Dakine Slayer Knee & Elbow Sleeves: All Day Protection
Text By: Ryan Cross
We’ve all been there. It’s 90 degrees out, the sun is searing your skin and despite your dedication to the craft, hopping on a mountain bike and grinding up a 20 minute climb is feeling more and more daunting by the second.
Do you put on the pads, or do you tempt fate and stay cooler without them?
We’re blessed with 4 incredible seasons here in Colorado, and high quality mountain biking to match them, but on those absolutely scorching days it becomes tough to palate the idea of putting on any extra material on my skin. Nothing is less inviting than a pair of bulky pads, and until recently, there haven’t been too many brands that have achieved the delicate balance between lightweight temperature regulating pads and effective protection.
Dakine launched the Slayer pad series in an attempt to do just that, and I had the chance to try these pads out in Colorado’s Western Slope, where sharp jagged rocks are plentiful and the heat of the desert is undeniable.
Out of the gate, I appreciate the minimalist design of the Slayer pads. I take a less is more approach with my clothing (don’t get any funny ideas) and tend to be somewhat particular in choosing soft good materials on the bike, especially on days where heat management will be an issue. At first glance, these pads are light. Very light. The pads felt more like a thicker knee or arm warmer than a bulky pad that I’m accustomed to.
I appreciate the clean aesthetic of the pads as well. As a less bulky protective layer, there isn’t much material jutting out into the air and away from your body, and they tuck underneath your shorts nicely. Offered in an unassuming black color, they’ll blend in with almost any color shorts and jerseys.
No two legs and arms are the same, so for a company to try to make a pad that works for all body types in a matter of just a few size offerings is a challenge. I was impressed to learn that Dakine offers these pads in 6 different sizes, so there’s undoubtedly a version that would work for most bodies.
As a bigger guy (6’2”, 185 lbs) with relatively large thighs, I went with a large. I was surprised to see the knee pads ride a bit low and as a result, I would say the overall fit is slightly on the larger side compared to some other brands. The elbow pads also fit a bit on the larger side, leaving a bit of an opening on the lower portion of the sleeve. I would advise going a size down on both.
Knee pads are tricky. They’re positioned on a part of the body that’s constantly moving with each pedal stroke and the material elasticity changes as moisture (sweat) is introduced, which usually results in some movement of the pad throughout the ride. With somewhat minimal grippy materials on the top or bottom of the pad to hold it in place, the Slayer pads slid down on me and bunched up more than I would have liked, but some basic mid-ride adjustments held it in place.
Well, this is why we’re wearing them, right? At the end of the day, knee pads aren’t a fashion statement, they’re here to save some skin. I managed to keep it upright on all of my test rides in these (sorry, I can’t intentionally crash for journalism) but given my experience with leaving skin on the trail, I have a pretty good bearing on the protective levels offered in pad materials.
Light pads are going to offer light protection. This is not a DH pad, and it isn’t going to keep your knee safe from big hits or hard slides. The center shell and primary protection zone is comprised of a soft material less than a centimeter thick. In small crashes or abrasions, this thing will help you out, but do not expect it to save the day if you come down too hard.
These pads have purpose.
The product name says it all, the Dakine Slayer pad is a sleeve. It’s almost a second or third layer of skin offering lightweight impact protection. They’re sleek, comfortable, and you almost don’t notice they’re there on those hot days.
If you’re ripping laps at the bike park or racing steep, technical enduro tracks, you likely want to find something more robust but if you want an insurance policy in a lower risk environment or an added confidence boost on the trail you ride day in and day out, these are the ticket. You never crash on that trail, until you do, and you’ll be glad you wore these pads.