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Rapha Trail Knee Pads Review

Ultra-comfortable pads that deliver an exceptional fit and quality construction
rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review
The Rapha pads offer sensible amounts of protection for most trail riding endeavors.
Credit: Pat Donahue
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $110 List
Manufacturer:   Rapha
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 7, 2022
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 18
  • Protection - 30% 7.0
  • Fit and Comfort - 20% 10.0
  • Pedal Friendliness - 20% 8.0
  • Ventilation and Breathability - 20% 7.0
  • Durability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Rapha Trail Knee Pads are exceptionally comfortable and well-designed pads that are well-suited for everyday trail riding. In fact, these are some of the most comfortable pads that we have ever used. The design, fit, and execution are impressive, as is the quality of the materials. The Rapha pads offer a moderate level of protection and are a great choice for a large number of riders. In the saddle, they offer a nice level of pedal-friendliness and are neither too bulky nor especially slim. They are on the expensive end of the spectrum but we feel the comfort and quality justify the price tag.
REASONS TO BUY
Supremely comfortable
Dialed fit
Impressive quality of construction and materials
REASONS TO AVOID
More expensive
Long sleeve isn't ideal for hot conditions

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rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Supremely comfortable, dialed fit, impressive quality of construction and materialsProtective, comfortable, retains nice pedaling abilitiesWisely-placed protection, dialed fit, reasonable price, pedal-friendly for protection levelExtremely pedal-friendly, lightweight, comfortableWell-rounded, attractive price, dialed fit
Cons More expensive, long sleeve isn't ideal for hot conditionsHeavy, not the best for long ridesA little clammy, sleeve could be longer at topMinimal protection, durability concernsPoor ventilation, could be prone to ripping
Bottom Line Ultra-comfortable pads that deliver an exceptional fit and quality constructionA perfect blend of substantial protection, supreme comfort, and respectable pedaling abilitiesA high-quality and versatile knee pad that splendidly blends protection and pedal-friendlinessMinimalist knee pads for riders who prioritize a high level of pedal-friendliness over protectionA well-rounded knee pad with a quality fit at an attractive price point
Rating Categories Rapha Trail Knee Pads Fox Racing Launch D3O Leatt Airflex Pro Sweet Protection Kn... Dakine Slayer
Protection (30%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
Fit and Comfort (20%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
Pedal Friendliness (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
7.0
Ventilation and Breathability (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Rapha Trail Knee Pads Fox Racing Launch D3O Leatt Airflex Pro Sweet Protection Kn... Dakine Slayer
Weight (per pair, size L) 372 grams 445 grams 256 grams 222 grams 366 grams
Padding Material RHEON Active Polymer D3O polyurethane AirFlex impact gel SAS Tech DK impact foam
Body Material 78% Recycled Nylon, 22% Elastane, Super Fabricâ„¢ Front Panel 20% nylon, 40% neoprene, 5% polyester, 5% spandex Moisture Cool, Airmesh N/A Aramid fiber
Adjustments? No No No No No
Safety Certifications Level 3, Type B CE EN 1621-1 Level 1 CE EN 1621-1 N/A EN 1621-1 Level 1
Available Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL S - L S - XXL XS, S, M, L, XL S - XL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Rapha Trail Knee Pads were an easy choice for our Best for Comfort award. As soon as we slipped these pads on, we were instantly impressed by how well they fit and how pleasant the materials are against the knee. If you need a set of pads with the highest levels of comfort, these are the pads for you. Protection levels are about average, pedal-friendliness is solid, and ventilation is fine given the long sleeve. Sure, you can find a decent set of pads for significantly less money, but the Rapha pads deliver unrivaled comfort levels and impressive quality.

Performance Comparison


rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review - these middle-of-the-road pads offer nice amounts of protection a...
These middle-of-the-road pads offer nice amounts of protection a reasonably sleek and low-profile package.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Protection


The Rapha pads have a moderate level of protection that we feel makes them well suited to daily trail riding duties. They occupy the middle ground between super light and minimalist pads and burlier gravity-oriented pads, making them a sensible option for a large portion of riders and riding styles.


The Rapha pads have a longer-than-average sleeve length. At the knee cap, a RHEON Lab armor patch is approximately four inches wide and slowly tapers to a narrower point at the upper shin. There is also a small bit of armor above the kneecap. The RHEON Lab padding is an energy-absorbing polymer similar to the popular D3O material. The padding is pliable and easy to bend but firms up upon impact. There is no auxiliary armor around the RHEON Lab patch.

The pad is covered by a synthetic fabric that Rapha calls Superfabric. This tough material is thicker than the main sleeve material and is covered with a fine, dotted, polymer print. This material feels tough and should resist abrasion and tearing in the event of a crash.

On the bike, we were comfortable riding hard in the Rapha pads. The protection levels are reasonable for day-to-day trail ripping. While we didn't have a traditional crash in these knee pads, we did lose control and smack a tree with our knee. The knee pads did their job and we rode away unscathed.

rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review - the high-quality materials and pliable armor feel exceptionally...
The high-quality materials and pliable armor feel exceptionally pleasant against the knee. Note the tight and low-profile stitching.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Fit and Comfort


The Rapha Trail Pads possess best-in-class comfort levels. The design and execution are dialed, the fit is consistent, and all of the materials are tremendously pleasant against the leg. There is a whole lot to like about the quality feel of these knee pads.


These pads have one of the longest sleeve lengths in our review. The fit throughout the sleeve is consistent and there are no areas of excess material or unusual tightness. At the top and bottom of the sleeve, there are bands of grippy material that help these pads stay in place. With a fit this dialed, there is no need for velcro straps or bands to keep them in place. They did not slide around or migrate at all during our testing period.

The main sleeve material is a thin, four-way stretch fabric that is extremely pleasant against the skin. Regardless of whether it was 85 degrees or 35 degrees, the sleeve material felt reasonably cool and pleasant. The RHEON Labs pad insert is ergonomically shaped and feels wonderful against the knee cap regardless of how bent your knee is. The inside of the padded area is more comfortable than any other set of pads in our test class.

The whole package feels tremendously well-executed. Rapha is known as a high-end brand in the road biking world and has entered the mountain bike market in recent years. The quality of the materials and construction really stand out among the competition.

rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review - when turning the pedals, the rapha pads allow for an excellent range...
When turning the pedals, the Rapha pads allow for an excellent range of motion and the armor patch conforms to the kneecap, even at the top of the pedal stroke.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Pedal Friendliness


The Rapha Trail pads deliver a slightly above-average experience in the saddle. The larger armor patch makes these pads just a bit more cumbersome than some of the more minimalist options. Still, the high levels of comfort and dialed fit make turning the pedals quite pleasant while also providing more protection than some of the super lightweight models.


As you go through your pedal stroke, there is no bunching of materials or strange restrictions in the motion. The materials remain flat against your legs. The ergonomic armor patch makes it so you aren't fighting the shape of the pad. At the top of your stroke, the armor patch remains in contact with your knee and doesn't lift off the kneecap.

At 372 grams, the Rapha pads are above average in the weight department. The long sleeve and substantial armor make them a tad heavier than some other pads. They don't feel heavy or bulky necessarily, but the numbers don't lie.

rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review - these pads have very long sleeves. despite the materials feeling...
These pads have very long sleeves. Despite the materials feeling very pleasanat against the leg, a long sleeve will inherently be warmer than a shorter one.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Ventilation and Breathability


The Rapha pads breathe well enough for most applications. If you find yourself riding in the heat for most of the year, there are lighter and more airy options. For most riders, these pads breathe well enough. The average levels of ventilation are overshadowed by the excellent fit and comfort levels.


The main sleeve is quite long and covers a lot of real estate on your leg. As a result, these pads simply can't be as airy as a shorter and lighter pad. Still, the four-way stretch sleeve material is very pleasant even when it is wet or sweaty. The armor patch is covered by a thick fabric and doesn't let much air pass through.

rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review - these knee pads have a reinforced fabric on the knee cap. still, we...
These knee pads have a reinforced fabric on the knee cap. Still, we have concerns about how well they will survive multiple crashes.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Durability


Throughout testing, we observed no signs of premature breakdown of materials or failed stitches. All of the seams still look perfect and there are no signs of wear.


We expect these pads to have an average lifespan. We are slightly concerned about the Superfabric material that covers the main armor patch. This area is primed for impact and no matter how tough this fabric is, it could be susceptible to tears or rips in the event of a high-speed crash. We don't doubt that the Superfabric is tough, but these pads are expensive and it would be unfortunate to see them get ripped open. Knee pads with a more robust rubberized or plastic patch over the knee cap tend to stand up better to multiple crashes but sacrifice other attributes.

rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review - these pads are exceptionally comfortable whether you are pedaling or...
These pads are exceptionally comfortable whether you are pedaling or zipping down the trail.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Value


Rapha is viewed as a premium brand and the pricing of these pads reflects that market position. Fortunately, these pads deliver an exceptional level of comfort and the design and execution is excellent. Yes, there are knee pads that sell for considerably less. That said, few knee pads can match the quality of materials and dialed fit that these pads deliver.

Conclusion


The Rapha Trail Knee Pads are our top recommendation if you're seeking the most comfortable option. These pads are unbelievably comfortable and the fit is perfect. The quality of the materials and construction is very impressive. These pads offer a nice amount of protection for the average trail rider and allow for a pleasant and unrestricted pedal motion.

rapha trail knee pads mountain bike knee pad review - these may not be the perfect choice for sending it hard at the bike...
These may not be the perfect choice for sending it hard at the bike park, but they are a great option for most trail riders in most situations.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Pat Donahue
 
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