by RGG Gangster Mel A @mjalexandrou
I'll preface this by stating that I hate wearing knee pads. I hate putting them on, I hate forgetting to put them on before putting my skates on, I hate how cumbersome and sweaty they can be, sometimes I hate how they look or how they fit - or don't fit - under or over my clothes...but I hate injuring my knees more. SO much more. Therefore, here we are. (TL;DR skip several paragraphs down to get to the review proper)
When I first started skating I didn't even think about any sort of pads. I just bought skates and started falling around. A minor sprained wrist prompted my husband to suggest "maybe you should get some wrist guards...". Followed a couple of months later with a similar suggestion for knee pads (and a helmet). Cue the beginning of a lifelong search of non-ugly protective gear. From a purely personal perspective, non-ugly meant something not all-black (that reminded me too much of *aggressive* rollerblading which will forever be delegated to the nineties for me) - I wanted something bright and colourful to match my beautiful Moxi skates! I settled on the Pro-Tec Retro set, which come in excellent primary colours, and a reasonable price. After a nasty twisty fall while being all care-free, skating down the street with no pads - resulting in damaging my meniscus cartilage - no bending or straightening sad knee for 6 weeks and getting a little too reliant on a knee brace - when I started skating again proper the Pro-Tec's just didn't cut it. I needed a tighter, sleeve-style, plus the Pro-Tec's were irritating me at the seams and one had torn under the plastic cap so the inner foam padding kept trying to escape. I ended up with the Ennui ST knee gaskets, which felt very supportive and gave me adequate protection even when falling on my knees (something I have learned NOT to do if at all possible - FALL SIDEWAYS! THIGH SQUISH TO THE RESCUE). Despite being all-black, these were slim enough to wear UNDER my clothes, which felt super sneaky :) A note on sizing - I'm fairly short and small but have "disproportionately" large thighs, this increases my distaste for knee pads exponentially, as they're just not made for my body shape! The Pro-Tec wrist guards were size S, knee pads were a M and the Ennui were L/XL. I realised when halfheartedly trying a monkey flip (banana?) that I needed some new "proper" pads - the Ennui gaskets have zero slip and slide which is not what you need when bailing out of certain things, and is probably actually quite dangerous. I went for the Moxi X Triple 8 X 187 Pad set (the 187 Killer knee pads have some exciting colour-ways but are missing that key yellow for me), reasoning that a triple attack including Moxi must surely have considered comfort for larger/curvier bodies. These only come in a full set which includes knee pads, wrist guards, and elbow pads, but the price point is still reasonable I think, even if you only intend to use one out of the three gear options. I went for the L/XL set based on the size guide (looking at my knee measurements only). They come in 3 different colourways, pink, lavender and jade, all with some rainbow details too. I went for jade to match my skates¹! Straight away they seemed really good quality, the fabric having an almost denim-y feel to it compared to the thinner, shinier fabric you find on most pads like the Pro-Tecs. Time will tell but this made me think they'd be more durable from the off. They have a sleeve entry (so remember to put them on before your skates!) as well as a generous velcro top strap and a buckle-style adjustable bottom strap. I heard these give a little as you wear them in, but I still had plenty of length in the straps. They felt...comfy..and also very padded. In addition to the strong plastic cap on the outside, the inner padding extends quite far beyond that on all sides, and is very thick and quite rigid. So much so that I was a little concerned when I first tried them on that they would dig in on my shins unless I was in full bent knees position!
The first time I tried them was skating at Graystone with several other RGG gangsters just before their #RGGUKtour, and I don't know if I was just hyped to be skating again (goodbye lockdown) or they were just *that* comfy, but I honestly forgot I was wearing them for the first hour until I looked down! They weren't digging in where I thought they might, they weren't slipping, or irritating at the tops either. The hard plastic outer cap is very slippy (noticed when clambering out of the bowl on my knees), but I didn't actually fall on my knees that night! The second time I wore the knee pads I noticed them a bit more, and found myself pulling them up a bit now and then, and also felt the thick padding digging in a bit on my shins. Nothing terrible though, and only when I was standing around, completely comfortable when skating. I even hesitantly tried a banana (monkey?) flip, and they were satisfactorily slidey when I inevitably slapped it. No sticky. Thumbs up.
Needed to do some more falling though, but figured I'd have that covered with an all-day outdoor skate at several different parks. I was not disappointed. Several minor spills that the knee pads rendered inconsequential, and one major one that was pretty scary and made me dang pleased I had these knee pads on. I went over a spine and my lead foot slipped forward too far, so I had to keep going on my weaker back foot, knee came down heavily, and I skidded for a fair distance. I felt a little queasy at the thought of what that would have felt like without knee pads, or even with my Ennui ones I've been wearing for everything up til now (I think I would have stuck and been thrown forward, not nice). So big yay for these knee pads!! The wrist guards and elbow pads however are a little too big for me. Not too big to wear necessarily, but definitely not the right size. The elbow pads are similar in construction and material to the knee pads, and the wrist guards have good strong seams/edge stitching. and sturdy plastic splints front and back. For me though, there's just too much fabric on the wrist guards that overlaps more than it should, and the elbow pads felt a little gappy. I noticed on the size guide that while the XS and S/M share the same elbow pad size, and the L/XL and THICK SET share the same wrist guard size, making *some* allowances for body shapes, this is obviously still not going to work for many, many bodies. Though the knee pads fit me well and are for sure engineered to fit curvier legs better than any other knee pads I've tried, surely the answer here is to be able to mix and match your gear? Come on! I would probably need XS wrist guards, and S/M elbow pads. Overall though, these are great knee pads. The price is good, they look great, they're comfortable, and most importantly, they protect those knees!
Be sure to check out the little vid I made to accompany this review :)
¹I've ended up skating my Poppy Lollies instead of my Jade Jacks recently as I had a little mishap involving blocks, kingpins and pivot cushions...keep your eyes peeled for a review on that adventure!