Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads (2021)

If you are an adventurous person and love to go on a mountain bike ride over the weekend or professionally participate in trail riding, you know that mountain biking can be a dangerous sport.

When you are on the fast track, you can expect a few accidents here and there. Most falls would result in scrapes or cuts, but some severe accidents can cause serious injuries such as knee dislocation or related issues. Hence, it is important to protect not only your head but also your knees since they are the most prone to damage.

This article will discuss the top knee pads that you can buy for your mountain biking endeavors. We will judge them on pre-set metrics such as the extent of protection they offer, fit, comfort, breathability, and so on.

Best All-Rounder Mountain Bike Knee Pad

Fox Racing Launch D30

Weight: 445 g
Padding Material: D30 polyurethane
Body Material: 20% nylon, 40% neoprene, 5% polyester, 5% spandex
Adjustments: No
Safety Certifications: CE EN 1621-1 Level 1

Pros

  • Maximum protection
  • Comfortable
  • Retains good pedaling abilities
  • Excellent fit

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not suitable for long rides

Among quality designs that are well-executed and well-articulated, Fox Racing Launch D30 will take the lead. The knee pad offers superior fitting and ultimate comfort. Fox Racing uses D30 padding, which is soft and comfortable when using normally but stiffens upon impact.

In the protective spectrum, Fox Racing Launch D30 ranks high among the rest. If you are someone who’s looking for guaranteed protection and crashes frequently, this one is a great pick for you. However, even with all this protection, the pedaling abilities of the knee pad remain intact.

Who should buy this knee pad? All-mountain, trail, and enduro riders who are looking for both protection and comfort under one label.

One important point to consider here is that this knee pad is not suitable for you if you tend to ride for long hours, such as half-day rides. They work better for short rides like an average 1-2.5 hour outing. Another drawback to keep in mind is that Fox Racing Launch D30 lies on the heavier side of the spectrum, which eventually affects both the pedaling efficiency and airflow.

Best of Both Worlds Mountain Bike Knee Pad

Leatt Airflex Pro

Weight: 256 g
Padding Material: Airflex impact gel
Body Material: Moisture Cool, Airmesh
Adjustments: No
Safety Certifications: CE EN 1621-1

Pros

  • Smart placement of protection
  • Dialed fit
  • Reasonable price
  • Pedal-friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Good breathability

Cons

  • A little warm and clammy
  • Lack of velcro closure may shorten the life

While it is difficult to find a good blend of protection and pedal-friendliness, Leatt Airflex Pro makes it look easy. Not only is it a remarkable guard against impact, but it is also comfortable in various situations. You can wear it to go on a long 30-mile trail ride or go to a bike park; it has the best of both worlds.

The major thing that stands out about Leatt Airflex Pro is its strategically placed protection. This model is built using 3D-moulded soft padding with a pre-curved design, which is heavily perforated for maximum airflow. Even the side pads hold their ground and fend off abrasions effectively. You can find auxiliary foam protection on both sides of the knee and the center above the knee cap.

Leatt prioritizes comfort and a good fit in this model. It stays in place well and does not irritate the skin over the course of long rides. Moreover, Leatt Airflex Pro falls on the lighter side of the weight spectrum, making it ideal for wearing for long hours.

Best Comfortable Mountain Bike Knee Pad

Troy Lee Designs Raid

Weight: 465 g
Padding Material: Neoprene
Body Material: Neoprene, polyurethane
Adjustments: No
Safety Certifications: CE EN 1621-1

Pros

  • Great fit
  • Supremely comfortable
  • Excellent protection
  • Impressive pedal friendliness

Cons

  • Ventilation is not great
  • Heavyweight

Troy Lee Designs Raid comes with plenty of D30 padding and foam that encases your knee. The soft and pliable material is mushy in usual use but toughens upon impact. This plush and flexible padding effectively absorbs the impact and provides ultimate protection. The strategic location of protection matches the bony outcrops on each knee and extends well down the shin.

It offers great closure in the form of a single velcro strap along with silicone grippers that become like a second skin to your knee and articulates well with knee movement.

This model offers excellent fit and high comfort levels, which ensures that you don’t mind wearing them all day. However, it can get a little warm and clammy, which gets in the way of ventilation.

Given the intended use of these knee guards, the level of pedal-friendliness it offers is quite impressive. It offers durability, protection against wear and tear, and in turn, a long life.

Best Budget Mountain Bike Knee Pad

Dakine Slayer

Weight: 366 g
Padding Material: DK impact foam
Body Material: Aramid fiber
Adjustments: No
Safety Certifications: EN 1621-1 Level 1

Pros

  • Great fit
  • Super flexible
  • Abrasion-resistant material on the protector
  • Ultra-reasonable price
  • Padding

Cons

  • Ventilation is not great
  • Could be prone to ripping

Dakine Slayer is a well-rounded knee guard that performs well on the trail and provides a reasonable balance between protection and pedal friendliness. What makes this model better is the excellent fit which is snug and comfortable but not too tight to restrict airflow.

If you are looking for a knee guard that provides well-rounded performance with an attractive price tag, this one is the right pick for you.

The drawback of Dakine Slayer is the lack of ventilation. The padding gets in the way of breathability and eventually gets hot and clammy. Since the sleeve is tightly knit, there are fewer chances of heat escaping and cooling down. In the event of a crash, it is bound to rip and tear easily.

Best Pedal-Friendly Mountain Bike Knee Pad

Fox Racing Enduro

Weight: 198 g
Padding Material: N/A
Body Material: Perforated neoprene
Adjustments: No
Safety Certifications: N/A

Pros

  • Extremely pedal-friendly
  • Offers high levels of comfort
  • Lightweight
  • Well-ventilated
  • Good for long rides with lots of climbing
  • Abrasion-resistant material on the protector

Cons

  • Minimal protection
  • Questionable durability
  • Unreasonable price

The Fox Racing Enduro has a minimalist approach that feels great on your skin. For longer rides that require a lot of climbing, this model is the right pick for you. This pair of knee pads are lightweight with soft pads that allow for a full range of movement.

The comfortable pads can stay well on your knee during long hours of climbing but are not suitable for enduro riding. It is one of the most well-ventilated and breathable knee pads that increase the level of comfort and pedal-friendliness.

Since the pad is soft and thin, Fox Racing Enduro offers minimal protection. These knee pads will be most likely susceptible to significant damage in the event of a crash. For a design that is as simple as this, it does cost a lot.

Key Considerations For Buying Mountain Bike Knee Pads

Protection

The primary function of a knee pad is to protect against impact during mountain biking. Hence, the most important thing that you need to consider before you buy a mountain bike knee pad is how much protection it has to offer.

Knee pads are available in all levels of protection ranging from lightweights with soft padding that offer minimal protection like Fox Racing Enduro or heavyweights with layers of thick and burly padding that is impact-resistant.

Some feature removable viscoelastic or non-newtonian protectors that are designed to protect against blunt and disperse heavy slams. Secondary padding offers protection to boney outcrops on the sides of the knee.

Coverage

The coverage a knee pad offers is also good to note since it adds to the protection. Knee pads are available in different amounts of coverage, but the ideal level is a sleeve extended well below the knee cap itself.

Fit

Since mountain biking is usually a long, arduous sport, you are likely to spend a lot of time on the trail fully equipped with your biking gear, including the knee pads. Even if a model offers excellent protection, high-end materials, a built-in force field, and excellent ventilation, you will be unsatisfied during the ride unless it offers the correct fit. The latest method of ensuring the right fit in knee pads is pre-bent with ergonomic cupped protectors that help them stay in place.

For the right fit, many knee pads offer velcro straps or silicone grippers to prevent the pad from slipping from its place. While strapless designs look more attractive, they are impractical since most of them lose their elasticity over the course of a few bike rides.

Comfort

When riding for long hours, it is crucial that you are comfortable with the gear you put on. You need knee pads that don’t itch or make your skin irritable during the bike rides. What helps you decide if the knee pads you are getting are right for you? The shape of your legs, the combination of length, circumference, cutouts, fasteners, seams, silicone grippers, and zips. All of these play an important role in deciding whether your chosen knee pads are comfortable or not.

Ventilation

As a rule of thumb, the more padding a knee pad has, the warmer it will get. Most knee pads offer moisture-wicking fabrics that are perforated to maintain airflow. If the design is burly, there is only so much heat that can be dissipated before it builds up and make your skin hot and clammy. The key is to find a knee pad with the right balance of protection and breathability.

Cutaways at the back of the knee stop rubbing the ligaments and also increase airflow. On some designs, the kneecap is also left uncovered or has a honeycomb/perforated surface to channel air directly over the knee.

Durability

The materials used in the construction of a knee pad need to be robust to protect you from dirt, rocks, and roots. Your knee pads must be strong enough to fend off any objects that may cause damage to the knee. They should also have a long life that resists wear and tear when things go pear-shaped.

To prevent rips and tears, tough materials like canvas or kevlar are used over the cap. Many knee pads feature a removable protector that can be changed or washed after it has been damaged.

Price Range

As a general rule, high price tags are equivalent to higher levels of quality, performance, comfort, and protection. Knee pads that feature high-quality materials that are burly and offer great protection, such as POC Joint VPD System, are the most expensive of all.

On the other hand, knee pads with thin protection like Dakine Slayer are on the cheap side of the spectrum. Other knee pads offer decent features and excellent performance at reasonable prices, such as the Leatt Airflex Pro or Fox Racing Launch D30.

Takeaway

Among the plethora of knee pads, all differing in levels of protection, coverage, fit, and comfort, you are bound to get blindsided with the countless options. While it is important to recognize the importance of these gear accessories, it is also essential that you recognize your need for them. Every kind of mountain biking has a different kind of knee pad that works best for it. If you are into downhill biking, you will need maximum protection to brace against an impact. If you casually ride every once in a while for 1-2 hours, you don’t need heavy, burly knee pads. Your knee pads should fit your needs.

Finally, remember to keep all the considerations in mind before you slam your credit card down because knee pads can be pretty costly, and you should get your money’s worth from whatever you buy. Mountain biking is a dangerous sport, and is equipped with the best you can get is crucial for your safety. Follow this article to get the knee pad that suits you best.

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