Dainese’s Trail Skins Pro Knee Guards are designed to conform to the shape of their wearer’s knee while offering good ventilation and plenty of protection thanks to carbon-elastomer compound armoured sections.
The compound technology makes the large forward-facing protective sections of the pads free to flex and deform as they’re worn.
The auxetics-inspired (becoming thicker when force is applied) surface and shape have been designed to expand and contract in all directions which means, Dainese claims, they evenly distribute impacts and disperse 83 per cent of their force.
They’ve been awarded a CE Level 1 protection certificate. To achieve this the protection-rated section of the pads at 4.47m/s must be below an average of 35-kilo Newtons and shall not exceed 50-kilo Newtons of force transmitted through the knee pads into the wearer when a 5kg flat impactor strikes (source: Wikipedia) – sensors measure how much force is transmitted through the pads.
In reality, what this means for how protective they are in any given impact scenario on the bike is hard to discern, but it does provide a comparative tool to see how they perform against other knee pads that have also been CE tested.
Not only does Dainese claim the Trail Skins auxetic design improves protection, but the hollow sections also allow air to pass through to help keep a rider’s legs cooler.
They have a slip-on design but use Velcro fit adjusters at both the upper and lower hems where the hooked section Velcro faces towards the pads. They are elasticated and have silicone grippers around both openings, too.
There are three side protection pads in addition to the main section, with two of the panels on the inside of the pads and one on the outside. My medium test sample weighed 370g for the pair.
Dainese Trail Skins Pro Knee Guards performance
Although initially, the medium size I ordered felt too tight for my legs, once I’d become accustomed to their snug fit mirroring the shape of my knees, I found them comfortable even after wearing them for long durations and they didn’t restrict movement.
Their tighter-fitting style feels different from bulkier knee pads such as G-Form’s Pro Rugged Knee Guards and they are significantly more flexible than pads such as the Alpinestars Paragon, which means they can get away with being a little more snug.
I’d recommend trying the Trail Skins Pro before you buy them rather than just relying on Dainese’s size chart.
The large protective section was particularly flexible once warmed up, either from the heat of my legs or the sun, and not uncomfortably stiff when cold.
Thanks to the close fit and elasticated hems with silicone grippers, once the pads were positioned correctly on my legs they remained fairly static while riding, requiring only one or two minor adjustments throughout the day.
To get them positioned correctly, I felt like I needed to wear them a little higher than I was expecting, but doing so didn’t appear to impact their stability. I adjusted the Velcro straps to their tightest setting to enhance the secure fit further, too.
However, the lower hems had a tendency to ride up above my calves. This didn’t affect comfort or fit, though, and there was never any bunching or discomfort at the back of the knee, where quite a few pads tend to cause issues.
The rear mesh and elasticated sections didn’t rip, tear or ladder during the test period despite several close encounters with pedal pins.
The ventilated front sections worked well at keeping air flowing across my knees and proved to be significantly cooler than knee pads with solid front protection panels. This was most noticeable on cooler days when it was possible to feel the cold air.
Du to their lower bulk, general heat retention is pretty low which furthered comfort.
Self-preservation makes crash testing knee pads particularly difficult and whether or not a tester crashes in them is a roll of the dice rather than a scientifically controlled procedure.
Unfortunately for me – but fortunately for this test – I did crash quite hard when wearing them, slipping out on a near-frozen right-hand hardpack turn directly onto my left knee, which bore the brunt of the impact.
The pads performed well, dampening the impact so that I could continue riding without much discomfort. However, my knee suffered an abrasion-based graze where the pads had rotated on my skin, and my knee was also sore and swollen for several days afterward.
It’s impossible to compare the pads with another set with a back-to-back test, but I’d speculate the Trail Skins Pro did a commendable job of mitigating damage to my knee.
Despite the excellent performance of the pads, they do have a design flaw. The hooked section of the Velcro fit-adjustment tabs faces inwards to avoid snagging on shorts, trousers or bib shorts, but the material the hooks are sewn onto is flimsy and becomes dog-eared very quickly.
This inverts the hooked section so a part of it points outwards and snags onto the inside of riding trousers, shorts and bibs.
Not only does this pull the pads around – although it doesn’t cause them to fall down, just rotate – it also makes trousers and shorts ruck up or fall down depending on how they’re snagged onto the Velcro’s hooks.
This really frustrated me and I was constantly re-adjusting my bottoms to counter any unwanted movement caused by the snagging. It also caused the short or trouser material to ‘bobble’ and become damaged much quicker.
A change of material to a bulkier hooked Velcro tab would reduce this problem. Equally, the Velcro tabs could be removed entirely and replaced with an elastic band similar to Bliss’s ARG pads, without, in my opinion, any detrimental effect to stability or fitment.
Although the Velcro snagging isn’t a deal-breaker, it is annoying to be constantly adjusting trousers, shorts or bib shorts while riding.
Dainese Trail Skins Pro Knee Guards bottom line
The Trail Skins Pro Knee Guards were heading for a near-perfect score thanks to their lightweight, well-fitting, and protective and comfortable design that stays put throughout the duration of a ride.
However, the material the Velcro tabs is fitted to makes an otherwise great pad very frustrating to wear.
|Price||EUR €84.95GBP £84.95USD $94.95|
|Weight||370g (Medium) – Medium|
|What we tested||Dainese Trail Skins Pro Knee Guards|
|Features||Calf elastic band. Extra wide elastic bands with silicone grippers. Slip-on design. Thigh and calf straps. CE EN 1621.1. Pro-Shape 2.0 pads. Side protection bolsters.|
|Key features||Hem grippers|