To cut complexity and improve the comfort, the Scott Soldier 2 knee pad uses a strapless construction and stretch fabric sleeve. It’s similar in design to several of the pull-on sleeves in our best mountain bike knee pads guide – the difference here is the Scott Soldier 2 uses a high-tech D3O insert. This clever polymer is soft and malleable when you’re riding along, but hit the ground and it stiffens, considerably enhancing crash protection.
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To help the custom-shaped D3O insert conform to your bony bits it has a sort of hex-grid design. It’s also tapered at the edge and has V-shaped cutouts formed into the perimeter to allow it to articulate when you’re pedaling. The insert also gets some big venting holes every couple of inches to increase air flow on the knee. Compared to most inserts we see, which usually have a flatter shape, the Soldier 2 D3O insert is much bigger and wraps further round the sides of the knee boosting protection in these areas.
Like the SAS-TEC insert used in the Sam Hill Lite knee pads we tested recently, the D3O polymer has a viscoelastic property. What this means is when you introduce an impact force to the surface of the insert it stiffens significantly, which helps to dissipate the shock evenly over more of the pad. The material doesn’t actually go rock hard but it does become a lot stiffer than the standard EVA foam you get in some entry-level knee guards. D3O is also moldable, especially when it gets warm, which you’re likely to do when riding a mountain bike.
One of the downsides of the D3O is it’s only wipe clean, so must be removed when you wash the knee pads. Scott has included a cutaway on the inside for this purpose and removing the orange insert only takes a second. To be fair, I have stuffed these pads in the machine more than once by accident and they don’t seem any different but D3O claims repeated washing can compromise D3O’s effectiveness; and you really don’t want to put that to the test when you’ve spent this much.
To hold it up, the Soldier 2 has two wide elasticated hems. The upper hem gets additional silicone gripper to stop it sliding as you’re riding. Rather than the usual strips, it’s also a dot matrix design, which I found didn’t pull as much on the skin/hairs on my legs. However, when I removed these knee pads after a full day in the saddle there was a still a red mark on my thigh. This isn’t unusual – plenty of manufacturers are overzealous with the silicone grip – but it is why I'm only rating the comfort as average.
The area around the back of the knee on the Soldier 2 is Lycra construction with a sort of printed on X of elastic that helps pull the material in, making it fit closer in this delicate area.
All the seams are triple-stitched for durability but they’re quite bulky and I could feel a slight ridge of material on the back corner of my knee. Also, the lower edge of the insert sits too low in the body of the pad – I had a similar issue with the Alpine Stars Paragon Plus knee pad – and it rubs on the shin causing quite a bit of chafing.
In terms of movement, the Soldier 2 does stay in place better than the Paragon Plus and you feel more protected because of that. It's also stable when you do a lot of pedaling – I didn’t have to keep stopping and pulling this one up. The extra wraparound enhances protection levels and also makes this a good cross-over design for an occasional visit to the bikepark or a day uplifting. Low leg protection is minimal, but the Soldier 2 is slim enough to wear under a pair of trail pants or a waterproof trouser.
With the mesh front panel and perforated insert, the Soldier 2 is cool running when you’re on the charge. It’s not quite in the same league as the Mission Evo, the next knee sleeve down in the Scott range, but I was never dripping in sweat. Compared to a lot of the knee sleeves it does feel like there’s more to the Soldier 2 in the protection offered but that also applies to the cost – you are literally paying a premium for the high-tech insert.
The Scott Soldier 2 is a high-quality knee pad that has some nice design touches, comes in individual sizes, which means there’s more chance of you getting the correct fit, and has a comfortable insert that offers a ton of protection. Breathability is very good for the fuller design, and even though it’s expensive, I can’t fault the quality or construction. What stops it getting top marks is the shin irritation and slightly higher cost.
Tech specs: Scott Soldier 2 knee guard
- Price: $79.99 / £72.99 / €79,90
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL
- Colors: Black or Moss Green
- Rival products: 7 Protection Sam Hill knee pad, Endura MT500 Lite knee pads, Leatt AirFlex Pro