The 7 Protection Sam Hill Knee pads are designed in part with arguably one of the greatest riders of all time. They are an excellent enduro and trail kneepad for those who like it slimline, but still want plenty of protection. They're super-secure for 'sleeve' style pads, though they can be too stiff in cold weather.
The Sam Hill knee pads are a slip-on design with elastic at either end, and silicone grippers around the top. The pad itself is Sas-Tec foam, a viscoelastic foam that hardens on impact, just like the better-known D3O. This pad sits inside a pocket, so it's removable for washing – a nice touch, as it stops you damaging it should you want to use high temperatures.
There are ventilation holes throughout to aid cooling, plus the rear is a lighter mesh than the sides. It's by no means the coolest lightweight pad I've tested, but it's good for the level of protection.
The sleeves are long, stretching under my lycra shorts and down to my socks on my relatively short legs (they're longer than 7iDP's 'Transition Knee' pads too). This isn't a problem though, and the tall upper section plays its part in keeping the pads secure.
These are the most secure pads I've tested so far, and I've worn a fair few of this style. The Sam Hills trump the RaceFace Indy D3O, Alpinestars Paragon Plus and Bluegrass Solid for security, although they are a little hotter than the Alpinestars. And while the Fox Enduro D30 Knee guards stay in place, they can also fall apart in the wash.
The 7iDP Sam Hill knee pads stay put without a millimetre of slippage thanks to their compressive stretch, yet prove flexible and stretchy enough for complete freedom of movement.
The Sas-Tec pad is pre-shaped to cup your knee, while the outer layer has foam covering the edge of pad too. The Sas-Tec moulds to the knee very well in temperate or hot weather, but in the cold is super stiff to the point of awkwardness. It makes them difficult to put on and uncomfy until the pad warms to body temperature.
I had this problem in UK summer... obviously, it will only become more of an issue during winter or in colder climates, but for now I can't say definitively. I'll update the review later in the year.
The only other problem I had was with the fabric: I ripped the lightweight calf material on a tree stump. That said, I ripped Alpinestars' Paragon Plus pads too – it's arguably a risk with this style of lightweight pad, rather than the Sam Hills in particular.
At £80 the Sam Hills are fairly expensive, but it's a protective, secure and comfortable pad you can pedal in all day – and certainly worth, we think, the extra fiver or tenner over rivals from Fox and RaceFace.
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