The Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads of 2024

Our team of experienced mountain bikers and testers have spent countless hours researching, testing, and reviewing a variety of knee pads to bring you the ultimate guide to the best mountain bike knee pads of 2024.
Fox Enduro Knee Pads

We think most people would agree that our knees are pretty important! So, let’s cut to the chase and find out what the best mountain bike knee pads of 2024 are and get those crucial joints protected.

With countless options on the market, it can be a daunting task to find the perfect pair that suits your riding style, offers adequate protection, and ensures comfort during those long rides.

Our team of experienced mountain bikers and testers have put in the effort and given their thoughts backed up by years of experience so that you won’t need to look any further than Pro Mountain Bike to find the best knee pads available today.

Short Summary

  • Our team of experienced testers and mountain bikers evaluated the top knee pads for 2024.
  • We tested our picks based on criteria such as protection, fit & comfort, pedal-friendliness, ventilation & breathability, and durability.
  • Trust our expertise to make an informed decision about the best option for your specific needs.

What are the Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads for 2024

James Mackie wearing mountain biking gear

When it comes to protecting your knees during mountain biking, you don’t want to skimp on quality. Our testers have put the best in 2024’s knee guard and protection line up through their paces to see which comes out on top. Our curated list caters to various riding styles and protection levels, ensuring that you find the perfect fit for your needs.

Our top picks for the best MTB knee pads include:

Each of the above products offers unique features and benefits. Read on to discover the specific advantages and drawbacks of each knee pad, and make an informed decision for your next ride.

Fox Racing Launch D3O

Fox Racing Launch D3O

Price: $119.99

Pros:

  1. Ergonomic Fit: Stands out for its ergonomic fit, ensuring comfort and protection during rides.
  2. Secure and Adjustable: Features hook & loop straps for a secure and adjustable fit, keeping the pads in place.
  3. CE Level-1 Rated Protection: Offers CE Level-1 rated protection with a slip-on design, Lycra sleeves, D3O insert, and silicone embroidery.
  4. Versatile Use: Favoured by trail, all-mountain, and enduro riders for its excellent protection and comfort.

Cons:

  1. Ideal for Short to Medium Length Rides: Not ideal for long, pedal-heavy rides; optimal for outings lasting between 1 and 2.5 hours.

The Fox Racing Launch D3O pads stand out for their ergonomic fit, protection, and comfort. They feature hook and loop straps for secure and adjustable fit, ensuring the pads stay in place during your ride. The Launch D3O offers CE Level-1 rated protection, thanks to the inclusion of a slip-on design, Lycra sleeves, a D3O insert, and silicone embroidery. These closed cap knee pads provide excellent protection and comfort, making them a favorite among trail, all-mountain, and enduro riders.

However, the Fox Racing Launch D3O may not be the perfect choice for long, pedal-heavy rides. Our testers found that these pads are best suited for average outings lasting between 1 and 2.5 hours. Despite this limitation, the Launch D3O’s plush padding and exceptional comfort make it a top choice for those seeking reliable protection without compromising on comfort.

So, if you’re looking for a knee pad that offers serious protection and doesn’t sacrifice comfort, the Fox Racing Launch D3O is an excellent option. Just be mindful of its limitations when planning long, pedal-intensive rides.

Dakine Slayer

Dakine Slayer

Price: $90

Pros:

  1. Discreet Design: The pads feature a discreet, low-profile design, providing a sleek and unobtrusive look.
  2. Comfortable Construction: Utilizes an all-fabric construction for enhanced comfort during rides.
  3. Superior Protection: Equipped with SAS-TEC Viscoelastic foam padding, offering effective protection for the knees.
  4. Abrasion Resistance: The outer layer incorporates Cordura for improved abrasion resistance, enhancing durability.

Cons:

  1. Limited Breathability: Testers observed potential issues with breathability, leading to discomfort in hot or strenuous riding conditions.
  2. Durability Concerns: There might be susceptibility to tearing, especially after a crash or extended use, raising durability concerns.

The Dakine Slayer Knee Pad features:

  • Discreet, low-profile design
  • All-fabric construction for comfort
  • SAS-TEC Viscoelastic foam padding for superior protection
  • Cordura on the outer layer for enhanced abrasion resistance

While the Dakine Slayer offers a snug fit and effective protection, they do have a few drawbacks. Testers noted that the pad may lack breathability, leading to discomfort during hot or strenuous rides. Additionally, the fabric may be susceptible to tearing, especially after a crash or prolonged use.

Despite these potential issues, the Dakine Slayer Knee Pad is an excellent choice for riders seeking a mid-duty knee pad with a superior fit and appropriate protection. Just be aware of the possible ventilation and durability concerns and consider if these factors are crucial for your riding style.

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Leatt Airflex Pro

Leatt Airflex Pro

Price: $74.99

Pros:

  1. Balanced Protection: Strikes a balance between protection and pedal-friendliness, making it suitable for a variety of riding styles.
  2. Competitive Pricing: Priced competitively, providing value for riders seeking quality knee protection without breaking the bank.
  3. 3D-Molded Silicone Design: Features a main armor patch constructed from 3D-molded silicone, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit.
  4. D30 Padding: Utilizes D30 padding for smart and substantial protection.
  5. Flexible Geodesic AirFlex Gel: Incorporates a highly flexible, triangular segmented geodesic AirFlex Gel in the knee piece for added comfort and stability.
  6. Silicone Grippers: Silicone grippers hold the pads in place, preventing irritation even during extended rides.

Cons:

  1. Short Upper Sleeves: Testers found that the upper sleeves may be too short for some riders, potentially leading to a less secure fit.
  2. Limited Breathability: The pads may feel warm with limited breathability, which could be a concern for riders in hot conditions.

If you’re looking for a knee pad that strikes a balance between protection and pedal-friendliness, the Leatt Airflex Pro is an excellent choice. Priced competitively, these pads are designed for riders who prefer low-profile knee protection. The main armor patch of the Leatt Airflex Pro is constructed from 3D-molded silicone, providing a comfortable yet secure fit. The Leatt Airflex Pro utilizes D30 padding, which offers smart and substantial protection. Additionally, the pads feature a highly flexible, triangular segmented geodesic AirFlex Gel in the knee piece, with extra padding at the top of the knee and on either side. These pads are known for their comfort, stability, and lack of irritation even during extended rides, thanks to the silicone grippers that hold them in place.

However, the Leatt Airflex Pro does have some drawbacks. Testers found that the upper sleeves may be too short for some riders, leading to a less secure fit. Additionally, the pads may feel warm, with limited breathability. If these factors are not deal-breakers for you, the Leatt Airflex Pro offers a great balance of protection and pedal-friendliness for various riding situations.

7iDP Project Knee

7iDP Project Knee

Price: $129.99

Pros:

  1. Maximum Protection: The 7iDP Project Knee offers high levels of protection, featuring a thick and flexible main armor patch on the knee cap.
  2. Durable Construction: Crafted from tightly knit and durable fabric with a long sleeve, ensuring longevity and resilience.
  3. Additional Exterior Protection: Incorporates a harder plastic patch on the exterior for an extra layer of protection, facilitating sliding during a crash.
  4. Double Velcro Straps: Distinctive double velcro strap system enhances pad security and adjustability.

Cons:

  1. Pedal-Friendly Concerns: May not be the most pedal-friendly option, potentially impacting ease of pedaling during rides.
  2. Costly: The 7iDP Project Knee Pads could be relatively expensive compared to other options in the market.

The 7iDP Project Knee offers maximum protection with a comfortable fit. Its features include:

  • Crafted from a tightly knit and durable fabric with a long sleeve
  • Main armor patch on the knee cap is thick and flexible
  • Harder plastic patch on the exterior provides an additional layer of protection and enables sliding in the event of a crash
  • Secondary protection around the perimeter of the main armor patch

The 7iDP Project Knee pads are designed with a burly, knit construction and a heavy-duty material to ensure durability and longevity. The double velcro strap system is a distinctive feature that enhances the pads’ security and adjustability.

On the downside, the 7iDP Project Knee Pads may not be the most pedal-friendly option and could be costly. Those potential drawbacks aside, if maximum protection and comfort are your priorities, the 7iDP Project Knee is an excellent choice.

Sweet Protection Knee Guards

Sweet Protection Knee Guards

Price: $89.95

Pros:

  1. Lightweight Design: Offers a lightweight construction, contributing to overall comfort during rides.
  2. Comfort and Breathability: Prioritizes comfort and breathability, making it a suitable option for riders who value these features.
  3. SAS-TEC SCL 2 Viscoelastic Foam: Utilizes SAS-TEC SCL 2 viscoelastic foam known for impact absorption and flexibility.

Cons:

  1. Limited Protection: Provides minimal protection, as noted during testing, potentially making them less suitable for more demanding rides.
  2. Durability Concerns: Testers found potential durability concerns, which may impact the longevity of the knee guards.
  3. Breathability Issues: Rated as the least breathable among the tested pads, leading to increased sweating during rides.
  4. Impact Protection: SAS-TEC foam may not provide as much impact protection compared to other pads in testing.

The Sweet Protection Knee Guards, also known as sweet protection pads, offer a lightweight, comfortable, and breathable option for riders who prioritize these features. However, they provide minimal protection and may have durability concerns. The knee guards employ SAS-TEC SCL 2 viscoelastic foam, which is known for its impact absorption and flexibility.

During testing, these knee pads by Sweet Protection were found to have the following drawbacks:

  • They were the least breathable, resulting in increased sweating.
  • The mesh on the rear only covered a small portion of the protective pad.
  • The SAS-TEC foam did not provide as much protection as other pads tested.

However, if you’re looking for a lightweight, comfortable, and breathable knee pad for less demanding rides, the Sweet Protection Knee Guards occupy that niche perfectly. Just be aware of the minimal protection and potential durability issues.

Rapha Trail Knee Pads

An image of Rapha Trail Knee Pads, which are considered the best mountain bike knee pads for trail riding.

Price: $122

Pros:

  1. Mid-Duty Protection: The knee pads offer excellent mid-duty protection, striking a balance between safety and comfort.
  2. Comfortable Fabric: Crafted from soft and stretchy fabric, enhancing overall comfort during rides.
  3. Stay-in-Place Design: Features a silicone print on the inside to ensure the pads stay securely in place during movement.
  4. Innovative Padding: The padding is made from an ‘active polymer’ that hardens on impact, providing effective protection.

Cons:

  1. Warm in Hot Climates: The long sleeves may lead to discomfort and warmth in hot climates during extended rides.
  2. Higher Cost: These knee pads may be relatively costlier compared to alternative options in the market.

The Rapha Trail Knee Pads provide excellent mid-duty protection and comfort, and they are a popular choice among riders because of that balance. These pads feature:

  • Soft and stretchy fabric
  • Silicone print on the inside helping the pads stay in place
  • Padding made from an ‘active polymer’ that hardens on impact

However, the Rapha Trail Knee Pads may not be suitable for hot climates, as the long sleeves can cause discomfort and warmth during extended rides. Additionally, these pads may be costlier than other options on the market.

If you’re looking for a knee pad that offers excellent mid-duty protection and comfort, the Rapha Trail Knee Pads are a great choice. Just keep in mind the potential warmth and cost factors when making your decision.

Leatt Airflex Hybrid

Leatt Airflex Hybrid

Price: $94.99

Pros:

  1. Versatile Design: Suitable for most trail and all-mountain riding, offering a versatility choice for a wide range of riders.
  2. Lightweight and Comfortable: light and comfy – great combo that allows riders to focus on their ride without discomfort.

Cons:

  1. Moderate Protection: Not ideal for aggressive riders on rough trails, as the pads are designed for more moderate protection.
  2. Durability Concerns: The knit fabric of the sleeves may be prone to tearing after a crash, potentially affecting the longevity of the knee pads.

The Leatt Airflex Hybrid is suitable for most trail and all-mountain riding, making it a versatile option for many riders. These knee pads provide a lightweight design and comfortable fit, ensuring you can focus on your ride without worrying about discomfort.

However, the Leatt Airflex Hybrid may not be ideal for aggressive riders on rough trails, as the pads are designed for more moderate protection. Additionally, after a crash, the knit fabric of the sleeves may be prone to tearing, affecting the pads’ longevity.

If you’re looking for a knee pad that works well across most trail and all-mountain riding, the Leatt Airflex Hybrid is a solid choice. Just be aware of its limitations in terms of protection and durability when riding in more aggressive conditions.

Understanding Knee Pad Types and Protection Levels

Selecting the perfect pair of MTB knee pads involves understanding the different types of knee pads and their protection levels for various riding styles. The importance of choosing the right knee pad for your specific riding style and desired protection level cannot be overstated, as it can greatly impact your safety and comfort while on the trails.

From lightweight cross-country pads to robust downhill pads with the highest level of protection, there’s a knee pad out there designed for your unique riding needs. By familiarizing yourself with the various types of knee pads and their protection levels, you can make an informed decision that keeps you protected and comfortable during your rides.

Cross Country

Cross Country knee pads are designed for riders who prioritize lightweight protection with maximum ventilation. These pads provide limited protection, making them suitable for occasional use or less demanding rides. While they may not offer the same level of protection as other types of knee pads, their lightweight design and breathability make them an attractive option for cross country riders who value comfort and ease of use.

These pads are designed to be lightweight and breathable, allowing riders to stay comfortable and cool.

Enduro/Trail

Enduro/Trail knee pads are designed to offer a balance of comfort, Level 1 protection, and staying power during rides. These pads typically provide protection on the inside and outside of the knee, ensuring a secure fit that won’t shift during your ride.

With a focus on comfort and versatility, enduro/trail knee pads are an excellent choice for riders who participate in a variety of mountain biking disciplines and want reliable protection without sacrificing comfort.

Downhill

Downhill knee pads are designed for riders who require the highest level of protection during their rides. These types of pads are secured with straps and may not be as comfortable as other types of knee pads, but their focus on protection makes them ideal for aggressive riders who tackle challenging terrain.

Impact (EN1621-1) Certifications

To help classify knee pads and their protection levels, the EN (European Norm) 1621-1 standards are used. These standards evaluate the protection provided by knee pads and classify them into two primary levels: CE Level 1 and CE Level 2.

CE Level 1 provides lighter protection, while CE Level 2 ensures a higher level of protection. By understanding these certification standards, you can make a more informed decision when selecting the right knee pad for your riding style and protection needs.

Materials and Technologies Used in Knee Pads

A variety of materials and technologies are used in the construction of knee pads to provide the best possible protection and comfort. From elastic sleeves to padding materials, each component of a knee pad plays a crucial role in its overall performance.

One noteworthy technology used in knee pad construction is non-Newtonian materials, which are phase-changing viscoelastic materials that harden upon impact, providing superior protection compared to traditional padding materials. Impact absorption is another critical aspect of knee pad design, with some pads incorporating advanced materials and technologies, such as visco elastic polymer dough, to absorb and dissipate energy from impacts effectively.

By understanding the different materials and technologies used in MTB knee pads, you can make a more informed decision when selecting the perfect pair for your needs.

Finding the Perfect Fit: Sizing and Comfort

Getting the fit of your MTB knee pads right is essential for both comfort and performance. A knee pad that is too tight can cause discomfort and restrict movement, while one that is too loose may not provide adequate protection. To ensure you find the right fit, consider using fit guides provided by manufacturers and measure your leg circumference using tailor tape.

Another aspect of fit and comfort is the design of the knee pad. Pre-bent pads that provide a better fit to the rider’s body while in a bike saddle and peddling, while others use straps, zippers, and various materials to enhance comfort and fit.

Weight and Ventilation Considerations

Weight and Ventilation Considerations

Weight and ventilation are important factors to consider when selecting MTB knee pads, as they can greatly affect your comfort and performance on the trails. Lightweight knee pads may provide less protection, but are generally more comfortable and breathable, making them suitable for less demanding rides or hot climates. On the other hand, heavier knee pads may offer more protection but could be less comfortable and breathable.

When choosing knee pads, consider the type of riding you’ll be doing and the conditions in which you’ll be riding. If you primarily ride in hot climates or prioritize comfort and breathability, lighter knee pads may be the best option for you. If you’re tackling aggressive trails and require more protection, heavier knee pads may be a better fit for your needs.

Sustainable Practices and Eco-Friendly Options

A person wearing mountain bike knee pads with closed cap

As the world becomes increasingly conscious of environmental concerns, it’s essential to consider sustainable practices and eco-friendly options when selecting the best MTB knee pads for you. Some knee pads, such as the Dakine Slayer, are made from recycled materials, while others utilize sustainable and biodegradable materials for their construction.

In addition to choosing knee pads made from eco-friendly materials, proper care and maintenance can also contribute to sustainability. By cleaning your knee pads regularly and inspecting them for signs of wear and tear, you can prolong their lifespan and reduce waste. Wearing knee pads correctly and following the manufacturer’s guidelines can also help extend their durability.

Caring for Your Knee Pads: Maintenance and Inspection

Maintaining and inspecting your knee pads is essential to ensure their effectiveness and longevity. Regular cleaning and checking for signs of wear and tear can help you identify any issues that could compromise their protection. If you notice any issues with the elasticity or padding of your knee pads, it may be time to consider replacing them.

After a serious crash, it’s especially important to inspect your knee pads for damage. Check for any debris lodged underneath the fabric, and ensure the foam is intact and undamaged. By properly caring for and inspecting your knee pads, you can maximize their lifespan and ensure they continue to provide reliable protection during your rides.

How We Tested and Selected Our Top Picks

James wearing mountain bike knee pads with foam padding

To bring you the ultimate guide to the best mountain bike knee pads of 2024, our testers spent several weeks riding in a variety of terrains while wearing different knee pads. We meticulously assessed each pad based on the following criteria:

  • Protection
  • Fit and comfort
  • Pedal-friendliness
  • Ventilation and breathability
  • Durability

This extensive testing process allowed us to select the top knee pad that cater to different riding styles and protection levels.

Our team of experienced mountain bikers and testers brings you valuable insights and recommendations based on their extensive knowledge and experience in testing and reviewing various knee pads. You can trust our expertise and make an informed decision when selecting the perfect pair of MTB knee pads for your needs.

Trusting Our Expertise

Fox Enduro Knee Pads

As experienced mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts, our authors and testers possess extensive knowledge and experience in testing and reviewing various knee pads for mountain biking. Our comprehensive guide is based on countless hours of research, testing, and firsthand experience, ensuring that you receive valuable insights and recommendations to help you make the best decision for your riding style and protection needs.

Trust our expertise and choose the perfect knee pad to keep you protected and comfortable on your next ride.

Mountain Biking Accidents and Statistics: The key factors associated with off road cycling incidents are trail surface irregularities, excessive speed, mechanical failures and loss of control.

Summary of the best mountain bike knee pads

In conclusion, investing in a quality pair of knee pads is essential for your safety and comfort while riding. Our comprehensive guide to the best mountain bike knee pads of 2024 provides you with a range of options suited to different riding styles and protection levels. By understanding the various types of knee pads, their materials and technologies, and the importance of proper fit and comfort, you can make an informed decision that ensures your protection and enhances your riding experience. So gear up and hit the trails with confidence knowing that you’ve chosen the perfect knee pads to keep you protected and comfortable during your rides.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should knee pads fit?

Knee pads should fit snugly, without cutting off circulation or restricting movement, for optimal protection against injury. Too loose and they won’t be effective; too tight and they could cause further harm.

Ensure a comfortable yet secure fit for the best results.

Do I need knee pads for mountain biking?

Yes, knee pads are recommended for mountain biking as they provide protection and confidence when tackling new trails or increasing your skills.

Knee pads can help reduce the risk of injury and provide a layer of protection against rocks, roots, and other obstacles. They also help to provide a sense of security and confidence when attempting new trails.

Why wear knee pads mountain biking?

Wearing knee pads while mountain biking is a wise choice as they provide protection in the event of a crash, give you greater confidence while riding, and keep your knees safe from scratches or cuts.

They also offer extra support to the joint itself and allow you to enjoy riding without fear of serious injury.

What types of knee pads are available for different riding styles?

There are lightweight cross-country knee pads, enduro/trail knee pads with Level 1 protection, and downhill knee pads with the highest level of protection available to suit different mountain biking styles.

Knee pads come in a variety of styles and levels of protection, so riders can choose the best option for the type of riding they enjoy. They are designed to provide maximum protection while still allowing for freedom of movement.

No matter what type of mountain biking you do, having fun is important.

What materials and technologies are used in knee pads?

The best knee pads incorporate a range of materials and technologies, such as non-Newtonian materials for impact absorption and different padding materials for comfort.

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