Whether you are a sedate MTB rider or a speed demon that likes to throw themselves down the trail, quality knee pads should be a given on your mountain bike kit list. Just as you wouldn’t think twice about strapping on a helmet to protect your head, your knees (and elbows) deserve the same care.
Although you do everything you can to avoid them, crashes do happen and with the right protection you want to be able to stand up and brush yourself off after a wipe out. But choosing the right knee pads can be a bit of a minefield as it all does depend on the type of MTB riding you do.
But regardless of your riding style, all MTB knee pads should have three things in common – protection, ventilation and comfort. We’ve put together a top list of the best mountain bike knee pads to help you choose your new piece of MTB body armor.
The Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads
Straight in with our Best Choice, these great-value MTB knee pads from Bodyprox are a must for your everyday kit bag. Sleeve style and made from a soft, stretch fabric, they come in two sizes with a distinct left and right and will fit most legs really well.
The elasticity in the sleeve is really good, without being too tight and the breathable fabric will keep your knees cool, not matter the how hot the ride becomes. They are lightweight too and give a free range of movement as you pedal while remaining firmly in place. Plus, there’s enough stretch to be worn over leggings and trousers in the colder months. The protection comes in the form of high-density foam that more than adequately covers the full knee area. As a go-to pair of mountain bike knee pads without breaking the bank, you get lightweight comfort and solid knee protection. Great for MTB and a host of other sports.
Unisex sleeve knee pads
Lightweight, ergonomic design
Left and right pair
Breathable, stretch fabric
High-density foam padding
- Weight4 ounces
Non-slip, sleeve design that’s easy to wear and offers impressive knee protection
Great price for a high-performing foam knee pad
The pads can tend to compress with repeated pressure or impact
For a three-piece protective gear set you won’t mind getting bumped and scraped during everyday sport or play, we really like these pads from JMB. With a choice of adult or child sets, these are great for junior as they get to learn and practice their MTB moves, giving decent protection for their knees, elbows and wrists. Or size up and you have a good value set for the adult biker.
Made from a durable, EVA padded material, these MTB knee pads also include pretty tough plastic plates for extra protection against those spills and mini-wipe outs. They also stay in place impressively well, thanks to the elasticated sleeve and added Velcro strap at the top. They do look a tad bulky, but they are not restrictive and feel reassuringly soft and flexible. Perhaps they are not be tough enough or last long enough out on the serious downhill trail but for everyday MTB enjoyment, where you want to ensure a tumble doesn’t ruin the day, these are a good bet.
Elbow, knee and wrist pad set
Sizes for kids and adults
Durable EVA sleeve
Padded with plastic plate
Velcro strap for security
- BrandJMB International
A good value three-piece set that includes padding and plastic protection plates
They come with a one-year warranty
Sizes available are a little limited
Keep your kids bike-safe from the get-go with this soft padded knee and elbow set that won’t break the bank. The build quality of the neoprene mountain bike knee pads is pretty impressive and thanks to the soft, stretch fabric and Velcro strap design, will not impede junior’s movements or get in the way of their mini MTB fun. The pack includes a bonus pair of bike gloves for smaller kids. In three age ranges, these pads are a great protector for little ones from the age of two up to 11, so will give parents peace of mind as their kids go out to play on their bike, skates or scooters.
The breathable protector has a three-layer protective system – one of EVA, the other two of neoprene buffer – meaning their impact and shock absorption’s good and they are washable (as we know just how grubby outdoor-active kids can get).
Knee and elbow pad pack
Designed for the under-11s
Breathable neoprene/Velcro straps
Three-layer protection system
Washable and odor-resistant
- BrandSimply Kids
- Weight7 ounces
A great set to give your little one some confidence on their bike
The sizings do run a little on the snug side
For a no-fuss set of protective pads that look cool and can stand up to low-level spills and thrills, then check out this bargain set from Bosoner. Just strap ‘em on and go out to play is the theme for these solid knee, elbow and wrist pads, in sizes for 3 – 15. We think these are more suited to the younger child as they wouldn’t necessarily stand up to the more extreme testing of an older teenager but for the under 10s, they are worth trying out.
The front MTB knee pad protectors and MTB shin guards are secured in place by two adjustable straps, which can work with bare legs or over pants, and the fabric is lightweight and ventilated. There’s EVA foam padding where you need it, and plastic protection plates for the knee cap and elbow joints. The wrist protectors are slip on mitt style, with plastic plates on the palm and inner wrist. Easy to wear, and easy to take off, Junior will be happy zipping on his bike down the sidewalk or in the park with these
For kids 15 and under
Lightweight, EVA foam
Protective plastic plates
Super easy to get on and off and comfortable for little ones
The wristguards are quite flexible so don’t offer full hand protection
A three-piece adult pad set with protective plates for less than $25 – welcome to our review’s Best Value pick! This one-size fits all pack of elbow, knee and wrist pads look trail cool and have enough protection to take you on a downhill. The front protection is made from durable PE materials, while the sleeve is made from breathable polyester. All is then secured in place by the adjustable Velcro straps.
There is a nice flexible feel when wearing these pads and the plastic outer guard is reassuringly tough, able to take the spills of the average adult recreational MTB’er. Plus, there is a rather cool look to what are one of the best MTB knee pads for the money that are not too big or in your face. For the price, you won’t mind getting these scuffed and scraped either.
Knee, elbow and wrist set
Breathable polyester sleeve
Durable PP and PE outer plate
One size fits most
Adjustable Velcro straps
- BrandJBM International
- Weight1.27 pounds
A great price for a good-looking pad set with a decent level of impact protection
The one adult size could be a little limiting for smaller or large-sized MTB riders
If you want a lightweight MTB knee pad that stays comfortable all day long, then we think the cool-looking Enduro could be the protector for you. While we don’t think it is tough enough for the more technical and ‘on-the-edge’ downhill riding, these Fox knee pads are a good choice for a day out having a fun blast on the lower trails.
Lightweight and with a comfortable, slip-on design, they are also sleek and streamlined, so little to catch on a fast-spinning pedal or passing branch. Made from perforated neoprene, they are breathable and allow moisture to evaporate to keep you cool and dry. The knee cup is tall for excellent coverage and made from abrasion-resistant padding that absorbs the impact of the average fall or scrap. And there is a silicone gripper inside the top hem to keep it all snug and firmly in place. While these mountain bike knee pads won’t offer sufficient protection for a major, downhill spill or total wipe-out, they will keep you in one piece for a tumble on the flat or less challenging trail.
Slip-on sleeve knee pad
Perforated neoprene chassis
Abrasion-resistant knee padding
Inner silicon gripper
Lightweight and pedal friendly
- BrandFox Racing
- Weight1 pounds
Super-comfortable and breathable for low trail and everyday MTB riding
Quite expensive and not as robust as more technical knee pads
Sizing run on the smaller side
Perhaps not the most attractive in our best mountain bike protective pads review, but the construction of these elbow pads from Bodyprox really means business. A full sleeve style, these elbow pads provide protection for the full elbow area as well as impressive support for a range of sporting injuries. And all without any significant restriction on your movement or flexibility.
Made from abrasion-resistant, breathable fabric with strategically placed foam padding, these are a great go-to for absorbing the strain and shocks in your arms and elbow as you steer down a gnarly trail or go for the jump. The compression fabric also gives a super snug fit without compromising on comfort or arm mobility. This compression also helps to maintain elbow joint stability, however rough the course may be.
Full sleeve design
Breathable, abrasion-resistant fabric
Strategically placed foam padding
Compression fabric for extra support
Reassuring elbow and arm fit, with padding where you really need it
Minimal restriction on movement or flexibility
The sizes tend to run bigger so check your sizing for the best fit
These tech-smart looking mountain bike knee pads look awesome and their performance is a combination of spec and comfort. Perhaps with a little less physical padding that other technical models, the Pro-X uses Reactive Protection Technology (RTP) – a soft, flexible foam that stiffens on contact to absorb what G-Form claim to be around 90% of the impact. The result is a less bulky, more streamline sleeve MTB bike knee pad that steps up when you need it the most. The RTP knee pad protector plate also has a touch of the Terminator about it, which we really like. And the low profile design sits sleekly on bare legs or over/under cycling leggings or pants.
The sleeve itself is comfortable to wear and, thanks to its moisture-wicking properties, will keep you cool, even when the downhill heat is on. These are one of the best mountain bike knee pads for rider who needs superior flexibility and freedom of movement as well as the reassurance of the right level of protection at the right time should things go a little awry out on the trail. These are best for ordinary rather than really technical rides as they are not quite up to the hard shell and you pay extra for all the tech, but for a good all-rounder we like.
Compression fabric sleeve
RTP pad that stiffens on impact
Breathable and moisture-wicking sleeve
Sleek design for comfort wear
- BrandG Form
- Weight5.4 ounces
Reactive Protection Technology takes on over 90% of the force in a fall
Less bulk without losing a decent level of protection
Not the best for sliding and the fit is snug so check your sizings
Coming in at around $120, we really are in premium pick territory with the VPD but as this tough dude complies with the 1621-1 motorcycle standard, you know you are in good hands. Another technical design, using materials in the padding that stiffen on impact you get a hybrid knee pad that brings the best of the rest to the fore. You get a decent amount of coverage with the protective flexible sleeve, that has added security with a Velcro top wraparound and middle back strap. The reinforced fabric is perforated for heat and moisture management and there is plenty of stretch. It seems you will need to ride in these a few times to break them in but once they have taken to the shape of your leg, the comfort level really does kick in.
When looking at the business end of these MTB knee pads, the protection panels are low profile flush to the shape of the pad, but firm to the touch, ready to spring into stiffening action should you and your knees hit the ground. The 100% polyester outer of these awesome knee pads are also tough and will be able to weather the scraps and slides of the trail. While they may not have the hardcore protection of a full-on hard shell, for every day wear or for a fast downhill blast with your buds, you can be sure these POC knee pads have you covered should you part ways with your bike.
Reinforced stretch polyester fabric sleeve
Top Velcro and middle straps
Perforated for moisture and heat control
Pad stiffens on impact
- Weight1.45 pounds
Quality knee protection that’s lightweight and shapes to your body
Pad complies with motorcycle safety standards
Right at the top end of our Best Mountain Bike Knee Pad review budget
Needs a few wears to get the custom fit
We finish on a hardcore-looking pair of MTB knee pads that offer the full hard shell protection without hindering your movement or enjoyment of an adrenalin ride. The spec on these knee pads from Pro-Tech is all there, without having to pay a top-end spec price. For less than $60 you get a durable Lycra and ballistic-strength nylon outer sleeve, which is both flexible and tear-resistant. Despite their heavy-duty looks they are also surprisingly breathable, allowing enough air flow to keep you cool during the heat of a frantic downhill. Ergonomically designed they also hug your legs nicely, with minimal movement, secured with adjustable straps and hook and loop fasteners. And there is enough space and adjustment for wearing over pants or under.
At the knee you get EVA cup foam for close-up padding while the outer features full-coverage caps made from ABS to protect and absorb the impact of a fall or slide. For a super combination of comfort and top-end protection for MTB and other fast-paced sports, all at a great price, we think the Pro-Tech is pretty tough to beat.
Full-coverage ABS hard caps
Soft EVA cup foam padding
Sleeve made from Lycra and ballistic nylon
Breathable and ergonomic design
Wrap-around top and bottom straps
- BrandProTech Original
- Weight1.8 pounds
Top end hard shell protection at a bargain mid-range price
Good protection and support for fast spills and technical riding
Top strap needs to be snug to prevent slipping
Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look for in MTB Knee Pads
When looking for something that could save your bacon (or at least your knees) out on the trail or track, you need to know you are getting pads that are designed to perform. When choosing a pair of MTB knee pads, make sure you check out the following:
Yes, it does matter! You need a pair of knee pads that are right for your size, so you can just pop them on and ride. Most MTB knee pads come in standard small, medium and large, with crossover sizes often available. Some manufacturers will offer individual sizes, which are the best bet for a good fit, but do try on beforehand as sizings do vary.
After size, you need to check the fit of your new mountain bike knee pads and how they will stay secure to your legs, even at your top downhill speed. Many pads have silicone grippers (or an elastic hem) to stop the pads moving while some pads also have a Velcro strap at the top or bottom to really seal the secure pad deal. A concave cupped section on the pad will also help to keep them in place. Also check if your pads are side-specific (left and right) or can be worn on either leg.
Well, this is the aim of the MTB knee pad so be sure yours have the right credentials. In general, knee pads are constructed with padding over the knee to absorb the blow and protect your skin and bones from damage. Many pads also have with a protective plate made from leather, plastic or metal to take the initial impact of a fall. Some models have the padding and protection fixed, while others allow the pad to be removed. You can also opt for a plastic skid plate on the pad, which is a bit of a game-changer on the trail as it prevents the knee pad catching on the ground.
With all this padding, straps and plates, you don’t want to be walking like a Knight of the Round Table, you want to be able to move and pedal freely. The best mountain bike knee pads will not restrict your movement so if yours limit your freedom then it’s time to look again.
Your knee pads need to be tough but lightweight so the materials they are made out of will make all the difference to your enjoyment on the downhill. The best material to look for is either Lycra or thin neoprene. Many MTB knee pads also have a Kevlar cover the knee area to resist those scuffs. For the protective cap, impact-resistant foam is a standard, although there are also some cool, high tech materials such as D30 that actually stiffen on impact, but you will pay more. The more hardshell type of knee pads will inevitably be heavier to wear.
With all that high-octane pedaling, you need a decent amount of air flow around your legs and knees to keep things cool and comfortable. A the very least look for cut-aways at the back of the knee pad. Also check out the fabric used for its breathability credentials – mesh and neoprene are good as they let your skin breathe and also allows sweat to evaporate.
Hard Shells vs. Foam Protectors
With MTB knee pads, you can choose between the lightweight foam protector or the heavier hard shell varieties. Each has their pros and cons, so the final choice is down to personal preference and the type of MTB you do.
Foam: Lightweight and flexible, foam protectors are normally a neoprene (or similar) with a foam padding to form a softshell pad. Foam protectors are lighter and easier to wear, and are ideal for every day riding on the flat or trail where you just need protection against minor falls or out of control pedals. But their lack of a protective shell means they offer limited protection against a serious downhill or trick wipe-out.
Hard shells: Also usually made from neoprene or a similar fabric, the hard shell has an outer plate over the foam padding to give superior armor-like protection when you hit the ground hard. Hard shells are ideal for the more adventurous MTB rider, who races or tricks down the steeper tracks as they will minimize and protect against full-on falls, even at speed. The price you pay for this hardcore knee protection is that the pad will be heavier and stiffer to wear and will most likely cost you more.
There is also another MTB knee pad option that can give you the best of the hard and soft worlds, thanks to some awesome tech-materials such as VPD or D30, which are soft and pliable but designed to stiffen on impact with the ground.
Our Top Pick
For a really good pair of all-round mountain bike knee protectors at an affordable price, the Bodyprox’s Protective Knee Pads easily slide into our Top Pick slot. With their sleeve design, they are comfortable, flexible and breathable while the high-density foam pad gives ample coverage to your knee. For pull-on and go convenience plus impressive protection for every day riding these are definitely a pair of pads to have in your MTB kit bag.