Reviews

Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads: Protect Your Joints From Impact

Save your knees from the injuries of high speed crashes with some of the best mountain bike knee pads

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BY Jovan Nikic , Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON October 5, 2019

It’s not uncommon to fall off a mountain bike, and the hands and knees are the most vulnerable points of injury. You can protect your joints from serious damage, including a shattered knee cap, as well as minor grazes by wearing knee pads. Here are a few of the best knee pads for riding a mountain bike.

Best Overall
POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pads
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Summary
Summary
This is a high-quality knee pad that offers a high level of protection and flexibility. It's lightweight and breathable, allowing for more comfort on the road.
Pros
Pros
The knee pad features stretch fabric that doesn't restrict movements. The inner liner is made of anti-slip neoprene and stays on securely. There's also a Velcro strap for more security.
Cons
Cons
It might be tighter than expected. Comes with a strong smell and might feel a little bulky under the clothes.
Best Overall
POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pads
Best Value
G-Form Pro-X Knee Pads 
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Summary
Summary
A pair of high-quality and sleek knee pads that offer a comfortable fit for youths and adults.
Pros
Pros
Stylish design. Sleek enough to fit under your sports gear. Absorbs 90 percent of shock. Feels soft on the knee. Made of breathable fabric. Flexible and allows a complete range of movements. Machine washable.
Cons
Cons
Poor quality elastic band. Poor stitching around the edges. May feel tight around the thighs and calves. 
Best Value
G-Form Pro-X Knee Pads 
Honorable Mention
Leatt AirFlex Pro Knee Guard
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Summary
Summary
A low-profile pair of knee pads that's ideal for those who need more flexibility during rides. It's highly protective and incredibly comfortable, especially for mountain biking.
Pros
Pros
The inner padding features a highly efficient absorbing gel. It's protective yet super thin to fit under clothes. The material is stretchy, breathable, and keeps the skin cool.
Cons
Cons
Lacks some extra padding to protect against impacts. The fabric might wear out quickly if used daily.
Honorable Mention
Leatt AirFlex Pro Knee Guard

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Benefits of Mountain Bike Knee Pads

  • Protect your skin. One of the best ways to protect yourself on rocky terrain is by investing in the best MTB knee pads. Downhill mountain bike knee pads provide a layer of protection on the thin layer of skin on your knees.
  • Avoid injuries. Both amateurs and professionals can benefit from using the best knee pads for mountain bikes. Crashes and accidents can occur whether you're a beginner or an expert rider.
  • Be part of the team. It's becoming more and more common to see mountain bikers wearing knee protection. The best mountain bike knee and elbow pads will ensure that your ride is both fun and safe.

Types of Mountain Bike Knee Pads

Shell Caps

This type of mountain bike knee pad features shell caps that are specially designed to protect your kneecaps. They are typically constructed of high-density materials like plastic, gel, rubber, or carbon fiber. The interior of the shell is usually elastic in nature for comfort and an improved ergonomic fit. Hard shells are heavy-duty and necessary for more serious MTB riders who race, perform tricks, or ride down steep trails at high speeds and require a high level of protection. However, they tend to be heavier, bulkier, stiffer, and more expensive than other types of pads.

Foam Padded Caps

This is one of the most basic styles of mountain bike knee pads. They feature soft and durable foam padding that protects your knees from injuries. They are lightweight and flexible, and the foam can be made from a wide variety of materials, such as polyurethane (PU), ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), nylon, or neoprene. These lightweight knee pads are great for everyday riding and protect against minor falls. However, they do not provide much protection in a serious downhill impact or wipeout.

Hex Pads

This type of knee protector is popular among trail riders. These pads feature a honeycomb design that enables them to conform better to the shape of your knee and leg. They usually include impact-absorbing foam. If you're looking for superior comfort and flexibility on long rides, consider this type of knee pad.

Top Brands

Leatt Protectives

This South African company was founded in 2001. It manufactures a wide range of neck braces, helmets, body armor, and other protective gear for thrill seekers. One of its popular products is the Leatt 3DF AirFlex Knee Guard.

Bodyprox

Bodyprox is a Canadian brand that designs products strong enough to withstand serious training. They are comfortable for everyday wear and offer good protection. Many of its products are made from durable, stretchable, and breathable Neoprene. One top seller is the Bodyprox Protective Knee Pads.

POC

The Swedish company POC was founded in 2005 with an initial focus on the ski racing market. The company currently develops products for gravity sports athletes and cyclists. One of its popular products for impact protection is the POC Joint VPD System Knee Protector.

Demon United

Two brothers created Demon in 1999 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their aim was to manufacture the best protective gear for athletes. They currently sell more than 150 products, including the Demon Enduro Mountain Bike Knee Pads.

Mountain Bike Knee Pads Pricing

  • Under $25: The best budget mountain bike knee pads are ergonomically designed and allow a good amount of movement and flexibility for the amount of protection they provide. They tend to be the lightest type of pads and work well overall.
  • $25-$50: If you spend a little more money, you will get better quality knee pads for the bike park. They will usually provide a superior grip and non-slip features. They are easy to put on and are comfortable.
  • Over $50: If you are really serious about mountain biking, you want a knee pad that can stand up to potential abuse. Products in this category have the same features as less expensive pads but they usually have additional top and side padding for even more protection.

Key Features

Comfort

When you're shopping for top-rated mountain bike knee pads, comfort should be one of your top priorities. If they don't feel comfortable on your knees and legs, you're less likely to wear them. They need to conform to the shape of your leg because if they don't, they can make pedaling miserable.

Fit

Just because a pair of knee pads feel comfortable doesn't mean they’re the best fit. You need to make sure the product doesn't slip off your knee. This can be problematic during an impact. Several brands tout the anti-slip properties of their knee pads, so make sure they fit well for maximum protection.

Ventilation

This is another important feature, particularly if you like riding on hot summer days. Look for products that are breathable and provide a bit of airflow. Even though products with extra layers may be more protective, you need to find the right balance between abrasion resistance and ventilation so you don't turn into a sweaty mess.

Other Considerations

  • Attachment Type: The best enduro mountain bike knee pads typically have one of two types of attachments. Some you pull up onto your knee like a sock. Others are attached by clips and Velcro straps. The latter do not require the rider to remove their shoes should they decide to put them on halfway through a ride. Knee pads with clips are also heavier and warmer.
  • Style: This is a personal preference. The best knee pads for mountain bike trail riding come in a wide variety of colors and styles, so you have a lot of options. While black is the most common color, there are products available in other hues that can match your clothing or bike.

Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads Reviews & Recommendations 2020

Best Overall
POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pads

The POC knee pad is an excellent option for mountain riders who need more protection on the road. The flexible material allows for a wide range of motion, ensuring a comfortable ride anytime. It's suitable for both men and women and comes in many sizes to ensure a perfect fit. 


The pad is extra-reinforced to absorb impacts and provide protection in case of accidents. It is made of lightweight and breathable material, so it doesn't cause sweating on extended rides. The inner liner is anti-slip and stays securely on, but there's also a Velcro strap for extra stability. 


It's important to double-check the size of this knee pad because it goes in between sizes and might turn out a little tight. Some users also noticed that the pad comes with a strong smell and can be a little bulky under the clothes.

Best Value
<strong>G-Form Pro-X Knee Pads</strong>

This pair of high-quality and sleek knee pads provides a comfortable fit for both youths and adults. They are made of breathable fabric and feature UPF 50+ compression and moisture-wicking fabric. The pads are machine-washable and are designed with SmartFlex pads and shock-absorbing XRD protection.


The pads feature a stylish design and are sleek enough to fit under sports gear. They absorb 90 percent of shock and feel soft on the knee. They are flexible due to their ergonomic design, which provides a complete range of movement. They stay in place and do not impede mobility. The pads are less bulky than some rival knee pads, and you can wear them in both cold and warm weather.


One problem with the pads is that they feature a poor-quality elastic band and have inferior stitching around the edges. They may also feel tight around the thighs and calves.

Honorable Mention
Leatt AirFlex Pro Knee Guard

If you're looking for a low-profile pair of knee pads, this model might be an excellent choice for you. It's designed to protect the knees during mountain biking, cycling, climbing, and all kinds of other activities, without restricting movements or causing discomfort. 


The model features a highly-effective yet thin absorbing gel that protects the knees and allows you to wear the pad under your clothes. The material is stretchy, breathable, and keeps the skin cool on long rides. 


Although it's quite supportive, this knee pad lacks some extra padding that would absorb impacts in case of accidents. It's better suited for light rides and standard protection against scratches and bumps. Also, a thicker pad might be a better option for daily use because the stretchy fabric on this brace tends to wear out quickly.

Honorable Mention
Bodyprox Protective Knee Pads

Mountain bike knee pads come in all shapes and sizes, but the most important aspect of them is their design. These knee pads from Bodyprox aren’t a typical pair of hard-bodied protective guards. Instead, they’re developed out of a thick sponge material that bends and conforms to fit around your knees. The fabric-like material helps protect your body without the hassle of hardened plastic biting at your skin.


One of the best features of these knee pads is they give you more freedom of movement. You can bend your knees without plastic interfering with your stretch. In place of the hard material is a softer, more flexible polyester and rubber mix padding. It’s more ergonomic and lightweight, and it reduces stiff or tight joints.


There have been complaints that they don’t breathe very well. You may find your knees sweating underneath the fabric where air doesn’t reach them. They’re also not meant to be worn while you crawl around on your knees. This may weaken their design. They function best as knee guards for biking, snowboarding, and skateboarding.

Honorable Mention
JBM Adult/Child Knee Pads

These JBM knee pads are more traditional protective guards for your knees. Each one is built out of soft yet durable EVA padded foam material. The padding is then protected by thick plastic plates that look like a turtle shell, offering you plenty of protection against any accidental spills or falls.


One of the best features of the JBM knee pads is they come with fully adjustable straps. These help ensure the pads wrap around your knees without hugging or squeezing the life out of you. Plus they can fit a knee no matter the size or girth. They’re a great gift for the scooter, biker, or skating enthusiast in your life. Another benefit is they come as a set with wrist pads as well. They’re available in five colors.


The fabric may be weak and can rip or tear after falls, but that can happen to nearly any lightweight material if you scratch it against pavement too much. They may also not be the most comfortable, as there have been complaints about the plastic cup rubbing against the knee. But this also depends on your riding stance.

Honorable Mention
Demon Enduro Mountain Bike Knee Pads

This stylish mountain bike knee pad from Demon United offers breathable comfort and protection without the discomfort of plastic padding. The first thing you’ll notice with these pads is their design. They’re developed out of breathable Lycra fabric that’s designed to prevent overheating and bunching up. This leaves your knees a little more sweat-free and therefore makes you a bit more comfortable.


They’re also built with a Kevlar oversheet (the outer padding) that acts as a barrier between your knees and the ground. The tough material helps cushion falls and reduces the total amount of impact that reaches your knees, joints, and bones. The material features 10-millimeter EVA foam as well.


One slight issue may be found with their size. There have been complaints that the pads can be a bit too snug. You may want to consider ordering a size, or even two sizes, larger than you think you need. Another problem is the stitching may come apart after a few tougher rides.

Honorable Mention
Simply Kids Soft Knee and Elbow Pads

Kids are accident-prone, especially when it comes to sports like skating, biking, and rollerblading, or even mountain biking. As a parent, you should always want the best protection for your kids, and these Simply Kids knee pads are designed with that in mind. They’re specifically built for younger kids to keep them better protected on the playground, around the neighborhood, or on the trail.


Since they’re children’s knee pads, they’re available in a number of colors and styles to match the bike in question. Everything comes as a set, so you get mountain bike knee pads, elbow pads, gloves, a bag, and stickers. The pads are built with three soft layers to increase their stability, durability, and overall padding.


There is one problem with the entire kit as a whole: The pads do come with an unpleasant smell. Kids who are particularly annoyed by strong smells will not enjoy these for the first few hours. Another issue is the Velcro can be too long once the pads are fitted to the knees or elbows. There are sizing issues as well; you may need to order larger sizes.

Honorable Mention
Fox Racing Launch PRO D30 Knee Guard

We couldn’t go through a bunch of mountain bike knee pads and not mention Fox Racing. They’re like peanut butter and jelly: They go together with high-endurance racing and biking. The Fox Racing PRO D30 guards offer reliable knee protection, albeit at a high price. But with Fox, you’re paying for the name and the benefit of high-quality comfort and protection.


One of the best benefits of Fox racing gear is its breathability. These knee pads provide a great amount of airflow so your knees aren’t left coated in sweat. They’re developed out of perforated, non-toxic, hypoallergenic Ariaprene neoprene, making them eco-friendly and safe. Plus they’re fitted with moisture-wicking fabric to keep you dryer and cooler on all rides.


However, the padding doesn’t wrap around to cover the side of the knees. You may also find they feel like they fit a little too big, but not in an uncomfortable, slip-off-your-knee way.

Honorable Mention
G-Form Pro X2 Knee Pads

Yes, we already listed G-Form knee pads on our list, but these are the next best model. The Pro X2 Knee Pads come with an updated design, look, and functionality that make them stand out from the other version. You’ll notice they offer just a bit more protection around the thighs by riding a bit higher, and lower, on your leg.


They also offer what G-Form names SmartFlex technology. The hardware, though tough and durable, is soft and flexible on your knee. The pads are also built with SmartFlex body-mapped, impact-absorbing pads that offer a futuristic and stylish look. This makes them more breathable, as they’re made with moisture-wicking UPF 50+ fabric.


As with many other pads, their size can be all over the place. You may have to go with a larger size than you anticipated so you can ride more comfortably. They also don’t come with side knee protection.

Honorable Mention
Pro-Tec Street Knee and Elbow Pad Set

Here’s another more traditional set of mountain bike knee pads built for your everyday adventure. Pro-Tec designed the pads with neoprene backing fabric that improves their comfort. It also provides more airflow so you stay cool on the mountain trails. Each is built with stretch Lycra on the inside so you get a more moldable and comfortable fit.


They’re a beefier set of pads, but that allows them to cover more area. You get full protection around your kneecaps so you don’t bust them if you have a fall or accident. As another benefit to you and your body, the kit comes with elbow pads built out of the same material and fabric.


However, the elbow and knee pads are both a bit large—some might even say oversized or cumbersome. This may not be a bad thing, but if you have smaller knees, you may want to order a smaller size. They’re also a bit pricey.

Tips

  • In addition to wearing knee pads, you should also wear elbow pads and a helmet when riding to protect yourself from injury. Also, buy comfortable riding gloves to keep your palms blister-free. 
  • Knee pads are more comfortable when you wear them underpants. They stick better to the skin, and you avoid expanding them if you put them over your pants. Also, you get less sweaty that way. 
  • Wash your knee pads according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Then turn them inside out, and allow them to dry out in the sun to kill the bacteria. 
  • You can also wear your knee pads as elbow pads if they are a comfortable fit and conform to the shape of your elbow. 

FAQs

Q: Do knee pads relieve joint pain?

A: A heavily-padded knee pad with extra straps at the knee can help relieve pressure at the joint and reduce muscle strain to relieve pain. However, you should consider other options for relieving knee pain if it's caused by your cycling habits. You may want to take medication or ice your knee on a regular basis to reduce pain. 

Q: How tight should mountain bike knee pads be?

A: They should feel snug and not too loose or too tight. If they’re too tight, they may reduce blood flow around your knee area, and you may sweat a lot when cycling. If they’re too tight, they may curl up behind your knee and pinch your skin.

Q: Do knee pads protect against broken bones?

A: Knee pads can cushion the impact of a fall, prevent scratches, and reduce the chances of dislocating your knee cap. They don’t, however, protect against broken bones since the knee pads don’t keep your feet stiff. Knee pads are a padded piece of clothing that don’t stand a chance against an external force that may break your bones. 

Final Thoughts

We chose the POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pads as the best mountain bike knee pads. They offer a lot of protection and flexibility.

A more affordable option for keeping your knees cool, comfortable, and protected is the G-Form Pro-X Knee Pads.