Fox Launch Pro D30 Knee Pads
Words by Drew Rohde // Photos by Matt Palmer
The latest offerings in the protection world have drifted from hard capped plastic armor to malleable gelatins that rely on science over brute strength. Perhaps Fox is on the cutting edge of melding today with yesteryear as their new Launch Pro pads combine a D30 C3 certified insert with a removable hard shell protective cap. Could it be the best of both worlds?
Building upon their existing legacy, the new Launch Pro D30 pads have been designed with a mind for protection and performance. Hypoallergenic Ariaprene neoprene is used to offer impressive breathability for such a robust pad. In conjunction with that neoprene, Fox utilizes moisture wicking fabric to keep the pads dry and comfortable. Fox also designed the pads anatomically for smooth movement and comfort while pedaling or in a riding position. D30 material is used around the kneecap for protection and the hard shell cap helps increase the pad’s ability to slide over rocks and roots rather than snagging or catching on edges. Something softer materials tend to do. This has always been one of the main benefits of hard-capped protection.
We’ve been riding these pads for a couple months now and have done everything from ten-mile pedals to full days in the bike park. One of the first things we liked about the pads was slipping them on. The anatomical design is instantly noted as the pre-curved shape puts your legs into a riding position. The fit is comfortable and accurate compared to other pads we’ve worn. Fastening the pads is easy and the Velcro straps work well and offer a wide range of adjustment.
We were lucky enough to avoid any major yard sales during our time in the pads, however a few minor step offs did allow us to test the impact protection. When it came time to hit the deck, we always managed to hop back to our feet without so much as a second thought or concern about our pads. They took the hits and kept on truckin’. If we could offer advice to the designers however, the lack of side protection is a bummer for us. We like padding both on the inside and outside of the knee as it helps increase protection from the frame and the earth. It seemed odd that such a burly pad lacked padding where so many people like it. We spent some time riding with a few Fox athletes who echoed our sentiments and also mentioned a desire for slightly more shin coverage. While Fox did not confirm or deny what future plans may be, we couldn’t help but notice a few subtle changes to our athlete friend’s pads compared to the ones we were riding.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Despite the lack of outer and inner knee protection, the Launch Pro D30 guards are among our favorites this year. When we’re headed up for a day at the bike park or a more aggressive trail ride, these pads seem to find themselves in our gear bags quite regularly. Fit and the hard shell kneecap protector are two highlights that really make these pads shine. On hot days they aren’t the coolest but we’ve found the protection offered to be a fair trade. Having the ability to remove the plastic cap if you so desire is a nice feature, but not one we’re interested in. Overall, Fox has done a good job reinventing the Launch knee pad and we’re excited to see where the future of hard-capped, science-filled protection goes next.