These days, as we push harder and harder on mid travel bikes, we’re always searching for protective gear that keeps us safer while remaining comfortable on the big climbs required to get us to the top. When it comes to kneepads in particular, that seems like quite a difficult balancing act. Scott Sports recently sent us a pair of their “Soldier 2” knee guards for a test. Aside from the main D30 pad, they’re quite stripped down in general and mainly comprised of highly breathable mesh materials. There’s more to them than simply being minimalist though…Read on to see how they’ve worked out over the long haul.
• Extra lightweight protection
• Scott specifically designed ergonomic and flexible D3O® pad with side extensions
• Strapless construction with silicone printing retaining system
• Stretch mesh sleeve main body with pre curved chassis
• Abrasion resistant front fabric with reinforcement printing
• Internal side protective EVA foam padding
• Intended Usage: Enduro/All Mountain
• Right/Left Specific
• 347 grams/pair (confirmed, size Medium)
• Sizes: S, M , L, XL
• $69.99 US
The Soldier 2 pads are right and left specific; therefore they’re asymmetrical in shape. You can see in this picture how easy it is to see right through the mesh bits – it’s abundantly clear that they’re very breathable.
The upper cuffs feature elastic with a Silicon lining inside to keep them grippy and prevent slippage. Few things are more annoying and distracting than constantly having to pull up your kneepads.
Perhaps the best part of these kneepads (and most Scott kneepads for that matter) is simply the way they are cut. The pads are contoured and shaped in a way that they are pre-articulated in a sense. They are longer in the front and shorter in the back. It’s particularly more important that they lower cuff sits quite high in the back. That makes them less irritable and keeps the in place.
Aside from the main D30 pad, there is one other small pad that protects your knee up high, on the inside. If you tend to push into your seat when steering, you might appreciate it.
On the Trail
When you first put the Soldier 2 knee guards on, you’ll notice that they have a bit of an unconventional feel…And that’s not a bad thing. Sadly, most trail / enduro rated kneepads tend to have more bulk where you don’t want it and less where you do. Scott have been masterful in their execution with kneepads in the past few years thanks to Ben Walker. When it comes to going through revisions and rough samples, Ben dabbles with an old Singer sewing machine from 1914. There’s an old Dirt Magazine article printed on this cool stuff called paper, which goes into heavier detail about his process, but that’s all of the brief backstory you’ll get in this article. Anyways…
So, where most mid-duty kneepads go wrong is that they are not only lacking in serious protection, but they also tend to ventilate poorly. The Solider 2 pads have a very thick, substantial D3O protective pad. In short, D30 is a soft, pliable material that hardens upon impact. You can read more about the groundbreaking material here, but it’s been quite successful in the world of MTB protections for the last handful of years, and we’ve had nothing but good experiences with it.
On the climbs, the Soldier 2 guards never slipped or shifted around, all while ventilating nicely and drying out quickly, post-ride. That said, we’d recommend erring on the small side when factoring in sizing, as they do stretch slightly over time. The silicon lined straps helped keep them in place, and although they don’t cover very far down over your shin, there is very substantial padding right over and around your kneecap where it counts. We had a handful of crashes and slideouts and the durability proved to be excellent, as was the protection itself. It’s also worth nothing that during the aforementioned crashes, the pads didn’t move drastically.
In summary, more where you need it, less where you don’t – that’s the takeaway theme here. We’ve ridden far too many mid-duty rated kneepads that have thick, heavy, non-breathable materials (which should be relegated to surfing wetsuits) combined with padding that doesn’t really provide all that much protection. This was not the case with the Soldier 2 Knee Guards – in fact it was the complete opposite. If you want maximum protection with minimal bulk and excellent breathability, they’re the best pad we’ve tested so far. They won’t chafe, slip or get too sweaty on the climbs either, and the fact that they’re durable and reasonably priced is just the icing on the cake.