impact energy and converting it to heat, which is then dissipated quickly across the surfaces of the pad.
Compared to other foams, Xelion is effective even in extreme temperatures, and it remains flexible and provides a high level of protection even when riding in harsh conditions. While the Xelion material is the star of this product, it is also worth talking about the perforated memory foam that is found behind it.
The foam provides excellent comfort, and it prevents the pads from causing discomfort during long rides. Moreover, the memory foam is pliable, and this means that it is pedal-friendly, and it won’t limit your mobility in any meaningful way. These off-road knee guards are recommended for downhill and enduro riding.
The guards use a pull-on system with elastic cuffs at both the top and bottom and silicone bands that will keep the pads in place even during long riding sessions.
The elastic cuffs use a Velcro adjustment, which allows for plenty of fine-tuning so that you can find the perfect fit more easily.
The breathable back panel lets you feel the air as you ride, and it allows the skin to cool down naturally, a process that will prevent overheating and excessive sweating.
There are four sizes available, ranging from Small to X-Large, and the pads are true to size as long as you make sure to follow the sizing guidelines.
When the weather gets cold, the Xelion material can start to get a bit stiff and lose its elasticity, making them more uncomfortable to wear.
It is quite expensive, and while the quality justifies the price, this isn’t a sustainable option for everyone.
6. POC Joint VPD System Knee Pads
The high flexibility and the lightweight construction of this model can make each ride easier and more comfortable. It is suitable for any type of mountain biking. For the padding, it uses a VPD system that combines the certified level of protection of VPD 2.0 with the complete freedom of movement and breathability of VPD Air.
The excellent ventilation found on this model is achieved by utilizing multiple layers of moisture-wicking fabric to optimize breathability, comfort, and moisture control. This means that when wearing these pads, you can stay cool, dry, and confident throughout the day. This will allow you to focus on conquering every obstacle on the trail.
The outer layer of the knee guard is made from a high-tenacity polyamide, a material that is abrasion-resistant and capable of delivering increased durability. The fabric is tough enough not to get punctured in case of a fall, while the VPD inside will minimize injury and keep your knee protected.
This model uses a combination of VPD 2.0 and VPD Air, and this allows it to deliver a good balance between maximum protection and improved freedom of movement.
The VPD coverage is ample enough to protect your shins and mitigate a pedal strike, but it is not too excessive that it prevents air from flowing to keep you cool and dry.
The pads will wrap around the rider’s body shape when warm, and they’ll move one with the body, making it easy to forget you’re wearing protective gear.
It is a versatile piece of protective gear that offers enough protection and comfort for spinning uphill, charging down your favorite trail, or simply standing at the trailhead.
The main downside with this model is the high price point since these knee pads are some of the highest-priced models currently available on the market.
The fit can cause a few problems, especially for shorter people, and the limited selection of only three sizes certainly doesn’t help.
7. Dakine Hellion Knee Pad
The Hellion knee pad is part of Dakine’s first move into the market of protective gear, and for being its first try, it is hard not to get a bit excited about what the company has managed to achieve. This model is suitable for downhill-oriented and enduro riders, and it focuses primarily on comfort thanks to its pedal-friendly design. It also doesn’t skimp on protection.
Looking at the features and the feedback that this model has garnered, there are plenty of good things to say about it. To start it off, the unit uses all-foam padding, and this allows it to be very flexible. There is no hard plastic shell on the inside or outside of the sleeve.
Aside from the main foam pad, the Hellion is also equipped with a series of other smaller pads on the inside and outside of the fabric. These smaller and softer pads help protect the sides of the knees without limiting the mobility of the rider.
Most of the body is covered in AriaprenePro 2mm padding material that is water-resistant and tough enough to handle crashes without getting frayed or torn.
It uses TPR molded compression straps that deliver a comfy and secure fit for hours so that you can ride without having to worry that the pads will cause chafing or discomfort.
It delivers excellent value since the product is priced much cheaper than other options on the market that offer similar features, and that’s impressive for a brand that’s new to this market.
The generous padding won’t just protect your knees, but it will also keep them warm and comfortable when cycling in frosty mornings or cold weather.
When used for extended pedaling, the pads can get a bit hot since there’s a lot of padding around the knee but not to the point that your knees get roasted.
The product runs small, which means that, if in doubt, it is better to order one size up.
8. Dakine Slayer Knee Sleeve
The Slayer knee sleeves take a minimalist approach that uses minimal protection but an extremely pedal-friendly construction. It is an excellent product to recommend for people who pedal for long hours in lower consequence terrain. The sleeve uses only a small central pad to cover the knee and the upper shin.
The impact-sensitive foam will harden upon impact, and it can protect you in the event of small crashes, but it shouldn’t be used by amateurs. It is better suited for experienced riders who are less likely to crash often.
The minimalist approach can also be appreciated by riders who prefer tucking their protective gear underneath their shorts. Since they’re not bulky and they come in an unassuming black color, these sleeves can blend in with any color, and they won’t stand out like a sore thumb. With sizes ranging from XX-Small to X-Large, finding a good fit is also surprisingly easy.
These sleeves may offer light impact protection, but they are sleek and comfortable, and they act like a second layer of skin so that you won’t even notice they’re on, even on hot days.
The armor pad is not very thick, but it is flexible and impressively large since it extends about 2 inches above the kneecap and 8 inches to the upper shin area.
It uses a minimalist design with no excess material anywhere, and this gives it a pleasant feel against the knee, and it minimizes the possibility of chafing and fabric rubbing.
The outer fabric appears to be tough enough to handle heavy use without the seams tearing or unraveling.
Sizing is not consistent, and it is best to head to Dakine’s website and read the sizing chart before ordering your size.
The light protection that this model offers won’t keep your knees safe for hard slides and big hits.
9. 7iDP Project Knee Pads
While most knee pads on the market use either foam pads or rubber/plastic pads, this model is a hybrid that uses both types of pads, and this helps it strike a good balance between comfort and protection. However, between the two, protection is definitely the area where this model stands out.
The front of the knee is protected by a flexible rubber panel that is tough enough to handle all the obstacles one might encounter during a crash. Along with the rubber panel, the unit also uses a Sas-Tec foam pad that is designed to dissipate the energy of the impact.
This foam pad is optional since the manufacturer gives the rider the option of removing it. However, if you want to get a higher level of protection, it is advisable to keep the foam pad on.
Another thing that helps set this model apart from other alternatives is the additional foam padding that can be found around the knee. Thus, these pads are perfect for riders who are looking for gear that is light but capable of providing a superior level of protection.
The premium materials are not only comfortable against the skin, but they are also very durable and can survive hundreds of hours of intense riding.
These pads are recommended for riders who go on rowdy trail rides often since the excellent protection they offer will keep them and their knees safe.
The generous length and the anti-slip design make this product the type of gear that you slip on and then forget about since the pads won’t slide and they breathe very well.
The large coverage will keep your legs warm in cold weather, and the pads will also be comfortable on warm summer days thanks to the quality of the breathable fabric.
They’re quite costly and not a feasible option for people who can’t afford to empty their wallets for a pair of knee pads.
The side padding is not generous enough to recommend this model for serious downhill riding.
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
If you’re still not sure which affordable mountain bike knee pad to get, we have prepared an in-depth guide to help you understand which features can make the difference. We’ll also explore the features of the best mountain bike knee pad for your type of riding. Keep reading if you need help in making an educated purchase.
The most important thing that you will need to consider, whether you’re looking to purchase a cheap mountain bike knee pad or a premium one, is to decide on the level of protection that you require. When considering the protection level, there are three types of mountain bike knee pads that you can purchase: lightweight, trail, and heavy-duty.
Lightweight knee pads, as the name suggests, are made to be as slim as possible. This means that they won’t weigh you down, but they offer the least amount of protection. If you’re the type of rider that finds most knee pads uncomfortable, then shopping for a lightweight model is the way to go. This is also a good choice for experienced riders who are less likely to crash.
Trail knee pads offer a good mix of comfort and protection since they are designed to offer the ease of pedaling of the lightweight models and some of the protection of the heavy-duty pads. This is the type of pad that will suit the majority of riders since it provides the comfort and protection required for single-track riding and training sessions in trail centers.
Heavy-duty pads offer the highest level of protection, and the superior coverage allows them to withstand even the biggest hits. Most such models will incorporate padding across almost their entire surface. This can make it more difficult to pedal with them on, and since they’re quite heavy, they can cause discomfort to some riders.
However, when you plan on hitting a downhill track or when encountering conditions where maximum protection is needed, a heavy-duty pad is what you’ll need to get.
Because the market is constantly evolving, there are plenty of products that blur the lines between the three categories presented above. Before purchasing a mountain bike knee pad, you should always take the time to assess its features and judge if it offers the balance of comfort and protection that you need.
Knee pads are useful for all types of mountain bikers, and to determine which model is best for you, it is important to break down the most common riding types and what each one requires from a knee pad. Below, we’ll look at trail, enduro, downhill, and cross country riding styles.
If you’re looking to purchase trail mountain bike knee pads, and you’re the type of rider that enjoys long and fast rides but isn’t a big fan of ups and downs, then you should look for a product that uses a low-profile foam and that breathes well and doesn’t cause chafing. For more serious riders, something with a little more padding is recommended.
For enduro, you should look for pads that offer good protection, and ideally, you’ll want to get a model that comes with a hard shell. Since you’ll need to get the pads on and off between stages and transfers, you should keep your eyes on affordable mountain bike knee pads that are easy to get on and off.
Downhill riding can get very intense since you should never underestimate the pull of gravity. This is why, for this sport, you should always get heavy-duty pads that offer plenty of protection. Coverage is also very important, so look for models with plastic shells that can fit your shin and knee well.
Lastly, cross country is all about riding fast, and while you won’t hit the same big jumps or drops as with the other disciplines on this list, the consequences of hitting a rock or tree at high speed are very serious.
After looking at numerous mountain bike knee pad reviews, we’ve found that cross country riders prefer knee pads that use a low-profile foam that’s capable of preventing scrapes should you meet the gravel, but that’s still lightweight and capable of acting as a second layer of skin.
The ideal pad for cross country riding should thus offer some protection, but that protection should never restrict your pedaling.
Fit and comfort
A good fit is essential, and before purchasing a product, you should make sure to examine the sizing chart closely to decide which size will fit you best. Ideally, you should always try a knee pad on before buying, but that’s not always possible when purchasing online. Because some models can run large or small, it is a good idea to read a few reviews before purchasing.
With that said, a good fit is not enough. Seams, Velcro fasteners, and zips can also cause friction burns or be outright annoying. This is why models that employ a minimalistic design tend to be the most comfortable.
If you plan to do a lot of riding during the summer, you should also consider the level of ventilation that the pads offer. In this case, you will need to look for models that use breathable fabrics and protectors. The more layers that a knee pad has, the less breathable the product will be.
Because by their very nature knee pads are designed to move and flex with every movement of your legs, this puts a lot of strain on the material. This is precisely why durability should always be a key concern for you.
As such, when purchasing a mountain bike knee pad for the first time, you should closely examine the quality of the materials. You can get an idea of the quality of the product by reading a specialized mountain bike knee pad review or by looking at what other buyers have to say about the long-term durability of the product in question.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How tight should MTB knee pads be?
To get a good fit, you should first measure your thigh and calf to get an idea of the size you should purchase. Because each manufacturer has different sizing conventions, you should always check the recommended thigh and calf measurements for each product. With the help of these measurements, you are more likely to find a pair that will fit snugly on your feet.
You may be used to buying garments in a larger size, but when shopping for knee pads, they must fit somewhat snug. If the fit is too loose, then the pads won’t be able to stay in place, and this will not only cause you discomfort but may also negate the protection that the gear is supposed to offer.
A loose fit can also cause the fabric to bunch up, and this can lead to painful chafing. Thus, MTB knee pads should fit snugly and even a bit tight as long as you’re not feeling uncomfortable. A little case of sausage leg is not a problem in this case; what’s important is for the pads to stay in place.
Q: Should I wear knee pads while mountain biking?
Yes, even if you are a skilled rider that is less likely to crash, you should still invest in a pair of lightweight knee pads that won’t hinder your mobility in any perceivable way, but that can still keep you protected in the event of a fall.
The skin on your knees can get damaged very easily, and the knee pad is a simple way of making sure that your knees get the protection they need. If you’ve used a knee pad in the past, and you didn’t like the feel, it might be because you didn’t get the right product.
The protection, comfort, and durability that knee pads offer have all improved considerably in recent years, and it is now possible to find models that are lighter, more breathable, and much better looking.
You can never predict when a crash might happen, but you can take the necessary precautions to protect your body, and this is why a knee pad is a must-have piece of protective gear.
Q: Do you wear knee pads over or under pants?
Ideally, you will want to use short pants and wear the knee pads under them on your bare skin. If you want to wear the knee pads over long pants, you may want to reconsider your plan since the pants will bunch up, and they can also pull tight around the knees, causing your discomfort.
Moreover, wearing knee pads over pants will also increase the retention of sweat, making it uncomfortable when riding in warm weather for long. Thus, if possible, you should always try to put the knee pads under the pants, or you can get special riding pants designed to have knee pads over them.
If you plan to wear your knee pads over pants, you should shop for tight pants that have wind and fleece protection. This is a great choice if you plan to ride your mountain bike in cold weather and you need that extra layer.