The Best MTB Knee Pads from 7iDP

Crashes happen, so protect your knees! 7iDP currently makes my favorite knee pads. Here's why you should put on a pair.

The Best MTB Knee Pads from 7iDP

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Guides

For years, I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect set of knee pads. I’ve bought, tested, and crashed in countless popular pads, and I alway end up coming back to the same brand: 7iDP. 

7iDP (7 Intelligent Design Protection) was launched in 2012 by seven founders (hence the name). They wanted to fix the issues they had with other pads: Bad fit and feel, no breathability, and ineffective fasteners to prevent slipping. What they came up with are some of the most comfortable and effective knee pads I’ve ever used. Now, 7iDP is always the first brand I recommend to other mountain bikers. Here are my three favorite models. 

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Best all-rounder knee pad: 7iDP Transition

7iDP Transition MTB knee padsBest use: XC, trail, enduro

The first time I ever saw the 7iDP Transition pads, they were on the knees of a legend: three-time downhill world champion and three-time Enduro World Series champion, Sam Hill. The Transition pads are lightweight (only 262g per side), breathable, and flexible. They use a “sleeve” design where the pad is sewn into a stretchy tube, similar to a leg warmer. This lets them conform to your knee and move with you as you pedal, practically disappearing while riding. 

The key is excellent fit. The fabric is a breathable 4-way stretch mesh that provides plenty of airflow. The shape is pre-curved for your knee and they have just enough compression to hug your legs. At both ends, the cuffs use silicone grippers that keep the pad in place; you can also tuck the top underneath bibs or liner shorts. This prevents the pad from sliding down, eliminating the dreaded knee pad gap. Nearly every other knee pad I’ve tried has slid off during a crash, but the Transitions stay put.

7iDP Transition MTB Knee pad guardThey don’t skimp on protection either with CE Level 2 Certified armor. I have taken some HARD crashes in these pads and come out with my knees unscathed. The armor itself is made of heat-molding foam, which becomes flexible and unobtrusive once you put the pad on. I’m currently on my second pair. My first pair survived three rough seasons of enduro racing, and I only retired them because they got too gross (wash your pads!). Fortunately, they’re easy to toss in the wash, so I expect this pair to last even longer. 

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Best heavy-duty knee pad: 7iDP Sam Hill

7iDP Sam Hill MTB knee padsBest use: Enduro, downhill, bike park

[product-block handle="7idp-sam-hill-knee-guards-black"/]

For most riders, the Transition knee will be more than enough. But what if you’re a shredder looking to tackle the gnarliest downhills? For more protection, the 7iDP Sam Hill pad is the answer. 

As mentioned earlier, Sam Hill wore Transition knee pads in the Enduro World Series. The tracks EWS riders race on are some of the gnarliest in the world. Though Sam still wears the Transition, he also wanted a beefed-up version for the toughest stages. His signature pad takes the Transition design, and adds extra padding around the perimeter of the main pad for more coverage. They use the same 4-way stretch mesh fabric and heat molding foam, so they’re still comfortable. 

My Sam Hill pads have now replaced the bulky velcro knee pads I used to use for bike park downhill riding. They’re way more comfortable and they have plenty of protection. They are a bit hotter than the Transition, and the sleeve itself is significantly longer to accommodate the extra padding, but I’ve still worn them for long days with lots of pedaling with no complaints. 

Best lightweight knee pad: 7iDP Sam Hill Lite

7iDP Sam Hill Lite MTB knee padsBest use: XC, trail, skatepark, dirt jumping

[product-block handle="7idp-sam-hill-lite-knee-guards-black"/]

The Sam Hill Lite is the lightest knee pad in 7iDP’s line-up. They managed to shave off 60g per side, which will surely please the weight-weenies. If you’re doing epic long-distance rides, or just prefer something more minimal, these are the knee pads for you. The armor itself is thinner and softer than the armor used in the Transition or Sam Hill pads, and is CE Level 1 certified. Though they don’t provide as much impact protection, they still provide plenty of abrasion resistance for most mild-to-moderate trails. 

The minimal armor allows you to roll the pad up and stash it using a built in elastic loop. This is perfect for XC riders who want a lightweight pad that they can stuff into a pocket or pack during a long climb. I don’t think it’s necessary though because the Sam Hill Lite is the most breathable pad I’ve ever used. I’ve worn them on 100-degree days without needing to remove them.

The low-profile design also makes the Sam Hill Lite ideal for wearing under tight jeans. This is perfect for skate park riders and dirt jumpers who want to stay fashionable, comfortable, and protected. 

(Bonus) Best elbow pad: 7iDP Sam Hill Lite

7iDP Sam Hill Lite MTB elbow padsBest use: Supplementing 7iDP knee pads

[product-block handle="7idp-sam-hill-lite-elbow-guards-black"/]

Honestly, I rarely wear elbow pads, even though the horrifying scars on my elbows tell me I should. It all depends on your preferences and risk tolerance. When I do slip on elbow pads, it’s usually for downhill and bike park riding. In those instances, I’ve been using the Sam Hill Lite elbow pad. Like the Sam Hill Lite knees, these elbow pads are minimal and lightweight, which makes them easy to fit under a long-sleeve jersey. They use the same pre-curved mesh fabric and silicone grippers so they never slide down as you ride. For elbow protection, I don’t think you need anything else. 

 

7iDP the best mountain bike knee padsUltimately, protective gear is only effective if you actually wear it. Fortunately, all the 7iDP pads I’ve picked here are comfortable, and I’m willing to put them on before every single ride. It helps that they look stylish too. At this point I feel naked riding without them, and that’s a good thing. 

[button]Shop 7iDP[/button] | [button]Shop all protective gear[/button]

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