Skateboard elbow pads: Because skin and bone meeting concrete isn’t pretty
Skateboarding is about freedom and fun and pushing the limits of what you can do. Sometimes pushing your limits means slamming onto whatever it is you’re skating on. A scar may be a badge of honor to some, but it’s a badge that can keep you off the skateboard for weeks or even months. It just makes sense to wear skateboard elbow pads to minimize or prevent injury to your elbows and arms.
What kind of skateboard elbow pads do I need?
Like other skateboard pads, skateboard elbow pads are either hard shell
or soft shell
. Both types of skateboard pads have some sort of Neoprene or other soft, flexible sleeve and EVA foam padding to protect the elbow joint and the area surrounding it.
A hard shell skateboard elbow pad:
A soft shell skateboard elbow pad:
- Has an ABS plastic shell surrounding the elbow joint that is riveted on top of interior soft foam
- Provides greater protection than a soft shell skateboard pad
- Offers more durability than a soft shell skateboard pad (the ABS plastic shell won’t rip or tear no matter how many times you slide or fall on it)
- May offer slightly less range of motion
- Is bulkier than a soft shell skateboard knee pad, which means it may not fit under a long-sleeved shirt
- Will have some sort of Kevlar or other abrasion-resistant panel over the front of the knee area
- Does not provide as much impact protection as a hard shell skateboard elbow pad
- Is smaller and lighter than a hard shell skateboard elbow pad, so you can wear it under a shirt
- The panel covering the elbow area is not as durable as the plastic cap on the hard shell skateboard knee pad and can eventually rip or tear
How do you want to put them on?
There are two basic skateboard elbow pad designs: slip on or butterfly closure. Slip-on elbow pads slide up your leg to your elbow. This design is more commonly found in soft-shell guards, less expensive knee pads, knee (or elbow) gaskets, and youth-sized pads. Skateboard elbow pads with a butterfly closure wrap around your arm and elbow. The butterfly closure design is typically found in hard shell skateboard pads and more robust and/or more expensive skateboard elbow pads. Most skateboard elbow pads with a butterfly closure simply use soft straps with Velcro closures. Some use a hook-and-loop closure to ensure a snug, custom fit that won’t budge while you’re riding. And some skateboard elbow pads have a combination of a slip-on sleeve and straps for a secure fit. A couple other things to consider when purchasing skateboard elbow pads:
- If you wear skateboard gloves or wrist guards, do you mind if you have to take them off in order to remove the elbow pads?
- Does the butterfly design feature a hook-and-loop closure? For some people, fastening a hook-and-loop closure with their non-dominant hand (e.g., if you’re right-handed, your left hand) can be difficult
XSportsProtectives staff picks for skateboard elbow pads
187 elbow pads are darn close to the perfect skateboard elbow pad. They have a full sleeve design, double-stitching for durability, and Cordura/Neoprene reinforcement on the top and bottom of the pads. Plus the thick elbow cup interior is made of slow-memory EVA foam padding built to give generous protection. We like 187 “Killer” elbow pads for big ramps and vert applications (and they’re great for roller derby too).
For less intense riding, we’re very fond of ProTec Street elbow pads, which combine the high-impact protection of a street pad with the comfort and style you want in protective gear. These durable, multi-purpose elbow pads have hard exterior cups and interior EVA cup foam and are great for entry level and/or casual skateboarders.
Do you still have questions about which skateboard elbow pads are right for you?
Check out our Skateboard Learning Center
article on How to choose skateboard knee and elbow pads
or to learn more.