At A Glance
These are a brand new version of ION's lightweight knee protectors. They use featherweight memory foam which is perforated with a lot of holes to allow air flow. They are a slide-on style pad constructed of a stretchy mesh sleeve designed to be worn for long periods of time and go relatively unnoticed. If you do want to take them off they pack very small for throwing into a pack.Buy Body Armour on
ION are used to making tight fitting kit in the form of wetsuits, so slide-on knee pads should be no trouble for them. There are no velcro straps or fastenings, this is all just held in place through the elastic nature of the material and some silicon gripper strips on the hems. These are probably the lightest knee pads I have ever held and are only just more than a knee warmer!
On The Trail
The fit of the K-Sleeve is excellent, in an almost unnoticeable way. Being so light, they really have to be comfy and ION has definitely nailed it there. However, measuring their protective qualities is very hard to do, and I wouldn't suggest these would do much in a knee versus boulder fight.
Being mostly mesh, the breathability is there and keeping knees cool is the name of the game, specifically the backs of knees. The silicon grippers do a good job at keeping things in place, but the overall length of the pad is quite short, and finishing higher up the thigh would have perhaps given a better fit. The short length of the pads also means there is a danger of gaps between shorts and pads unless you wear long shorts. As with all protective wear, it's best to try them on first and get the right size and fit that suits you best.
The protection offered is minimal, but this is how they are designed and intented. ION offers many other pads with far more protection if that's what you're looking for. The focus of the protection is on the kneecap itself, with little or no padding around the sides. For light duties, the K-Sleeve is much better than going without, but would not be suitable for the start hut of downhill run or your local enduro race.
Super, super light pads, for hot times when you just want a bit of extra padding. They look the part, but you need to be honest with yourself about how much protection they will offer.
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.