Designed alongside the legend himself, the Sam Hill pad from 7 Protection is aimed to suit trail and enduro riders who value a slim fitting pad that provides maximum comfort without any substantial comprise to protection.
Do we think Sam Hill has what it takes to co-design some of the best mountain bike knee pads? Keep scrolling to find out Bike Perfect's on-trail thoughts.
Similar to the Sweet Protection Knee Pad we recently tested, the Sam Hill pads feature the same impact absorbing SAS-TEC foam cup throughout the main portion of the guard. SAS-TEC is an intelligent Viscoelastic foam that stays flexible for pedaling yet firms up instantly on impact, absorbing the forces caused by a crash or collision.
Situated in an internal pocket, 7 Protection has made the SAS-TEC insert removable for ease of washing. The SAS-TEC pad also features a series of ventilation holes to keep operating temperatures cool and improve airflow on hotter days - a detail that's impressive to see and remarkably effective on the trail. 7 Protection has also featured extra padding around the perimeter of the SAS-TEC pad stretching across the sides of the knee to further increase impact protection from all angles.
The lengthy sleeve construction features silicone grippers on both the top and bottom openings to ensure the pads stay put on the trail. They're by far the longest pads we've tested, too, and, on our average length legs, the sleeve started at the midpoint of the thigh and finished close to sock line halfway down our calves; 7 Protection state this is to provide more coverage and greater stability
The overall design is super stretchy and lightweight with a four-way stretch fabric that aims to create an unrestricted range of movement. A mesh backing is also used to encourage lower operating temperatures and help wick sweat away efficiently.
Right from the off, it's obvious that 7 Protection has made one of the longest sleeve-style knee pads on the market, but it's this that results in the Sam Hills being one of the most comfortable and secure knee protectors we've ever tried. The additional coverage and locked-in feel has a way of instilling confidence, and not once during testing did we experience any movement or slippage - even during one wash-out crash where we proceeded to slide for several meters on a dry and rough section of trail, the Sam Hill pad stayed perfectly in place.
They don't run as cool as some lightweight guards, but considering the level of protection on offer, the Sam Hills regulate temperature and sweat well. We think this comes from the strategically placed airflow holes in the SAS-TEC pad itself; when riding it's possible to physically feel the air being drawn through to keep rider operating temperatures as fresh as possible. On the subject of temperature, it's worth noting the SAS-TEC pad does require some extra time to warm up to its flexible state on colder days but, other than being slightly stiffer up the first climb of the day, we didn't find this to be an issue.
The slimline fit has proved to work well with the best mountain bike shorts and some of the tighter, best MTB pants we've tried. The lengthy upper also means there's never any unwanted 'twat gap' - an important feature for the image-conscious riders out there.
Yes, they're at the more expensive end of the market but, to us, the protection, pad technology, amazing fit and build quality make them well worth the investment.
At $89.99 they're no bargain, but 7 Protection has created a pad that almost exceeds the gravity riding knee pad dream list. This enduro-ready pad won't be for everyone, but if you're looking for high levels of protection with all-day pedaling conform the Sam Hill pad from 7 Protection is a properly dialed option.
Tech specs: 7 Protection Sam Hill Knee Pad
- Price: $89.99
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL
- Colors: Black