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When it comes to potentially dangerous sports like skateboarding, the first priority should be safety and protection. Whether you are flying down hills on a longboard, dropping into massive vert ramps, or jumping onto spine-tingling rails in the street, you want to make sure that you are protected when the inevitable fall comes along.
If skateboarding is a sport you truly love, you’ll naturally want to continue doing it for as long as possible. Skateboarding of any kind is notoriously hard on your body, and the repeated slams eventually take their toll. If you fastidiously commit to wearing pads of some kind while skating, you can dramatically extend the life of your skateboarding career.
Other than safety, pads also give you a lot more confidence doing tricks as you are safer should you fall. This feeling of safety and confidence can allow you to progress a lot faster as you will not avoid tricks you were otherwise too afraid to attempt.
You are relying on pads to protect you when you fall, and as such, you’ll want to make sure you are wearing the best quality pads possible that will protect you as much as possible. With so many options available on the market, it can quickly become overwhelming to try and sift through the options to find the right set.
But fear not! You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ve rounded up the best skateboard pads we could find, to help you choose the perfect set for your unique needs. Let’s get started!
Guide to choosing skateboard pads
There are two main factors to consider when choosing skateboard pads: comfort and protection. These are the most important two factors to take into consideration, as firstly, you’ll be wearing these pads for hours on end — most likely in the hot sun — and the last thing you want is a set of pads that are uncomfortable.
Not only will this cause you pain after a couple of hours or less, but this will also be likely to deter you from using pads again. Secondly, the entire reason you are wearing pads is for protection, and so you’ll a set of pads that can provide as much protection as possible. With that said, here are some other vital points to consider:
If your pads are too big or too small, they are going to be uncomfortable, plus, they may even cause injury, negating the reason for wearing them in the first place. They should fit tightly enough so that they don’t slide around while skating, but not so tight that they cause a restriction of movement.
A general rule of thumb with buying pads if you cannot try them on is to purchase a size larger than you’d think you need, as manufactures often make them too small.
There are two distinct types of skateboard pads on the market; hardshell and softshell. Hardshell pads are the version you’ll typically see vert skaters and downhill longboarders wearing, they have high-density plastic caps that offer both protection but also sliding capability.
Softshell pads consist of a thin layer of foam encased in cloth and only offer very basic protection. For almost all types of skateboarding, you’ll want to go for hardshell pads.
Even if you’ve purchased a perfectly fitting pad, there will always still be micro-adjustments that need to be made. These adjustments can be made with straps, which are usually made from velcro, clips, or buckles, and are typically elasticated for more freedom of movement.
Velcro is the quickest and easiest material, and also the most common. It secures the strap in place plus can be adjusted on the fly, making it the most obvious choice for pads.
Your knees are usually the first point of your body to hit the ground when falling, and as such, you’ll want the best protection you can find. Knee pads are especially important for vert skating, where skaters are constantly sliding down the face of the ramp on their knees.
Pro-Tec Street Knee Pads – Our top choice overall
These knee pads from Pro-Tec are reliable, rugged, and built to last, making them our favorite choice overall. The pads come in 5 different sizes, from small to extra-large, with a hook and loop closure system that allows for a perfect fit and comfortable neoprene construction.
The stretch lycra interior and upper and lower support straps make sure that the pad hugs your knee tightly to provide both protection and comfort. They are CE certified to standard CE EN 14120:2003, and A1:2007 level C for riders over 110 pounds, making these pads a product you can really put your trust in.
When buying these pads, be sure to consult the sizing chart to get the perfect fit, as many customers have complained about them being too small.
- 5 different size options
- Hook and loop closure system
- Neoprene and lycra construction
- Upper and lower support straps
- CE certified
- Sizing runs a bit small
Triple Eight Saver Series Kneesaver Knee Pads – Best Value
The Saver Series for Triple Eight is a great value-for-money option for skateboarders on a budget, offering great protection at an affordable price. They are made with shock-absorbent, ventilated EVA foam that allows for airflow while skating and thus reduces perspiration.
The pads feature a high-density, impact-resistant cap made to withstand even the hardest falls that are securely attached with reinforced rivets. The wide elastic straps with hook and loop connectors make these pads both supremely comfortable plus allow for quick removal.
One criticism we have with these pads is the strap design; under a heavy collision, they made twist around, even when securely tightened.
- Made with shock-absorbent and ventilated EVA foam
- High-density, impact-resistant cap
- Elastic straps with hook and loop connectors
- Slim and comfortable
- Poor strap design
- Ideal for casual skating only
187 Killer Pads Slim Knee Pad – Premium Choice
These slim knee pads from 187 Killer Pads are some of the highest quality skateboard pads on the market. They are constructed from ballistic nylon with industrial weight stitching to ensure long-lasting durability, with a streamlined slide-on design that reduces bulk and provides a snug fit.
Not only that, but the “Fusion Groove Channel” on the interior is made from memory foam, making the pad lock into the ideal position on your knee. The interior is also made with a lightweight, fast-drying finish to reduce slipping from perspiration. They come in 5 different sizes, and in our opinion, are most definitely worth the extra cash.
These pads are difficult to fault, but some skaters find the knee cup a little oversized, restricting their movement.
- Ballistic nylon construction with industrial weight stitching
- Streamlined slide-on design
- Memory foam interior
- Lightweight, fast-drying interior finish
- 5 different size options
- Oversized knee cup
JBM Knee Pads, Elbow Pads, and Wrist Guards Set – Best for kids
This 3-in-one set from JBM is all your child needs to be protected while skating. It contains knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards that are all made from durable yet comfortable EVA with tough plastic plates.
All the pads are fully adjustable via a Velcro strap for a snug fit, with the knee pads being closed-back to prevent slipping. They are also stretchable, making for an even more comfortable and safe tight fit, no matter your child’s age. A great addition to any parental arsenal!
Some skaters report varying manufacturing quality with these pads, a few have stated that they only last a fall or two while others have had months of use from them, pointing toward poor quality control.
- 3-in-one set
- Made from durable EVA
- Closed-back knee pads
- Stretchable material
- Poor quality control
Your elbows are one of the most vulnerable parts of your body when falling, as a hard hit can easily result in a break or fracture. Your arms are responsible for a lot of your balance on a skateboard, however, and as such, you want protection but also plenty of freedom of movement.
Triple Eight Street Elbow Pad – Our top choice overall
Triple 8 makes some great protective gear for skateboarding, and these elbow pads are no different. They are compact and comfortable, made with contoured high-density foam for a perfect fit, with impact-resistant polyethylene protective caps that are attached with reinforced rivets. The sleeve is made from breathable lycra to reduce perspiration, and they come in 4 different sizes.
It’s important to note that there are some sizing issues with these pads, and you should purchase a size or two larger than the guideline advises as they tend to run small.
- Compact, comfortable design
- High-density foam and lycra construction
- Impact-resistant polyethylene protective caps
- 4 different size options
- Tend to run small
Triple 8 Covert Elbow Pads – Best value
These pull-on elbow pads from Triple 8 are a simple yet effective form of protection for a casual skateboarder. They are made with lightweight EVA padding that gives them a flexible and non-restrictive freedom of movement and can thus be worn on top of or underneath your clothing. The pads come in 3 different sizes and are machine washable.
While these pads are lightweight and offer the most freedom of movement, this conversely affects their protection capability. These pads will protect you from minor falls, but for more heavy-duty skating they will simply not be enough.
- Lightweight and stretchy
- EVA padding
- 3 different size options
- Machine washable
- Very low protective capability
187 Killer Pads Pro Elbow Pad – Premium choice
If you are looking for a premium, comfortable elbow pad that offers the most possible protection, the 187 Killer Pads Pro Elbow Pads are an ideal option. They have extra-thick padding inside of an articulated design that gives ultimate protection while still providing freedom of movement.
They have ballistic nylon construction with industrial weight stitching to ensure a durable, long-lasting pad, with a size-progressed cap to extend the protective coverage zone. They come in 5 different sizes to suit any age.
There is little to fault on these pads other than the high price, but you are definitely getting a premium product for the extra cash.
- Extra-thick padding
- Articulated design
- Ballistic nylon construction with industrial weight stitching
- Size-progressed cap
- 5 different size options
When falling, the first instinctive reaction while hurtling toward the concrete is to throw out your hands to break your fall. While this will save your head and other areas from harm, your hands and wrist can take a serious pounding too. Of all the protection available to casual skaters, wrist guards are arguably the most important.
187 Killer Pads Derby Wrist Guards – Our top choice overall
These wrist guards from 187 Killer Pads are designed to adequately protect your hands and wrists while still giving you vital freedom of movement, and are our top choice overall. They are constructed with ballistic nylon and double stitching with a cupped and contoured protective plate that covers both the palm and wrist for ultimate overall protection.
Plus, a conveniently located sweatband will help keep your face sweat-free during a long session! 187 Killer Pads arguably make some of the best pads on the market, and these wrist guards are no different.
Our only fault with these wrist guards is the sizing: they do run small and so you may want to purchase a size or two bigger.
- Double stitching, ballistic nylon construction
- Cupped and contoured protective plate
- Included sweatband
- Wrist and palm protection
- Some sizing issues
TXJ Sports Wrist Guards – Best value
These wrist guards from TXJ sports offer plenty of comfort and protection while being highly affordable. With an impact-resistant PE support plate for wrist and palm protection, EVA padding for shock absorption, and a breathable elastic netting mesh construction, these are a great pair of wrist guards for the price.
The two adjustable Velcro straps ensure a comfortable, tight fit, and the flexible thumb hole will give you superior freedom of movement where you need it most.
Of course, the lower price comes with some caveats, and the materials and construction quality of these wrist guards are not outstanding, and so will not last as long as other brands.
- EVA padding construction
- Impact-resistant PE support plate
- Breathable elastic mesh
- Adjustable Velcro straps
- Poorly constructed
- Low-quality materials
Triple Eight Hired Hands Wrist Guards – Premium Choice
If you are looking for premium hand and wrist protection the Hired Hands wrist guards from Triple Eight are our favorite choice. They are made from top-grain leather with a thick neoprene support strap for a tight and comfortable fit with a convenient EZ pull-on loop for easy removal.
The impact-resistant ABS splints on the top and bottom are removable and replaceable and surrounded by EVA shock-absorbing foam layers with double stitching for a long-lasting, durable pair of gloves. These wrist guards may be pricey, but they are sure to last for many years to come.
There is little to fault with these wrist guards, except that your hands will get very hot and sweaty after a few hours of use!
- Constructed from top-grain leather
- EZ pull-on loop with a thick neoprene support strap
- EVA shock-absorbing foam layers
- Double stitching construction
- Impact-resistant ABS splints
- Get hot and sweaty quickly
Frequently asked Questions
Answer: No, you do not necessarily need pads for skateboarding, and most of the most well-known street skaters do not use pads at all. That being said, in transition and bowl skateboarding as well as downhill longboarding, pads and helmets are essential.
Wearing pads will greatly extend the life of your skateboarding career, plus help you be far more confidant when learning tricks, and for these reasons, we highly recommend using them. While you do not need pads to skate, you most certainly should wear protection of some kind whenever possible.
Answer: Your pads should be snug, but not tight. You don’t want them to move or slide around, but you also want the freedom of movement while skating.
As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to easily bend your knees and elbows while wearing pads, but they should not slip or move out of place. If your pads hurt at all when you put them on, they are either too tight or too small.
Answer: Yes! Any type of protective pad for skating, including the ones mentioned in the above reviews, are all fine for roller skating, street skating, transition skating, longboarding, and almost any type of skating on concrete.
They are all universal, although some may be suited better for other disciplines than others. For example, if you are cruising the streets on a longboard, you don’t necessarily need the hefty, plastic cupped pads that transition skaters need.
Whether you are a street skater, transition skater, or longboard cruiser, pads are an essential item to keep you safe from inevitable falls. Pads can give you the confidence to attempt new tricks and keep your knees, elbows, and wrists safe from the biting concrete.
Our favorite choice of knee pads are the knee pads from Pro-Tec, with a hook and loop closure system that allows for a perfect fit and comfortable neoprene construction, a stretch lycra interior, plus upper and lower support straps that provide both protection and comfort.
Our top choice of elbow pads are the Triple 8 Street elbow pads, with a compact and comfortable design, contoured high-density foam construction, and impact-resistant polyethylene protective caps that are attached with reinforced rivets.
Lastly, our favorite choice of wrist guards are the 187 Killer Pads, which are constructed with ballistic nylon and double stitching with a cupped and contoured protective plate that covers both the palm and wrist for ultimate overall protection.
It can be confusing to find a good set of skateboard pads, and hopefully, our reviews have helped you narrow down the options to find the best set of skateboard pads for your needs.