Dainese Trail Skins 2 Knee Guards – Review

May 16, 2017
by Mike Kazimer  
Dainese Trail Skins 2 review


While the full-body suits of armor that made Dainese a household name in the mountain bike world may have been relegated to the history books, the company's current offerings are still intended to accomplish the same goal – injury prevention – but rely on modern materials that make it possible to create lighter, less bulky options.

The second generation of Dainese's Trail Skins knee guards are a prime example, designed for trail riders looking for protection they can pull on at the beginning of a ride and then forget about until it's over.


Dainese Trail Skins 2 Details
• Pro Armor main pad
• EN1621.1 certified
• Weight: 330 grams (pair)
• Sizes: S, M, L
• MSRP: $84.99 USD
www.dainese.com

The main portion of the Trail Skins 2 is constructed from what Dainese calls 'Pro-Armor', a piece of rubber that's been molded into a honeycomb-like pattern, with more material in the center, and less towards the edges to help it conform to a rider's body. The latticework design also increases the amount of ventilation due to the fact that there's much less material to block airflow. There's also foam padding on each side of the pads to help lessen the blow when your knee smacks into your top tube or stem.

The pads are secured in place with an elasticized cuff and a hook-and-loop strap at the top and bottom. Available in sizes S, M, and L, the Trail Skins to retail for $84.99 USD.


Dainese Trail Skins 2 review
The bulk of the protection provided by the Trail Skins 2 comes from the Pro Armor padding on the front of the knee.
Dainese Trail Skins 2 review
Hook-and-loop closures secure the upper and lower cuffs.


Performance

I'll admit that my build is a little closer to a stick figure than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, but even so, the upper leg opening on the size mediums I tested seemed especially generous. While some knee pads use Velcro straps to fine-tune the fit, with the Trail Skins 2 those straps are necessary to actually keep them in place. Thankfully, the straps have a decent range, so I was able to get them snugged down as much as I wanted. The design works, and once everything was adjusted the pads were extremely comfortable, but I wouldn't mind seeing a taller, more elasticized upper cuff that was a little less fiddly.

The Trail Skins 2 are also incredibly airy thanks to the latticework pattern of the main pad – when I was spinning my way to the trailhead I could actually feel wind reaching my knees, which isn't usually the case with designs that rely on one uninterrupted piece of material.


Dainese Trail Skins 2 review


What about riding in sloppy conditions? Don't those nooks and crannies get packed full of mud? I didn't find that to be the case, and thanks to one of the wettest winters on record the Trail Skins saw plenty of foul weather rides. The motion of pedaling keeps them from really getting clogged up, and the amount of mud that ended up stuck to them seemed on par with what would happen with a set of more 'traditional' knee pads. Of course, they can get packed with dirt if you crash, but I'd choose having dirty knee pads over scrubbing grit out of open wounds any day.

I usually try to avoid playing the role of a human crash test dummy, but all that wet weather riding gave me several chances to do just that. Luckily, the pads worked well, reducing the severity of a knee vs. slippery tree root impact on one occasion, and a solid overcooked-corner-to-knee-drag smackdown on another. It still hurts when you hit the ground, but the results weren't anywhere nearly as painful as they would have been without pads on.



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Trail Skins 2 are a worthy follow-up act to Dainese's original model. They're light, comfortable, well-ventilated, and they work when they need to. It's hard to ask for much more than that.  Mike Kazimer
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107 Comments

  • + 154
 I don't use protection on the elbows but I sure would love this protection on Dainese.
  • - 35
flag IamTheDogEzra (May 16, 2017 at 12:49) (Below Threshold)
 What part of the human body is Dainese? I am not well versed in human anatomy as I am a dog and therefore cannot use anatomy books as I lack opposable thumbs.
  • + 6
 I'm confident dainese will protect deez kneez
  • + 4
 I understand this is a joke but I used to not wear elbow pads then I got stitches on my elbow 2 years in a row and realized elbow pads are useful as annoying as they may be
  • + 2
 My wife was the same until on a tame section of trail she had what looked to be a relatively harmless fall but somehow dislocated her elbow. We learned that when it comes to elbows, a break would've been preferable to dislocation. Elbow pads from now on.
  • + 1
 Do they make anything for DeezNutz?
  • + 1
 @sliderphil:
But how would pads help w/ dislocation? Wouldn't you need a brace?
I did mine at Trestle when they first opened Trestle Downhill...scared the holy shit out of a 14 year old that rolled up on me w/ a dangling arm! Big Grin
  • + 45
 When you've got to ride at 11, but start a beehive at noon.
  • + 42
 Are you saying these are DaiBees Dainese?
  • + 1
 They're the bee's knees...
  • + 17
 if you sweat as much as me, these things speak for themselves. I had the previous generation and absolutely loved them, never have i been able to do so many climbs and descents without even thinking about taking them off. Seriously, I dont think any of you would be disappointed in these knee pads
  • + 3
 I'm with you. I sweat strapping the velcro on my Falcons. By far the most breathable knee pad I've used. That said they are for light/medium trail duty
  • + 2
 Liked mine too, but I've just switched to the TLD Raid.... a lot bulkier, but stay in place better, but FAR less breathable.
  • + 1
 Have you had any decent spills in them? All that additional surface area looks like it would grip dirt/rocks/ect when you have a crash potentially causing them to move.
  • + 2
 @Phill-R: i have had a couple spills, but i wouldnt say they were major and they did not move. They are super comfortable i might add
  • + 3
 @Phill-R: I also have the previous generation, and I'm also a huge fan. I wear them on rides I wouldn't have worn any of my previous pads on. So far I've had one heavy spill with them (sent me to the hospital). The pad that hit the rock did slide down my leg, but it looked like it took a solid hit before then and my knee was unscathed.
  • + 6
 Sounds like these are a soft protection, so not as protective as a d3o type pad? For most people I'd imagine we aren't comparing wearing these to wearing nothing, but are comparing them to other all day wear pads, so it would be really useful to hear a little info about how the protection compares to those.
  • + 6
 I was told Dainese tested D30 and found that they needed to use a piece about 3 times thicker than what they developed here. D30 is also totally non-breathable meaning you're less likely to want to even wear them. The other problem with D30 is that it wants to stick on impact instead of skid like these Trail Skins... Keep in mind Dainese probably spends more on research and development of protective and materials that any cycling specific brand thanks to their massive moto and super bike divisions...
  • + 2
 @shorerider54: You're probably right about that, I wore Dainese gear back in my motorcycle days and it was always considered top notch, protection wise. They could have redesigned the coverage of their water proof bib, though.
  • + 5
 @shorerider54: I'm curious as to why a smooth d3o pad would have more friction on impact than a soft pad with lots of gaps like these? It seems like a soft pad that conforms to the ground would be more likely to catch, especially with gaps that can catch on protrusions?

I'm sure that Dainese have done a lot of research here, more commenting that I'd like to see the article address the protection of these relative to other pads on the market, rather than relative to wearing nothing. Wrapping a piece of cotton around my leg is going to provide more protection than nothing, so it's not a very meaningful analysis of the protection they provide!

They definitely seem like they will be cooler than a d3o pad (and the article does address that), but when I'm buying pads I'm balancing comfort and protection relative to other pads on the market, not just looking at comfort alone.

D3O type material seems to be the standard in knee pads these days, so when a company are doing something different to that norm it seems sensible for them to be compared to the norm to give us a base of understanding.
  • + 3
 @delusional: D3o was the first on the market, that doesn't mean the best. Bliss protections use armorgel which apparently is far superior to d3O. Having their protection jacket for when DH racing I'm really happy with it despite maybe too much weight. And for exemple Alpinestar also use a different material than d3O but similar in their specifications.
  • + 4
 @mikekazimer I own the original trail skins which I love and have used for the last 2 years. I bought the new model last week as a replacement but was disappointed to find that the knee coverage of the new model is much less than the original model leaving some bony parts of the knee exposed...I am tempted to return them and order another pair of the first iteration (which dainese still sells). Did you find this to be an issue?
  • + 4
 I thought there was plenty of coverage over the front of the knee, but I would mind a little more foam padding on the upper outside portion of the pad. Otherwise I thought the amount of protection offered was very similar to other contenders in this category.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: maybe it s a fitting issue...perhaps I have one size too small? What I am talking about is in the transition between the larger part of the front rubber to the lower thinner part, it leaves parts of my knee exposed. I will try to size up.
  • + 7
 Latent trypophobia triggered. Ewww.
  • + 2
 THAT'S WHAT I SAID TOO
  • + 6
 This is triggering my trypophobia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trypophobia
  • + 2
 Gives me the Heebie jeebies
  • + 2
 Learned a new word today. Smile
  • + 3
 Now I know I am not alone...we should start a Pinkbike support group!
  • + 3
 Well, I hate tripe. Is that close enough? Can I join?
  • + 2
 @iamamodel: Dude, Tripeophobia and Trypophobia have absolutely nothing to do with each other...you are NOT in!
  • + 2
 @santoman: I'll have to start my own club. What's the name of the anxiety caused by suddenly realising you are riding a section of trail that you crashed on last time you rode it, and so you swore you would wear knee pads next time, but you forgot to put them on?
  • + 2
 @iamamodel: In my case I would call that "old age" but I dunno how old you are!
  • + 3
 Please, manufacturers, no matter the cost, MAKE SOME DAMN XXL SIZES!

So far veeeery few companies make XXL knee pads, and so far I'm not impressed with the offerings ... I wouldn't mind buying a 150€ knee pad if it fit me ...
  • + 3
 I ordered these and was really disappointed. The seams are stitched for maximum itchyness. Nothing like the smooth insides of the POC pads I was looking to replace. It almost makes you wonder if anyone at Dainese has actually tried on a pair recently. Weird.
  • + 1
 I currently have the poc pads and you just talked me out of buying these. Even thought the pocs are a little thicker they are a great pad imo.
  • + 4
 @saskparkrider:

POC VPD Air for the win!

Of course it all comes down to how your body is shaped, but of all MTB protection products I've owned, nothing fits as well, nor is as comfortable as POC's stuff. Gloves, knee and elbow pads, etc. it all fits perfect, and stays in place.

For me they simply make superior products.
  • + 4
 Totally disagree, best fitting knee pad I have ever used hands down. Not sure what you are talking about as far as itchiness goes, I always forget I'm even wearing them since the fit is so good (Italians are known for quality fit) Especially since every other pad on the market makes you sweat like a pig due to zero ventilation...
  • + 1
 @MasterSlater: I agree %100 and I've tried a lot pads!
  • + 2
 I've used both POC VPD 2.0 and air, and for whatever reason the elbow pads slide off my arms. No such problem with the 1st-gen trail skins. POC's knee pads are super comfy though.
  • + 1
 I was thinking about retiring my POC VPD originals for these maybe not now.
  • + 2
 I have Poc VPD air and the only good thing I like about them is how little the restrict pedalling and eventually how well they fit under 3/4 shorts or pants. there can be no doubt that those don't really protect knees as well as most knee guards out there like their bigger brother VPD 2.0. But the real bummer with them is the lack of strap under the knee/ above calv. They were sliding down a bit (not when crashing though) ever since I bought them and now after losing some weight it gets annoying.

To all knee protection makers who may read that: provide lower straps damn it!
  • + 2
 I have the previous version of these, and they're great. They're on the third season and still kicking. There's a few small holes in the mesh along the back of the knee from when I clipped them on my pedals or something. Other than that, no issues. When they wear out or the velcro stops working, I'll replace them with the new version.
  • + 2
 I have a Trail Skin and I love it sure I don't use it to DH only Enduro. almost two years and it is perfect didn't lost any honeycomb and it's still perfect. people from PB comments love to hate Dainese, Michelin, Lapierre... very narrowminders
  • + 1
 summery of all this to me is the v.1 fit better... which I own... and mine 18 months of real use / falls are totally fine. I'll wait for V.3... I do however have this year's v.2 jacket for gnarly DH / uplift... yet to be fully tested but damn it's light. And comfy in the house " feels like I'm wearing nothing at all" - Ned Flanders quote, must be a first on PB??!! -
  • + 3
 Why don't people like to wear elbow pads? Tearing up your elbows sucks & they're usually the first point of impact if you're cookin it. Screw bike fashion protek ur self
  • + 1
 I have these pads and I'm questionable on their crash rating. I have been falling on my knees from standing but with hesitation and the impact does transfer a bit much but I believe these pads are for grazes and slide outs not direct impact from knee to a hard surface ie Rock.

They are very comfortable and well ventilated and I think this was the overall goal from Dainese, light, ventilated and slight protection. They hit the mark for their intention. The protection is measureble visibly almost.

PS: I have been wearing the pads around my house for 2 hours and they disappear.
  • + 1
 Been using the original for over 3 years now. Am on my 3rd pair as I cant find anything else as comfortable for all day riding, however the reason I am on my 3rd set is because thed honeycomb eventually flies to bits after repeated knocks. Works well though so it is probably a small price to pay for comfort good protection and light weight
  • + 1
 I've worn the v.1 ones for about 200 days riding, AM / alpine uplift etc etc... Ive fallen, crashed, slid and all that stuff in them... just as good as more bulky hot ( but also damn good ) TLDs. I have a BIG issue... the v.1s are still near as good as new so I cannot justify another set!
  • + 1
 "It still hurts when you hit the ground, but the results weren't anywhere nearly as painful as they would have been without pads on." -- so I hope you went and crashed the same way without the pads on to confirm this claim? lol
  • + 2
 no upper padding on the outside of the pad seems odd. I have the mk1 trail skins and when I've fallen off its been the front and the outer side that has had the most impacts. I'll stick to the mk1 versions
  • + 2
 Just sent a pair back. They slip at the thigh, bunch behind the knee, and poke you at the seams with the poorly trimmed ends of plastic threads. Really disappointed.
  • + 1
 Decent pads, they're as good as they say... I have the original ones...sadly the You elastic went all wavy and loose on me so they didn't fit so well any more... Gone back to kyle straits
  • + 5
 DaKnees!
  • + 1
 How do these compare to G-Forms, I've had my G-Forms now for a few seasons and they tend to want to slip down the leg unless they are pulled up above my calf, and how do they compare heat wise?
  • + 3
 10x better - gform offer very little protection, slip down and do a okay job of minimizing heat. I'd go with these hands down and haven't had slippage issues
  • + 0
 This review is misleading. I just bought a pair and I am 50% happy with them. They are extremely lightweight and breathe very well, so your knees stay cool. However, I also found the fit to be off, especially at the top where Mike mentioned. Once you tighten them down to stay in place, they become uncomfortable. So you end up riding with them somewhere in between and they eventually slide down every 30 mins. I also find that the straps rub on my legs which also is annoying on a long ride.
  • + 6
 I found that as long as the lower strap was tightened properly they never slipped down, but as with any pads it's best to try before you buy.
  • + 11
 isnt fit somewhat subjective? how can you state with certainty that "This review is misleading"? thats such a weird statement to make
  • + 2
 If you aren't already, make sure the lower strap is pulled up above your calf so you can snug it up a bit more without overtightening them. I have the first gen, but have rarely had any slippage issues.
  • + 1
 Totally agree! Top part is too low and slip back of knee, that rub and heat on long rides! Buy them mostly for the lateral pads.
  • + 1
 This was my experience also; though, I wish it took 30 minutes for them to slide down at the top. They stay in place because of the calf strap and knee cup, the thigh doesn't stay in place regardless of tightness. It's just not high enough so it ends up bunching at the top and behind the knee.
  • + 1
 "They're light, comfortable, well-ventilated, and frickin horrible to look at"

I had 2 sets of the original but prefer the dakine slayers now.
  • + 2
 weights 330grams but has a capability to hold another 1000g in mud and debris
  • + 2
 In my opinion for a bike it's shin pads or no pads. So many people wreck their shins on pedals, and it hurts!
  • + 2
 Give the guy a break. Dainese gave him a free pair of pads. How could he be too critical.
  • + 2
 When will someone make a small pad that you don't have to take your shoes off to put on.
  • + 1
 I'll stick to my Trail Skin v1 - by far the most impressive knee pads I've ever had. And Dainese knows something about protection.
  • - 1
 I understand they want to minimise the rigid material for lower weight and flexibility, but surely they need to be covered in something to stop them just getting full of muck the minute you use them. My old dainese pads are honeycomb, but have a shell over the top. Much better at brushing off pedals and bushes than anything open faced will be.
  • + 0
 & in the meantime, the market has caught up on the lightweight pad bandwagon... there's plenty of options out there now that didn't exist when the original trailskins came out. Love my original ones, but can't see going with these over something like the Troy Lee Raid, for example.
  • + 1
 The thin fabric and lack of side protection is the achilles heel of these pads. No big deal if you're going down on grass or loam, but not up to the job on rocky terrain.
  • + 2
 I wouldnt be surprised if SmithOptics will design their own kneepads.
  • + 1
 661 Recon pads are another option. Lightest available and still with decent protection. Another all day knee pad.
  • + 2
 take a spill in a rockgarden with no shin protection. good luck
  • + 2
 Own these, as ridiculous as I feel in them, they are comfortable.
  • + 1
 I just bought Fly Racing Lite knee guards. I'd rather have paid another $20 for these I think.
  • + 1
 Always need knee pad models to lift up the short. These look low on thigh unlike 7idp, leatt, spesh offerings.
  • + 1
 ???? for the price, Dainese could place soft membrane covers over the shell of these new Trail soil collection units.
  • + 1
 IXS Carves, the best no lie.
  • + 1
 Knee pads, or dirt file/collector?
  • - 3
 CE level 1 certified basically means NO protection. what's the point of wearing these? If you smash you knee against a rock these pads will not protect you. Knee pads should be at least certified as 1621-1 or why wear them. also, why is there no cut out in the back of the knee pad to allow for more ventilation.
  • + 2
 These pads are EN1621.1 certified - apologies for any confusion.
  • + 1
 ?? My understanding is that 1621 is the standard the equipment is tested to (1621-1 for elbow, knee... 1621-2 for back, spine)... CE states that it is certified to the 1621 standard it is being held to. No CE = it is not certified.
  • + 2
 They look hard to clean
  • + 5
 You clean your pads?
  • + 4
 washing - machine. easy.
  • + 1
 Karcher!
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