Whether you're doing tricks in a skatepark, biking up a mountain, or taking a martial arts class, it's important to have the proper protective gear to keep your body safe from injuries. Knee and elbow pads not only protect your joints from high impact but also provide an extra layer to protect you from scrapes if you fall. From hard shell pads to soft, compressive foam, there is a range of options available for every activity.
We've assembled a list of the top 10 best knee and elbow pads for adults. If you're new to the world of protective gear, we recommend starting out with a set so you have everything you'll need. Our top pick is Gonex's 3 in 1 Protective Gear Set, which includes hard shell knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards. Check out the rest of our list below and peruse our buying guide for tips on how to choose the right gear for your needs.
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If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of options available, don't worry! In this guide, we'll break down the different types of protective pads and identify the most important factors to consider when shopping.
Knee and elbow pads are useful in a variety of situations, both recreational and athletic. The activity you’re engaged in will determine what factors are important when choosing your gear.
If you’re skateboarding, rollerskating, or rollerblading, you’ll likely be doing it on a hard, abrasive surface like concrete or asphalt. These surfaces can be quite painful to fall on and can cause scrapes in addition to impact injuries.
Look for pads that can withstand hard surfaces and provide a cushion for shock absorption. Additionally, it’s very likely that the pads will become scratched over time. Some skating pads have removable caps, so you can purchase replacements from the brand when they become worn out.
For cycling, protection isn’t the only factor; you should also consider how bulky the pads are. Pads that are too bulky can get in the way as you ride by bumping into your frame or chafing against your legs and arms.
Since your knees will be constantly bending and straightening, the back of the kneepad is just as important as the front. Look for a low profile pad that’s stretchy, flexible, and comfortable all around.
Knee and elbow pads are sometimes used in sports like basketball, soccer, and volleyball. Sports that involve a lot of running can be taxing on your knees, while sports that involve your arms can be taxing on your elbows.
Not only do pads offer protection from contact with the ground and the ball, but they also provide additional support for your joints. Look for pads that combine protection with compression.
Knee and elbow pads can be either hard shell or soft shell. Each one has its pros and cons.
Hard shell pads are usually made from strong plastic with a layer of foam underneath. The foam acts as a soft barrier between your joints and the outer shell, which provides a better fit and helps absorb shock on impact. The plastic offers additional protection against abrasive surfaces.
Hard shell pads are best worn on top of clothing. They can be quite bulky and may interfere with your range of motion. However, they’re the most robust type of pads and offer a high level of protection.
Soft shell pads have a cap made from dense fabric-covered foam instead of plastic. This creates a lighter overall pad with a slimmer profile that can be worn underneath or on top of clothing.
Because the outer layer is fabric, soft shell pads aren’t ideal for falls on abrasive surfaces. They also offer less protection on hard surfaces. However, they’re more flexible than hard shell pads and give you more range of motion.
Knee and elbow pads use either Velcro or stretch to stay on your body. Velcro straps are more common on hard shell pads and attach at the back of the knee or elbow. They allow for an adjustable fit and are easy to put on without removing your shoes or skates.
Slip-on pads are usually soft shell. They feature a stretchy band that slides over your hand or foot and encircles the elbow or knee. Slip-on kneepads aren’t adjustable and require you to take your shoes off. However, because there’s no closure at the back, they can be more comfortable and flexible than Velcro styles.
Fit is key when it comes to choosing the right protective gear. You want the knee and elbow pads to fit snugly so they don’t slide around if you fall. But you also want them to allow enough flexibility for you to skate, cycle, and run.
Take your measurements before you shop so you can compare them with the manufacturer’s size chart. For kneepads, measure the circumference of your leg just below the knee and just above the knee. For elbow pads, measure the circumference of your arm just below the elbow and above the elbow.
One of the downsides to shopping online is that you can’t try things on before you buy them. Since comfort is so important when it comes to protective gear, we recommend reading reviews from buyers to get an idea of how the product fits and feels.
Look for comments about chafing or irritation as well as opinions on how breathable the pads are. While every body is different, if you see multiple reviews with the same complaint, it might be something you want to consider.
No matter how breathable or moisture-wicking your pads are, you’ll eventually need to wash them. Some knee and elbow pads are machine-washable, while others need to be hand-washed. Generally, it’s not recommended to put them in the dryer.
Consider how often you’ll be using them and how sweaty and dirty they’ll get. Whether you wear them underneath or over your clothes will also have an impact. If you won’t need to wash them that often, it may not be a big deal to hand wash. But if you’re using them daily, you may prefer a pair that you can throw in the washing machine.
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3 in 1 Protective Gear Set
Hard Shell Pads for Skating and More
Protective Gear Set for Multi Sports
Protect Your Knees, Elbows, and Wrists
Elbow Protection Pads
Soft Pads to Keep Elbows Safe
Protect-1 Elbow and Knee Pads
A Full Set of Protective Gear in a Storage Bag
Pro X2 Knee Pad
Flexible Knee Pads That Harden on Impact
BMX Protective Gear Set
Breathable Sleeves With Hard Shells
Protective Knee Pads
All Day Comfort and Protection
Protective Gear Set for Multi Sports
Use These Pads for All Kinds of Sports
Street Knee Pads
Keep Your Knees Scrape-Free
Protective Compression Sleeves
A Pair of Pads for Your Knees or Your Elbows
Protect your elbows, knees, and wrists with this set. The pads feature a tough plastic shell with EVA foam padding underneath. Adjustable elastic straps with Velcro help you get the perfect fit, while the oxford cloth material remains breathable. This set comes with one pair each of knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards.
Some reviewers commented that these pads run small or felt too tight. A couple of people said they were itchy. However, the majority of reviewers said this protective gear made them feel secure while skating. They said it was durable and fairly comfortable. And those who actually fell in it said it kept them injury-free!
JBL believes you should play more and worry less, and their gear set is designed to help you do so. It includes knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards made from hard plastic and EVA foam. Use them for rollerblading, skateboarding, BMX biking, and more. They come in a range of colors including yellow, blue, and red.
A handful of reviewers had issues with the fit of these pads, while others only liked one or two pieces out of the set. Still, most reviewers said these pads are comfortable, sturdy, and lightweight. They liked that they aren't too bulky, so they don't get in the way while skating.
These elbow pads from Bodyprox are soft and flexible, so they're ideal for activities that require more arm movement, like golf, tennis, or weightlifting. They have a foam grid that stabilizes your joints and can provide relief from pain. The padding offers protection against falls as well. And they're machine-washable!
Some reviewers found these pads to be too thin and warned that they don't protect from scrapes. However, most reviewers liked the comfort and support of these elbow pads. They said they stayed in place well and were great for a variety of things, including cycling, hockey, and, working out.
SkateWiz's knee and elbow pads are designed in Hamburg, Germany. They feature a hard shell and foam padding with reinforced metal joints and metal buckles. Elastic straps with endless hook and loop closures provide an adjustable fit, while double seams add increased durability. These pads come with a storage bag as well.
A few reviewers were disappointed that these pads fell apart within the first few uses. On the other hand, most reviewers said they worked well for skateboarding and rollerskating. They found them to be lightweight and breathable with a snug yet comfortable fit.
Instead of traditional hard shell knee pads, which feature a single plastic shell, these are made using G-Form's SmartFlex technology. The plates are flexible enough to move with you but harden on impact to provide protection. These slip-on pads have a sleeve made from moisture-wicking compression fabric that has a UPF 50+ rating.
Some reviewers warned that the size chart is incorrect. Others found that the sleeve stretches out over time, causing the pads to slide down. Still, many reviewers praised them for being comfortable and lightweight. They said that they were thin enough to wear under clothing while still offering protection.
This full set of gear includes a pair of knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards to keep all of your joints safe. They feature durable plastic shells that are made to withstand hard impact. The polyester sleeves are breathable and the straps are adjustable for the best fit.
Reviewers said these pads run small and are better suited to smaller adults. Still, many reviewers commented that these pads get the job done and keep them protected while skating. They thought they were decent quality for the price and said they're a great option for beginners.
For people who need to maintain a full range of motion while keeping their knees protected, soft shell pads are the best option. This pair from Bodyprox features a compressive polyester sleeve with high-density foam padding. The lightweight construction means they're flexible and provide protection without restriction.
Reviewers said these knee pads work but tend to wear down quickly, so they may not be the best option for long-term use. However, the overall sentiment was that these pads are extremely comfortable and barely noticeable. Reviewers said they were excellent for post-surgery recovery and martial arts training.
Whether you're a skier, skater, or biker, this protective gear set from Lanovagear has you covered. It includes knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards with tough polypropylene shells and a layer of high-density EVA foam padding. The polyester sleeves have adjustable Velcro straps to fit a range of leg and arm girths.
Some reviewers commented that the knee pads tend to run small and can become uncomfortably tight if worn for long periods of time. Despite this, many reviewers said they're great pads for beginners and casual use. They found them to be sturdy and said they protected them from falls!
Pro-Tec's Street Knee Pads combine hard shell protection with flexibility to create gear that's ideal for street sports, like skateboarding and rollerblading. The stretchy Lycra lining and neoprene backing provide a snug fit and the upper and lower straps are both adjustable. The hole at the back of the knee prevents bunching.
A few reviewers had issues with the sizing, with the pads being either too large or too small. Generally, people found the bottom strap to be on the short side. Still, the majority of reviewers said these knee pads are comfortable and saved their knees multiple times from falls. Skateboarders especially liked them!
These versatile pads from McDavid can be used as knee pads or elbow pads. They have a low-profile design that features a half-inch of closed-cell foam padding and an elastic slip-on sleeve. They're lightweight and flexible, allowing you to move freely while providing protection from bumps.
Some reviewers complained that these pads tore or that the foam collapsed after a few days. On the other hand, many reviewers were pleased with how comfortable and useful these pads are. They used them for a wide range of activities including wrestling, biking, dance classes, and housework.
Whether you're recovering from a past injury or trying to prevent a new one, it's important to have the right gear. Check out more products below to help keep you injury-free no matter what activity you're doing.
No. 1: Gonex｜3 in 1 Protective Gear Set
No. 2: JBM｜Protective Gear Set for Multi Sports
No. 3: Bodyprox｜Elbow Protection Pads
No. 4: Skatewiz｜Protect-1 Elbow and Knee Pads
No. 5: G-Form｜Pro X2 Knee Pad
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