What Do Riders Think? Five Knee Pads Reviewed by Vital MTB Members 7

With dozens of mountain bike knee pads to choose from, how do you find the best pair? Vital MTB members weigh in on some popular options.

What Do Riders Think? Five Knee Pads Reviewed by Vital MTB Members

There's power in numbers, and collectively Vital MTB readers put in more trail miles and try out more products than our team of professional reviewers ever could. With over 3,000 reviews and 18,000 products in the Vital MTB Product Guide, it's a great place to find real-world opinions and compare product specs. Here are five highly-rated knee pads and product impressions from riders just like you:


Troy Lee Designs Raid Knee Guards

The Good

The Bad

  • Fit really well
  • Don't slip down
  • Provide great protection
  • Versatility - DH or trail use
  • Taken impacts as good as anything else
  • Only one strap
  • Fit may not be right for some people (helps to have calves)
  • Inner materials can lead to rubbing and chafing

Key Impressions

"The pads offer tons of protection in an extremely flexible and comfortable platform. I wear these pads in the bike park, as well as when I trail ride and have never felt like I needed more or like they were too much. Working in a shop, I am familiar with hearing customers complain about knee pads being hot when climbing so they just opt to not wear any, but I do not find that the case at all with these pads. I would strongly recommend these pads to just about anyone! However I could see someone with smaller calve muscles not liking the single strap system, as the bottom elastic I found likes to hug the top of your calve, and it seems like it helps hold them in place." - quintin.wyman

"I suffer from tremendous knee pain if a pad puts even the slightest pressure on my knee cap. These do not touch them. Other pads made not to touch are too stiff in an odd way and flop/stick out to accomplish this. The D3O padding is thick enough that I've been racing in them and doing tons of DH laps without issue. I also take them on rowdy trail rides where I know I'm going to get into the big stuff. Not one issue. The calf support is smart. They breathe in the swampy Southeast well enough to justify. All pads are hot, but these are bearable." - bizutch

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Shop the TLD Raid at Jenson USA, starting at $115


POC Joint VPD 2.0 Knee Pads

The Good

The Bad

  • High level of protection
  • Snug fit
  • Contours to knee well
  • Very comfortable
  • Lighter weight versions for XC and AM use
  • Always stay up, riding or crashing
  • Good range of motion
  • Durable
  • Can get a bit warm length on long rides or in hot conditions
  • Bulky for trail riding

Key Impressions

"They offer all the protection I want when on the big bike but are light enough that I don't mind throwing them on for a good old AM ride. I've been so impressed with the VPD material that my next pair of knee pads will most likely be the Joint VPD Air. Having these pads will protect my knee a lot better on XC trails where I normally don't have any protection at all. Anything VPD from POC is more expensive but with the protection and functionality it offers, it is well worth the price. I would recommend these pads to anyone!" - dirtworks911

"I wear these pads every ride, I love them." - BetterRide.net

"The wide velcro strap above the knee along with the thinner strap below/behind the knee (and above the calf) allows for a customized fit. I would move up one size. The recommended size small that I tried on would not even go over my calf. The VPD 2.0 breathes much better than the original version, but this knee pad is built for durability and comfort so it's going to run hotter than some other knee pads out there with perforated, thinner, fabric. I ride moderate summer temps (70's F to Low 80's F) and the VPD 2.0 has been comfortable. I highly recommend this knee pad to riders looking for full coverage knee protection that you can pedal. Trail riders may want to look elsewhere as the VPD 2.0 knee pad might be overkill." - Wonny

"The fact that I forget I am even wearing these after a few hours is a great sign. Awesome protection in a lightweight package." - danielhfranks

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Shop the POC Joint VPD 2.0 Knee at Jenson USA, starting at $119.99


7iDP Sam Hill Knee Pads

The Good

The Bad

  • Comfortable to wear all day
  • Stay put with compression fit
  • Pedal-friendly
  • Good coverage and protection for as light as they are
  • Proven to be very durable
  • Extra long for some shin protection
  • Breathable
  • Sizing seems pretty spot on
  • Can be stiff until they warm up in colder weather
  • Protection isn’t as good as beefier pads
  • Some bunching behind the knee

Key Impressions

"I’ve had these pads for over a year now. I have crashed many times with them. These pads brushed off most hits without fault and still look new. For a light weight pad they do a great job. They can be a bit stiff until they warm up in colder weather but once they warm up they mold to your knee. I’ve done many 30 plus mile rides with them and they just disappear. Even after the ride I’m in no rush to get them off either. I can’t say that about any other pad I’ve owned." - TheRealist

"I’ve worn these all summer and even in Kentucky’s 90 degree weather plus humidity I was able to wear these all day comfortably. Even in the heat I forgot they were on and didn’t mind the uphill pedal in them to get to the downhills. They were so comfortable I almost wore them to my trip to Whistler but they are a lighter pad and I was afraid they may not be sufficeint on more jagged rocks but for trail rides and even flow trails I think they are perfect. I own a bulkier pair for bike parks but I much prefer to wear these." - jaturner1024

"Yeah, they are comfortable. They do breath pretty well too. In fact I would say that out of what I've tried so far these are probably the best of most worlds. The only annoying issue I had on my initial 3 hour really pedally ride was a bit of bunching behind the knee's which caused a bit of pinching. I felt like once the pad settled and stretched a bit that this problem diminished to a degree." - stepot

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Shop 7iDP Sam Hill knee pads at Jenson USA, starting at $59.99


Race Face Ambush Knee Pads

The Good

The Bad

  • Quick, easy fitting - no need to take off shoes
  • Very adjustable
  • Decent coverage
  • Excellent construction
  • Great freedom of motion
  • Comfortable in all seasons
  • Doesn’t slip
  • Mostly hides gaper knee
  • Durable
  • Heavy
  • Bulky
  • Little hot if climbing or during the summer
  • May remove leg hair from knees

Key Impressions

"When it comes to practicality, I don't think they can be beaten - the fact you don't have to remove your shoes to thread a leg through the normal tubular stretchy sock that most pads have is a godsend, and I'm frequently ready to ride way before my pals. Crash testing has proved pretty good overall and I've definitely walked away from some smashes that should have written me off for a few weeks." - hambobet

"I couldn't be more pleased with my Race Face Ambush knee pads to the point I can't imagine ever using anything but them. They are easy to put on since they fasten with velcro straps and fit great do to superior design and adjustable straps. The lining wicks away sweat and these are so comfortable and non-restrictive that I wear them every single time I ride off-road." - richierich66

"I've tried several other brands and styles of knee pads over the years. It's always been a compromise between fit, comfort, and protection. Yes, they are hot during the summer if you pedal in them, but the ease of taking them on and off without having to remove my shoes is a huge advantage." - rico275

"I have been riding these for three years now, and they are still going strong. I think the biggest strength of the Ambush knee pads is their fit. They do not slide up or down for me, and I don’t think about them while riding down hill. They also offer great protection and flexibility." - yetimike2019

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Shop the Race Face Ambush knee at Jenson USA, starting at $88.39


Dakine Hellion Knee Pads

The Good

The Bad

  • Durable materials
  • Doesn't move when riding
  • Comfortable to wear even on climbs
  • Breathe well
  • A bit stiff when standing up
  • Can be hard to pull over the feet

Key Impressions

"The Dakine Hellion knee pads are one of the best-fitting knee pads I've tried yet. First, I have to say that the 2017 and 2018/19 version don't fit the same. I have both and they are a bit different. Due to the materials used for the shin part, the new version can be a bit stiffer to walk/straighten the legs in, but the rest is similar. The 2017 version has silicone lines on the top and bottom parts which help to stay put, but makes them a bit harder to take off after a ride when your legs are a bit wet from sweat. As far as sizing goes, I was right in the middle of the Medium size based on Dakine's chart, but they ended up being way too small. I'd say size up one size at least if you can't try them prior to buying." - nature.culture

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Shop the Dakine Hellion at Jenson USA, starting at $75


Love your knee pads? Know how they could be improved? Help out your fellow MTBer by writing a review. The top Vital reviewer each month earns a $100 Jenson USA gift card.

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