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The 6 Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads for 2021

Crashing and skinning your knees is a fundamental part of learning to ride a bike. But there comes a point where you grow out of the youthful vigor that allowed you to shrug off a beat up knee after your mom put a superhero bandaid on it. It’s just part of growing up. Luckily, another part of growing up is you gain the wisdom to just wear mountain bike knee pads.

Nowadays, there are so many knee pad options for riders of all types, ranging from low-profile sleeve style mountain bike pads, to full-on hard shell shin and knee pads for downhill riding. Looking for some advice on how to choose the best MTB knee pads? Check out our full guide to knee pads. Right here, we’ll be breaking down the best mountain bike knee pads for all-around trail riding - meaning a mix of climbing, descending, and a little mix of every type of terrain. So leave skinned knees behind you and grab a new pair of bike knee pads.


POC VPD Air

The best mountain bike knee pads of 2021
 

POC makes a huge range of mountain bike kneepads with varying levels of protection for everything from full downhill racing to long days pedaling. The VPD Air is one of their lightest and most minimalist pads, designed to offer good protection while staying comfortable through long rides with plenty of pedaling. They’re low profile and lightweight so they’ll fit fine under riding shorts or pants.

The VPD Air have a velcro strap at the top to secure them around your thigh, but most of the work is done by a neoprene sleeve that makes them fit more like a knee warmer than a strap-on knee pad. They stay put even on long, sweaty days with plenty of pedaling, but still offer lots of protection. Kneepads won’t do you any good if you’re not wearing them, so the VPD Air is designed to be light and comfortable enough that you never have an excuse to leave the house without them.

 Best Use Trail & enduro riding
 Pad TypeSoft, hardens on impact
 Original Price $79.95
evo Customer Review:
Great protection for sketchy mtn biking. Their light weight non-slip material stays put on your knees in the hottest of conditions while the sweat is pouring off your body. Measurements are accurate to size chart. Extremely happy to have added this gear for my riding.

TLD Speed Knee Sleeve

The best mtb knee pads
 

TLD makes all kinds of bike gear and knows what riders need and want. Similar to the VPD Air, the Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve is a minimalist pad designed for every day riding. They pair things down even further though, with no straps, and a low profile that barely adds any bulk to your knees. A silicon gripper band helps them stay put even when you’re sweating and pedaling hard, and a 4mm layer of D30 helps protect your knee and upper shin.

The D30 layer is the true magic of the Speed Knee Sleeve. D30 is a special material that stays flexible in use but hardens immediately on impact. So it doesn’t disrupt movement at all, until you need it to shrug off hits from the ground. The 4mm of D30 have been scientifically proven to offer significantly more protection than 10 mm of regular foam. So what it all means is the TLD Speed Sleeves are some of the best mountain bike knee pads if you’re looking for a very low-profile pad that still offers great protection.

 Best Use Trail & XC riding
 Pad TypeSoft D30, hardens on impact
 Original Price $65
evo Customer Review:
Great knee pads. They are lightweight while still providing a shield for your knees. I took one large crash during a jump line and had I not been wearing these the road rash would have been off the hook lol. Instead, my knees were shielded and remain intact. They get a little hot when riding in the summer heat, but it isn't uncomfortable enough to detract from riding performance.
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IXS Carve Evo+

The best bike knee pads 2021
 

IXS’s Carve Evo+ pad is designed to offer a little more protection than typical trail pads, for rides and riders that like to push things harder. It’s got more protective coverage with pads that extend up and down from the kneecap, as well as wrapping around the sides of the knee, so it offers more protection in a crash.

With that extra padding comes extra security in the form of two velcro straps keeping it locked onto your knee. That doesn’t mean it’s bulky and uncomfortable though. It features mesh venting in the back of the pad so your legs can breath as you pedal, and silicon grippers keep it put even when your legs get sweaty. So if you’re looking for a pad that’s comfortable on long trail rides but offers good protection for enduro races or bike park riding, the Carve Evo+ was made for you - they’re one of the best enduro mountain bike knee pads we offer.

 Best UseTrail &  Enduro Riding
 Pad TypeSoft
 Original Price $115

Dakine Slayer

The best 2021 mtb knee pads
 

In the past Dakine’s bike pad offerings have focused more on the gravity end of the spectrum, but the Slayer is a great choice for anyone looking for a comfortable all-day knee pad. They’re designed with a minimalist profile, no straps or buckles, just slide them on and leave them on all day. They’re designed with a pre-curved fit so they won’t flex against your knees as you ride.

And while the Slayer has a minimalist silhouette, they still offer plenty of protection with foam padding that runs down the shin. Dakine also took into account the fact that sometimes kneepads get stinky, so they’re designed with Polygiene tech that kills mycobacteria that like to congregate on sweaty gear. That means the Slayer stays smelling fresh even when you need to ride in them for the third day in a row. Coming in at the more minimal end of the spectrum, these are great mountain bike knee pads for riders looking to go long and far, or folks who don’t need full-on DH protection.

 Best Use Trail, & XC riding
 Pad TypeSoft
 Original Price $54.95

G-Form Pro

The best 2021 mtb knee pads
 

G-Form has been making a variety of mountain bike protective gear for quite a while now, and the Pro knee guard is the culmination of everything they’ve learned about making bike kneepads. Unlike some of their more minimalist pads, the Pro features a top strap so you can dial in the fit and make sure everything stays snug.

G-Form manages to keep the Pro low profile while still offering a ton of protection by using a special material that hardens under impact but stays flexible otherwise. But they’ve gone one step further with Armortex material over the foam. Armortex is incredibly abrasion resistant while also being very light and flexible. The result is a kneepad that looks and feels like a minimalist sleeve, but offers the protection of something much bulkier.

 Best Use Trail riding
 Pad TypeSoft, hardens on impact
 Original Price $79.99

7iDP Sam Hill

Mountain bike knee pads
 

If the name Sam Hill isn’t familiar, head on over to Youtube and watch one of the best mountain bikers ever. He’s one of the winningest downhill and enduro racers of all time, so it’s no surprise that the pads that bear his name are carefully designed for enduro racing. That means long days of pedaling combined with steep, gnarly descents.

Unlike some other enduro mountain bike knee pads, the 7iDP Sam Hill don’t rely on any straps to stay in place. Instead, they have a stretchy sleeve design with silicone grippers. But that’s where any resemblance to a minimalist knee warmer ends. These pads have lots and lots of coverage - above, below, and on both sides of your knees. In fact, they have nearly as much padding as some downhill pads. So if you like to push yourself on the downs, but still need comfortable pads, the Sam Hill was designed for you. Another feature to note is the length. While some pads on the list here are shorter, these have a nice long sleeve, eliminating any gap between your pads and shorts, and protecting you if you fall. Wrap it up, and these score a great balance of protection and comfort. That's why we picked them to round out our list of the best mountain bike knee pads!

 Best Use Enduro riding
 Pad TypeSoft
 Original Price $84.99
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