No longer the preserve of freeriders or competitive downhillers, today there is no excuse for trail and enduro riders not to wear the extra bit of protection. Lightweight knee pads are designed for all-day, unimpeded protection – the perfect solution for long climbs and fast-paced after-work rides!

This article is part of our knee-pad group test with lightweight pads up to 400 g. Take a look at the heavy duty knee-pads review as well.

The lightweight category has seen many new entries over recent years, which explains the diversity of this test field. These types of knee pads are noticeably lighter than their heavy-duty cousins and usually offer better ventilation. There is a vast choice of protectors on the market – from classic foam pads to sophisticated gel materials. While the best performing models in this class can offer similar protection to heavy-duty models, the lightweight pads scored noticeably lower points in the lab on average.

Compared to our previous knee pad group test we decided to adopt much stricter test criteria: this time around we ditched all knee pads that don’t include proper damping material. The 661 Recon Knee is the only model in our test which doesn’t carry a certification and is therefore excluded from the actual group test, although it’s worth mentioning that its 153 grams are still able to offer some protection.

Designed for all-day usage, these lightweight knee pads tend to sacrifice the features that would help you put them on or take them off more easily. Gimmick-free, these are the best companions for long rides and scenarios in which low weight and ventilation are prioritised over maximum protection.

Knee Pad Comfort Fit Ventilation Protection
661 Recon Knee
Dainese Trailskins 2
G-Form Elite Knee Guards
iXS FLOW EVO
Leatt AirFlex Pro
POC Joint VPD System Knee
SCOTT Soldier 2
Sweet Protection Bearsuit Light Knee Pads

Tops

Wear and forget
Comfort is an essential factor on long rides. The POC Joint VPD System Knee truly impressed our test crew. The Sweet Protection and Leatt models also turned out to be extremely comfortable.
Minimal protection
All of the protectors in this test feature padding and will therefore offer at least some form of protection. However, the lab revealed vast differences. Sweet Protection, iXS and POC offer the best level of protection and can even compete with some of the heavy-duty models.
Fresh air
Lightweight knee pads are consistently better ventilated than their heavy-duty relatives and are therefore suitable for hot days. With its open design the Dainese Trailskins 2 provide the best ventilation and set the benchmark in this category.

Flops

A slippery affair
Most lightweight knee pads feature fewer straps and some models skip them altogether. As a result, some models are likely to slip when pedalling and won’t be positioned properly in the event of a crash. The SCOTT and G-Form models were particularly prone to this.
Less is more
The Dainese Trailskins 2 rely on integrated Velcro straps to replace conventional ones. While a great idea in theory, in practice it caused unpleasant and painful friction burns for many of our test riders. In this case we think that it would be better to ditch the adjustment straps altogether.
Price/performance
With their new Joint VPD System Knee the team at POC have submitted an excellent knee pad. Unfortunately, the price of € 159.95 is a real jaw-dropper – with many models on test costing just half of that – and it’s the unfortunate reason why the POC didn’t get the Best Value crown.

Conclusion

The lightweight category was considerably more diverse, but a number of very defined sub-groups formed during our test. For those who don’t want to compromise on protection you should opt for the Sweet Protection Bearsuit Light or the iXS FLOW EVO. In the lab they’re easily able to rival the more heavy-duty protectors. If you’re after something lighter and don’t mind compromising on the level of protection, the Leatt AirFlex Pro demonstrates the best compromise between protection, weight, packing size and comfort. On hot days the open construction of the Dainese Trailskins 2 will be a true godsend, while the POC Joint VPD System Knee delivered virtually unrivalled comfort. At the end the Bearsuit Light Knee Pads are best in test, with the lightweight Leatt AirFlex Pro being best value.

About the author

Moritz Dittmar

My job is to make sure you guys get access to the hottest news, the best reviews and the most inspiring stories from the world of mountain biking. Just like my work, I’m not keen on putting a label on my favourite type of riding - as long as I’m having fun then I don’t care if I’m grinding my way up a thankless climb or knocking off vertical metres in minutes on a gnarly descent.