Dainese Trail Skins Kneepads - Review

Jun 3, 2014
by Matt Wragg  

Pinkbike Product Picks

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We are big fans of the styling on Dainese's Trail Skins kneepads. The fit is excellent and the branding is nice and subtle.



Dainese admits that in the recent past, they hadn't been paying much attention to their mountain bike products. In the last year or so, they began to work on creating a modern, updated line of protection that lives up to the company's high standards. Trail Skins kneepads are one of the first fruits of that renewed focus. Aimed at all-mountain riders, Trail Skins are designed to offer are a lightweight option, for riders looking for the a compromise between mobility and crash protection.

Details:
• Purpose: All-mountain/trail/enduro
• Sizes available: S, M, L, XL
• Pro Shape protector using Formula One technology
• Tested to EN1621.1 standards
• Weight: 292g for the pair
• MSRP: $69.95 USD

Construction

Dainese are confident that Trail Skins are some of the lightest kneepads on the market right now. We think there are probably lighter options you can find, but not lighter options with this level of protection - a full kneepad with both front and side protection and as such, that weight is very impressive. The body is made of a four-way stretch material that is used to provide maximum flexibility for the body of the pads. At the top and bottom there is an elastic silicone strip to hold everything in place on your leg and a velcro fastener to adjust the width to your leg. Quality of finish and stitching on the Trail Skins is superb too, noticeably higher than what we see from many mountain bike-only manufacturers.

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The honeycomb structure on the main pad covering the knee is the Pro Shape material that makes these possible - it is light, breathable and, we found, very effective at absorbing impacts. The side protectors are well-thought out, moving together with the main pad construction to leave little of the knee exposed when the knee is bent. The fasteners are small, which is good news for blood flow when you are pedaling.



The protector itself is made of a material called Pro Shape that is commonly used in Formula One cars. There are several similar materials on the market, best-known is probably D3O, that are soft to touch, but harden on impact to distribute the force. Dainese are confident that Pro Shape is the best material available - saying it is lighter, and offers better flexibility and impact absorption than anything else out there. It is also perforated, which means air can flow through the protector and help to stop you from overheating. The knee protector is tested to EN Standard 1621.1. On the sides of the pad are small, less-substantial areas of padding and although these are not as burly as the main protector, the coverage there is a welcome addition, in our eyes.

Out On The Trail

General fit: When you pull Trail Skins on, the first thing you notice is the weight - at only 292 grams for the pair, they feel more like a set of knee warmers than a set of kneepads. The hook-and-loop fasteners at the top and bottom are simple system, but combined with the silicone gripper bands, you don't need to close them too tightly for the pads to stay put. That is an important detail, as it means they don't restrict the blood flow in your leg while you are pedaling. We have been using these pads almost daily since January now, and can say that the system is as effective as it is simple. In that time, we haven't had a single issue with a pad moving out of position. On our first rides, we did notice our knees moving inside the pad, not rubbing, but just moving a little against the protector through the pedal stroke - although to be clear, the pad itself remained perfectly in place. After a few months we have realized that we don't notice this any more. In honesty, we couldn't tell you whether it is because the material of the protector has formed around our knees, or that we're just used to it now, but it is no longer something we notice when pedaling. In their instructional video, Dainese say that you can roll the pads down around the lower fastener, but they are so light and comfortable we have never felt the need to do as much.

Hands off the brakes.

Trail Skins pads offer every-day riders a good amount of coverage in a lightweight option.



Descending: Again, they stay in place perfectly. In our time with the Trail Skin pads, we have had a couple of fairly big crashes and we are nothing but impressed with them, especially considering their weight. They stay in place well and offered far more protection that we expected a pad this light to be able to. That said, and Dainese make no bones about this, these are not big, burly kneepads and if we were going out on the downhill bike, we would reach for something more substantial. Rather, these are an ideal kneepad for any ride where you are spending a significant amount of time in the saddle, but don't fancy hitting the descents unprotected.

Pinkbike's Take:
The time and effort Dainese have invested into the Trail Skin knees is apparent. They are superlight, very comfortable and offer a surprising amount of protection. We particularly like the fact that they have included some side padding - something missing from virtually all the other lightweight alternatives. Considering how much some high-end kneepads are retailing for these days, we'd say they are also good value for money too, especially considering the production quality. Dainese have upped their game and created a trail kneepad that we think is worthy of their illustrious heritage and other protection manufacturers are going to have to work hard to catch up to the Italians. - Matt Wragg

www.dainese.com


88 Comments

  • 40 3
 ELBOW PADS. every single pair of elbow pads are too bulky or too thin. gimmie something like this on the elbow and perfect. the thicker impact foam from 661 and TLD are nice but too stiff for easy maneuvering on my end. and the spandex with the thin stuff isnt enough for impacts just road rash and end up shredded...
  • 16 0
 they do the exact same pad for elbows, which i have, great pads.
  • 8 0
 thank you sir, should of done my research. next on my list to try
  • 2 2
 Just bought the elbow pads last week and I'm not satisfied with the fit and flex when bending the elbow joint. POC VPD 2.0 is much better in this regard. I'll return these Dainese.
  • 4 1
 WTF Dainese, where is elbow SIZING????
  • 1 0
 Exactly - Been waiting for Dianese to get back into the game. A pair of Elbows to match these are exactly what I've been looking for. I'm just hoping they are open in the inside… every pad - and I've tried on almost everything on the market that I can find in a shop - bunches on the inside and is uncomfortable.
  • 4 0
 It doesn't count if you wear pads
  • 3 0
 even the POC stuff is too stiff in my opinion. i wish there was the perfect project that would solve every single problem ive ever had..sigh
  • 2 0
 I have yet to find a knee pad that stays in place upon impact.
  • 6 0
 i've had these for 3 weeks now, they are a lot more comfy and fit better than my 661 evos, the ventilation works if you go above 15mph, once the straps are in place there;s no need to undo them again as the pads slip on and off easily and once on the silicon grippers make sure they stay in place, i wore these for about 9hrs without taking them off one day and had no heat or rubbing the knees sore at all, very highly recommended pads
  • 8 0
 Nine hours and no heat or rubbing? That's what I wanted to hear. Ta.
  • 1 0
 what size did you get? I'm a large for raceface pads etc but seem to be a small for these????????
  • 1 0
 i bought a size large, they fit me better than my large 661 evo.s, the dainese fitting chart seemed to be an accurate guide for size fitting as well
  • 3 0
 In my grail like search for all day knee pads the highlights so far have been 661 evos and Forcefield Zeus. The former being okay fit with rubbish build and and the later offering better protection, worse fit and equally bad build quality. The Dianese trail skins are simply the best fitting knee pads i've ever worn, incredibly light and for the few light come offs i've had since buying them a month ago the protection seems up there with the forcefields. As for build quality, the pads are great but the jury's out on the velcro straps.

Just my 2p's worth : )
  • 3 0
 I think Dainese makes some of the best motorcycle gear available, not to mention the best designs IMO. It was about time they invested some time and cash on the growing market of MTB. Looking forward to saving some cash and getting a set of these!
  • 4 0
 Put my thoughts on these mtbmumblings.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/first-fit-dainese-trail-skin-knee-pads also a first ride review on the blog as well. Surprised they haven't got a proper size guide yet though
  • 2 0
 Bought these pads 2 months ago and cant speak highly enough about them, my riding is more trail than anything and they fit the bill perfectly. for a comparison with poc vpd 2.0 which i also have the trail skin is far more comfortable you really do forget your even wearing pads at all, have'nt worn the poc's once since owning these.
  • 4 4
 What's the use of trail specific pads when Fox Launch Pros are comfy enough to ride all day AND will protect you in a big crash? I've used them on multiple 100+ km rides without any problems.
  • 14 0
 Ya thats only 100km though. For a 200km you need trail specific pads.
  • 2 0
 Knee Pads are a huge bone of contention for me, I like the look of these but they look like they wouldn't take much abuse in crash. The only pad that I've got that I've never hand any issue with in terms of protection and restrictiveness for pedaling is Kyle Straits 661's and I've had them since 2009, they're literally being held together buy dust and muck. Tried G-forms which were so comfortable but offered little to no side of the knee protection. TLD-Tbone, fit was all over the place, and too bulky for long spins, and 661 evo's which were fine but again fit a little bit on the big side meaning the slide all over the place when they get wet or are down my shin on anything that has more than two rocks on it.. I know strait isn't sponsored by 661 anymore, but jesus, just use the design and re brand the things, why innovate for the sake of it, especially when the new 661 pads aren't really up to much, if it protects my knees, like the Straits have been for 5 years now why change it. I'd happily pay 100 quid for a new set of these pads..
  • 5 0
 I think 661 renamed the old Straits 'Rage' knees?
  • 2 1
 These pads seem like a great option. Seriously interested in trying them out, but am having a hard time finding them in stock anywhere at the moment. Kind of torn between these, IXS Flows, Oneal AMX Zippers, and POC VPD 2.0's, or the Scott Grenade Pro 2's as a more substantial option, but these seem like they might be the best bang for your buck, as well as the most ventilated. Would be using the pads for everyday/long-ish trail rides that are on the sketchier and rowdier side of things. Can anyone lend any insight into their preferences between these options based on experience? Matt W - Can you specify a little bit about the sizing? The height and weight and general build/body type of the tester/s would be helpful along with which size they wore, as generic S/M/L/XL sizing can vary so much between brands. This would be a helpful standard for all garment and protection related product reviews.
  • 3 11
flag chunter (Jun 3, 2014 at 21:02) (Below Threshold)
 Get the Scott Grenades, best knee pads ever.
  • 5 1
 If you're looking for something a bit more substantial, check out the TLD 5450 knee/shin guard. I've been using them for about a year now, and they work great for everything from trail rides to the bike park, without being too bulky. They stay put, don't chaff and are pretty darn comfortable.
  • 2 0
 I bought a pair of fox's launch enduro pads, and they have been working great so far, no major crashes with them... But these look better...
  • 21 0
 I duct tape pillows to my knees
  • 5 0
 Cardboard for shin pads....
  • 5 0
 I just leave my knees at home...
  • 4 0
 Piece of bark for my helmet
  • 1 0
 I just got kali soft knee pads tried tested and approved and they're probably cheaper than anything you listed.
  • 4 1
 Hamm - is that part of the dainese oak line??
  • 1 0
 Haha, that's clever hatton
  • 7 0
 So I wound up ordering the trail skins, both knees and elbows. Extreme short review is, they rock. They rock for a couple reasons, but mostly because they are comfortable, they ventilate very well, and I don't even hesitate to put them on when going for a ride either short or long. Goes for both the knees and the elbows. I have found that the range of adjustment on the knees is a little tube like though, ie tighter on the quads than on the calves, but the adjustability is enough to compensate, and once they are on and you have been pedaling for 5 minutes they pretty much just disappear. Elbows disappear before you even get on the bike, and both the knees and elbows stay put for the duration of the ride, even through hard rain and hot days. Haven't had a major off in them yet, but I think they'll do a proper good job at protecting against blunt impacts and scrapes that you might encounter on a trail ride. The pads are Very light and thin, so don't go expecting them to be offering full on DH hard shell type protection. Keep your expectations in check regarding the level of protection these offer and you will be happy with them. For reference I am 6' tall and about 180-185lbs. I went for size L in both the knees and elbows and am confident I got the sizing right, but wouldn't mind trying the mediums for comparison just to confirm. If your on the fence between sizes, I would say go with the larger size, as the velcro hook tabs should be fully egaged on the loop side, as the hookside is facing inwards towards the skin. If you are at the extreme end of the adjustment range, the hookside will probably be scratching you and will not be very comfortable, but this orientation prevents the hookside from catching on your shorts all the time. As long as the tab fully overlaps the hookside of the velcro, this is a non issue.
  • 1 0
 Have been using Dainese protection for the past 3 years now and I recently switched to 661 for more comfort... I will definelty be selling my 661 and buying a pair of these since the technology and quality of the products of Dainese is simply no match to any competitor...
  • 1 0
 I have used Dainese's motorcycle gear and I can vouch for its superb quality. I'd love to try Dainese's mtb gear. Since leg protection is already covered by my Race Face Flak knee/shin guards I guess I could try the trailskins elbow guard. I haven't beeen able to find an elbow guard that fits me correctly so far. The thing is I'm torn between Race Face and Dainese. I love both companies and I'm extremely happy with each company's products so far.
  • 1 0
 I bought the elbow and knee pads ages ago and I have to say they just aren't good enough. Even light crashes with just a brish of the ground leave you with a carpet burn (there's no padding between the rather useless D30 and your leg) and the hits on my knee cap look like I wasn't wearing anything.

I don't expect them to match my FOX Ultimate Pro knee pads but I do expect some real protection.

I've tried the IXS Flow elbow pads and they are best I've found for weight, fit and coverage. I even use them for downhill.

Going to have a close look at the IXS knee pads....
  • 3 0
 Sounds kind of like gforms but they look a little tougher, I wonder how they compare.
  • 3 0
 Looks like these have side protection, which is were the G forms are lacking.
  • 1 0
 G-form are not EN 1621 certified, TLD 5450 aren't too. I think this is the main difference
  • 2 0
 the other ones that are EN 1621 certified are the ARG bliss minimalist
  • 2 0
 I have the Gforms and these Dianese. Dianese are like another step up in protection from Gform, a little thicker, side protection, proper fastening straps. But still lightweight and not heavy material to make them overheat. Off to the Alps in a week so will see how they fair. I like the Gforms but these seem to offer better protection and by the looks of it will last longer.
  • 1 0
 Chris-I, I also have the gforms and really like them, they have saved my knees a few times. what is the sizing like on the dianese? I know their kits runs small. I have a large in the gform, same sizing for dianese?
  • 2 0
 EN 1621 is a standard for motorcycle gear. Why would a company like G-Form bother to get their product certified if they only do product for sports?
There is some details in EN1621 which are definitely not relevant for cycling and if you are able to ignore them you might get an advantage for a user who pedals or at least be able to offer a lower retail price because getting certified is expensive for a small company.

Its a bit like asking Bicycle company if their new bike is NCAP rated...
  • 1 0
 I have had G Forms for over a year now and just by looking at the pictures I would say these are a whole lot better as they offer side protection, and more importantly, will not ride up due to actual straps! The G Forms hold on at the top ok due to silicon grabbers, but I find that they bunch up around the back of the knee when the bottom rides up where nothing is holding it (and mine are plenty tight as well).
  • 4 0
 y9pema - I'd say the Dianese size up a little bigger. I have medium Gform but medium Dianese were a little big and small a smidge tight if I want to be really picky. So if a Gform is a little tight then it'd be ok, but I'd probably size down on Dianese. I'd say the padding is better conforming to the body on the Gforms, I think the shape of the pad lets the Dianese down a bit but sure I will get used to them being less form fitting. They certainly fell better built though and the airflow on them is bound to be better looking at the perforations.
  • 1 0
 thank you!
  • 2 0
 Well I did a ride at the weekend in 23C (73F) which is pretty warm for these parts and there was no wind. The pads were pretty comfy. As per the review, you can feel your knees moving inside the pad to start with, which is a little odd, but over time they get used to it and you dont feel it any more. I'd say the knees feel as warm as Gforms, but breath better so less sweat build up. The elbows run cooler than the Gforms as the perforations on the inside of the joint directly face the air flow so you get a nice breeze through them. Overall I'm happy they are as comfortable as the Gform but offer better protection and breath-ability.
  • 1 0
 got 661 comp am knee and Alpinestars MOAB hard shells for heavier rides. Alpinestars extremely protective but can't pedal on those. 661 light and comfy but they slip away. Dainese will be the next pads i buy, definitively.
  • 3 2
 I'd love to see a showdown article between these and the IXS flows. those two seem to be the top contenders in this market. and I can't decide which one to get, lol.
  • 3 1
 iXS Carve's are the best knee pad out there! Comfort, fit, don't stink up and even cover some of your upper shin.
  • 1 0
 What are the Carves like on long rides?
  • 2 0
 I like them on all kinds of rides. Like any other pad there will be a bit more heat than normal on a long ride but I feel that they vent well. I can feel the fresh air getting to my knees. And they offer great protection. If you don't need as much protection the iXS Flow pads are lighter, the pad in the Flow's doesnt come down as far as the Carve and they have one less elastic band. It's a matter of choice. I don't mind the extra coverage on the Carve, makes me feel more confident. You should check them out! The comfort and protection on the Carve is great!
  • 1 0
 Thanks for that, I looked at the flow but I liked the extra protection the Carve offered but questioned it's pedalling performance.. It's between the Carve and the RF Ambush now. Really depends which is better to pedal in.
  • 1 0
 if it helps to know this, all the iXS pads use aeromesh and not neoprene so they stay cooler and don't stink up. the velcro is medical grade velcro so it never falls apart like the sewn on velcro strips. medical velcro runs the length of the entire strap so there's tons of adjustability.
  • 2 0
 I know where some of my BDS prize money is going at the end of the year now as I have to spend it on Dianese.
  • 1 0
 Although In theory the soft d30 ones become hard shell on impact, that's the science behind it but have only had small crashes on mine.
  • 1 0
 If these had a bit more shin protection like the TLD 5450s then they'd probably be my ideal pad.
  • 1 0
 Nice. Much like the Fox enduro knees. Dainese always makes a good product, I don't expect these to dissapoint.
  • 1 0
 @Matt Wragg: can they be put on without taking the shoes off? That would be a huge advantage!
  • 1 0
 Anybody retail these in Vancouver / Squamish / Whistler? I like to try on armor before I buy.
  • 1 0
 Did you find anywhere that stocks them?
  • 1 0
 No, I ordered them from Chain Reaction. They're good, bunch a little behind my kness, but otherwise I really like them.
  • 1 0
 Funny, went ahead and placed my order with CRC a few days back as well - can't wait to try them out (knee and elbow).
  • 1 0
 These are available in S, M, L, XL while the size chart only refers to S, M, L.
  • 1 0
 size chart as it turns out is not applicable to the trail skins
  • 2 0
 Take my money!!
  • 7 0
 With pleasure. Send it over.
  • 1 0
 looking pretty clean!!! i'd sport those...
  • 1 4
 I don't care about weight, I care about ventilation... weight and ventilation aren't always hand in hand. I just picked up a pair of raceface indys for enduro to go along with my raceface digs for downhill, so I'll have to wait a long time before I try these out.
  • 1 0
 Nice spider-man knee pads Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Anyone know a shop that carries these in Vancouver?
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