Body armor for mountain bike

It’s been years since I’ve done much mountain biking and even then I didn’t ride that much. Certainly wrecked enough but all mild. It seems since then body armor is not just for those flying downhills but just general trail riding. I’m assuming it’s marketing but also improvement in weight and breathability of the gear.

I’m a beginner mountain biker and mostly doing to mild to intermediate singletrack stuff so nothing crazy I don’t feel like I need much. But some people seem to be really geared up. I’m sure curious what others here do. I ordered some lightweight 7idp knee pads figure knees get banged up the most. But feel like it might be overkill doing more than that.

Any advice? Suggestions?

It’s really your call based on what you are comfortable with - or without. Don’t pay much attention to what others are doing, as you’ll see everything from no pads, to full body armor (I saw a guy in Moab last year in head to toe body armor; no skin visible).

As you ride more, you’ll find you’ll be comfortable riding increasingly difficult trails, and also crash less. Happens naturally as you gradually progress up the learning curve.

Course, if you push yourself too hard, too soon, you’ll end up crashing more. Depends what you are looking to optimize for - not crashing, or wanting to ride more difficult trails.

I’m definitely in the camp of optimizing for not crashing. I ride some pretty technical stuff, but I am very quick to decide if a feature is something I can ride, or if I should walk. Haven’t had any bad crashes in 10 years of MTB - although have had three high speed crashes where I was lucky that I just hit the ground and didn’t hit anything like a rock or a tree. I know it’s just a matter of time (hopefully long!) before my next crash, but I feel comfortable riding without pads.

But - back to body armor - the most common injuries I’ve seen have been to knees - so knee pads seem like a good place to start. As you ride more you’ll be able to decide if you need more, or can ditch the pads.

Bluegrass do really nice close fitting Seamless armor. It stays well in place - this is often the challenge with armor and fits like a second skin so really easy to wear under other clothing.

I always ride with a minimum of knee pads (Sam Hill 7iDP at present). This is for general foresty/loamy trails, dirt jumps etc. If it gets a bit more parky/rocky then I’ll also wear elbow pads (POC at present) and if I’m doing pushup/uplift then I’ll wear full face helmet and full body armour which incorporates forearm, elbow, shoulder, back and chest pads.

But for 95% of trail riding, including tech, drops and jumps I’ll just wear knee pads, but I’m quite confident and happy riding most stuff.

Really? I’ve never seen this in my 5 years of MTB. Also, anecdotally never experienced it and I’m a regular crasher with 2 separated shoulders, a broken rib and numerous scratches and bruises. Maybe it’s just the the XCO scene I ride and ride with but I’ve never thought I wish I had knee pads.

After that time I broke my kneecap and put a gaping hole just above my knee I wish I had been wearing kneepads. Which I typically do now. All depends on what trail I’m riding and what I plan on doing that day.

The lighter weight kneepads will protect against scrapes and cuts from the typical washout.

That’s certainly me as well. It’s just a fun hobby and I’m pretty risk averse anyway. For now, I’ll likely just stick with knee pads as I won’t be too technical stuff and not much interest in jumping

Thanks. I did stumble upon that brand recently. I will check them out

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The 7idp Sam Hill knee pads are what I ordered. Lots of good reviews. I’m not doing any super technical stuff but anyplace there’s roots and rocks it’s not hard to imagine having a crash and smashing a knee.

I should have clarified - the piece of practical body armor that seems most useful based on injuries I’ve seen is knee pads.

If you crash hard enough where you separate a shoulder or break a rib, the kind of body armor required to protect against that is a whole other level above knee pads.

Where I’ve seen knee injuries is on rocky terrain where it doesn’t take much. A slow speed lose-your-balance kind of fall where your knee hits a pointy rock hurts!


They’re also excellent for peddling in. I do good, peddly 3-4 rides in them with no chafage or discomfort.

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I think that’s generally the impression I get reading on mtb forums.

Definitely why I ordered them. They have the lite versions but they have no protection on the side and most reviews say just get the regular since they’re so comfortable.

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My 12 year old is starting to ride increasingly difficult trails. It’s a little scary how fast he’s willing to ride technical stuff.

I’ve tried to impress upon him my “no crash” mentality. He’ll still crash - it’s inevitable on a MTB - but I don’t want him to have the mentality (which is often advocated!) of “If you’re not crashing you’re not trying hard enough”.


Certainly when I was 12 my mindset was far different. I wasn’t riding mountain bikes but whatever all around bike was considered cool from Western Auto. But did lots of stupid things on those bikes. But at 12 I had no thoughts of crashing or consequences or recovery time.

Now I just want to limit the crashing, have some fun rides with friends, and not get left behind those friends. I’m not racing so just having fun on the bike it’s the goal

Coming from road to MTB, I purchased a pair of knee pads for the same reasons listed above in this thread. I still wear them about half the time, but it depends on whether a given ride is more trail or more enduro.

I encourage my kids to wear knee pads (and sometimes elbow pads) most of the time, and they feel more confident with them on. This summer we bit the bullet and bought full-face helmets for both kids. partially because they are following their older friends’ examples and getting into some light downhilling, and partially because the local MTB summer camps typically require them. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever ride something that requires a full-face helmet.

Depends on the trails and consequences of crashing for me.

XC bike riding XC trails: Mostly just helmet & gloves. Occasionally kneepads.

Enduro Bike: Full face, kneepads, gloves.

Other than saving a few grams of weight. I don’t really see a reason to not wear kneepads, and a good half shell helmet with decent coverage. Sure it weighs a little more, but does it matter in a non-race scenario? Kneepads don’t really have to be uncomfortable, just push them down when climbing, and pull them up when descending!

Same. I’m not sure my reflexes are fast enough at my age for this fast downhills. lol

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Yep. That’s what I have now. Half shell helmet. Knee pads, and gloves.

What is that something? Does it have to be full-on redbull rampage level? Just a few rocks?
This is a question I often ask myself before a ride. Too often probably, I go with the "I am only going to ride “easy” trails at “moderate” speeds.

I don’t know about you guys, but I cannot think of many occasions when I have crashed riding a hard trail with obvious consequences. Probably because of the concentration and awareness those trails commands. Instead, I tend to make silly mistakes, like clipping a rock with my pedals on easy trails, at moderate speeds, when I’m not at my “A game”. I fear the day when it happens, and I don’t land face first on soft dirt.

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