If your child is riding a neighborhood bike, a mountain bike, a skateboard, or a scooter, kids knee and elbow pads can be a lifesaver! Not only do they minimize injury, they can give your timid child the confidence to keep trying, or your adventurous child the security to keep pushing themselves outside their comfort zone.
And what about all those average, neighborhood riders – do they need knee pads? We’ve seen time and again that knee and elbow pads give kids a sense of protection that allows them to explore and be adventurous beyond their normal inclinations. And clearly, knee and elbow pads can help prevent even minor injuries!
We’ve tested knee pads on kids ranging in age from 1 to 14 and found several favorites that provide solid protection and are comfortable. We’ve also tested pads that get great ratings on Amazon, but are a sure pass in our book. Scroll to the end to see the pads that didn’t make the cut!
Our Favorite Kids Knee and Elbow Pads
|Pads||Age Range||Why We Love Them||MSRP|
|Simply Kids Pads Set||2 - 11||Comfortable and easy to use||$28|
|Outdoor Master Pad Set||3 - 10||Hard shell with better cushioning||$15|
|Strider Pad Set||18 mo - 5||Toddler pads to grow with||$29|
|Triple 8 Little Tricky Pad Set||4 - 10||Hard shell for skating and skateboarding||$35/$30|
|Trail or Aggressive Riding|
|7 Protection Transition Pads||18 mo - 12||Wide sizing range - toddlers to teens||$30 - $60|
|Troy Lee Speed Sleeve||8 - 12||Soft and flexible for comfort||$49|
|G-Form Protective Pads||7 - 12||Soft and bendy, also sold as elbow pads||$50/$35|
|Fox Youth Launch D30||12 - 14||Extended shin and arm protection||$69/$59|
Beyond biking, we highly recommend pads for kids who ride in-line skates as those falls can be particularly abrupt and hard. In fact, the CPSC recommends pads for kids riding scooters and roller skates to decrease injuries. It’s also not a bad idea for timid kids first learning to maneuver a hoverboard.
What about kids on balance bikes? Pads are great, but consider getting gloves as well, as kids often fall hands first. Zippyrooz are our favorite for toddlers and preschoolers.
Best Knee and Elbow Pads: Everyday Riding
For kids who are sticking to paved riding around the neighborhood or skate park, your good options are limited. There are a ton of cheap pads on Amazon, but you won’t find them here. The pads below are comfortable and a great fit – we would know because we’ve used them!
Comfortable and Easy to Use Pads Set
MSRP: $28 (price includes knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves)
SIZES AVAILABLE: Three sizes S (2-4), M (4-8), L (8-11)
With long velcro straps that attach anywhere to the velcro on the pad, the Simply Kids knee and elbow pads are easy to tighten or loosen for the perfect fit for your child.
The fabric and pads are breathable and soft, making them fit more naturally than cheaper pads we’ve seen. The open back is a bonus in the summer time, leading to less sweat and a cooler ride. As a result, kids are less likely to want to take them off.
Be aware that these kids bike pads are available in two different versions. 1st Gen has standard knee pads, while 2nd Gen has shin guards attached to the knee pads. The shin guards make the pads pretty bulky, so unless you feel shin guards are absolutely necessary, stick to 1st Gen.
Hardshell Pads with Great Cushioning
MSRP: $15 (price includes knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards)
SIZES AVAILABLE: Two sizes S (2-5), M (6-10)
There is a sea of options on Amazon for cheap hardshell pads for kids. To be honest, most of them are junk. These sturdy pads by Outdoor Master are the same price as most of them, but offer significantly better quality and performance.
Two things make them better than your average hardshell bike and skate pads.
(1) They offer a really great fit. With an enclosed sleeve, even 3-year-olds can put them on by themselves. The additional tightening straps are just the right length, so there isn’t any excess strap hanging loose and dangling.
During our testing period, our little tester fell quite a bit. And each time, those pads stayed right in place! Her cheaper pads shift out of place quite frequently.
(2) The Outdoor Master pads have more cushioning than average. While walking around the house on his knees, our 10-year-old tester exclaimed, “It’s like walking on clouds!” Cheaper pads on Amazon have much thinner padding inside of the hard shell.
The primary drawback to these pads is that because they aren’t open in the back, knees and elbows get sweatier in the summer. That said, even in the Texas heat, our testers preferred the Outdoor Master pads over their cheaper, “less sweaty” pads. Additionally, fabric on the inside of an elbow can irritate some kids.
- Extra cushioning
- Enclosed sleeve and Velcro system are easy enough for young kids to manage on their own
- Super fun colors and designs
- Stay in place really well, even after a crash
- Also comes with wrist guards, so you may be paying for more than you need (never use wrist guards while biking!)
- Enclosed back gets sweaty in the summer
- Only 2 sizes
Toddler Knee and Elbow Pads to Grow With
MSRP: $29 (also available as a set with gloves for $40)
SIZES AVAILABLE: 1 size grows with kids 18 months to 5-years-old
FULL REVIEW: Strider Knee and Elbow Pads for Toddlers
After the success of the Strider Balance Bike, Strider set out to create a quality protective pad set that actually fits really young riders. These Strider pads are a best investment for toddlers and smaller kids.
Coming standard with two sets of pads, the smaller set of pads can be used as knee pads first. As kids grow bigger, that smaller set can be converted to use as elbow pads and the larger set is then used as knee pads.
You also have the option of buying a set with gloves, which we definitely recommend – balance bikers usually fall hands first, so gloves are actually more important than knee or elbow pads!
- Comfortably fit the smallest riders (a rare feature!)
- Simple, effective, and affordable
- Much better quality that most safety pads
- Smaller toddler knee pads converts to an elbow pad as the child grows
- Scratch fairly easily
Pad Set for Multi-sport Kids (Biking + Skateboarding)
MSRP: Little Tricky -$35, Junior Saver Series – $30
SIZES AVAILABLE: Little Tricky – 4 to 8-year-olds, Junior Saver – 8-year-olds+
FULL REVIEW: Triple 8 Pad Set
Well-designed for the price, Triple 8 pads come in two different sizes for young and older child riders. Wide straps help to better secure the pads to knees and elbows, and full coverage pads provide solid protection while flexing with movement.
While hardshell pads aren’t needed for neighborhood bikers, they are pretty necessary for sliding to bail out of a skateboard trick. If your child bikes and skates and you want just one set of pads, these Triple 8 are your best bet.
The pads also come with a wrist guard that is a fantastic bonus to have if your child will be rollerblading or skateboarding in addition to biking.
- Thick EVA foam
- Full-coverage plastic protective cups
- Easily moves and flexes with the body
- Available in 2 sizes – Little Tricky (age 4 to 8) and Savers Series (age 8+)
- Sets come with wrist guards that are great for skateboarding, but not useable for biking
Kids and Youth MTB Knee Pads
If you’ve got a little shredder on your hands, most of the major mountain biking brands offer knee and elbow pads for kids. Their sizing options vary wildly though, so not every brand may have a set that will fit your child.
Widest Variety of Sizing Options
MSRP: $30 (kids), $60 (youth) – Prices are for knee or elbow pads, not both
SIZES AVAILABLE: Kids S, M, L, Youth S/M, L/XL, Adult
With extended coverage and sizes to accommodate just about everyone, the 7 Protection Transition Pads are easily some of the best pads we’ve ever tested, and the best fitting pads for your smallest balance bike riders.
As a brand focused on protective gear for mountain biking, 7 Protection guards are extremely durable and well made. The Transition pads extend higher and lower than standard kids’ knee pads for extra protection needed while mountain biking, and feature a breathable sleeve for less sweat and added comfort.
While the Youth pads’ length may be a bit much for neighborhood riders, the Kids pads are smaller overall and perfect for any type of young rider.
The protective core uses body heat to mold to your little rider’s knees, making them surprisingly comfortable and allowing kids to maintain the same level of agility and maneuverability as riding without pads. We were super impressed as we watched our little balance biker sprinting with ease in the hot Texas summer sun.
Because these pads feature a sleeve rather than a velcro system, they are harder than other pads to get on and off, but stay in place really well. They are also offered as elbow pads.
- Body-heat conforming pads are comfortable and promote agility
- Lightweight and breathable
- More coverage than most kids’ pads
- Best-fitting pads for young balance bike riders (18mo – 2 years)
- Exceptional quality
- Sleeve makes them harder to get on and off than velcro systems
Soft and Flexible Comfort
MSRP: Knee Pads: $49 Elbow Pads: Not available in kids or youth sizes
SIZES AVAILABLE: Youth M, Youth L
After our Kid Bike Tester went for his first ride with the TLD Speed Sleeves, he couldn’t stop raving about them. So much so that Mom ordered herself a pair too! (They also come in adult sizes.)
These pads are insanely soft and bendy (even more so than G-form), and allow you to focus on the ride, rather than on how your knee pads are kind of annoying. They stay in place really well, without being overly tight.
While we’d recommend the TLD Speed Sleeves for any kid, if your child hates wearing knee pads, you should give these a try.
- Soft and flexible front and back for effortless comfort – you can forget you’re even wearing them
- D30 inserts flex for easy riding, but solid on impact
- Easy to get on and off
- Silicone rings keep pads in place well
- Not available as elbow pads in kids sizes
Soft and Flexible, Available as Elbow Pads
MSRP: Knee Pads: $50 Elbow Pads: $35
SIZES AVAILABLE: Youth S/M, Youth L/XL
FULL REVIEW: G-Form Protective Pads
Soft, flexible, lightweight, and breathable are not adjectives normally used to describe protective gear. But G-form pads are well known for being some of the most comfortable pads on the market. Even our finicky little riders don’t complain about wearing them!
While many pads now offer “harden on impact” technology, G-Form pads were the pioneers in this area for kids. G-Form pads contour to your child’s body and allow kids to move nimbly and easily. And then… they harden upon impact to protect when you actually need protection! Cool, right??
- Super safe – extended protection compared to traditional pads, without added bulk or weight
- Very comfortable – soft and bendy to conform to the contours of the wearer and they harden on impact!
- Very durable, but also come with a lifetime warranty
- Flexible fabric allow pads to fit kids for several years
- Sizing can be challenging
- On the expensive side
Youth Knee Pads with Extended Protection for Downhill
MSRP: Knee Pads: $69 Elbow Pads: $59
SIZES AVAILABLE: One size, best for older kids 12+
If your shredder is advancing in skills and tackling more aggressive terrain, the Fox Launch Pro Youth knee pads and elbow pads offer the extended protection you’ll need. With additional shin, forearm, and side coverage, these pads are a bit bulky for standard trail rides, but ideal for downhill and high speeds.
Our 14-year-old kid tester regularly rocks everything from the Utah downhill to black diamond Bentonville trails, so crashes are the norm. The Launch Pro Youth have held up incredibly well and kept his knees and shins unscathed. We have not yet tested the elbow pad set.
- Extended shin (and forearm) and side protection
- Velcro tightening system for better longevity of use
- D30 inserts for more flexibility, while solid on impact
- Only available in one size
Kids Knee Pads We Tested, But Didn’t Love
We are always on the lookout for new products to add to our lists. Often times the products we receive we simply can’t recommend, or our other favorites are considerably better.
CRZKO Kids Pads Set
Although these pads get amazing reviews on Amazon, we found them to be very cheaply made and almost impossible to use. The elastic straps on the set we ordered were too long and couldn’t fasten tight enough to use on our small framed 7-year-old tester. No matter how we adjusted the straps, the pads were simply unusable.
The Bosoner knee and elbow pads for kids are an “Amazon’s Choice” with over 5,000 reviews and 4.5 stars. A bit puzzling to us. While they fit better than the CRZKO pads, they weren’t comfortable. As soon as our testers put them on, they asked to take them off. Additionally, their quality is quite basic and they offer very little soft cushioning.
While these cheap pads will certainly work in a pinch, there is no reason to buy them when you have other affordable (and much better) options like the pads from Outdoor Master.
Related Kids Protective Gear Articles
The Best Bike Helmets for Kids: We put over 50 kids bike helmets to the test to find out which helmets offer the best fit, protection, and comfort for kids.
The Best Bike Helmets for Babies and Toddlers: Bike helmets for toddlers and preschoolers need to properly fit a child while on a bike, but also while in a bike trailer and a child bike seat. Find out which helmets came out on top.
The Best Dual-Certification (Skateboard) Helmets: Helmets for biking and for skateboarding have different certification requirements. We put the top brands to the test to find the best.
Kids Bike Accessories and Other Protective Gear: A list of all the fun and necessary accessories for riding bikes with kids.