Six Six One Recon Review
Cons: Small armored area, some may find aesthetics to be unattractive
Manufacturer: Six Six One
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Recon knee pads score well in most categories. Fit and comfort are some key areas where they are impressive, helping them take home a Top Pick Award. They score very close to other mid-weight options in many categories and share some obvious similarities, including aesthetics.
The Recon pads use what they call PORON XRD padding. If you are looking at these pads, they have a turtle shell-esque appearance with patches of the padding strategically placed on the knee. When you are examining them with your hands, the pads are definitely a little soft and are quite easy to bend. At first impression, some folks may question whether or not these would protect a rider in the event of a crash; however the PORON XRD padding firms up in the event of an impact and dispurses the forces of the crash. In other words, they are soft and flexible until it is time for them to be hard.
The afore-mentioned armor is strategically placed on the knee cap. There is also a triangular section of padding above the kneecap. The kneecap itself has some robust coverage which tapers down to the upper shin area. Also, there is protection on the inside and outside of the knee cap.
We did have a crash while wearing these pads. It wasn't a blockbuster of a crash, but more of a slow speed, awkward, crash. We landed on the outside of the knee cap and enjoyed nice impact protection. This wouldn't have been a crash to shatter a knee, but it would have left some cuts. We were impressed with how the Recon pad felt. We did some other primitive impact testing, and it does seem like the POROD XRD padding works as intended, firming up upon impact. This is not to suggest that the impacts are totally pain-free, but the pads are effective in taking the bulk of the edge off.
Fit and Comfort
The Recon pads are quite comfortable. The fit is consistent through the leg and snug without feeling like it is squeezing or affecting circulation. There is no reason one can't wear these pads for hours on end. We experienced no choke points, irritation, or signs of abrasion or cuts on the skin. These pads have a sizeable cutout on the rear of the pad behind the knee. This is a nice touch in an area of the leg that tends to get hot and clammy.
The fit of the Recon pad is superior to the other light-middleweight options in our review, hence the award designation. They are easy to pull on and orient correctly, and the grippy band at the top with its silicone bits feels strong and keeps everything in place. These are a little shorter than other pads in the same weight class, and overall the fit is well-executed.
The Recon pads score well in terms of pedal-friendliness compared to the rest of our test class, though there are thinner and lighter models that score better. That said, those light and thin pads that prioritize pedaling cannot match the protection offered up by the Recon. These pads are the next in line beneath these supremely pedal-friendly options. They are feathery light and offer a decent range of motion. They also stay put, are snug, and are very light and well-ventilated.
When cycling through a pedal stroke, these pads stay in place. Given their superior fit, they are pleasant and hardly noticeable. At the top of the stroke, you get a little bit of inevitable rub against the inner part of the knee pad — not a serious problem, but you can definitely feel it.
The Recon is a great option for short to mid-sized rides. These are excellent knee pads for spinning laps on tame to moderate terrain. If you are looking to charge down some super-burly trails, we recommend looking towards some of the more substantial options. Conversely, if you just care about how they feel while spinning in the saddle, look for the more pedal-friendly options. The Recon, on the other hand, strikes a good balance between all of it.
Ventilation and Breathability
These pads deliver impressive ventilation and breathability. It is hard for knee pads to truly feel light and airy, but the Recon does an admirable job when things are hot and clammy. The low weight and sensible amount of armor contribute to this feeling. The cutout on the rear of the pad behind the knee is a nice touch. The crease between the upper and lower leg is a humid location that tends to get quite sweaty, and this cutout gives you a little bit of relief when you are standing up or at the top part of your pedal stroke.
The black, stretch fabric of the Recon wicks moisture away from the body. It also dries relatively quickly, meaning that, even on warmer rides, these don't feel particularly wet or saturated at the end of a ride. Among the pads with a stiffer armor on the front of them, these provide the highest level of breathability. They don't feel overly clammy like some of the burly and aggressive options. One area that does tend to get a little sticky is the elastic band at the top and bottom of the pad, inevitable when you have silicone pressed up against the skin.
The Recon pads offer no serious concerns regarding durability. Even with a small crash directly on the pads, there was no major scuffing on the armor. All of the seams are still flawless, and there are no visible warning signs of any developing issues.
Some folks prefer to stow knee pads in their hip pack or backpack while they are climbing. For rides that start with substantial, multi-hour, climbs, many riders don't want to deal with wearing pads the whole time, preferring to just slip them on before the descent. You can put the Recon pads on while wearing shoes, but we don't recommend it. They do fit over all-mountain style shoes, but it is a little tight. We would hate for you to bust a seam on the pads because you tried to stuff your shoe through them.
The Recon pads are a nice value. They deliver an exceptional fit, solid pedal-friendliness, and passable amounts of protection while remaining slender. For the right rider, these pads are a great buy at an attractive price point.
The Six Six One Recon pads are a great choice for light to mid-duty trail riding and earn a Top Pick Award for their weight class. They are a smart choice for a lot of riders in a lot of locations who desire the added security of a knee pad but want something low-profile with a sensible amount of protection. There are lighter and sleeker options available; there are also bulkier more serious options too. That said, the Recon pads occupy that desirable middle ground, making them a sensible choice for many.
— Pat Donahue