Skip to Main Content

The 4 Best Mountain Bike Elbow Pads of 2020

When it comes to mountain bike pads, knee pads get all the love. Go to any bike park and you’re guaranteed to see a bunch of people wearing kneepads as their only form of protection beyond a helmet. Elbow pads? Much less common, and that’s really unfortunate. In a crash, you’re just as likely to impact your elbows as you are your knees, and elbow injuries keep you off the bike just as long as knee ones do.

For riders looking for that extra level of protection, mountain bike elbow pads have come a long way from the hard-shell and bulky options of the past. Elbow pads are now lower-profile and more comfortable than ever. With the best mountain bike elbow pads, you might not even remember you’re wearing them out on the trail, but don’t fear, they’ll be there when you need them. If you haven’t worn elbow pads in the past, it can be hard to figure out what separates a good elbow pad from the crowd, and what features you should be looking for. To help simplify that process, we’ve put together this list of the best bike elbow pads on the market, and broken down their features, how well they work, and what kind of riders will benefit from each model. So stop leaving your elbows unprotected, find a good pair of elbow pads, and ride with a little more confidence.


POC VPD Air Sleeves

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2020
 
 

POC’s VPD Air series is designed to offer comfortable, breathable protection for all-day rides. The Air sleeves are lighter, and more comfortable than most other elbow pads on the market, making them a great option for anyone who’s looking to earn their turns while wearing elbow pads. They use a simple elastic compression sleeve, with silicone grippers, without any straps to adjust. This makes them lighter and more comfortable, but also makes it more important to make sure you get the right size.

The VPD Air Sleeves don’t offer as much protection as some of the other pads on this list, they’re more of a padded arm warmer. So if you’re taking a bunch of hard falls, you may want to look at a beefier option. But if you’re looking for lightweight, comfortable protection, that you’ll barely even notice, the VPD Air Sleeves are some of the best mountain bike elbow pads.

Pad MaterialIntended Use Original Price
Perforated foamTrail/Enduro$60

Shop Now >>>


Sweet Protection Elbow Guards

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2020
 

Sweet Protection’s Elbow Guards offer slightly thicker protection than the POC Air Sleeve, but less coverage. While the Air Sleeves extend up and down your arm, the Elbow Guard focuses its protection around your elbow. That means they’re a little cooler on hot days, and a little easier to take on and off while wearing gloves. Like the Air Sleeve though, it doesn’t use any straps or velcro, it’s held in place by a stretchy sleeve. If you like the idea of a more minimalist elbow pad, and are looking for something that offers a decent level of protection, while being very comfortable, these Elbow Guards are a great option.

Pad MaterialIntended Use Original Price
FoamTrail/Enduro$70

Shop Now >>>


Shop All MTB Elbow Pads
See All

Fox Enduro Sleeves

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2020
 
 

The Fox Enduro Sleeve steps up the protection a bit from the previous options. It’s got a thicker, articulated elbow pad, that does an even better job of absorbing big impacts. The padded portion also has better coverage for your forearms as well. The Enduro Sleeve isn’t quite as comfortable on all-day rides, most riders will want to stow it in their packs for big climbs, but in return, it offers a big step up in protection. For riders testing their limits in bike parks, or enduro races the Fox Enduro Sleeve brings most of the comfort of lighter options, while also providing near DH levels of protection.

Pad MaterialIntended Use Original Price
FoamEnduro$54

Shop Now >>>


Troy Lee Designs Stage Elbow Guards

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2020
 
 

TLD ups the ante with the Stage Elbow Guards, by using D30 foam inserts in strategic locations. D30 is a really interesting material that stays flexible and loose when flexed at lower speeds, but hit it with a big impact and it hardens up instantly, absorbing the force, and dissipating it over the surface of the whole pad. This helps brands design pads that are very comfortable and light, but do a much better job of protecting you than other pads at a similar weight.

The Stage uses a full-length neoprene sleeve, and has increased forearm coverage which makes a big difference on tight, overgrown courses. It’s a little less bulky than the Fox Enduro Sleeve, but offers a similar amount of protection. The TLD Stage is one of the best lightweight mtb elbow pads that place a premium on safety.

Pad MaterialIntended Use Original Price
D3OTrail/Enduro$70

Shop Now >>>


Learn More With Our Other Bike Guides:

Learn About our Favorite Bike Gear: