Believe it or not, one of the most common injuries among mountain bikers relates to the elbow.
Thankfully, a good pair of mountain bike elbow pads can protect you from an injury that could take you off the bike for an extended period of time.
Experienced riders know this, and novice riders have already discovered that there are countless elbow pad options on the market today. In fact, it’s a bit overwhelming.
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Don’t worry. We’ve scoured our favorite bike shops for the top mountain bike elbow pads out there today.
Here are 10 of the best elbow pads for mountain biking.
1. POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pad
Looking for a lighter elbow pad that gives you a better range of motion than full-on armor? The POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pad fits perfectly into that category.
We really like this elbow pad because even though it’s lightweight, it’s still going to protect you against any cuts and scrapes in the event of a fall, and it was engineered to absorb any sort of impact, hopefully protecting your elbow from a break.
This POC elbow pad is also super comfortable. It fits tight enough to eliminate dirt getting underneath, but is flexible enough that you’ll forget it’s even on your elbows.
2. Fox Racing Launch Pro Elbow Guard
The Fox Racing Launch Pro Elbow Guard is a pair that you might forget you’re even wearing.
These elbow pads are extremely breathable, which is evident after rides in the hot summer heat.
Riders who’ve used these pads in triple-digit temperatures of Arizona praised them for causing too much sweating underneath, thanks to the perforated neoprene design.
Many riders suggest sizing up from the manufacturer’s size chart when purchasing these elbow pads.
In terms of elbow protection in case of a fall, this Fox Racing pair is anatomically-shaped and fits very nicely on the arm.
3. Ion E-Pact Elbow Pad
A heavier-duty elbow pad designed with rough-riders in mind, the E-Pact Elbow Pad is perfect for those rocky, tree-lined trails where elbow injuries are all too common.
Ion designed these pads to keep your arms in a bent position, which is ideal on rockier rides.
If you were to fall on the elbow, the memory foam padding is designed to absorb impact, and then a hard cap on the tip of the elbow should protect against anything more serious.
While the Ion E-Pact Elbow Pad is stiffer than some of the lighter options, the design still does a good job of preventing adjustment bands from digging into your skin.
4. Kali Protectives Strike Elbow Guard
Think of the Kali Protectives Strike Elbow Guard as your personal shield from trees on the trail.
These tough elbow pads are highlighted by their Xelion elbow cap, which doesn’t an incredible job at absorbing and minimizing any impact your elbows may encounter on a ride.
And as an added bonus, these pads are quite flexible and breathable, which is rare from a hard-cap-style product. That’s due to the HEX-style pad, which does a great job at letting air flow through.
In terms of price, these Kali elbow pads run right in line with other high-quality elbow protectors.
5. Troy Lee Design Speed Elbow Guards
If you’re looking for elbow pads that nearly stretch the length of your arms, the Troy Lee Design Speed Elbow Guards is a great solution.
Not only does the foam cushioning and scratch-resistant covering protect your elbows from serious injury, the sleeve, made of synthetic, perspiration-wicking fibers, stretches along your arm, preventing any branches from scratching you up.
Because of that design, it can be a little tricky to size these elbow guards. Many riders suggest ordering down in size.
Most importantly, these Troy Lee Design elbow guards stay on the arms well and can save you a trip to the emergency room.
6. Alpinestars Paragon Lite Elbow Protector
For those in search of a minimalist feel with top-notch protection, the Alpinestars Paragon Lite Elbow Protector fits the bill.
Say farewell to difficult velcro straps with these elbow guards. We love the slip-on designs, which are significantly easier to put on.
These guards, which actually protect most of the forearm, were designed with strong elastic cuffs, which do a great job at keeping everything in place, even on those tough, technical rides.
While not totally necessary, Alpinestars included a nice carrying pouch for when these pads are stored away.
7. Dainese Trail Skins Pro Elbow Guard
Designed with the serious, hard-core mountain biker in mind, the Dainese Trail Skins Pro Elbow Guard comes with some of the highest levels of protection when it comes to riding gear.
You don’t have to look too hard to see how the tough, hard-cap style elbow guard can protect your arms from disaster.
These pads, which run a little small, use a dual-velcro system to put on, and feature plenty of ventilation to keep your arms feeling fresh and relaxed.
You also don’t have to worry about any arm chafing with these Dainese elbow guards. Side padding helps immensely with reducing friction between your arm and the guard.
8. 7 Protection Flex Elbow Guards
A flexible pair of elbow pads that can take a beating, the 7 Protection Flex Elbow Guards are designed for more advanced mountain bikers who don’t want to sacrifice speed and risk, while still protecting their bodies.
We really like how flexible these elbow pads are, while still offering a super-tough hard cap that covers two layers of foam core. These pads keep your arms in that desired bent position, but still allow you some freedom to stretch.
A nice feature on these 7 Protection guards is a double strap to secure it to your arm. With two straps, it evens out the pressure on your arms, making it more comfortable.
9. 100% Ridecamp Elbow Pad
For easier rides where you need some subtle arm protection, the 100% Ridecamp Elbow Pad is a nice change of pace.
There’s no hardshell cap. Just a well-padded nylon sleeve that keeps your arms from getting cut up by nearby trees. If you were to take a slower-speed fall, the foam padding should still protect your elbows.
The mesh on the backside of these pads allow your mid-arms to breathe nicely, while the silicone at the top keeps the sleeve from falling down your arm.
We wouldn’t wear these 100% elbow guards riding down a steep mountain, but probably would on a slightly technical dirt trail.
10. Sweet Protection Elbow Pad
Don’t be fooled by the ultra-lightweight Sweet Protection Elbow Pad.
These elbow protectors are for serious riders who desire comfort, but need top-notch protection.
The engineers at Sweet Protection designed a multi-impact shock-absorbing padding that is extremely breathable and helps wick away sweat and moisture.
After a long day’s ride, you can remove those tech-savvy pads and machine wash the elastic sleeve, which is quite convenient.
For this type of engineering, it’s going to cost you more than other elbow pads in this class, but you likely won’t be disappointed.