Protective Equipment Reviews

I thought I might try to open an “official” thread to collect reviews on protective equipment, as that information tends to be a bit scattered around on the forum. Helmet, pads, whatever you wear to hopefully help you not get injured.
I’ll start:

ION K-pact Knee pads
I love mine. The sleeve structure makes them stay in place really well. They adapt super well to the shape of my knees due to the impact foam construction - I hate anything that feels like it limits my movement and these don’t feel like that at all. They also don’t move around on me, which means no rubbing on the skin.
Over the years I have them, they have protected my knees from impact really well, even on rocky sections I’ve never felt any hard impact, my knee has always felt nicely protected from all sides. Soft outer covering means that they probably aren’t for you if you kneeslide on asphalt, but with my Muni terrain, they haven’t developed any rips or tears after years of use.

The velcro straps are the wrong way around, if your knee brushes the frame when riding, it can open the velcro. Possibly related: after a few years, the velcro on mine has worn out, so if I don’t close it very deliberately, it sometimes opens accidentally when riding. They still stay in place pretty well then, but it is annoying (But not unusually with velcro that has been in use for a few years…)
Also there is no way to put them on without removing shoes.

Camelbak K.U.D.U. Backprotector/Backpack
I have the 20l version, and I use it for pretty much all my muni rides. It has a level 2 back protector integrated, which you can unzip the main compartment from. The 3 Chest/Belly straps keep it in place really well, and in “protector only” mode, aside from me getting a sweaty back, it’s really unobtrusive.
In “backpack mode”, I’ve found it to be a great backpack. Lot’s of compartments, dedicated space for a 3L drinking bladder, dedicated space for tools, etc… If I go for a ride after work/uni, there is enough space to store my jeans,jacket, and lunchbox, but if I have it almost empty, I can strap it down tight enough to feel small.

Not much, really. As a backpack, it’s not a very well ventilated one - but for a protector…well they are all not really breathable, are they.
Tiny complaint: the integrated helmet compartment doesn’t work perfectly, or at least you have to be carefull when running around with it.
It also doesn’t cover quite as much of your back as most dedicated back protectors - still decent coverage, but if I were to buy a protector for bikepark only use, I’d look somewhere else.

I’ll add a review of my new helmet (Bell Super 3R) and TSG Tahoe protective shirt when I have worn them for a few rides. (I had started writing up a review of my old helmet, but since you can’t buy that model anymore, I decided it would be pointless.)


I bought myself a TechWare Pro Knee Compression Sleeve and am very satisfied. They are elastic, support the knee joint and have a cushion that absorbs impact in the event of a fall.

I use iXS Hack Evo Knee pads. Very happy with the fit, comfort and protection. These have saved my knees from several huge UPD’s that would have left me injured. They are still working well after 3 years and nearly 10,000km. The Velcro is wearing and they look slightly rough but good for that distance again. Not sure about me.

I use Hillbillies half finger wrist guards and judging by the deep scrapes on the plastic, they have saved me from injury more than once. I don’t find them to significantly limit my grip while riding. Some of the stitching on the fingers of one glove started to come undone after a couple of months and had to be restitched. Overall, I’d say they are inexpensive and absolutely worth it.

For knee protection, I use K4 POD knee braces, and so far they have held up to repeated falls. It’s really nice to be able to land on your knees when you UPD without worrying about injury. These are actual knee braces, rather than knee pads and they aren’t cheap, but if you have had knee injuries they might be worth it to you. It’s hard to say if you would have been injured without something or not, but given the number of crashes I have had and the relatively few injuries I have had, they seem to be working.

I’ve had good luck with Hillbilly half finger gloves. They saw plenty of “action” on my 36er while learning to ride - several superman landings onto paved surfaces at a decent speed. I use them for muni these days.

I also use the ION K-Pack Zip knee pads for muni. Basically the same as those mentioned by @finnspin but you can put them on without removing your shoes. I like them but I haven’t taken any really hard falls on them yet.

I also have a pair of Black Diamond Telekneesis knee pads. These are lightweight hardshell pads, good for road riding because they can slide on hard surfaces. I don’t tend to use these for muni as they don’t offer a lot of side protection, but I do occasionally use them as they fit easily over long trousers.

After a fall or two last year, I got some nice G-Form brand knee pads.
They are sleeve type, so not a quick on/off. However, once on they don’t slide.

They are very low profile so you can wear them under clothing if needed.
(No thicker than 3/8" or 10 mm), The best feature is it’s flexibility.

The cushioning material is a special “non-newtonian” cushion behavior. .
It’s weird. The harder you hit it, the more it instantly “stiffens” to absorbs the stress.
Yeah…it’s like science fiction, but this behavior is well documented. Just look at all the youtubers “running” over cornstarch swimming pools.

They aren’t cheap, but when I wear it(only when doing new tricks or riding unfamiliar terrain) I forget they are on. Also, they look cool. I can either wear it over my knee in the conventional way, if I am riding fast and fear a hard fall. Or…just slide it over my shins like a shin guard…it stays in pace.

Some further reviews from me, since I’ve taken a relatively big slam last weekend and I’m now off the uni for a week or so (might write something up about that soon):

Bell Super 3r:
I’ve now used this helmet for a bit, both in “fullface mode” and non fullface mode.

I like the convertible nature of it. Most of the times, I don’t need a fullface helmet and I just use it without the chinbar. But most Muni-weekends include a bikepark day (where I like to wear a fullface) and none bikepark days for me, and this way I don’t have to carry two helmets.
I find it surprisingly well ventilated - at least for a heavy duty trail helmet. Of course, it’s not like a minimalist roadbike helmet designed for maximum airflow, but compared to my old helmet, the ventilation, especially at the front works better.
It took me a bit to figure out a way to put this helmet on as a fullface helmet without unclipping the back adjuster.

Very happy with it, although I hope I’ll never need to find out how well it works in a big crash.

TSG L/S Tahoe Pro A 2.0 Protector shirt
One shirt for everything - back, elbows, shoulder are protected with “proper pads”, chest and hip with padding against bruising. No annoying straps anywhere, just put on this shirt. I’ve now taken a few slams with this on, and it does it’s job well - I still got some scratches on the inside of my elbow on one fall, but the joint itself was fine- which is what I care about. Pretty comfortable to wear I find.

It’s hot under this shirt - I mean no surprise, it’s essentially like wearing a hoodie. But, as the downside of having everything in one shirt- you can’t choose to take any individual pads of for uphills (It’s way to bulky to easily strap on your backpack).

Overall, both of these products do what I want them to do. I essentially choose my “risk level” before I go ride and if I might do something higher risk, I add the chinbar to the helmet and wear the upper body protector. It makes me feel more ready to take slams, while if I ride normally with just kneepads, helmet, gloves, I pretty much would never risk any falls where my feet aren’t the first thing to hit the ground.

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KH XL leg armor. I really haven’t liked this stuff. It seems to always sag down to the point where the upper part of my foot is holding it up. The one time I hit the ground hard, it slid downward and did not protect my knee. It does not wrap completely around, and if I attach the top strap up high, so as to keep the top strap of the pad above my calf, then the bottom strap is too short to attach the velcro.
It doesn’t really provide 360 protection to your calf, more like 270 protection and long threads were hanging loose when I got them, although the stitches seem alright.

Duff, I will buy them. I have the same size pair, and they fit me great. I will PM you.
Demon Hyper knee/shin guards. These I like, however there is a major caveat. They are sized seriously small. I think they may have been originally designed for Asian markets. Actually get out a tape measure and measure above and below your knee. I did a rough estimate with a piece of string and decided that the XL would probably work. It was the largest size they had. I’m a big guy, 6’1", 215 lbs, so I’ve got big legs, but they’re not freaky big.

When I got them I could barely pull them over my calves. I extended the elastic straps with some velcro extensions and decided to give them a shot anyway and to my surprise they worked pretty well. Despite being very snug they did not seem to cut off my circulation and were comfortable to wear. I’ve taken a number of falls on them now and they stay put and provide adequate protection to both the knee and shin. They are loaded with d30. There is a very thick cap of it on the knee, more across the shin and little strips of it down the sides. They do not wrap around as far as the KH leg armor, but they’ve got good protection where it counts the most.

I’d like to see a hard cap on the knee as well, as I think that would prevent damage to the pads as well as increased protection, but they’re pretty good despite that. I’d rate them 4 out of 5. The sizing is just something to be aware of and it’s my own dumb fault for not measuring carefully before ordering.

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One other thing I’ve used recently are d30 back protectors. These are affordable and you can cut them to fit. I put one in between the backpack and bladder of my hydration pack and cut another to fit in between my shorts and underwear so as to provide lower back and tailbone protection. A couple loops of string through the holes create beltloops to hold it in place. I’ve yet to put these to the test, but after a hard fall on my back last month I realized spinal protection was something I wanted.

Icon D3O Back Protector Insert - RevZilla