Mountain bike protection has come a long way over the past few years.
With the high protection, lightweight materials coming out of current technology, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be wearing protective gear such as knee pads.
However, it can be a bit of a daunting process finding the right protective gear to suit your needs, so we’ve created this buyers guide to assist you with your search.
After the summary table below, we discuss the key features to look out for, followed by detailed reviews of the best products on the market.
Our top pick: IXS Flo Evo + Knee Guard
The Flow Evo+ knee guard from iXS is another set of super thin, light and comfortable pads.
Created with IXS’ Xmatter protection foam, these pads provide high impact absorption without compromising on comfort.
They are moisture wicking, breathable, and anti-bacterial, and their thin design means you can throw them in your backpack when not in use.
- Low-profile and lightweight
- Not as heavy duty as other options
Also great: Race Face Ambush Knee Pads
One of the most popular knee pads on the market, the Ambush is made with D30, a flexible material that becomes rigid on impact.
They are lightweight, super comfortable, and offer high protection for a variety of riding styles.
Further, with open back construction, you can put on and remove without taking your shoes off.
- D30 Protection
- Mesh backing for breathability
- Open-back design
- Sizing runs a bit small
G-Form Elite Knee pads
The Elite Knee Pad from G-Form is a high-end piece of protection gear, aimed at riders who want to make an investment in their protection and comfort.
Utilising G-Forms industry-leading impact-absorbing (RPT) pads, the Elite remains fairly low profile while providing superior protection.
A longer sleeve ensure stays in place throughout your ride, while a mesh backing helps ventilation and wicks moisture away from your skin.
The Elite pad is CE 1621 Level 1 certified, the highest standard for motorcycle joint protection.
- Long sleeve with silicone gripper bands ensures they stay in place
- RPT Technology provides superior protection while not compromising flexibility and comfort
Dainese Trail Skins 2 LITE Knee Guard
Another super popular knee pad, the Trail Skins are low profile, ultra-lightweight, soft, and comfortable.
Utilising Dainese’s Crash Absorb® memory foam technology, these pads still provide ample protection, perfect for riders who want all-day protection without sacrificing on flexibility and comfort.
- Pro Shape and Crash Absorb technology
- Not as heavy duty as other options
Endura Single Track Knee Protector
The Endura Single track knee pads are a flexible, soft-shell option, designed for comfort.
Memory foam inserts provide protection that moulds to your body, while a soft terry lining adds to comfort against the skin.
Similar to the Race Face Ambush, these pads feature a fully opening design, meaning there’s no need to remove shoes when taking them on and off.
- Good flexibility for peddling
- Less heavy duty than other options
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How To Choose MTB Knee Pads
Here are the most important factors to keep in mind during your hunt for the best MTB knee pads:
Obviously the reason you’re wearing pads is to protect your knees.
The protective layer itself however, comes in many shapes and sizes, each with their own pros and cons.
More traditional, heavy duty downhill pads, will typically have a solid plastic layer for protection, while more lightweight options will have softer, more flexible padding.
However, some companies such as Race Face and G-Form use materials like D30 that are soft but harden on impact, meaning less bulk is required to get a good level of protection.
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At the end of the day, ideally, you want a pair of knee pads that you forget you are wearing.
Flexibility, weight, materials, and ventilation all play a role in making a knee pad comfortable, so it’s key to keep an eye out for these features.
Most pads will be made with a combination of lycra for flexibility, mesh for breathability, and of course some kind of protective material at the impact areas.