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How to Inspect Your Knee Pads and Elbow Pads

by Jim Bartlett October 06, 2016

How to Inspect Your Knee Pads and Elbow Pads

Depending on the sport, your pads may take a lot of wear and tear. Downhill mountain bikers are notorious for wrecking pads. BMX riders are always finding new ways to test the limits of pad technology. Did you know that roller derby knee pads have a life span of maybe one season—sometimes less, depending on style of play?

Elbow pads may last a bit longer. Even hard-shell knee pads will eventually need to be replaced if you're consistently falling and sliding on them.

A knee pad that's constantly slipping will not adequately protect your knee cap. Velcro that's decayed or dirty may not stay in place after a hard hit. And even if you clean your gear regularly (click here to learn how to clean your gear), after a while your pads may start to take on a funk that won't go away. No matter what your sport, it’s a good idea to inspect your pads on a regular basis to make sure they’re still capable of doing their job.

Here's a handy checklist:

  1. Do the Velcro straps still fit securely?
  2. If it’s a soft-shell pad, are there abrasions or tears in the material covering the shell?
  3. If it’s a hard-shell pad, is the shell still securely fastened to the sleeve? Is the hard shell cracked?
  4. Is the stitching coming apart?
  5. Is the sleeve material still intact?
  6. Does it feel loose? Are you constantly having to readjust or push the pads back into place?

Didn't pass the test?  It's time for new pads!

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Jim Bartlett
Jim Bartlett


Founder of XSportsProtective, snowboarder, mountain biker, father of four young kids who love action sports.

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