7iDP Sam Hill Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Above-average protection, light, relatively low-profile
Cons: Very long sleeve, harder to put on
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7iDP Sam Hill
|Price||$88.99 at Amazon|
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|$89.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Above-average protection, light, relatively low-profile||Protective, comfortable, retains nice pedaling abilities||Wisely-placed protection, dialed fit, reasonable price, pedal-friendly for protection level||Exceptionally pedal friendly, comfortable, lightweight||Well-rounded, attractive price, dialed fit|
|Cons||Very long sleeve, harder to put on||Heavy, not the best for long rides||A little clammy, sleeve could be longer at top||Not very protective, soft material may tear easily||Poor ventilation, could be prone to ripping|
|Bottom Line||Protective knee pads that pedal well enough and have an exceptionally long sleeve||A perfect blend of substantial protection, supreme comfort, and respectable pedaling abilities||A high-quality and versatile knee pad that splendidly blends protection and pedal-friendliness||A lightweight and extremely pedal-friendly knee pad with a minimalist approach||A well-rounded knee pad with a quality fit at an attractive price point|
|Rating Categories||7iDP Sam Hill||Fox Racing Launch D3O||Leatt Airflex Pro||Fox Racing Enduro K...||Dakine Slayer|
|Fit and Comfort (20%)|
|Pedal Friendliness (20%)|
|Ventilation and Breathability (20%)|
|Specs||7iDP Sam Hill||Fox Racing Launch D3O||Leatt Airflex Pro||Fox Racing Enduro K...||Dakine Slayer|
|Weight (per pair, size L)||320 grams||445 grams||256 grams||198 grams||366 grams|
|Padding Material||SAS Tech||D3O polyurethane||AirFlex impact gel||Not specified||DK impact foam|
|Body Material||Breathable 4-way stretch mesh||20% nylon, 40% neoprene, 5% polyester, 5% spandex||Moisture Cool, Airmesh||Perforated neoprene||Aramid fiber|
|Safety Certifications||CE EN 1621-1:2012 Level 2||CE EN 1621-1 Level 1||CE EN 1621-1||Not specified||EN 1621-1 Level 1|
|Available Sizes||S-XL||S - L||S - XXL||S - XL||S - XL|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The 7iDP Sam Hill pads delivered a bit of a surprise. When unboxing the pads, the stiff armor patch was very concerning and they weren’t the easiest pads to slide on. Fortunately, once you got these pads on the trail, they were respectable in almost every performance metric. Aside from a mediocre showing in the pedal-friendliness metric, the Sam Hill pads impressed us in most areas. They are a good option for a wide range of riders save for the cross-country or light trail crowd.
The Sam Hill knee pads offer impressive levels of protection while retaining a slim and sleek feel and appearance. Yes, there are more protective pads in this review, but we found the 7iDP pads deliver adequate protection for aggressive trail and enduro applications without the bulk and heft of the burliest options.
The Sam Hill pads provide a large area of protective coverage. It starts with the main SAS Tech armor patch which is about average in size. It is oblong in shape and extends from above the knee and good ways down the shin with the widest part of the coverage over the knee cap. The SAS Tech pad is quite stiff. It is significantly stiffer than the bulk of the other pads in this review. In fact, this material is firm enough that it can feel somewhat difficult to put these pads on. Once the knee pads are on the leg, however, the armor plate warms up and slowly conforms to the contours of your knee. Auxiliary padding surrounds the entirety of the main armor patch. This auxiliary padding is relatively soft, more traditional foam. All of the padding is covered with tough, abrasion-resistant material. The SAS Tech pad can also be removed from the pads for washing.
The ultra-long sleeve is a little polarizing, but it pretty much guarantees that you won't have pad gap. Depending on what length socks you are wearing, there might not be any skin showing on your leg. This extended coverage can be a positive attribute in environments where sun protection is important or places where mosquitos are a problem. The long sleeve can also be a negative as it blocks some airflow.
We would describe the protection level of these pads as aggressive trail to enduro. There are pads that feel a little more confidence-inspiring in super gnarly terrain, but the Sam Hill pads deliver 80% of that protection while remaining significantly sleeker and more pedal-friendly. Protection levels should be sufficient for the vast majority of riders.
Fit and Comfort
After fighting with the Sam Hill pads to get them on our legs, comfort levels were surprisingly high. As previously mentioned, the SAS Tech armor is initially quite stiff making it slightly more difficult to put these pads on. Luckily, on the leg, the Sam Hill pads become quite comfortable, and at a measured weight of 320-grams for the pair, they are shockingly lightweight for their size and protection levels.
The long sleeve is constructed of a four-way stretch fabric. This fabric is fairly thin but it provides a snug and secure feel and is surprisingly cool and comfortable against the leg. It is soft and isn’t the least bit irritating. The firm SAS Tech armor is pre-curved and the sleeve is articulated which adds to the comfortable feel.
The Sam Hill knee pads come in four sizes, S-XL, and we found them to fit true to size. Our large test pads didn’t shift or slide around on us at all. The upper cuff is so long that you can tuck it under your liner short and silicone grippers on the inside and outside of the elastic upper cuff help to hold them in place. If you happen to be in between sizes, sizing down would ensure the tightest and most secure fit. We would be a little concerned about sizing up on these pads as the strapless design doesn’t allow you to take up extra space.
The Sam Hill pads provide a solid pedaling experience. They aren't as pedal-friendly as the super minimalist lightweight options, but we feel they fit and pedal as well or better than other pads with similar levels of protection.
When spinning away, the soft and stretchy sleeve doesn’t restrict the motion. There are no pinch points or hitches and the pads stay in place nicely. The stiff armor patch isn’t the plushest against the knee. Even though it is stiff, we didn't find it to cause any irritation or discomfort. We would have no problem embarking on a multi-hour ride with these pads. That said, they wouldn't be our first choice for all day epics.
Considering their coverage and protection, the Sam Hill knee pads deliver impressive levels of ventilation. While the armored portion of the pad doesn’t allow for much air to pass through, the four-way stretch fabric and rear mesh panel that comprises the sleeve breathe quite well. These materials allows heat and moisture to escape and they dry quickly. After a 2-hour ride in warm temperatures, our test pads weren't holding much moisture.
Even though these pads do breathe well, it is important to remember that the super long sleeve will never be quite as cool as a shorter sleeve. These pads cover so much of your leg that they are inherently just a bit warmer. A shorter sleeve with more exposed skin may be a better choice for warmer climates.
Throughout testing, we observed no signs of premature wear. The threads are still tight and there is no scuffing or tearing of any of the materials. All of the padding is covered in a more rugged, abrasion-resistant material that should stand up well to heavy use. The lighter stretch materials used in the construction of the sleeve feel less rugged, but seem durable enough if treated with care.
One area that could be a concern is the abundance of stitching on these knee pads. The front padded area has a lot of exposed stitching. Obviously, this is the location that is likely to be impacted in a crash and may be more susceptible to damage. That said, the stitching seems quite robust and ready for some abuse.
We feel the Sam Hill knee pads represent a pretty good value. They sit near the middle of the pack in terms of price, and we found the quality, protection, and comfort levels to be solid. We think they are well worth the money if you aspire to look like Sam Hill, or you're an aggressive trail or enduro rider who wants to maximize protection in a sleek and pedal-able package.
The 7iDP Sam Hill pads are sensible knee pads that blend nice levels of protection with a high level of comfort and reasonable pedaling performance. We think the Sam Hill pads are a good choice for many riders who value real protection but don’t want a big, bulky, set of knee pads.
— Pat Donahue
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