FASTHOUSE HOOPER KNEE PAD REVIEW
ON THE ALL-TIME LIST
Words & Photos by Cole Gregg
From Moto and bike gear to soft goods you can wear on and off the bike, Fasthouse is a household name if you are a fan of two wheels. Back in March of 2022, Fasthouse launched its first protection product: The Hooper Knee Pad. Teaming up with Tyler McCaul – a living legend in our sport who knows a thing or two testing protection to the extreme – they set out to create a knee pad that will not only keep you safe, but also something that provides all-day comfort. They were successful! Read on to learn all about my new favorite knee pads.
Beyond being comfortable, the most important factor in a knee pad’s performance is protection. The Hooper uses a removable articulated foam knee pad that hardens on impact, a similar material to the D3O protective material relied upon by many other brands. The Hooper is a CE-certified knee protector for EN1621-1:2021 Level 2. Below the knee cup is an extended pad protecting your upper shins from pedal and rock strikes, giving you extra peace of mind if things go south.
The Hooper knee pad is made of an abrasion-resistant fabric for the areas most likely to hit the ground, with the back of the pad being a lightweight mesh material to keep the temperatures down on longer rides. This material also aids in the overall comfort of the back of the pad, wicking moisture and helping to keep your legs cool and dry.
Fasthouse went with a silicone-lined elastic band both on the top and bottom to keep the Hooper pads in place. The upper band is significantly larger than the bottom at 1.75” in width, compared with the 1” band on the bottom. The silicon has a waved shape pattern similar to what you see on the straps of goggles, helping it find grip on your legs to keep them firmly in place when pedaling or putting their protection to the test.
The Fasthouse Hooper Knee Pad is offered in sizes S-XL to fit most riders, with a retail price of $100, and single black colorway.
For the past few seasons my go-to knee pad was the Troy Lee Designs Stage, which was precursed by the Troy Lee Designs T-Bone. Both of those pads worked well, but lacked the comfort I was after for longer pedals, especially when wearing pants and sliding the pads on and off was not an easy option. When the Fasthouse Hooper entered the party, it was a total game changer. While it may not offer the same side-of-knee padding the T-Bone offered, it did check every other box.
First and foremost the fit is spot on. My smaller quad profile has always given me trouble with pads that do not have a strap. The oversize upper elastic band worked wonders when it came to keeping the pad in place, in addition to me getting the right fit. Early on, I often found myself dropping my pants to pull the pad up purely by habit, only to find the pad still perfectly in place. After 8 months of use the pad did start to loosen up, however it never got so bad that it would fall below an acceptable safe location on the knee. Pedaling in this pad proved to be the most comfortable pad I have used, it really did seem to melt away. On very very rare occasions I would get some binding behind the knee but this was mostly at bike parks where I was getting on and off chairlifts. For me fit on this pad is 10/10.
Let’s talk protection. The oversized lower pad extends down past the halfway point on my shin. With how long my legs are this is a big accomplishment and something I was super stoked on. This has saved me from a fair handful of pedal bites, as well as taking some beating from decent size rocks on some of the higher-speed trails in the Coeur d’Alene area. As far as lower leg protection I give it a 9.5/10 as it is still not a full coverage pad, but given its pedal-friendliness it’s still impressive. When it comes to knee cap protection, the removable Level 2 certified foam pad does the trick. It is not overly bulky, yet it provides a healthy amount of coverage. I have tested this a fair few times with no remorse over choosing this pad. The larger upper elastic band combined with the waved silicon grippers kept the pad in place even when losing the front wheel and low siding (sorta like a baseball slide). The only negative aspect of the Hooper that I have found is protection on the very inside and outside of the knee; specifically at the juncture where the Fibula meets the Tibia on the outside of the knee. The padding does cover this, but not as well as the additional side pad the T-Bone offers. Maybe in version 2 of the pad, this could be included in the design, but it is by no means a deal breaker for me. Protection for me lands at an 8.5/10 on paper, but has proved to be a 10/10 when it comes to actually putting it to the test.
Knee pads are often left to decompose in my gear bin with weeks or months of sweat eating at the fabric, leaving a stench that can only be solved by throwing them in the trash. I know I’m not alone in this. Sure, you can wash every pad by some means, but having the removable knee cap foam has made washing these much more approachable, since they can be washed with the rest of my gear. The sleeve of the pad is breathable and lightweight, so they do not cause excessive overheating, especially during shoulder season. When it’s 90+ degrees out no pad is going to be cooling. Riding 3 – 4 days a week at 1 – 3 hours a ride, I am washing the pads with my gear each week. After no less than 20 cycles through the washer and dryer (on low heat), the material has not degraded and the elastic is still responsive. Maintenance on the Hooper Comes in at 10/10 thanks to the fast drying and lightweight sleeve material in pair with the removable knee cap pads, ensuring they can keep your knees safe for many rides to come.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Hooper is my go-to pad for all types of riding, I even wore it when I spent two hours pulling weeds out of my lawn. While there are pads out there that offer a more bulky and protective profile, none have offered the same level of all-day comfort and reliability in that Cat 2 protection space. I took advantage of a recent sale Fasthouse had and scooped up two more to ensure I am covered for at least another two years. At $100 they are right in the middle of the price point for higher-end knee protection, and for me are a no-brainer option for a burly knee pad that is still pedal-friendly .
Sizes: S, M, L, XL