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How to Choose: Skateboard Knee and Elbow Pads

After a skateboard helmet, the next most important pieces of body armor protection for skateboarding would be skateboard / longboard knee pads and skateboard / longboard elbow pads.

For the beginner, as you can imagine, they can be worth their weight in gold. Unless you’re a child prodigy, any time you take up a new extreme sport that relies on pavement for its locomotion, you have to anticipate some number of wipeouts. Yet, even for the intermediate or pro, kneepads and elbow pads serve a very valuable purpose. It’s the nature of the skateboarder to want to learn new tricks – aerials, flip tricks, slides, grinds, etc. - and on the ascent up the skill ladder, he or she too will appreciate having quality knee and elbow protection. After all, who wants to writhe in pain after a failed trick or stick to the sheets because of road rash the morning after a trip to the skate park?

#1: How Much Skateboard Knee and Elbow Protection Do You Need?

Knee/Elbow Cap Material: Hard Shell VS. Soft Shell

  • Hard shelled caps are usually made of a tough, ABS plastic. This shell can be smooth and rounded or be ergonomically molded.

  • Hard shelled caps are the most popular choice for skateboard knee and elbow pads because they are thick and robust, meaning they can take a lot of impact and abrasion - impact and abrasion that you won’t have to.

  • However, because of their bulk, they tend to offer a little less range of motion. (In our opinion, their overall benefit far outweighs this limitation.)

  • And because of their hard shells, they cannot readily be worn under clothing unless you wear baggy clothes.
  • Soft shell knee and elbow "caps" are usually made of a soft, dense foam, Kevlar, d3o, VPD or another flexible material that is meant to cushion the force of impact.

  • Soft shell pads are usually lighter in weight, lower profile and therefore offer a bit more range of motion. They can also be used more easily for snowboarding, BMX, MTB and other action sports.

  • However, they do not offer as much protection as their hard shell counterparts.

  • Soft-shell pads are primarily designed to slide on under pants or sleeves, which is great if you'd like to wear your protective gear undercover.

Knee/Elbow Thickness and Cap Size: More Padding VS. Less Padding

Skateboard Knee and Elbow Pad Thickness.

Skateboard knee and skateboard elbow pads have soft foam padding on the interior of the sleeve and behind the hard plastic shells to further soften the force of impact. Thicker padding in skate pads offer more protection, but keep in mind that thicker padding means additional bulk and weight. Skateboard Knee and Elbow Cap/Pad Size and Shape. Skate knee and elbow pads are tailored for different uses and preferences, so both the caps and the padding behind them extend to different widths and lengths, providing more or less coverage below, and to the sides of your knee and elbow. More padding adds additional skateboarding safety protection in these areas, but adds to the overall bulk and weight.

Need Extra Padding Under your Skateboard Knee Guards? Try an extra layer of soft protection under your knee pads with knee gaskets. Gaskets are a slim, tubular under layer, with a horseshoe or donut shaped knee pad, that will further protect your joints beneath your hard or soft shell pads. Find them in the Skateboard / Longboard Knee Pads and the Skateboard / Longboard Elbow Pads sections.

#2: Do You Care About Having to Remove Your Shoes or Gloves to Get Your Skateboard Knee and Elbow Pads On and Off?

An important convenience feature is the ability to easily put on or remove the skateboard knee or elbow pads. There are two basic designs, sleeve style pads that slip on and off or butterfly style pads that are secured to your leg/arm with adjustable straps.

Slip On Skateboard Knee and Elbow Pads.

  • The slip-on design is typically found in soft-shell guards, less expensive guards, elbow and knee gaskets and youth-sized pads

  • Slip-on knee and elbow pads are tubular in design

  • You slide them up your leg to your kneecap or up your arm to your elbow

  • Some slip-on pads have additional, exterior, adjustable straps that you then cinch tight to better hold the pads in place

Butterfly Closure Knee and Elbow Pads.

  • The butterfly closure design is most often found in the robust knee and elbow pads that include hard-shell protection and more expensive guards
  • Butterfly pads are designed as wrap-around protection. This means you don’t have to take off your shoes or push up your sleeve to get them on>
  • The term ‘butterfly’ refers to the method of cinching – two pairs of wing flaps wrap around the leg/arm above and below the knee/elbow, each pair held firm by a Velcro or Nylon strap
slip on knee/elbow pads

#3: Do You Need Integrated Shin or Forearm Protection in your Skateboard Knee or Elbow Guards?

We offer several Knee/Shin and Elbow/Forearm guards that integrate a knee or elbow pad with a shin or forearm guard. If you are going to be riding rails or have an existing injury and are looking for extra protection for your limbs, these pads are worth checking out!

Integrated Elbow / Forearm and Knee / Shin guards feature:

  • Seamless protection for your joint (elbow or knee) and limb (forearm or shin)

  • Multiple sets of adjustable straps to keep the guard in place

  • A flexible material between the joint and limb pad hinges to allow for the natural bend of your arm or leg to enhance range of motion

  • Integrated guards are available in the hard shell and soft shell style

#4: How Much Should I spend for Skateboard Knee and Elbow Guards?

You can expect to pay between $20 and $115 for skateboard knee pads and about $15 to $85 dollars for skateboard elbow pads. Prices differ depending on features and level of protection. At XSportsProtective we also offer Elbow and Knee Guard combo packs for our most popular elbow and knee guards to keep prices more budget friendly!

  • A beginner to intermediate level of protection

  • Large EVA foam padding to lessen the force impact

  • ABS plastic, hard shell cap

  • Slip on or butterfly closure

  • Youth-sized pads

What features will I generally find in knee and elbow pads in the $30-$70+ range?

  • A professional level of protection
  • Large, dual density EVA foam padding
  • Ergonomically formed caps that are sometimes detachable and replaceable
  • Side padding to protect ligaments
  • Integrated forearm and shin options available
  • Technologically advanced, transitional padding that is normally soft and flexible, but becomes stiff and rigid to absorb the force of impact (VPD, d3o)
  • Sweat-wicking liners to prevent chaffing and keep you cool
  • Slip on or butterfly closure

    #5: What are Knee Gaskets? Do I Need Them Too?

    Knee gaskets are tubular pads made of a stretchy neoprene/lycra blend. They are intended to slip on over your knee and rest beneath your normal knee pad to provide extra support for your knee joint and extra cushion for your knee caps against falls.
    Knee gaskets are quite popular with aggressive skateboarders and derby girls, whose knees tend to break their falls the majority of the time. Most knee gaskets also come with exterior Velcro strips, to better secure your knee pads on top of them. We carry different brands of knee gaskets such as Triple Eight, Smith Scabs and Skate Designs.

    Shop our collection of Skateboard / Longboard Knee Pads and Skateboard / Longboard Elbow Pads today!