Super-comfy low-profile trail pads that harden on impact
Jul 22 2018
Decent-sized flexible pad affords adequate trail protection
Cool and breathable
Sizing comes up very big so won't fit riders with very slim legs
Blue colour not for everyone
You want pads that you can ride in all day and forget you're even wearing them
Without a doubt, these Bliss ARG Minimalist+ knee pads are the most comfortable pads I’ve worn, thanks to being flexible, lightweight and breathable. They offer good protection for everyday trail riding via the Armourgel material, which hardens on impact just like D30. And all this comes in at a decent price too.
The Armourgel pads are asymmetrical, with a separate small pad (of different sizes) either side of the kneecap, which helps keep the main pad in position. They’re a decent length too (over 18cm on my XS pair) so the pad extends over the top of the shin, and they meet the EN 1621-1 European safety standard for motorcycle impact protectors.
The pads work by dissipating energy in the event of an impact, and Armourgel claims they absorb 80% of crash energy. Despite testing the Bliss ARGs for several months, I didn’t have a bad off so can’t verify just how effective they are, but they certainly gave me confidence down rough, rocky descents. Clearly, they’re not designed to offer downhill levels of protection, but as long as they fit you snugly so the pads stay in place I’ve no reason to doubt they’ll do their job on less extreme rides.
Talking of fit, sizing might be an issue for riders with slim legs – I needed an XS whereas I’m normally a Small or Medium. As for durability, they’ve been through seven months of riding and machine washing and they’re still going strong with little sign of wear, so they are sturdily made.
The simple sleeve design with the low-profile (about 4mm thick) pad bonded onto the fabric means the Minimalist+ will easily fit under shorts or winter trousers. There’s no danger of gaper gap either as the polyester/elastane mix sleeve is generously long, and I found it stayed securely in place with the wide elasticated cuffs – with silicone dots for extra grip – both top and bottom.
Wearing the Bliss ARGs through the recent heatwave has been fine – they’re relatively cool because the sleeve material is nice and thin plus there’s a mesh panel behind the knee. The pad itself is perforated with quite large holes, which aid ventilation as well as flexibility. These attributes combine to create a supremely comfy knee pad that I have happily worn on all-day rides – I’d go as far as to say I forgot I was wearing them. They don’t inhibit your movement at all and there’s no digging in from the pad itself, including when walking on hike-a-bike sections. The flatlock-stitched seams are kept to a minimum and caused no irritation whatsoever.
One minor niggle – the blue colour isn’t that easy to coordinate with, I’d prefer a black option.