Dakine Slayer Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Well-rounded, attractive price, dialed fit
Cons: Poor ventilation, could be prone to ripping
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Slayer knee pads do a lot of things well. They posted relatively high scores in all of our performance metrics save for ventilation and durability. Even if they never blew our minds in any single metric, we appreciate a well-rounded and extremely functional product. Mix in an ultra-reasonable price tag, and you have a recipe for success. No, they may not be packed full of features, and they aren't all that flashy, but the Slayer knee pads work very well. As a result, they earn our Best Buy award.
The Slayer pads have a simple and sensible approach to protection. They aren't over-engineered or littered with padded and armored areas. Instead, Dakine focused on protection where it is most needed — right on the knee cap.
These pads feature a foam armored patch covered in a thin layer of fabric. According to Dakine, the foam is called DK Impact Energy Absorbing foam. It is designed to effectively disperse the forces of impact, therefore protecting your fragile knees. The armor patch is a nice shape and impressively large. It extends from approximately two inches above the knee cap down about eight inches to the upper shin area. It is also quite wide and offers protection to the inner and outer knee. The padding is relatively thin and bends quite easily.
We didn't intentionally crash while wearing these pads, that would be silly. We did conduct some less-than-scientific testing with a cement slab. When dropping a knee onto the ground, you can certainly still feel the impact, and the Slayer pads effectively muted the impact. These don't offer the same level of protection as some of our gravity-focused options, but, that said, they offer plenty of protection for the average trail ride.
Fit and Comfort
These pads deliver a high level of comfort. We would have no problem wearing them for a four-hour ride, as both the fit and the shape are extremely well-executed.
The Slayer pads are tight enough to not shift at all, without being so tight that they cut off circulation or cause discomfort. There is no excess material — they really hug the leg, reducing the possibility of extra fabric rubbing and chafing. The inner portion of the armor patch is pleasant against the knee and also doesn't cause any irritation. There are no closure straps to deal with — these pads are simply a sleeve with some silicone lining on the inner part of the cuffs. They rely on a snug and proper fit to stay in place, and they deliver on that front. Riders who are straddling the line between sizes should think about sizing up.
These pads pedal well. They can't quite match the level of pedal-friendliness of our super light, minimalist options, but they perform just fine for the average 2-3-hour mountain bike ride.
The pedaling motion feels nice with these pads — the materials are pleasant against the leg through all stages of the stroke. There are no pinch spots or uncomfortable areas at the top or the bottom of the pedal stroke. One quirk is these pads do have a snug fit. We mentioned in the discussion about fit that we suggest sizing up if you are between sizes. If you find yourself in knee pads that are slightly too small, there will be a restrictive feel while pedaling.
Ventilation and Breathability
The Slayer pads allow for passable levels of insulation and airflow. These definitely aren't the breeziest or most airy pads we have ever ridden, but they aren't the hottest or clammiest ones either.
The front of the pads are relatively clogged up by the armor patch. The foam doesn't allow for any air to get through and reach the knee. The knee sleeve uses a thicker and more robust material compared to other pads. While some knee pads use a thin material that is almost transparent when stretched, the Slayer are quite thick and robust. This limits the amount of heat that can escape. However, the rear of the pad has a cutout that allows moisture to escape the crease on the back of the knee.
If ventilation is a serious concern, we recommend looking towards some of the lighter, cross-country focused knee pads in our review.
These knee pads show no sign of deterioration or impending failure. All of the seams were still intact after our testing period without any tearing or unraveling of threads. After putting on and removing these pads dozens upon dozens of times, the elastic cuffs are still in great shape.
We do have some concerns about how well these pads will react to high-speed crashes. While the foam and fabric construction is super comfortable and it feels like they should do a nice job protecting the knee cap, we suspect they will be prone to ripping and tearing. A crash onto some wet roots or slippery mud may not be a big deal, but dragging these pads over rock or gravel could prove deadly. We could see these pads ripping more easily than some of the pads with harder exterior materials. Again, we should reiterate that we didn't experience this failure, but given our extensive experience testing knee pads, we could easily see this happening.
The Slayer pads are a tremendous value. No, they may not be the flashiest or packed with the most features. That said, they have an extremely well-designed shape and fit. In addition, they are a very sensible option for a lot of riders as they are neither too burly nor too wimpy. We really like these knee pads, and the attractive price tag only enhances our high-opinion. You can certainly spend more money for more intricate padding, better airflow, and flashier graphics, but the Slayer pads deliver a supreme value as they are.
The Dakine Slayer are well-rounded, versatile, and functional knee pads that are an extremely good value. As a result, they take home our coveted Best Buy Award. On the trail, the Slayer pads offer an excellent blend of protection, fit, comfort, and pedal-friendliness that will work well for a wide range of riders. If you are looking for a mid-duty set of knee pads for daily trail riding, these pads are worth a look — especially if you love a deal. Gravity fiends or cross country riders should look elsewhere, but everyone in between should consider the Slayer knee pads.
— Pat Donahue