With the increasing popularity of extreme sports in recent times, mountain biking has also received a tremendous boost. As mountain bikes become more powerful than ever and a greater number of daredevils are heading to the mountains for exhilaration, the human body requires solid protection in such extreme conditions.
This means that the protection of one’s knee against bruising and injury is a must when mountain biking. The knees are the first body part to be hit during any mountain bike accident and a more serious injury to them may leave a person limping for days.
This is where wearing knee pads (or MTB knee pads) come in.
Gone are the days when a knee pad was a piece of plastic that was as ugly as it’s uncomfortable. Today’s knee pads are a fashion statement in themselves, designed with the most versatile materials to not only provide the best protection to its wearer but also to make the biker look good.
Take a look at eight of the best mountain bike knee pads (or best MTB knee pads) that come highly recommended by both riding professionals and casual bikers alike.
- At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads
- Top 8 Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads 2020 – Our Reviews:
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads
If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the mountain bike knee pads that most people buy).
- Dakine Slayer Knee Pads Top Pick
- Leatt Airflex Pro Knee Pads Runner-up
- POC Joint VPD Pads Runner-up
Top 8 Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads 2020 – Our Reviews:
1. Dakine Slayer Knee Pads
This sleek fitting knee pad is for bikers who value comfort more than protection. Soft padding protects the knee from harm and the curved design ensures that the pad remains where it’s supposed to at all times.
While it may be best for trail rides, adventurous escapades such as downhill riding should be avoided altogether by riders.
The material provides good ventilation, guaranteeing that the pad won’t become smelly after repeated use and the two silicone grips at each end ensure that the pad remains firmly in place even during extreme conditions.
The pad’s lightweight and easy fitting isn’t the only feature that has made it popular among bikers; the black body has made it one of the most stylish pads currently out there.
Starting at $65 USD, Dakine Slayer provides the confidence to go into the wilderness with peace of mind. The level of protection offered by the knee pads is adequate for their price.
- Good fitting knee pads
- Great pedal friendliness
- Not suitable for high-risk environments
2. Leatt Airflex Pro Knee Pads
One of the best MTB knee pads out there, the Leatt Airflex Pro provides heavy-duty protection with a 3D molded plastic designed to take almost any hit. Further protection is provided by side pads on each side of the main plate to ensure maximum protection to the knee from both top and bottom in the harshest of conditions.
Although the Airflex Pro packs a significant punch in safety, it doesn’t feel bulky or heavy. While some knee pads have a tendency to slip downwards with increasing use, these stay firmly in place.
Regarding pedal friendliness, the Airflex Pro is adequate. The bulky protector at the front does indeed make its presence known over long distances, but at no point does this become uncomfortable.
An absence of a Velcro strap in the design means that the whole pad slips on the knee seamlessly making the trail riding experience even more fun.
Ventilation isn’t a problem too as the fabric makes sure that air continually enters the area between the pad and leg. Sweat is also allowed to escape intermittently with ease.
Durability is another key factor as the front protector survives repeated hits from rock, wood, and other materials. However, a hit on the side padding with the same intensity may cause these knee guards to rupture.
The Airflex Pro is priced at only $80 USD and combines great protection with durability, enabling the rider to pursue the best mountain bike experience possible.
- Heavy-duty protection through a specially designed padding
- Seamless fitting on the knee
- Design enables good ventilation
- No Velcro strap
- Feels bulky over long distances
3. POC Joint VPD Pads
POC’s Joint VPD is expensive but it offsets its price by providing unparalleled comfort to the knees when riding. Not only does the Joint VPD feel extra soft and plushy; it has no hard materials in its entire structure.
The secret here is visco-elastic polymer dough or VPD, a soft substance that hardens upon impact. While you would undoubtedly feel an impact on your knee cap if you crashed, the VPD will ensure that you remain completely protected.
The fitting is a little clunky and one of the two straps may repeatedly fall out of place depending on your leg size. However, this is a non-issue in face of the supreme level of comfort provided.
Joint VPD’s pedal friendliness is also above average. An absence of hard material makes pedaling as light as a feather with minimal irritation to the skin—you could wear these pads for hours on end without uneasiness.
Good ventilation is provided by the porous material used in manufacturing which ensures that moisture is allowed to escape unabated during use.
Durability may be limited due to the soft material used, especially in face of sharp edges or jagged rocks that may line one’s journey. Priced at a steep $150, POC’s Joint VPD provides unmatched comfort and ease with questionable durability under high-stress environments.
- Feels light and airy while pedaling
- No irritation to the skin over long periods of time
- VPD technology ensures complete protection of the knee
- A little pricey with its retail cost of $150
- Fitting is a little clunky
4. G-Form Elite Knee Pads
G-Form Elite has made its name with outward stylistic padding on sports safety gear. Its knee pads are no different in this regard, with aesthetically beautiful padding covering the whole knee from the front and sides.
Made using Reactive Protection Technology (RPT), the soft padding hardens on impact providing complete protection to the knees from all sorts of sharp and hard surfaces.
A back panel made of thin fabric ensures good ventilation from an area that produces the most sweat. The pad acts like a cuff, encapsulating the whole knee.
There is no Velcro strap in the design as well, with the whole pad slipping on the designated area seamlessly.
The difference in texture between the front and back may make riding slightly discomforting and also result in varying levels of warmth between the front and back of the knee.
G-Form Elite Knee Pads are durable as well, providing both comfort and style in a material that will survive most of the extreme environments on this planet. Priced at an adequate $80, this knee guard is indeed worth its money for experienced riders and novices alike.
- Stylish padding provides protection to the whole knee area
- RPT technology ensures complete protection against all threats
- Fits perfectly on the knee
- Back of the sleeve is of a lighter material which may rip easily
- Varied levels of warmth between front and back
5. Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve
Among the best knee pads, this particular bike knee pad from Troy Lee Designs provides a sleek look combined with significant comfort at a very accessible price.
Protection is provided from a single narrow pad that runs from the top of the knee to five inches below. Therefore, the sides of the knee are left vulnerable in case of a hit on hard rock.
The protective pad is both plushy and flexible which means a significant impact will be felt by the knees in case of accidents. However, the plushy feel provides an extraordinary level of comfort while riding, resulting in the biker not even feeling the pad is there.
Such a degree of comfort also hugely improves pedal friendliness, meaning those riding can go for hours without feeling uneasiness or a desire to replace the knee pads urgently.
The minimalistic design and airy fabric ensure perfect airflow through the pad. I never felt any sweat even after using it for hours on end.
Priced at a very competitive $54, this sleeve style pad from Troy Lee is the cheapest knee pad on this list. It’s let down a bit by its protection level and durability but more than makes up for these shortcomings by providing unmatched ease and support during biking.
- Great value for money
- Extremely comfortable to ride around in
- Minimalistic design ensures good ventilation
- Uneven protection, especially on the sides
- Some form of impact will be felt by the knee due to thin protective pad
6. 7iDP Sam Hill Knee Pads
As far as mountain bike knee pads go, 7Protection’s Sam Hill knee pads are a tremendous achievement. Covering most of the area around the knee for maximum protection, the pads ensure that knees remain protected on brutal impacts with anything that a user might encounter during either trail riding or extreme sports.
Sam Hill Knee Pads provide perfect fit and comfort as they slide over the knee area, encapsulating the target area in a protective cocoon safe from just about anything out there in nature. Equally adaptable to all aspects of mountain biking, whether an uphill trek or downhill racing, these knee guards provide an unmatched level of protection.
The knee pads are held rigidly together by silicone grips, ensuring that they don’t dislocate while pedaling. This ensures the highest level of protection even in the harshest circumstances.
Even though the pads may look heavy-duty, pedal friendliness is not the least bit impacted by their stylish yet cumbersome design.
Costing a mere $80, Sam Hill Knee Pads provide tremendous value for money. Not only do they offer significant protection; they look great as well.
One of the best knee pads out there, they have almost no flaws to speak of and are equally adequate for a professional rider or casual rider alike.
- Maximum protection against all threats in mountainous terrain
- Perfect fit and comfort
- Don’t dislocate while peddling
- Tremendous value for money
- Almost none to speak of
7. iXS Flow Zip Knee Pad
This super-thin pair of knee pads are perfect for a trail ride and substitutes style over substance. Made of stretchable fabric with silicone padding to keep the knee safe, this pad provides a lightweight solution to mountain bikers.
The best thing about these pads is the elastic zip to easily adjust according to every person’s specific leg shape. This ensures that the pads never slip while biking in extreme environments.
While the durability of the pads may fall apart when impacted against sharp rocks, they provide good protection in all other circumstances. Repeated use may also induce wear and tear on the silicone grippers.
Costing $115 USD, the iXs Flow Zip Knee Pad may be chosen by beginners as they venture out into the woods. Serious mountain bikers would do well to choose other durable options available at similar prices.
- Elastic zip provides perfect adjustment to each leg size
- Odorless due to good ventilation mechanism
- May not hold up after repeated impact against hard surfaces
- A bit pricey for such an average level of protection
8. Fox Racing Enduro Knee Sleeve
The Fox Racing Enduro Knee Sleeve combines style and comfort in a simple design.
Knee protection is provided by simple padding that covers most of the sensitive regions of the knee. Side padding is also present for added protection.
Upon use, it becomes evident that the Enduro Knee Sleeve isn’t meant to be employed in dangerous environments. The pads provide only limited protection as the padding would definitely be pierced when impacted by hard rock.
A long knee sleeve provides protection against the sun whereas the fabric feels good against the skin.
Both the top strap and the bottom strap are sewn into the sleeve. Thus, the sleeve itself doesn’t feel tight when worn, providing an overall pleasant experience when pedaling.
There is little to no pedaling resistance as well. Decent airflow enters the pads from specially designed airways so that no odor accumulates inside.
Although the pads cost about $60, some people may scoff at this price tag given the minimalistic nature of the kneepads. However, I believe the price justifies the comfort provided to the trail rider among us.
- Long knee sleeve adequately protects against UV radiation
- No pedaling resistance
- Quite a bargain at $60
- Simple design that doesn’t stand out
- Not meant for high-risk environments
A good knee pad remains the best insurance in any mountain biker retreat as no one wants to remain out of action for several days in a row nursing an injury in inhospitable terrain.
All of the best knee pads described above provide different levels of comfort and safety across price ranges and are compliant with CE EN 1621 standardization.
However, if I would have to pick a favorite, it would be 7iDP’s Sam Hill knee pads. They provide an unparalleled experience at a very competitive price while looking awesome at the same time.
I didn’t consider Race Face Ambush knee pads, Pro Knee pads, and Project Knee as they couldn’t hold their own against these best of the best.
For those trying out mountain biking, choose the G-Form Elite as it ensures good protection at an affordable cost. For the pros who are looking for the next knee pad to put through the grinder, I would suggest the Leatt Airflex Pro.