GROUP REVIEW

LIGHTWEIGHT TRAIL KNEE PADS

Sponsored by CompetitiveCyclist.com

If you are in the market for some lighter weight, breathable and comfortable mountain bike knee pads, check these options out. We test a ton of MTB knee pads here and are always looking for the ones that blend comfort and protection best.

Thanks to our friends at CompetitiveCyclist.com, we were able to focus on another knee pad video, this time, narrowing the field down to lightweight, trail pads.

G-FORM PRO-X3 KNEE PADS
MSRP: $59.95
RECOMMENDED USE: Trail

Sleek and streamlined body guards weren’t always an industry standard. These pieces of protective equipment were once so bulky, weighted, and awkward that many of us opted to ride without padding, or instead tape pool noodles to critical areas for ‘superior’ unencumbered movement. After decades of research and design, it’s safe to say those days are behind us, and we have protective equipment like G-Form’s Pro-X3 Knee Guard to thank for bringing us out of the dark ages. Its compression fabric hugs the skin for ride-ready comfort, while SmartFlex padding remains loose about the knee until impact occurs, at which point the pad becomes rigid to absorb potentially harmful forces. After a series of strenuous rides, throw the sleeve in the wash to keep it smelling fresh.

  • Comfortable knee guard promotes movement and absorbs impact
  • SmartFlex padding surrounds the joint for superior protection
  • UPF 50+ compression fabric wicks moisture and deters UV rays
  • Compression sleeve offers next-to-skin comfort through long rides
  • Flexible, body-mapped design won’t interfere with pedaling
  • Washable fabric reduces funk and odor between rides

OUR TAKE
SmartFlex works well and these pads are a great product for riders unsure of wanting to venture into the knee pad space or refined mountain bikers who want something thin, minimalist and breathable. If you can get over the alien-aesthetic, these thin pads will offer some quality trail-level protection in a small package.

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FOX RACING ENDURO D3O KNEE PAD
MSRP: $84.95
RECOMMENDED USE: Enduro/Trail

The Enduro D30 Knee Pad offers the best in protection and performance that Fox Racing has to offer. It combines and ultralight, pedal-friendly sleeve with D30 padding, Fox’s leading pad for impact protection. D30 minimizes restrictions by staying flexible while riding but hardens upon impact, and the perforated neoprene sleeve ensures the utmost ventilation and quick-drying comfort. Fox reinforced the skid plate and added Cordura paneling to provide long-lasting durability.

  • Fox’s highest level of protection that’s light and pedal-friendly.
  • Removable D30 pad stays flexible while riding and hardens on impact.
  • Perforated neoprene enhances overall breathability.
  • High-stretch rear panel allows for a full range of motion.
  • Pedal-friendly, slip-on design doesn’t interfere with riding.
  • Cordura and reinforced skid plate ensure long-lasting durability.

OUR TAKE
Although we find the Enduro name of the pads to be a bit misleading, these are some of our favorite trail to aggressive trail level pads. We love the D3O material, find them to breath well and are very comfortable, even on long days. The Fox Enduro knee pads are definitely top recommendations for riders in the 120-150mm spectrum in our opinion, unless you ride in super rocky terrain regularly. Check the sizing as these pads are a bit snug and may require some break-in time if you’re between sizes.

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KALI STRIKE KNEE/SHIN GUARD
MSRP: $85.00
RECOMMENDED USE: Enduro/Downhill

These guards feature a molded Xelion kneecap that takes the brunt of big blows, while allowing air to pass through so you can keep cooler. The sides of the guards are decked out with EVA pads to elevate the protection for charging big lines where error is not an option. The top and bottoms of the pads feature silicone grippers to keep them locked into place and utilize hook and loop straps on the top to keep them extra secure. Kali Protectives uses a lightweight mesh along the back of the knee, so sweat can be wicked away and fresh air can meet your skin for ultimate cool riding.

  • Low profile protection with next level breathability.
  • Molded Xelion kneecap takes the brunt of blows.
  • EVA padded sides protect from stray branches.
  • Mesh backing helps wick away sweat and breathe.
  • Hook and loop closure secures guards in place.
  • Silicone grippers on top and bottom prevent mid-ride slippage.

OUR TAKE
Overall the Kali Strike knee pads have impressed us. Our team likes the breathability through the Xelion material and the fact it’s a bit harder should mean it’ll slide across hard terrain nicely. We’d like to see some EVA padding in the center of the outside portion of the knees, but realize the lack of that padding is why they pedal well. The large silicone grip strips are a bit overpowering for some riders, so it’s worth noting that they could irritate the back of the thigh on long days. Critiques aside, we like the Kali Strike knee pads and their long coverage area.

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LEATT AIRFLEX PRO KNEE GUARD
MSRP: $89.99
RECOMMENDED USE: Enduro/Downhill

Designed to split the difference between hard-shell and barely-there pads, the Airflex Pro uses low-profile soft-shell foam to protect the front, top, and sides of your knees without restricting your pedaling prowess.

The 3D molded gel impact pad is perforated to improve cooling and moisture-wicking airflow, and it is stuck to a sleeve made of Airmesh and Moisture Cool fabrics to keep the undersides of your knees dry. There’s also silicone printing in key areas of the sleeve.

  • Slim knee pads strike a balance between protection and pedaling ability.
  • Pre-curved 3D protection pad fits perfectly around your knee cap.
  • Anti-odor treatment extends the life of the pads and keeps you comfortable.
  • Gel-based pads absorb impact more effectively than foam and pedal well.
  • Perforated materials throughout the pad’s construction offer breathability.

OUR TAKE
Another awesome mountain bike knee pad. The Leatt Airflex Pro pads are Nic Hall’s favorite and other testers here also love them for every day rides. If you’re debating on whether you should wear pads, or no pads today, these are the ones to get. Some riders had a little bit of rub on the knee cap if they wore them for multiple hours for a few days in a row, but besides that, these things are great for that 100-140mm rider.

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TROY LEE DESIGNS SPEED KNEE SLEEVE
MSRP: $54.00
RECOMMENDED USE: Trail

For the minimalists out there, Troy Lee Designs created the Speed Knee Sleeve for people like you. Lightweight, breathable, and flexible, the sleeve provides 4mm of D3O foam cushioning to shield your knees and shins without inhibiting your ability to spin the pedals quickly. The entire sleeve is constructed free of seaming to eliminate the likelihood of chafing or irritation, and it features reflective logos to keep you visible in case you have to ride a few miles on the roads to get to the trailhead. The abrasion-resistant cover will save you from scrapes and scratches against trail furniture, while the silicone gripper band keeps the whole piece in place so you can focus on your ride.

  • Minimalist knee pad for lightweight, flexible protection.
  • D30 foam shields your knee and shin in an impact.
  • Lightweight material stretches and allows plenty of airflow.
  • External fabric is abrasion-resistant for durability.
  • Seamless construction eliminates chafing and irritation.
  • Silicone gripper bands secure the position without squeezing.

OUR TAKE
Like your old trusty pair of sweatpants, the Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeves are comfortable if nothing else. We haven’t crashed in these pads luckily as the 4mm D3O padding is probably just there for peace of mind and surface abrasions more than anything. While we understand these pads are comfortable, light and very popular, they’re probably not pads we’d wear very often as we like to ride aggressively on jagged terrain and think there are some better looking options. That said, if you want the absolute minimal amount of padding and the maximum amount of comfort, these could be for you.

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