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Leatt Airflex Hybrid Knee Guard

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Leatt Airflex Hybrid Knee Guard
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Comfort and Fit: Leatt Airflex Hybrid Kneeguard Review

Leatt's latest lightweight knee protector provides great comfort and stability in use.

Rating: Vital Review
Comfort and Fit: Leatt Airflex Hybrid Kneeguard Review

Afew years ago, we rounded up 13 lightweight knee guards in a group test, and Leatt’s Airflex Pro delivered a solid performance that placed it right up near the very top of the table. What impressed us the most about that product at the time was the fit and comfort it provided. Fast forward to present date, and the Airflex Pro has been joined by the all-new Airflex Hybrid, a slightly more streamlined protector with added hard-shell caps on the front. How does it stack up? Keep reading to find out!

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Super comfortable
  • Very stable fit
  • Good direct protection of the main joint
  • No dedicated side impact protection
  • Pricey

Leatt Airflex Hybrid Highlights

  • Super slim, AirFlex gel impact protection
  • Sliding hard shell knee cup for added protection
  • Knitted base layer for superior comfort all day long
  • Pre-curved 3D design for optimal fit and function
  • Premium comfort using MoistureCool and AirMesh wicking fabrics
  • Silicone printed, cupped knee grip
  • Single sizing for perfect fit
  • All protection materials perforated for ventilation
  • Silicone printed, non-slip cuffs
  • CE tested and certified as impact protection: Knee EN1621-1
  • Weight: from 300g (0.66lbs) pair
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • MSRP: $109.99 USD

Initial Impressions

The Airflex Hybrid is built around a knitted sleeve, with an integrated gel pad and two external hard shell cups. The overall length of the protector has grown quite a bit compared to the Airflex Pro, while there are no dedicated auxiliary pads along the sides. The rear of the protector uses the same “MoistureCool” fabric as the Airflex Pro.

2018 Airflex Pro on the left, new Airflex Hybrid on the right.
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There is a large open section around the back of the knee for ventilation and comfort, and the same elastic strip as found on the Airflex Pro sits around the back of the knee joint at the top of the calf to help hold the protector in place. There is also mix of silicone strips and little triangle-shape grippers all around the top hem. The Airflex Hybrid is well put together and the branding is fairly discreet.

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On The Trail

The Airflex Hybrid comes in five sizes, from S to XXL. Unlike the Airflex Pro where this tester had to size up, the Airflex Hybrid seems to run true to more “standard” sizing (size L was perfect here, for a 6’0”/1m84 rider weighing in at ~190 lbs/87 kg). The protector proved to be at least as comfortable as the Airflex Pro, if not more – no break-in period required here, just slip it on and go shred. The longer body and main protective pad reach down a little further on the shin, which is always a welcome thing, while the sides are left less protected than with the Airflex Pro.

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In action, the Airflex Hybrid is impressively stable. The cut and the fit seem to be just right, tight enough to really ensure that the protector stays in place but never restrictive or uncomfortable. I managed to take a pretty serious tumble (=full OTB) while testing these, and the protector did a fine job of warding off a direct impact to the knee. Continuing the comparisons with the Airflex Pro, it seems that the Hybrid may be more effective on straight direct hits (thanks to the extra hard shell caps), while coming up short with regards to dedicated lateral protection.

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There is no ventilation on the front of the protector, and the knitted sleeve runs a little bit warm in this area. The rear breathes a lot better however, so on balance, the overall Airflex Hybrid ventilation is adequate. Moreover, the protector manages to pretty much make itself forgotten while pedaling, which in turn makes it a great choice for those long days out in the saddle – regardless of the temperature. It's also a great choice to run under a pair of long riding pants, with the slim profile making sure it doesn't cause the pant to stretch or bunch up in the knee area.

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Things That Could Be Improved

As mentioned above, the Airflex Hybrid lacks any kind of dedicated auxiliary padding along the sides. This is not an unusual choice in this category of protection however, and with the excellent Airflex Pro also available in Leatt’s catalog, the choice here is yours. As for the price, the Airflex Hybrid does check in right among the most expensive options in this category.

Long Term Durability

Our Airflex Pro pair from the 2018 test has seen heavy use and abuse ever since, and it’s still going strong today, minus a few rips to the back of the sleeve. Time will tell if the Airflex Hybrid will fare as well – the knitted sleeve seems a little bit more fragile perhaps and one of the stitches did work itself loose already (easily remedied in this case, but still worth pointing out). The overall construction still inspires confidence however, and at the end of the day we’d expect to get good mileage out of the Aiflex Hybrid as well.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Knee protection is only effective if it’s comfortable enough to be worn regularly, and if it will stay in place and do its job when you do need it. Leatt’s new Airflex Hybrid scores solid points on both counts, by leveraging a hybrid soft-shell/hard-shell construction in a form-fitting and stable chassis. Yes it’s a bit pricey, but if you’re after a super-comfortable and lightweight knee protector that knows how to really make itself forgotten until called upon, you should certainly consider it.

More information at: www.leatt.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 48 // Years Riding MTB: 16 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Leatt Airflex Hybrid Knee Guard
Riding Type Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
Pad Type Soft Shell
Material Knitted sleeve, MoistureCool and AirMesh wicking fabrics, AirFlex gel impact protection, sliding hard shell knee cup
Knee/Shin Coverage Knee Only
Size S-XXL
Color Black
Miscellaneous Pre-curved 3D design for optimal fit and function
Silicone printed cupped knee grip and non-slip cuffs
All protection materials perforated for ventilation
CE tested and certified as impact protection: Knee EN1621-1
Weight: from 300g (0.66lbs) pair
Price $109.99
More Info

www.leatt.com

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