AKTA TRAIL KNEE PAD REVIEW
A PLEASANT SURPRISE
Words & Photos by Alex Sardella
Nowadays, wearing knee pads is a staple in everyday riding. With the increased performance of mountain bikes combined with the comfort and pedal-ability of knee guards, there is no reason not to wear knee protection for everyday trail riding. Atka recently launched into the MTB apparel scene and immediately had a knee pad offering, but no elbow pad to match. We have been logging loads of days in the Trail Knee Pads from Akta and have been generally pleased with the comfort, fit, and protection on offer, but they’re not perfect.
The Trail Knee Pads look and feel like traditional knee pads out on the market, with a few standout features. The pads feature D30 protection with a solid body-mapped design, covering the whole kneecap and a bit more. There is a thin layer of EVA foam that surrounds the D30 to offer additional light-duty coverage for impacts with the frame or brush. A few small hits of ventilation are noticeable, as you see the classic orange from the D30 pad through patches of laser perforated TPR. Top and bottom silicone grippers are found on the elastic compression cuffs. The top gripper is pretty beefy, but extremely comfortable as it sits on the quads. Looking at the back of the knee pad, there is an inch-thick perforated compression strap to aid in keeping the pad in place.
The Trail Knee Pads from Akta are EN 1621-1 certified, and I’d reckon these would be a good solution for any sort of mountain bike from trail and all mountain to light enduro. A few fabrics are found throughout the sleeve with the majority being a blend of Nylon, Polyurethane, Polyester, and a hint of Spandex. Akta sells their Trail Knee for $109 and offers a nice range of XS – XL sizes.
The sizing of the Trail Knee ran true to size for me. I typically run Large Knee Pads and it was spot on. There are a few simple things I look for in a nice set of knee guards – all day comfort, protection/pedal ratio, and washability. Akta did a solid job in ticking all these boxes. The comfort was pretty apparent right out of the box, but not experienced until 4-5 hours into a ride. I’ve logged multiple 4-5k days in the Trail Knee Pads with no irritations, chafing, or fussy fabric – very solid for a brand’s first crack at a knee pad. In fact, very solid for knee pads in general.
Washability is essential for me, as knee pads become part of the kit rotation with washing and riding. Akta recommends removing the D30 pad, hand washing, and hanging to dry. I don’t hand wash anything to be honest, but these have held up so far to a few loads in the wash with air drying, with no sign of degradation or extreme shrinkage.
Early Spring can mean getting back into the groove of riding, so it can also mean more crashing. I have crashed two or three times in the pads, and they have held up to Enduro standards. The Trail Knee has been able to take a few hits with no integrity damage to the pad or fabrics, and most importantly to my knees. Another check in my book!
One small detail that could be better would be the ergonomic fit of the knee pads around the knee cap. For a light trail knee pad, which is in the name “Trail”, the fit around the knee could be a touch slimmer and more streamlined. There is a bit of bowing on the outside of the knee pad even though the Large is fitting me true to size. This may come down to my personal shape, but is likely just a slightly too large cut around this area. It’s far from a deal breaker in my eyes, but something that could be improved nonetheless.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Knee Pads have become a standard for my bike rides, there is really no reason not to wear them these days. I didn’t have much familiarity with Akta prior to testing out the Trail Knee but have been pleasantly surprised with the brand’s take on a knee pad suited for modern day standards. I’ll definitely continue to wear these well into summer and they will most likely join me on shuttle days, bike park days, big elevation pedal days, and everywhere in between.