Accessibility Widget: On | Off
If you're anything like us, you like to get a little rowdy while on trail rides. Knee pads would certainly come in handy when (hard as we try to avoid it) that rowdiness leads to a spill, but we're often torn about wearing them for a variety of reasons - they're too bulky, they don't breath well enough, they restrict movement or circulation, and on and on and on. Enter the 2012 SixSixOne EVO Knee Pads. Could these be the ones? They are low-profile, soft shell pads that rely on the miraculous D3O material and a DuPont Kevlar front panel for protection. At first glance, it certainly seems like they might fit the bill.

The EVO pads are secured by a combination of two fixed straps and an adjustable velcro strap at the top. This means you'll have to take your shoes off to put them on, and it also means that sizing is crucial if you want a proper fit.

The majority of the pad is made from stretch Kordura, a very smooth, soft, neoprene based material that allows lots of flexibility. We've used a number of neoprene pads in the past with good success. The material resists wear when left in the sun, holds up in nasty weather, is unaffected by temperature, and has an outstanding resistance to damage caused by flexing and twisting. For added durability, SixSixOne put a Kevlar shell on the knee cap. It's designed to take repeated falls. We'll update this review if long term durability turns out to be an issue, but at the moment all signs indicate they're good to go for the long haul. Kevlar is some pretty tough stuff.

Fit and comfort wise, the EVO pads are among the best we've ever used. They're the kind of pads that you could put on before you drive to the trail head, tackle an epic 50-mile day, and (gasp) they'd still be comfortable long into the evening should you forget to take them off while tossing back a few beers and slices of pizza with your buddies after the long ride. There is no bunching behind the knee, which instantly elevates them on the knee pad rankings.

When you biff it, do they slide? A little bit. While the Kevlar shell is very durable, it's also very grippy so it will force the pads to twist or slide around the knee more than a plastic shell. To avoid this, multiple velcro straps would be best to hold things in place, but it's clear that SixSixOne was trying to balance comfort with protection. The single velcro strap does a pretty good job of keep them snug during a fall. Two would be better, but two would also make the pads more restrictive. There is adequate coverage above, below, and to the sides of the knee, so we're not concerned about some minor slipping.

Here's what makes these pads simultaneously awesome and a little scary. At the heart of the knee pads you'll find a molded knee cup with holes for ventilation. It's called D3O, and it's a strange, orange-colored material that is very flexible, very thin, and magically hardens when something hits it. How? It's rate-sensitive. When it's moved slowly, the D3O molecules can flow freely allowing it to be soft and flexible. At high speeds like in an impact, however, the molecules lock together which makes it stiff. This can happen over and over again, occurs instantly, and D3O returns to its original state as soon as the impact is over. Yay science.

Why is it scary, though? While D3O works very well for blunt forces, we're not sold about its ability to stop sharp objects, and most of the trails we ride have these pointy little rock things all over them. At just 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch thick at the center of the pad, the D3O material in the EVO is pretty thin. They're slim enough to fit comfortably under pants if that's your thing. Ultimately we feel like it was a trade for comfort over protection. There's even a large warning tag inside them that states, "It is not designed to protect the wearer against injury in falls or crashes. Some reasonably foreseeable impacts may exceed this product's capacity to protect the user against injury." Contrary to what the tag says, we think they'll certainly keep you protected while sliding, but we've got to agree with them when it comes to jagged rocks.


More positives - the pads are pre-curved since your knees are most often bent while riding, the inner seams are all smooth to prevent chafing, and they are surprisingly lightweight.

Left or right? Due to their individual shapes, they're knee specific. The left pad will do the best job of protecting the left knee, and the right the right. We had to be sure to take a moment to double check when putting them on.

Are they breathable? Yeah. You'll still have sweaty knees at the top of climbs, but thanks to the materials used and the holes in the D3O, they dry out pretty quickly on the descent. Will they stink? Probably. We wouldn't sniff our test pair after a few weeks of good use, but that goes for all the knee pads we've ever used. Phewy!

We've got two final (albeit minor) points to fuss about. One, the Kevlar front panel is a dirt magnet, and it doesn't brush off easily. Two, the pads are three shades of black - actually they're grey, darker grey, and black - but we suppose they'll match just about anything you've got in your gear closet.

What's the bottom line? These pads are incredibly comfortable, thin, lightweight, and they'll stop the scratches. SixSixOne has done a great job of updating the pad from last year's model and we're sold on them for trail use. That's not to say these pads aren't suited for downhill, freeriding, or dirt jumping, but we think they're best suited to the trail riders in the crowd.

If you think they'll suit you, too, know that they're finally back in stock at SixSixOne and JensonUSA for $90 a pair.

If you have an opinion about these pads, we'd love to hear it. You can review the 2012 SixSixOne EVO Knee Pads in our product guide.
Create New Tag
1 comment
  • ondrugs

    4/10/2015 1:28 AM

    i've recently got a pair of Evo after using the Rage for about a year. honestly, i'd be worried about stacking it in the Evos. the D3O is not as soft as i thought it would be, so its transition from soft to hard won't be so different, making any hard impact still pretty painful. i tried this by falling onto my knees on concrete - not a pleasant sensation. i've not tried it with the Rage to be fair.
    oddly, my opinion was that they might actually be better on sharp rocks, because they'd reduce the pressure created by the sharp bits, but my reasoning may be flawed and i'm too scared to test it.
    as for comfort, i prefer the Rage, but i still need to do a long ride with the Evos. i'd be inclined to wear 3/4 lycra shorts under them.

Show More Comment(s) / Leave a Comment