Review: Ion K-Pact Knee Guards

May 29, 2018
by Mike Kazimer  
Ion K-Pact review

Ion's K-Pact knee pads have been on the market for several years, but they recently underwent a slight revision in order to improve their breathability. The basic design remains the same, though, with a SAS-TEC viscoelastic pad that sits over the kneecap area, and two foam pads on each side of the knee for additional protection.

Velcro straps at the top and bottom of the pads are used to adjust the fit, and there's also a strip of silicone inside to help keep them from sliding down. The material around the back of the leg is what was changed for 2018 – Ion now use what they call “Super Perforator Neoprene.”
Ion K-Pact Details
• SAS-TEC viscoelastic main pad
• Closed cell foam side padding
• EN1621-1 certified
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Colors: black / blue / Whipeout
• Weight: 462 grams (size medium)
• MSRP: $89.95 USD
www.ion-products.com

In other words, it's neoprene with a bunch of holes in it to allow for better air flow while still providing some protection against abrasion in the event of a crash. Along with the Swiss-cheesed neoprene, a mesh panel at the back of the knee provides additional ventilation.

The K-Pact knee pads are available in black, blue, and printed pattern called Whipeout, in sizes S – XL. MSRP: $89.95 USD.


Ion K-Pact review
A SAS-TEC viscoelastic pad covers the front of the knee, with additional foam padding on both sides.
Ion K-Pact review
The flexible pad is designed to harden on impact, and can be removed to prevent it from getting damaged in the wash.

Ion K-Pact review
Perforated neoprene is used for the back of the pads, with a mesh panel at the very back of the knee.
Ion K-Pact review
A strip of silicone helps ensure that the pads stay in place if you end up doing some trail surfing on your knees.

Performance

The K-Pact knee pads run a little bit small, and if you're typically in between sizes you'll likely need to size up. Ion has roots in the kitesurfing world, and pulling the K-Pact pads on has a similar feel to donning a wetsuit. They're very snug at first, but after a few minutes they're not noticeable at all. That being said, if you're the type of rider that likes to slide your knee pads down while climbing, and then pull them up for the descent, these aren't the best option due to how snugly they fit; once they're in place they don't want to go anywhere.

The K-Pacts are a little bulkier than some of the more svelte trail-oriented options on the market, but that extra padding sure is nice to have when you smack the inside of your knee against the top tube, or find yourself taking an unplanned trip off the trail and into the woods. The overall comfort is excellent as well, and I didn't experience any irritating chafing or rubbing even after wearing them for seven hours straight while riding myself stupid in the bike park.

As far as breathability goes, I haven't had the chance to subject them to truly sweltering temperatures, but on warmer spring days they haven't given me any reason to complain. I've managed to avoid any massive encounters with the ground (knock on wood) while wearing these pads, but I have put in plenty of long rides where they were banged against bike frames and covered in mud, and despite all of that the stitching and seams are still holding strong,


Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesIon's K-Pact knee pads are a great choice for riders looking for lightweight, comfortable knee pads that provide enough coverage and protection for DH riding. They're likely a bit much for general trail rides, but they're certainly worth a look if you're constantly venturing into terrain where a set of glorified knee warmers simply won't cut it.  Mike Kazimer









46 Comments

  • + 23
 Hands down the best kneepads i have ever owned! Something lighter for those little trail rides and IONs for the burlier stuff. Incredibly comfortable while pedaling and like Mike said they REALLY stay in place, to the point they're hard to take of after a ride. Smile And there's a zipper version for the folks who like to pedal up without pads.
  • + 1
 +1
  • + 5
 I was undecided between k-pact and k-lite and went with the lighter version. More than enough even for bike park days. Definitely would recommend the lighter version if you can have only one pair of knee pads.
  • + 2
 Can sign this, rocking the zipper version. K-Pacts stay in place, saved my knees in many crashes. Even 50km pedals are no problem. And the washing option with the removable pads is great.
  • + 1
 +1 killer pads, super comfortable, super strong, a pain to take off, can do big days in the saddle comfortably.
  • + 1
 @Stizzl: I'm looking at buying a pair of the zipper ones is there any rub from them?
  • + 2
 @fatduke: Zipper will always be a weak spot on everything. Especially if that something has to bend.
  • + 1
 @fatduke: Ive been using the zipper version this year and so far they have been great. Such an awesome feature on knee pads
  • + 1
 @fatduke: Riding the older K-Pact AMP (with zipper) and they have been great. I could hardly notice them after a while and the zipper makes it easy to put them on and off without removing my shoes. They are a little bulkier than most of the pads, but have saved my knees on several impacts. Once put and fixed with the velcro straps they stay in place and pedaling is a no issue for me as well, however I haven't done much climbing except for the transfers between enduro stages. I was looking for pads with side and above knee protection, so this is a great choice IMO.
  • + 2
 @fatduke: 0 rub, because the zippers are covered with fabric and the kneepad itself has a solid seat on the knee. One disadvantage is, that the sweat tends to set in the zipper, so putting them directly on the knee on can be a bit harsh. Therefore I fix them at the shin (more place) and pull them up over the knee. Yeah, what else ... they dry very fast when opened. Would buy again.
  • + 1
 @fatduke: i have been using the k packt amp now for 6 months. No weakness on the zipper. Using the zipper Quite often especially on bikeparkdays. Combining them with the Shin guards. Works perfectly. Wuold Bus them again.
  • + 6
 Run on the small side is an understatement, they are tiny. Compared to Dianese and 661 they are two sizes smaller. Great pads, but try on before you buy.
  • + 2
 +1 to this. i'm a medium in almost everything I buy but had to go up to XL with these pads! really comfy once you find the right size though but i reckon their design team must all have chicken legs!
  • + 3
 @eqsound: I'm 6'1" and 205lbs. I bought the kpact zip versions in XL and they are too tight. I'm bummed because they are nice pads, but they need to fix their sizing. Anyone with above average calves and quad size is out of luck.
  • + 1
 Ordered mine according to their size chart and was just fine. They're snug but so it should be, pads need to stay put. No chicken legs here either.
  • + 3
 Just placed an order for my second pair of ION pads after wearing my first pair out. At full price, even though I work in a bike shop and can get (and have tested) Fox, TLD, POC, Sweet, Raceface, 7iDP and IXS for a lot less. That's how good they fit. Too bad there's no good supplier for them here in Norway.
  • + 5
 There's a zip version of these pads too I believe.
  • + 1
 That's weird since it's a standout feature of the K-pacts. They're also one of the best on the market according to Vital & Enduro Mtb
  • + 1
 @bogdanc: I have an older set of k-pact with the zipper. Fit fine, but the zipper is a struggle. Eventually I realized it's less effort to slide them on no matter what.
  • + 1
 these with the zipper are the best
  • + 3
 @supercollider: zipping them on around your ankles (zipper at the front) and then sliding up seems to be the way to go.
  • + 4
 Ive had my Ion these a while ???? ????
  • + 1
 Best fitting knee pads out there but I‘m disappointed by the quality of the Sas-Tec pads. I‘m on my third pair now and the pads start to break after just two months.
Thinking about squeezing some d3o pads in there.
  • + 1
 Mine started to do this, contacted the distributor and got a new set for free, didn't even want the old ones back! Hopefully the second set last a bit longer.
  • + 1
 I bought the zipped version of these and they are awesome. They do come up a bit small, so size up, but as a pad they are really good and I am glad I spent the money
  • + 1
 Awesome pads but too tight for me - next size up was too big so had to return them - gutted. Definitely try before you buy.
  • + 1
 Gr8 pads, I use lighter ones for All-day rides though. These i use in the park or when shuttling mostly...
  • + 1
 Would love a set except I have no idea where to get them! Competitive Cyclist only has Smalls and Mediums...
  • + 2
 Do they still smell just like the old ones?
  • + 1
 Mega review coming soon?? Or did I miss it?
  • + 2
 Was there one on the cards from PB? There was a big mass review on this other website you may like to look at:
enduro-mtb.com/en/the-best-mtb-knee-pads-you-can-buy
  • + 3
 the best knee pads are those which fit your legs as comfortably as possible without sliding down. Then you aim for highest possible mental comfort of having enough protection. Uncomfortable pads will simply always be worn less often than comofrtable ones. That may involve owning two pairs.

I have just bought a pair after trying 7 different pads. It’s not an easy decision and if you have tough luck to feel best with the priciest ones: go for them as long as wallet allows. We all have different legs but they are all worth protecting and we should not think about them while riding.
  • + 3
 Ah, sorry I misinterpreted the question. I thought "mega" as in a big review (of various) kneepads. But apparently it is about the bicycle he's sat on in the picture shown.
  • + 2
 Thanks everyone, apparently I did miss it.
  • + 1
 best kneepads ever
  • - 2
 Surfing the trails?
Sigh.
  • + 3
 has to do with the brand's heritage, nothing else.
  • + 2
 @addatx: So surfing the trails is not a reference to riding trails?

I liked it since its not visible.
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