Take a quick look at the best MTB elbow pads, the Fox Racing Launch Pro Elbow Pad. This version of the Launch series is the most protective and still offers astounding maneuverability. The pads are breathable and lightweight, keeping you at your best throughout the ride.
There is little more exciting than taking a mountain bike downhill at blistering speeds. Of course, there is also little that is more dangerous than it. This is why your protective equipment is of the utmost importance when riding.
One of the most overlooked aspects of PPE for mountain biking happens to be the elbow pad. It makes sense I guess, who thinks of their elbows while riding? But let me assure you, it is necessary to protect your elbows.
The more you progress as a rider, the more you’ll begin encountering more dangerous terrain and more blistery speeds. And this is fun for sure, but it also means your more likely to make mistakes, and those mistakes are far more likely to result in injuries.
To put it plainly, the more advanced you are as a rider, the more necessary it becomes to wear proper equipment. Here is a look at some of our favorite elbow pads.
Best for Budget: Fox Racing Launch Elbow Pad
Fox Racing is easily one of the best selling brands when it comes to elbow pads. This is mostly because they are awesome, but it is also because they are so affordable. The Fox Racing Launch MTB Elbow Pad is unbelievable protective, covering your forearm, elbow, and even the lower triceps. It looks amazing as well.
The hook-and-loop closing system makes it easy to put on and comfortable to wear. Even better, they feel almost weightless, and after a few minutes you’ll almost forget you even have them on. Until you hit the ground of course.
I love how the pads seamlessly transition from your forearms, elbows to your upper triceps. They don’t get in the way, and they offer stellar protection.
The biggest problem I have with these is that they aren’t very long-lasting, and after a while, you’ll notice an inability to tighten them properly. This is a huge flaw in such an awesome product.
My Favorite Best MTB Elbow Pads: Fox Racing Launch Pro D30
This here is the upgraded version of the regular Launch elbow guards, and it incorporates a ton of added benefits. The Fox Racing Launch Pro D30 is perfectly designed to provide first-rate protection while still giving maximum comfort and range of motion while riding.
If the only thing that was changed with the Launch Pro D30 were its durability, it would be worth the extra cash you have to spend on it. But, the D30 takes it so much further than that.
These pads are made with a moisture-wicking araiprene neoprene construction that keeps the sweat from building inside the pads and causing discomfort.
If you’re looking for an awesome set of pads that give both maximum protection, and maximum comfort, then I would highly recommend giving these a shot.
A quick note though, Fox Racing has stated that these pads do run smaller than other elbow pads. It is a good idea to keep that in mind when ordering and get a size higher than usual.
Top-Rated Elbow Pads: Race Face Ambush Elbow Guard Stealth
Looking for the best elbow guards money can buy for you mountain biking endeavors? If you are then you need to be looking at the Race Face Ambush Guard. But what makes these elbow pads so awesome?
The pads are lined with terry cloth to keep the interior of the pads from building up moisture while sweating. Keeping you dry and comfortable for the entire ride. These elbow guards are all about keeping you safe without sacrificing comfort, and the neoprene venting material is proof of that. The fabric is so breathable that you can almost feel the wind coming through them while riding.
Thankfully, Race Face also includes a fit chart for their products, so you can be sure that you are getting the perfect fit before you purchase the pads.
There is one minor issue that many have found with these pads. That being the velcro on the arm straps. They don’t match up quite right, and there will be some exposed velcro even when you have your pads on properly. This is best remedied by purchasing a size larger than you typically would. Keep in mind the Race Face fit chart, and you should be just fine.
Lightest and Most Maneuverable: Alpinestars Men’s Alps 2 Elbow Guard
Weighing in at only 0.72 pounds (330 grams) these may very well be the lightest pads you have ever put on your elbows. They are profoundly flexible, yet offer an amazing amount of protection. How is this achieved?
The soft shell patella piece is covered in a highly durable fabric constructed of aramidic fiber offering awesome impact protection as well as preventing abrasions when sliding. The velcro straps are more effective than most other models at keeping protection in the places that you need the protection most.
The only complaint I have with these pads is that they aren’t as breathable as one would hope. And it is something that almost anybody who has used them has commented on. But I’m okay with trading in some sweat for an additional range of motion and protection. Plus, the Alpinestars Men’s Alps 2 Elbow Guard is up there with the most stylish pads I’ve put on my arms. Everybody wants to look good while riding.
Best Enduro MTB Elbow Pads: Fox Racing Launch Enduro MTB Elbow Pad
Sticking with the Fox Racing Launch theme these pads are excellent for those who are interested in endurance riding.
The pull-on style keeps the pads in the proper place at all times, and the fabric it is made out of is a highly breathable mesh and perforated neoprene fabric. This means a cool, comfortable ride that allows you to keep your attention on the trails ahead of you.
At first glance, the pads don’t seem like they offer very much in the way of protection. The small foam padding doesn’t inspire much confidence that your elbows will be safeguarded when you take your inevitable fall. But many riders are surprised when they find out just how helpful the Fox Racing Launch Enduro pads are at keeping you intact.
Even still, I wouldn’t recommend these for use at extreme speeds. But they offer more than enough protection for moderate speeds, and they’ll withstand the abuse with no problem at all.
What to Look for in The Best MTB Elbow Pads
There is a reason elbow, and knee pads fell out of favor with riders before. The big bulky pads covering our elbows did almost nothing for our ability to move during riding sessions. The risk vs. reward in wearing them was staunchly in favor of riding with naked elbows.
But the technology of today provides us with a wealth of improvements in elbow pads. Offering the same (if not greater) levels of protection but also keeping the range of motion nearly at 100% and even adding breathability to keep your arms from sweating too much. But only if you know what to look for.
Clearly, this is the most important part of the elbow pad; it’s the entire reason for them existing in the first place. When looking for protection, you should make sure the coverage area is large enough to keep you from tearing up your elbows and forearms (triceps are also worth protecting). You also need to make sure the coverage area of your pads stay where it is supposed to be. Pads that fall off or move even slightly during a ride are no help at all.
Additionally, look at the thickness and the quality of the foam padding. You don’t have to have the absolute thickest protection pads, but you do need to make sure the padding matches the type of riding you will be doing.
Probably the second most important quality in elbow pads is how comfortable they are to wear. Uncomfortable pads are pads that don’t get used, and that puts you at risk of shattering your elbows.
Make sure you have pads that fit, do this by checking the size charts that companies offer before just springing for the size you ‘think’ might fit you best. You can also do some research to see what other riders say about the pads. How much do they hinder you while riding? Do they cause you to excessively sweat?
The comfort of elbow pads is the most subjective characteristic, so you should expect some trial and error when looking for pads that fit you best.
When you’re riding, it’s probably going to be warm outside, and the energy you’re exerting means your body is going to produce high levels of heat. This makes having breathable pads a necessity.
And it isn’t just for comfort reasons either. Non-breathable elbow pads cause your pads to slide once they are drenched in sweat. You’ll also notice that elbow pads with low breathability tend to be smelly and awful.
If you are shelling out a bunch of money, you damn sure want to know that the product you are buying is going to last a long enough time to justify the price tag. Furthermore, pads that aren’t durable probably aren’t going to offer as much protection as you need them to either.
Wrap Up – Best MTB Elbow Pads
Elbow pads are important. But they aren’t the only parts of your body you need to protect. There are a few different points of contact you should keep protected when riding. Your head, knees, elbows, forearms, and hands are just a few of those points.
When riding always ensure to keep your body protected.
We have some articles that can help you find a mountain bike that best fits your needs.