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5 Best MTB Elbow Pads

pov image of a mountain biker going down a rocky trail happy to be wearing mtb elbow pads

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The best MTB elbow pad for you is one that will protect your elbow when you hit against a rock or tree. Plain and simple.

Depending on the type of riding you do, the right elbow pad for you may not be the same as for someone else. To that end, I picked the best elbow pad for each type of riding and I tell you why.

The Fox Enduro D30 Elbow Pads are the best overall pick, and if you are not sure which one to get, it will cover pretty much all riding types. So you can’t go wrong with picking the Fox Enduro.

So find your type of riding below, and check out the elbow pads to see my recommendations.

Best MTB Elbow Pads Comparison


MTB Elbow Pad Best For Rating Padding Type Certification Weight Sizes Material
Fox Enduro D30 Elbow Pads Best Overall D30® EN1621-1 Level 1 8.6 oz. S-XL Cordura®
Troy Lee Design Speed Elbow Sleeves Best for Trail Riding D30® EN1621-1 Level 1 7.1 oz. XS-XXL Mesh
7iDP Sam Hill Lite Elbow Pads Best for Enduro Impact Foam EN1621-1 Level 1 7.2 oz. S-XL Synthetic
POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pads Best for Cross-Country VPD (Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough) Compound EN1621-1 Level 1 7.1 oz. XS-XL Neoprene
Leatt AirFlex Elbow Guards Best for Downhill AirFlex EN1621-1 Level 1 8.5 oz. S-XL MoistureCool and AirMesh

Best Mountain Bike Elbow Pads

Best Overall: Fox Enduro D30 Elbow Pads


  • Padding Type: D30®
  • Certification: EN1621-1 Level 1
  • Weight: 8.6 oz.
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Material: Cordura®
  • Closure: Slip-on with elastic cuffs
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
  • Recommended Use: Trail / Enduro
  • Rating:

    4.5 out of 5 star rating


  • Comfortable fit and feel
  • Effective padding offers protection without bulkiness
  • Breathable design, prevents overheating even on warm days


  • Can be challenging to put on, particularly with damp arms or over other gear.
  • Fine for normal trail rides, not as much for downhill riding

The Fox Enduro D30 Elbow Pads are one of the best elbow pads I’ve used. They have a lot of impressive features, but by far the most important is the D30 protection material. It is flexible until you hit into something, where it hardens instantly. Amazing stuff.

The D30 material is thin enough and strong enough that it isn’t bulky. I think that’s why these are among the most comfortable elbow pads. You have the flexibility to move as needed, but in a crash they come to save the day.

The neoprene sleeve breaths well and with the adjustable strap they stay in place well enough for most trail riding. Even in the hot summer heat, your arms get warm but not overheating. Not much more you can ask of elbow pads.

So far they seem to hold up to wear and tear well. They have minimal wear considering I’ve been pushing them hard. I’ve even hit my elbow a time or two and I came out fine so they’ve given me confidence on rides that they have my back.

Overall I’d say these are among my very favorite for normal trail riding where you want to protect your elbows from rocks and trees.

Fox Enduro D30 Elbow Pads - Back View

Rear view of the Fox Enduro D30 Elbow Pad showcasing its snug fit and breathable mesh design for optimal comfort and air circulation.

Close-up on the Fox Enduro D30 Elbow Pad detailing the quality of the materials and the precision of the stitching, emphasizing durability and fit.

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Read more: Fox Enduro D30 Elbow Pads full review

Best for Trail Riding: Troy Lee Designs Speed Elbow Sleeves

Troy Lee Speed Designs Elbow Speed Sleeve


  • Padding Type: D30®
  • Certification: EN1621-1 Level 1
  • Weight: 7.1 oz.
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Material: Mesh
  • Closure: Slip-on with silicone grippers
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
  • Recommended Use: Trail
  • Rating:

    4.5 out of 5 star rating


  • Lightweight for comfort on long rides
  • Stays in place well with silicone grippers
  • D3O padding protects really well


  • Shows some wear and tear after a bit of use
  • Warmer than average in hot conditions
  • Priced a little high for the protection

The Troy Lee Designs Speed Elbow Sleeves are the perfect blend of protection, comfort, and performance. The D3O® padding offers exceptional flexibility and impact protection, giving you confidence tackling the trails. The full-length elbow sleeves stay in place thanks to the silicone grippers, and they are light enough that you ride while barely noticing they are there.

The D30 padding that are in these is the same that is in the Fox Enduro D30 and many other brands. It is amazing material that is flexible when riding but stiffens up on impact. Pretty much the best protective material on the market.

After extensive use along with a few light impacts with trees, they show a few signs of wear but nothing major. They seem rugged and durable enough to last for a lot of rides and washings, so the material is pretty decent. With the D30 padding, they meet the CE EN 13688:2013 standard so they will save your elbows on those lines that go too close to trees.

Looking at the prices compared to other elbow pads, the TLD Elbow Sleeves offer the top-of-the-line D30 padding and they are made to last. Comparing to other popular mountain bike pads, they fall just behind the Fox Racing Enduro D30 elbow pads but ahead of the G-Form Pro X2s. They are a strong elbow pad from a well-known brand and if the Fox pads are a little too expensive, these would be my second choice.

These elbow pads are perfect for normal trail riding and pump tracks and give plenty of protection, but you’ll want stronger pads if you are tackling more aggressive trails like downhill riding. For most riders, these are a solid choice and provide exceptional elbow protection.

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Read more: Troy Lee Design Speed Elbow Sleeves full review

Best for Enduro: 7iDP Sam Hill Lite Elbow Pads

7iDP Sam Hill Lite Elbow Pads


  • Padding Type: Impact Foam
  • Certification: EN1621-1 Level 1
  • Weight: 7.2 oz.
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Material: Synthetic
  • Closure: Slip-on with compression fit
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
  • Recommended Use: Enduro
  • Rating:

    4.5 out of 5 star rating


  • Extremely lightweight, almost unnoticeable during long rides
  • Stay in place well on XC and trails
  • Arms stay cool on hard rides
  • D30 gives strong protection for lightweight sleeves


  • Minimal sleeves may not be enough for more extreme riding
  • Compression with no strap may not fit everyone well

The 7iDP Sam Hill Lite elbow pads are some of the best on the market. These pads stand out for their innovative Ripstop Spandex fabric which is both durable and light. These mtb elbow pads also breathe well to help keep your elbows cooler while riding.

These mtb elbow pads have a compression fit cuff that helps them stay in place. I have used these mostly on trail riding (some of it fairly aggressive) and they stayed in place during the ride with very little adjustment needed.

The 7iDP have impact foam to make sure your elbows are protected. Even though they have foam, these elbow pads have a lightweight feel and allow plenty freedom of movement. They are a little more bulky than the pads with D30, but these are perfect for enduro riding where you need more thickness in the pad itself.

The 7iDP have Ripstop Spandex which appears to be plenty durable after plenty of use. They withstand regular washings and I can see these lasting a good few seasons of riding.

These elbow pads have the same high-level of certification ( CE/ EN 1621-1 Level 1) as the other ones I am recommending so they can withstand hits against trees and rocks without your elbow taking the hit. These particular ones I recommend for enduro riding due to the thick impact foam which protects your elbows.

These are a little more expensive than the elbow sleeves, but a little less than some of the other elbow pads that are meant for the more dangerous mountain biking. They strike that balance between protection and price. If you are looking to do more downhill, look further down at the Leatt elbow pads I recommend.

7iDP Sam Hill Lite Elbow Pads Rear View

Rear view of the 7iDP Sam Hill Lite Elbow Pads, highlighting the meticulous design for a secure and comfortable fit.

Measuring for the Perfect Fit of 7iDP Sam Hill Lite Elbow Pads

Illustration of the proper measuring technique to ensure the perfect fit for your 7iDP Sam Hill Lite Elbow Pads.

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Read more: 7iDP Sam Hill Lite Elbow Pads full review

Best for Cross-Country: POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pads

POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pads


  • Padding Type: VPD (Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough) Compound
  • Certification: EN1621-1 Level 1
  • Weight: 7.1 oz.
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Material: Neoprene
  • Closure: Reinforced Stretch Fabric, Neoprene Anti-slip Inner, and a Crash Retention Strap
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
  • Recommended Use: Trail / Enduro
  • Rating:

    4.5 out of 5 star rating


  • Fits and stays in place well on rides
  • VPD material gives strong protection but is flexible to wear


  • May not have enough protection for extreme trails.
  • Above-average price
  • Warmer than average to wear

The POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pads is one of my top recommended elbow pads, especially for XC riding. At the heart of these pads is POC’s Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough (VPD) material which is very similiar to the D30 material in Fox Enduro D30 and TLD elbow pads. Like the D30, the VPD material is flexible, but on impact it hardens to protect your elbows.

These elbow pads are among my very favorite. They are lightweight and you can ride trails and barely notice you have them on. They breathe well so they are comfortable when riding in the hot summer weather.

The POC VPD Air elbow pads have an inner lining that helps them not to slip (instead of a silicone cuff) and there is a strap you can tighten up to ensure they stay in place. Overall it’s comfortable and you soon forget you are even wearing them. They stay in place through normal trail and cross-country riding.

Compared to other elbow sleeves and pads, these POC elbow pads are smaller and have less coverage. That’s why in my opinion they are best for XC riding where you want them there just in case. They are a minimal option that will protect your elbows quite well in a crash.

Price-wise I would say these fall about the middle of the pack of quality elbow pads. They have the same safety certification level as the others, and if you are looking for lightweight and minimal pads that still provide that high level of protection, these are the ones.

Slight aside, but POC makes incredible mtb knee pads that I recommend on my best mountain bike knee pads page.

POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pads Rear View

The rear view of the POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pads showcases the secure strap system for a non-slip fit.

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Read more: POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Pads full review

Best for Downhill: Leatt AirFlex Elbow Guards

Leatt Airflex Elbow Guard


  • Padding Type: AirFlex
  • Certification: EN1621-1 Level 1
  • Weight: 8.5 oz.
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Material: MoistureCool and AirMesh
  • Closure: Slip-on
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
  • Recommended Use: Enduro / All-Mountain
  • Rating:

    4.0 out of 5 star rating


  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • Stays in place well with the silicone grips
  • Strong protection for more extreme riding
  • Arms stay fairly cool despite the protection level


  • A little harder than others to adjust while riding
  • They do run a little warm but they have very strong padding

The Leatt AirFlex Elbow Guards are among the top mountainbike elbow pads on the market today. The Leatt’s have Armourgel (or AirFlex gel) that is very similar to the D30 or VPD material in that it is flexible and becomes stiff upon impact. It goes a long way to having elbow pads that comfortable to wear but provide the highest protection if you crash.

The other thing making these a great choice is that the MoistureCool fabric goes a long way to keeping your arms cool on those intense rides.

The silicone grips at both ends does a decent job of keeping these in place. Like the other brands, you’ll still find yourself adjusting a little because all of our arms are built different, but these do as well as the best in the industry.

Leatt elbow guards are price a little below average which is great for the protection they give. They have the same protection material as the best there is. Price-wise these are about the same as the TLDs but these provide more padding which is why I recommend these for more aggressive riding such as downhill. If you are doing trail riding I might lean towards the Troy Lee Designs above since they have a little less bulk.

If you do a mix of riding with some of it more extreme, I’d definitely choose these out of all of them on this page because they are comfortable and they can handle just about anything.

Leatt Airflex Elbow Guard - Back View

A glimpse at the backside of the Leatt AirFlex Elbow Guard, showcasing its sleek design and advanced moisture-wicking fabric for superior comfort and breathability.

Leatt Airflex Elbow Guard - Protection Score

A comprehensive rating system assessing deflection, knee cup, shin, and side protections for superior safety standards.

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Read more: Leatt AirFlex Elbow Guards full review

Buyer’s Guide to Mountain Bike Elbow Pads

Safety is the most important thing when you’re out riding. Helmets come first, but elbow pads still are in my top 4 safety gear for good reason. If you’ve ever caught a tree or big branch with your elbow while riding and hits the funny bone you know how good of an idea a few bucks for protection is.

That and in winter riding these are an easy way to keep your arms warm.

So these are the things you need to consider when you’re looking at a new set of mtb elbow pads.


Protection is the name of the game, or else you wouldn’t even be reading this.

The first to look at is the type of riding you do. Trail riders won’t need the same level of protection as downhill riders. The priorities of cross-country riders might be that it is lightweight and flexible, whereas a downhill rider needs maximum protection in case they fall and elbow a rock.

So look for elbow pads that have full CE certifications and you’ll know they provide the safety you need for your type of riding.


Elbow pads have to fit right and stay in place to be useful. Otherwise they could actually create more of a danger.

If they’re too tight, they restrict movement and will become uncomfortable enough you’d likely stop wearing them.

If they’re too loose they’re going to slide around and you’ll find yourself adjusting them non-stop and driving yourself crazy.

So make sure to look at the way they fit, and make sure to measure your arm so you can choose the right size per the manufacturer. Remember, a snug fit that doesn’t restrict your movement is what you’re aiming for.


The materials make the elbow pad. Materials like D30, VPD, and AirFlex gel (or Armourgel) all are flexible and lightweight until they get a hard jolt and then they harden up to provide the most protection. These materials are known as non-Newtonian fluids and they are cutting edge.

Impact foam padding is still well and alive and in fact one of my recommendations above uses it because thick foam is still very effective to slow down a hit on your elbow.

Generally I lean towards the D30-type materials for trail and XC riding and for anything where I’m getting some serious air I got for thick foam.


Many elbow pads are perfectly fine when sitting there, but when you get riding hard you are going to sweat and warm up. You need elbow pads that will wick the sweat away and let in fresh air. Look for breathable materials or mesh, especially on the back of the pad.

The right pads will keep your arms cool and reduce heat rash and even help keep them in place since they can slide with enough sweat. Obviously this is a bigger issue in the summer but arms get surprisingly warm on hard rides in the winter.


Mountain bike elbow pads are going to get sweaty and dirty from riding if you’re doing it right. You’re going to need to wash them occasionally to get the stink out.

Some pads just soak as-is in warm water, others you’ll be able to remove the liners and really clean them up easy. Some can even go in the washer. Check with the manufacturers

Let’s face it; mountain biking can get messy. From muddy trails to sweaty ascents, your elbow pads will see their fair share of dirt. Pads that are easy to wash, or better yet, have removable liners or padding, make maintenance a breeze. Always check the care instructions, and if possible, opt for pads that are machine-washable for added convenience.

Impact Certifications

One of the most recognized certifications in the biking community is EN1621-1. This European standard specifically focuses on limb joint protectors, evaluating their performance in terms of impact energy absorption and force distribution.

When an elbow pad boasts the EN1621-1 certification, it means it’s undergone rigorous testing and has proven to effectively safeguard the joints against impacts. The certification also includes various levels, indicating the range of temperatures in which the protector retains its protective capabilities.

Essentially, a pad that meets the EN1621-1 standard is a reliable choice, ensuring a consistent level of protection across different conditions.

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed