Snowboarding can be risky business. Unfortunately, it’s particularly risky for your precious knees. My poor old knees have certainly taken a beating over the years!
That’s where knee pads come in.
Knee pads are an under-rated form of snowboarding protection. They’re brilliant for those icy falls and protecting against hard obstacles like grind rails.
Once I discovered the merits of knee pads, I was on a mission. A mission to find the best knee pads for snowboarding!
So I tested as many as I could get my hands on. Ready to see the results? Read on!
Don’t feel like reading? Here’s the spoiler.
Best Premium Knee Pads ($150): POC Joint VPD
Best Bang For Your Buck ($40-50): Rippl Knee Pads
Best Runner Up ($80): POC Joint VPD Air
Best Entry-Level Knee Pad ($28): Burton Basic Pads
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- Super premium, high-end product.
- Comfy and snug.
- VPD system protection is awesome.
- Designed for mountain biking - so can take some big knocks.
- Also available on Amazon.
✖️ The price tag (currently $150)
These pads are best suited to riders who want the best protection on the market. Whilst they’re a significant up-front investment, they should last several seasons and can double-up as mountain biking pads. They are probably overkill for beginners and those who don’t ride all that often.
These pads are the bees knees!
The only problem? The price.
I borrowed a pair of these from my buddy for a week or two and they were awesome. They gave me renewed confidence both through the park and when carving low on an icy day.
Protection: These pads are renowned for their hardcore protection. They are made from polymer dough that will harden on impact. This inherently makes the pads malleable, adaptable and notably soft, ensuring that your movements are not impaired until the immediate point of direct impact.
Materials: They are made of a moisture-wicking material which has been incorporated into each layer of padding. This made them very comfortable, though they’re certainly more noticeable than some of the lower-profile pairs.
The external layer of fabric on these knee pads is made using durably polyamide arms with high abrasion resistance. This ensures that you can fall on your knees repeatedly without causing any damage to your pads (or knees – hopefully).
Comfort: The materials are super soft and there were no pinch-points. These pads are primarily crafted to act as mountain bike pads. This makes them super comfortable when bending and straightening your leg, but they’re not perfect for twisting motions (like grabs).
These pads are well suited to most snowboarders. They’re not as thick as the POC but are lower-profile and much easier to fit under snow pants. Being specifically designed for snowboarding, they offer greater flexibility. They’re also brilliant value for money.
These were actually the final pair I tested and they’ve become my go-to pads. Regular reader’s will know that I’m rapidly becoming a Rippl fan. They make great gear, without the eye-watering price tags.
Protection: These pads do a great job of covering the front and sides of your knees. You’ll notice that the padding has been broken up into ergonomic sections -meaning they flex perfectly with your knees. The pads are not as thick as the POC though. Bear this in mind if you’re looking for maximum protection.
Personally the protection was more than sufficient for me. Any more padding and I suspect I’d start to sacrifice flexibility.
Materials: Very breathable and very stretchy. They feel well made and are hopefully built to last.
Comfort: Light-weight and comfortable. I almost forget that I’m wearing them (after they’ve settled in). They also do an excellent job of staying fitted over your knees.
I haven’t gone insane and written the first product twice. These are in fact the lightweight or “air” version of the POC Joint VPD. They are best suited to snowboarders wanting premium, flexible POC protection, without the painful price tag.
As you can probably guess, they’re quite similar to the first option. However these focus a little more on flexibility, weight and breathability. This means that they’re not quite as protective or as premium as the standard POC VPD, but they’re still an incredible knee pad for snowboarding.
You’ll also appreciate the much more palatable price tag!
A great entry-level option, particularly for beginners. Excellent price point and very easy to use. Riders with the potential to take some harder knocks may be better with the sturdier option above.
These were actually my first every pair of snowboarding knee pads. They are great for kneeling down and for absorbing minor knocks. As they are pretty cheap, there’s always the option to upgrade as you progress.
Protection: These pads from Burton have plenty of padding while remaining notably lightweight. In fact, you will barely notice that you are wearing these knee pads. The only issue is that the padding does compress quite easily and so they won’t readily absorb bigger falls.
Materials: These pads are made from neoprene which is highly breathable. Their simplistic tube design easily slips over the feet, avoiding complicated straps or areas of pinching.
Burton’s products tend to be far more lightweight than other brands. Obviously their focus is on snowboarding as opposed to mountain bike protection.
Comfort: Burton have cleverly made them shorter at the bottom, ensuring that you have plenty of room between your boots. This avoids the painful crossover between boot-sock-pads. They are therefore very comfortable – my only complaint being that the tops did tend to roll down a little through the day.
The are best for the rider that wants the protection of the POC but without such a painful price-tag. They are another mountain biking knee pad and so are thicker but slightly less flexible than other options.
I actually already had these from my mountain biking days. They crossed over to snowboarding pretty darned well – but like all biking knee pads, couldn’t quite keep up in the flexibility department.
Protection: These knee pads are solid and provide you with great protection from hard falls. The padding comes down below the knee in order to also protect the very top of your shin. This can be a bonus for rail riders.
Materials: The silicon strip across the bottom and top of the strap ensures that they remain in place during a fall, and you will also not need to pull down your other clothing in order to readjust these knee pads. They are not as breathable as I’d have liked.
Comfort: These knee padscontain a hook-and-loop attachment that makes them very easy to take on and off. I’d advise wearing these over the top of a base layer, as this system can cause some pinching to occur behind the knee during extremes of movement.
These are best for the rider with limited budget. They’ll certainly do the trick for beginners however I suspect they won’t last very long. If your budget can stretch to it, I’d grab the Rippl pads instead or at least the Burton basics.
I won’t go into too much detail here as they are a pretty standard slip-on pad. The outstanding feature of these is the insanely low price. Unfortunately this also means that they’re lower quality – but if you need a short-term solution or a spare pair then these are great.
To be fair to them, their articulated design does work and they move very nicely with your knees. Having searched far and wide for the ideal super-cheap snowboard pads, I think these are it!
These are best for rider’s wanting to move away from the more standard EVA foam solutions.
The SmartFlex technology incorporated in these kneepads works in a similar fashion to the technology in POC products. The technology has inherently created a pad that is malleable and soft but hardens upon direct impact.
This occurs due to the molecules within the material realigning themselves and binding together to form a solid structure.
The only issue with this is that the foam has been known to crack under impact. Obviously it hardens too much and becomes brittle. This happened to a friend of mine, although admittedly, it was a pretty heavy fall!
The external sleeve is made from moisture-wicking material to ensure that your knee pads do not become sweat-ridden on hotter days (gross).
Best for the rider who wants super strong protection with helpful additional straps to hold the pads in place.
Full disclosure, I didn’t get a chance to test these out for myself. But one of the other testers did and raved about them – so they had to make the cut.
This style of kneepad has been specifically designed for mountain biking. The pads offer copious protection with a Kevlar front shield that offers extra resistance to direct impact.
The downside for snowboarders is that the side-padding is made of much softer foam. In theory, the protection to the sides of your knee is likely to be compromised by this.
Can You Hurt Your Knees When Snowboarding?
I don’t think this will surprise anybody.
My poor knees have taken a lot of abuse over the years. This doesn’t just come from falls though. Impacts from jumps and abnormal twisting during turns are also strong culprits.
Unfortunately, the only one we can easily protect against is the falls. This is where knee pads come into play.
Do Knee Pads Prevent You From Getting Hurt?
The type of knee injury that knee pads protect from are the impact injuries from hitting the ground or an object directly.
For this reason, knee pads are amazing for icy days, learning to snowboard or taking park laps. The best knee pads for snowboarding will offer great protection without reducing your much-needed flexibility.
One of the most common falls to occur when starting out is the toe-edge catch. This usually occurs when the edge of your board catches the snow and you are flipped forward.
Because this is sudden and unexpected, often your knees, elbows and wrists will take the brunt of the fall. Kneepads can therefore save you from considerable amounts of pain.
As with all forms of protective wear, knee pads also save you from shattering your confidence following unnecessary knocks and injuries.
This makes the process of learning to snowboard far more pleasant, irrespective of whether you are trying to master new tricks or you just want to learn the basics of snowboarding.
This marks the end of our journey to find the best knee pads for snowboarding.
In the vast majority of instances, a thinner pad like Burton Basic or Bodyprox pads will provide you with sufficient protection from smaller falls.
However, if you want to ensure optimal protection and comfort, opt for higher-end products like the POC Joint VPD or the Rippl Knee Pads.
It’s also worth considering a pair of Impact Shorts. Luckily for you I reviewed the 7 best impact shorts for snowboarding here.
Thanks for reading!