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Race Face Charge Leg Guard

Average User Rating: (Spectacular) Vital Rating: (Very Good)
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Tested: Race Face Charge Leg and Arm Guards

Rating: Vital Review

by Nick Zuzelski

A common dilemma facing many riders is the pad situation when throwing a leg over their all-mountain bike. Who wants to run heavy, bulky downhill pads while they grind to the top of a fun descent? Then again, who wants to deal with cut up knees/elbows if things get a little too crazy on the way down? As a solution to the dilemma, Race Face has introduced the Charge Leg and Charge Arm Guards. They took a very minimalist approach with the guards by offering a thin layer of defense while maintaining maximum comfort and flexibility.


Charge Guard Highlights

  • Stretch mesh sleeve with second skin, minimal fit with targeted coverage
  • Foam panel impact zone with stretch Kevlar cover for shred proof durability
  • Silicone gripper along inner top opening ensures 'stay-put' fit
  • Silicone patch on shin of leg guard eliminates slippage
  • Flatlock comfort seam finish
  • Sizes XS through XXL, ensuring a perfect fit for everyone
  • Black color only
  • MSRP $53.99 (Legs) and $36.99 (Arms)


On The Trail

Using the Race Face fit chart as a guide, my leg and arm measurements landed right in between two sizes. Given that these are meant to fit snuggly and stretch over the knee and elbow, I decided to size down. This ended up being a good choice since these guards are designed to stay in place using the tension of the material, so getting a size too big would basically render the guards much less useful. The smaller option seemed to fit like a glove with more of a compression sleeve type of fit.

Once on, the overall comfort was very noticeable. Flexibility was still 100%, the material felt great, and I could hardly tell that there was any stitching internally.

As advertised, "second skin" is the best way to describe the padding - they're quite minimalist, especially when compared to your usual knee and elbow pads. The Leg Guards feature an approximately 1/8-inch thin foam insert that covers your knee and extends down to your mid to upper shin, providing quite a bit of coverage. The mesh extends a few inches up to your lower quad (almost to your riding chamois). The Arm Guards feature the same thin insert around your elbow area. Both guards have a durable Kevlar material over the top of the padded area, and it seems like it's made for the long haul. The surrounding mesh material breathes quite well, although you are still going to be warmer than if you were riding without them. Nevertheless, these are a big step closer to all-day comfort compared to your typical downhill pads. They rarely bunch behind the knee, and if they do it doesn't cut off circulation unlike many alternatives currently on the market.With the help of the silicon anti-slip treatment around the openings, they've stayed in place and I haven't had any issues with the guards slipping down.

While very thin, the guards do seem to take the edge off. Although I've had no proper rag dolling or huge get offs while wearing these guards yet (and hope to keep it that way), there were a few instances where having the Charge Guards on helped - mostly little impacts on pedals, branches, handlebars, etc. That "second skin" seemed to give enough of an extra buffer to prevent any minor injuries. That said, don't count on them to prevent major injuries should things go really wrong - they simply aren't thick enough, nor did Race Face intend for them to take any big hits. For someone that previously rarely wanted to wear pads of any variety while on my trail bike, though, they fit the bill well.

As an added benefit, I've found these to be awesome when temperatures drop. On colder days I find myself purposely grabbing the Charge Guards for more warmth on the legs. They are extremely comfortable while pedaling and offer more warmth to those tendons and ligaments when the temperatures outside are less than ideal.


What's The Bottom Line?

If you're looking for a little bit of protection on your trail and all-mountain rides, the Race Face Charge Guards are a great solution. They fit well, are comfortable, breathe well, don't restrict movement, and stay put - all necessary qualities for a good set of knee guards made to pedal in. They also offer a little extra warmth on cold days. We all push it just a bit too hard sometimes and the Charge Guards will help keep you from getting scratched up.

For more details, visit

About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

It's Like a Rashguard, for Your Knees and Without Water...

Rating: Featured Member Review
The Good:

Spot on Fit
Good Coverage
Mutlitasking benefits
Very little slip

The Bad:

Not impact resistant

Overall Review:

Just being from Race Face you know these are going to be spot on, does Race Face make anything bad? That said though, these are feeling good knee guards/cover and do a great job of adding a little bit of extra protection, but no over doing it.

If you ride XC, aggressive XC (is that just being mad that you don't have a more gravity focused trail) or trail riding the Charge guards will treat you well. Great cover and fit. The Charge, when fitted right, fits mid thigh and down to your upper shin. They don't give entire leg coverage, but do cover a good amout of meat. The elastic bands at the thigh and shin fit tight, but not too tight. In the 10 or so rides I have worn them on I have had little to no slippage on either leg and no uncomfortable over tightness from the elastic bands.

Make it known these are not DH guards in anyway (unless you never crash). However these do, do a great job of protecting your legs from getting scratched up on the trail or scraped from smaller recks.. The Charge are not really padded so really hard impacts will not be obsorbed by these.

An added benefit of the Charge is they also work like a minimul knee warmer. They are full coverage, front and back, so they do trap a little heat, but they do not overheart. Being mesh in the areas that aren't on the knee and shin allows them to breath and be comfortable. In all my rides I haven't felt the Charge guards make my legs overly warm. I have however felt less knee fatigue when wearing the Charge guards, not sure if this in my head or if the extra bit of heat from the guardes is giving the little bit of additional support.

Overall these are great and one of the few products I can without a doubt give a full five stars! Race Face did a great job with these and most riders will find them helpful addition to their riding gear.

Great XC knee guard for those just in case moments for riders who usually don't have catastrophic starfish moves coming off the bike in the trees at speed.

The Good:

Fit is right on according to RF sizing. The don't move down the leg while riding. They aren't too hot in the summer. Minimal protection for those not needing or wanting to wear Goalie gear.

The Bad:

None yet. They are NOT a DH impact guard!!!

Overall Review:

I got these pads earlier this month from my LBS and they have been just what I was hoping for. I consider myself an aggressive XC rider...Not enduro or DH. I usually don't have catastrophic starfish moves coming off the bike in the trees at speed :)  That being said I did come off the bike last month and have been nursing some knee issues ever since.  These pads have really hit the mark if you are looking for something that you can ride in for a couple hours in 90 degree weather and wear them just in case.  These are perfect just in case guards for your knees.  They have some minimal knee protection that is being represented as second skin type protection and I'll give it that.  It is actually a bit more than second skin.  Plus you get some knee joint support and warming effect without overheating issues.  Like a leg warmer on steroids.  It's a pad for those that may or could go without but who recognize the value of having a little something.  They are easy to wear, comfortable and don't get in the way or look stupid even with spandex.  I docked it a half a star because it is light protection.  I had also considered similar products of gform, xsi flow and fox enduro all of which are in this same type market.  I went this way because it is a JUST IN CASE pad.  I may not have worn those pads every time as they are bulkier, heavier and offer more protection but at a cost.  Picking the tool for the job.


Product Race Face Charge Leg Guard
Riding Type Cross Country, Trail
Pad Type Soft Shell
  • Butterfly mesh sleeve with second skin fit and targeted coverage
  • Foam panel with stretch Kevlar cover for nicks and abrasions
  • Silicone gripper along inner top opening ensures 'stay-put' fit
  • Silicone patch at shin eliminates slippage
  • Knee/Shin Coverage Knee Only
    Size S - XXL
    Color Black
    Miscellaneous Some days even your go-to trail doesn’t want to play nice. Second-skin fit offers the ultimate in comfort and mobility on XC and lighter Trail rides while strategic Kevlar fabric mapping ensures minimal, yet targeted coverage against nicks and abrasions. Note: This guard is not rated for impact. It is recommended for minimal coverage against nicks and abrasions.
    Price $44.99
    More Info

    Race Face website

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