Skip to Main Content

The 5 Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads for 2020

Nearly every rider who has swung a leg over a mountain bike has skinned a knee, or worse. Mountain bike knee pads help save you the pain and lost skin, making them all but a necessity for riding. Nowadays, there are so many 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? Check out our full guide to choosing mtb knee pads. 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. 


POC Joint VPD 2.0 Knee Guards


 

The soft feel of and flexible VPD padding of these knee pads makes them an instant favorite. With coverage from the upper knee to the upper shin, these pads have nice coverage without being overly bulky. This versatility is what makes them one of our picks for best mountain bike knee pads.

A larger strap up top, and a small strap in the middle ensure a snug slip-free fit. The additional strap is a nice add-on for riders who might have issues with other pads slipping or binding at the knee. This works well for riders with smaller legs, too. These aren’t the best pedallers on the list, but they are totally fine for 60-90 minute pedals - if you’re out for longer you might want to slide them down to your ankles or stash them in your pack. That said the protection is top-notch.
 

 Best Use Trail & enduro riding
 Pad TypeSoft, hardens on impact
 Original Price $119.95
evo Customer Review:
Great for extra protection on downhill enduro style riding. Fairly lightweight which is good for keeping in during climbs, but trade-off is probably not the level of protection you might want if you're going real big.

Dakine Slayer Knee Pads

 

A low-profile, sleeve style pad the Dakine Slayer is a nice option for riders who want to prioritize a slim unobtrusive fit over protection, as the Slayer only has a soft pad. The 4-way-stretch mesh back makes the pad breathe a little bit better than some options, and Polygiene odor control technology keeps them from getting smelly. This is good because you’ll definitely want to keep these knee pads on throughout your whole ride, being a slimmer sleeve design, they don’t fit over shoes well or sit at your ankles as other pads do. Silicone grip at either end of the pad and a curved pad help the sleeves stay in place while pedaling.
 

 Best Use Trail & enduro riding
 Pad TypeSoft
 Original Price $65
evo Customer Review:
Great knee pad for pedaling and climbing. The sleeve has good silicone grippers on both ends and the curved pad helps it hold its position on the knee during pedals. After several rides with lots of climbing and flat out pedaling, I've never had to adjust the knee pads because they moved. The pad is thin enough that it doesn't impede pedaling but still gives a layer of protection and confidence to bomb the descents.
Shop All MTB Pads
See More

Sweet Protection Knee Pads

 

With a great balance between protection and low-bulkiness, the Sweet Protection Knee Pads are the favorite of many riders. Sleeve style, with a top strap, the pad stays up well, yet remains relatively low profile. One of the best perks of these mtb knee pads is that the you can remove the padding to wash them, helping control grime and odor. This feature is especially nice, as the sleeve isn’t the most breathable out there, however, it does stay up well, and pedal well. Overall, the flexible pad is comfortable, with a nice level of protection for everyday riding.
 

 Best UseXC, Trail &  Enduro Riding
 Pad TypeSoft
 Original Price $99.95

Fox Launch Pro Knee Guards

 

For riders looking to send it a little bit harder, stepping up your level of protection might be a good idea. The Fox Launch Pro knee pads are one step up from the Enduro Pro knee guards, with more padding. Straps at the top and bottom of the knee pad do a nice job of keeping the pads in place through pedaling and falls alike. This is a thicker pad, so you might not want to pedal in it all the time, though it does that fairly well. The open sleeve design means you’re not going to be able to fit it over your shoes, but you can slide it down towards your ankles, or take your shoes off to transition. This is our pick for the best mtb knee pad for riders taking on gnarly trails that want a higher level of protection, while still being able to pedal - think enduro and all mountain with these knee pads. 
 

 Best Use Trail, Enduro & Downhill riding
 Pad TypeSoft
 Original Price $64.95

Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeves

 

Another low-profile sleeve, the Troy Lee Designs Speed sleeves are perhaps the lowest profile pads on our list, with no straps and a D3O pad. Similar to POC’s VPD material, D3O is soft until it hardens on impact. A silicone band at the top of the sleeve keeps it from slipping and bunching behind your knee. These are the best knee pads on our list for riders looking for some protection from impacts and abrasions, without sacrificing mobility and comfort.
 

 Best Use XC & Trail riding
 Pad TypeSoft, hardens on impact
 Original Price $54
evo Customer Review:

I like this knee pad because it is a pad, not a guard, but it is not too thin like a sleeve. The padding is thick enough that I'm confident it will protect me if I go down pretty hard, but it is lightweight enough so that it is not too bulky or heavy. Another great thing about this protective is that it stays up. I mean I never feel like I need to pull it up. Ohh...did I mention how comfortable it is too!

Shop All Mountain Bike Pads
See All

Learn More With Our Other Bike Guides:

Learn About our Favorite Bike Gear: