Best Knee Pads For Skateboards: What To Look For
Knee pads are a great idea for those just learning how to skate who might fall and skateboarders who skate vert. Knee pads are mandatory when skating vert because it helps the rider control how they fall and avoid injury. Street skaters rarely wear knee pads because they do slightly restrict your movement and visibility of your board. Big pads also look goofy. When buying knee pads, you want them to be the correct size, while still being protective. Sometimes this is a trade-off. There are different styles of pads used for different types of skateboarding. Some pads are designed to allow the rider to bail, or fall with control, while some are just made to help avoid injuries from random falls.
Size & Fit
Getting the correct size knee pads is the most important thing when determining the best knee pads for skateboards. They shouldn’t be too big that they are falling off. Sometimes little kids are stuck with huge pads and this can actually be better for falling, but if they are falling off of the kid’s knees, they might not do their job when they are needed.
Knee pads should have a sizing chart included on the packaging or on the company website. Buying knee pads slightly larger is better for kids to grow into if their size is on the cusp. Wearing knee pads that are too small can reduce flexibility and restrict blood flow to the legs.
Types Of Knee Pads
Toy Store Pads
Pads you get from stores like Target or Walmart are not as good as pads designed with skateboarding specifically in mind. They are not as protective and are not used the same way.
They usually have a smaller piece of foam that doesn’t go all the way around the leg, with an even smaller hard piece of plastic stitched to the outside. The straps can be very thin elastic pieces that velcro to the piece of foam.
The problem with these is that the hard cap isn’t big enough and can deflect the impact onto the side of the pad or the knee off of the hard plastic. The straps do not hold the pad on well, and they get stretched out so that the pad doesn’t stay on after a while.
These pads are easy to spot due to their inferior protection and cheap construction. They look super poser and shouldn’t be worn by any skater wanting to be taken seriously.
The difference is night and day between toy store pads and pads designed by skateboarders for skateboarders.
Vert Skateboarding Knee Pads
Knee pads designed for skateboarding have a large flat hard cap on the outside of the foam part that wraps around the leg. The larger plastic cap is more protective and allows the rider to knee slide, controlling the bail or fall.
Knee sliding is where you slide on your knees to fall. Pads that do not have hard plastic on the outside are not able to knee slide because they get stuck on the ground. Without the plastic shell, pads are only good for protecting against impact, they don’t slide. They are also not as protective. Usually, skaters are moving, so sliding on the pads is useful, especially when riding too fast to catch yourself and run out of a fall.
Skateboarding knee pads usually have a cloth layer under the elastic straps that help to keep it on as well as makes it more comfortable to wear. These have to be slipped on. If you can put them on easily with your shoe on, they are probably too big. This style where it wraps around the whole leg also provides more protection for the sides of the knee. The way the leg works, it can’t bend backward, so protecting the inside of the leg from impact with the ground isn’t necessary. The sides of the legs sometimes get hurt though if its a tumbling fall or against a wall.
The bigger flat hard cap is what makes the pads able to be used for knee sliding instead of just being used to save you from getting hurt.
Street Skateboarding Knee Pads
For street, skaters do not wear knee pads that are big and can be seen. Some skaters wear G-forms or gasket pads that can be worn underneath their clothing.
Best Knee Pads for Skateboards: Vert
The best knee pad brands are 187, Pro Tec, Smith and S1.
187 Skateboard Pads
187 knee pads are extremely popular with vert skaters. They are heavily padded and have a good hard shell to knee slide with. The hard shell is angled in a way that makes it easier to knee slide. They are fully customizable on their website.
S1 is a brand that has more recently started making skateboard pads. Their pads are made well and work great.
Smith Safety Gear
Smith makes Scabs, which are good for wearing outside of pants for vert. They wrap around the leg providing good protection, while being generally smaller and allowing the rider to move better.
These types of pads are great and can be worn underneath pants so they don’t show, or under pads with hard plastic caps to add extra protection for the impact of landing on your knees. G form also makes compression shorts with hip and tailbone pads, which help a lot for skateboarding.
Best Knee Pads For Skateboards: In General
The Ones That Save Your Ass
The best way to fall is to run out and stay on your feet. Sometimes you are traveling too fast to run out, so the best way to fall is to slide on your butt feet forward. So being able to knee slide saves your ass. For skateboarding like vert or downhill, the best pads have to allow you to knee slide.
The Ones That Fit Well
Pads that protect the rider are the best pads for most people, especially beginners who don’t know how to control their fall. There are a lot of middle ground pad sets that will protect all the way around the leg and wont fall off because the straps don’t work well enough or get stretched out.
The Ones That Are Made Well
The best knee pads for skaters are high quality and are constructed with heavy duty materials. They will last longer and wont get destroyed. They will offer more protection and won’t make the skater look like a nerd poser to the rest of the skaters at the park.
Check out our selection of pads here.
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