The POC Joint VPD System knee pads are supremely comfortable and earn our Top Pick for Comfort. They deliver unrivaled comfort whether you are hanging out at the trailhead, spinning the cranks, or pinning it downhill. Don't be mistaken, despite the pillowy feel, these knee pads offer a decent level of protection thanks to the VPD material that hardens upon impact. While the comfort and protection levels are quite high, the fit is a little funky, and we question how well these pads will stand up to a hard crash on rocky or gravely terrain. Additionally, the elephant in the room is the price tag. The Joint VPD pads sell for a hefty price consistent with POC's premium approach. That said, if comfort is king, these could be a great option for the trail rider who wants a solid level of protection without chafing their knees up on a plastic-y knee pad.
POC Joint VPD System Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Exceptionally comfortable, great balance of protection and pedal-friendliness, stylish
Cons: Expensive, durability concerns, quirky fit
Manufacturer: POC Sports
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Joint VPD System is a rock-solid knee pad with impressive comfort and protection. Despite a few quirks, these pads put up an admirable fight against the best of the best in our test class. They take home a Top Pick for Comfort thanks to the ultra-plush feel and the absence of any hard, awkward, plastic plating.
The Joint VPD System uses POC's visco-elastic polymer dough for protection. Yes, visco-elastic polymer dough is a mouthful, and that's why POC simply refers to this material as VPD. VPD is a soft and pliable material that firms up upon impact. The padding really is amazingly soft and flexible compared to other pads in this test class that utilize a harder plastic that doesn't bend as freely. The VPD material is approximately .25-.5-inches thick.
The protective material occupies a fair bit of space on the front of these knee pads, about in line with other trail-oriented pads. We didn't intentionally crash while wearing these, but we did some primitive testing involving the knee pads and pavement. It is clear the VPD material does firm up a bit on impact. It's still quite apparent you are smashing your knee, but the protective layer undoubtedly works.
Fit and Comfort
Fit and comfort is a little bit of a double-edged sword. We love the comfort level of these knee pads. That said, the fit is a little funky and could be improved.
Let's start with the good. These knee pads are insanely comfortable. The materials inside the knee sleeve are exceptionally pleasant against the skin. Whether you are driving to trail, waiting for your friend who is always late, or shredding singletrack, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable knee pad. The primary factor is the pliability and softness of the VPD patch. There are absolutely no pressure points. Other pads have plastic armor that can kind of jab your legs at times. Not the case with the Joint VPD System, just pillowy goodness.
The fit, however, is a little funky. Our test pads were size large, and they felt a little larger than all of the other pads in our test. This issue mostly manifested itself with the top part of the sleeve slipping down. The Joint VPD doesn't use any closure device, they are just a straight sleeve with some rubbery traction patches to try and hold it in place. Fit issues can be a very individual issue, and we can't knock on POC too hard for these fit quirks. These pads might fit perfectly for you.
The Joint VPD System is a pedal-friendly pad. We would slot them firmly into the trail-riding category — they aren't meant for hard-charging enduro riding. They certainly aren't the super minimalist, ultra-light, slim, lighter duty knee pads. They also are definitely not gravity-focused brawlers. As a result, they pedal just fine for the average 1-2.5 hour ride.
The VPD plate flexes nicely and doesn't restrict pedal motion at all. We did some fairly lengthy rides with these knee pads and experienced no chafing or irritation on the knee. While other pads with a firmer armor patch irritated our knees, these pads stayed ultra-comfortable. One quirk is that the VPD patch can slightly lift off of the rider's knee when the leg is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. This is probably unavoidable, but it can look a little funky when gazing down at the knee.
Ventilation and Breathability
The Joint VPD System offers about average levels of ventilation. They are neither steamy nor breezy.
The sleeve material on the Joint is a little more robust than some other pads we have tested. The thicker material may stand up better to being put on and taken off hundreds of times during the lifespan of the pads. That said, thicker and heavier material is often detrimental to ventilation. The armor patch and the border around the armor patch are perforated and allow a decent amount of air through. It can be difficult to gauge exactly how well the perforations work. We can say, we have ridden in far breezier knee pads. We have also ridden in much hotter pads. This land about in the middle.
Durability is a bit of a mixed bag with the Joint VPD pads. As we mentioned, the knee sleeve feels thick and substantial. We took these pads on and off dozens of times, and everything is still functioning as it should. We do not expect these to unravel on us after six months of riding.
However, we are curious about how well these pads will stand up to crashes. POC claims the high-tenacity polyamide yarn is abrasion-resistant and can withstand some abuse. We have no doubt that crashing on some slippery East Coast roots or PNW mud wouldn't be a huge deal. That said, if you dumped these on some high speed gravely trails, rock, or hardpack, we could see the material tearing more easily than other pads that use plastic or rubberized armor. The soft, pliable, armor is what makes these so tremendously comfortable. But this may also limit the durability in the event of a mid-to-high speed crash.
These are the most expensive knee pads in our review. In fact, they are almost triple the price of some of the other pads we have tested. That being said, the extremely high level of comfort and clever protection helps justify the price tag. While they aren't quite perfect, the Joint VPD System pads are well-designed, and it is clear that POC took their time during the engineering process. If you are a trail rider looking for maximum comfort, these pads will deliver a strong value. If you are looking for a knee pad to survive dozens of crashes, your money may be better spent elsewhere.
The POC Joint VPD System are high-end pads that are exceptionally comfortable, making them an easy winner of our Top Pick for Comfort Award. The plush and pliable armor is quite pleasant against the knee whether you're grinding it out in the saddle or sitting in your car. These pads have a great amount of protection as a pad for daily trail riding. They aren't quite perfect, we have concerns as to how they will fare on high-speed crashes in rocky or gravely terrain, and there are some fit quirks. That said, if you are a rider who prioritizes comfort, these could very well be the knee pads of your dreams.
— Pat Donahue