It's tough to find a good pair of knee pads. Almost as difficult as it is to find a well fitting pair of gloves, or shoes.
There's a lot of personal preference in how a knee pad will fit, sit and feel during a ride, but the one thing that we can all agree on, is that they need to provide sufficient protection.
You can choose to meander and roll your way down the trails, or you can choose to tear them up and dominate them. However you choose to ride, and whatever you're comfortable with, there's a level of protection out there for you.
Elbow pads and knee pads can vary from super soft compression slip-ons which are breathable and protect you from light abrasions. Or you can get hard shelled heavy duty pads which are for those daredevils who like to ride fast and loose.
It isn't just about protecting the body either, but a lot of confidence is place in protective wear. Having suitable and well fitting armour can give you that extra boost in confidence to tackle features you wouldn't normally do.
We've review the high impact absorbing knee pads from Bluegrass Eagle protection to see if they fit the bill.
Bluegrass Eagle protection is a part of the larger and more well known brand, MET Helmets. With MET's sterling reputation for exceptional cycling protection, Bluegrass had a lot to live up to.
The new Wapiti D30 knee pads are intelligently constructed to be soft and flexible, but harden on impact. The meshing fabric behind the knee offers great breathability and ease of movement when riding.
With sufficient protection on and around the knee joint, they feel tough and durable to withstand multiple impacts on the trails.
The most noticeable feature of the Wapiti D30 pads is the fastening mechanism. The pads have an adjustable Velcro strap on both the top cuff, and a smaller one on the bottom cuff for a precision fit. There's a strong full length zip which runs the full length of the pad also.
The Trail Test
One of the few sunny weather days in South Wales had me heading out to the trails at Afan to tackle some rocky red graded routes.
Getting the knee pads on were easy enough to slip on and pull up. Once on, it was simply a case of adjusting the Velcro straps to get the fit right.
I did attempt to put the pads on via the full length zip, but this wasn't as easy or as quick as slipping them on. It was a little fiddly, and care is needed to avoid pinching your skin.
Once strapped in to the Wapiti D30 knee pads, I was ready to go and hit the trails. These pads are noticeably more heavy duty when compared to what I'm used to, but surprisingly they didn't restrict my riding movement.
While the air mesh fabric at the back of the knee pad is cooling and flexible, the circular cut out seam rubbed into my leg after a few miles. I would have preferred a single flat piece of meshing instead for less seams, and improved comfort.
I barely noticed the loose rocks and debris kicking up at my legs with the ample protection and good coverage of the pads. The length of the knee pad is great for covering all the sensitive areas of the joint, and extend down the shin for a little extra protection.
After the ride, covered in dust and mud, is where the full length zip comes in handy. Rather than peeling hot dirty pads off over your socks, you can simply unzip and whip them off. Easy peasy.
Since the initial trail test in Afan, I've worn the Wapiti D30 knee pads a few more times, and while I've not had a hefty impact or fall to put them to the ultimate test (alas!), I'm still pleased with the construction and fit of the pads.
Side from the circular cut out at the rear of the pad, I found the fit functional without any slipping during the ride.
Sizes: Small - X.Large
Having adequate protection is really important for a safe ride. Whether it's helmets, knees, elbows and even back protection, it needs to be fit for purpose and fit for you.
You may also enjoy: