The Leatt Airflex Hybrid knee pad excels in pedal friendliness, durability and price. It is never going to be the most protective, but for many riders, extreme protection is simply not needed. In this Leatt Airflex Hybrid knee pad review, we will look into whether these are suitable for you and the kind of riding you do.
Firstly, it is helpful to understand what makes a good set of knee pads and what to look for when working out if the pads are right for you.
What to look for when buying knee pads?
Finding the right knee pads is essentially a trade-off between protection and pedal friendliness. If you want a pair of knee pads that will be super protective, they likely will be too hot or bulky to ride comfortably in. If you want something you can pedal for a while without them becoming really uncomfortable or overheating, you will lose a bit of protection.
So firstly, you need to work out what you prioritize- pedaling or impact protection!
But you also want to keep an eye on things like breathability, durability and construction.
Knee pads will typically stay up using either elastic or a velcro strap. The velcro strap is handy as you can loosen for climbs (to allow the blood to flow) and tighten for descents as needed. The elastic does tend to cut off the blood supply if you get a smaller size, so if you are trying them on, make sure you do a few squats or something to really test the fit!
Breathability and durability are dependent on the material of the sleeve and tend to be competing objectives. A thinner, lighter sleeve may be more breathable, but may also be a bit less durable. It is just another trade-off you need to weigh up!
Leatt Airflex Hybrid Knee Pad Review
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid knee pad is certainly on the lightweight, more breathable end of the scale. Despite the minimalist padding, it does punch well above its weight when it comes to protecting the knees!
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid is one to consider if you are a trail or enduro rider wanting just a bit of protection for high-speed crashes or knocks to the knee but still want the ability to pedal easily.
The knee pads have D3O inserts which protect the knee and the upper shin. Despite being thin and flexible, the D3O inserts can withstand a heck of a load of force. When you come off and whack your knee on a rock, the soft and flexible D3O insert instantly hardens on impact, dissipating the energy from the impact. This means the amount of force you feel is drastically reduced, so your knee doesn’t get hurt!
I would recommend watching the first minute of this video (Smack me on the head with a shovel) which shows just how cool this technology is!
The padding only goes so far though. High-speed crashes on hard ground will still hurt! Downhill riders will want something that will have a bit more coverage of the knee and have a bit thicker padding (such as the Fox Launch D3O knee pad).
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid knee pads are held up with elastics around the top of the thigh. A silicon gripper runs around the top and bottom band of the knee pad for an added bit of grip. As long as you get the right fit, you can be pretty confident they won’t come down in a crash and yet aren’t too tight when your quads expand (such as when you are climbing).
I do enjoy riding with elastic knee pads as there is no mucking around with tightening and loosening velcro straps, or getting velcro stuck on parts of the pad it isn’t meant to.
The D3O insert is shaped to match the curve of your knee. This ergonomic fit prevents your knee from being hard up against the pad while you’re descending. It is a great advancement in the design of knee pads, providing premium comfort and great protection.
Usually a lightweight set of pads is designed to be breathable for pedal friendliness. But in reality, the material tends to be thin and wears out quickly.
This is NOT the case for the Leatt Airflex Hybrid knee pads. The material is not super thin, so it won’t tear when it comes in contact with a rock or even your pedal. It also won’t stretch out of place as you pull them on and off.
I have been wearing these pads for a good portion of a year now, and haven’t seen any signs of wear and tear. Not even a thread has come loose, or stitching coming undone- which I am impressed with! I will come back with an update if anything does change though!
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid is certainly a pedal-friendly set of pads. The elastic doesn’t restrict your movement around the thigh, and the material stretches as you pedal. The material also allows air to flow through which allows a bit of ventilation.
The ergonomic fit mentioned earlier also helps with the ‘pedalability’. Your knee does rub against the D3O material a bit. On longer rides, I usually just slide them down around my shins until I need them.
The Airflex Hybrid is not the most breathable set of pads on the block. The material of the sleeve is thicker, which makes a more durable pad, but not a particularly breathable pair. There is a cut-out on the back of the knee which helps ventilate the sleeve, and the material at the back is slightly thinner.
The sleeve is made of moisture wicking fabric, which means you don’t really notice the sweat when you pedal. The material is washable, so you can get rid of the sweat build up once your home!
In saying this, I wouldn’t typically keep the pads on while climbing (for any set of knee pads). And if I am riding to and from the park (a good 20 min ride from home), I ride with the pads around my shins.
Comparison and Price
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid’s main competitor is the Fox Enduro knee pad. The Fox Enduro is comparable in terms of impact protection and the intended user. Both pads have a D3O inserts of similar thickness that covers the knee and the prices are generally pretty similar.
The Fox Enduro pads are certainly a bit more breathable, so I prefer riding with these in warmer temperatures. However, because the material is a bit thinner, it isn’t as durable. A pedal strike tore the back of the Fox Enduro’s, whereas the Leatt Airflex felt significantly more durable.
The shape and fit of the Leatt Airflex Hybrid is also preferable over the Fox Enduro. It sits at a more comfortable part of the thigh, and the shaped pads allow for a better curve around the knee. If you want to check out our full post on the Fox Enduro D3O knee pads, see here.
If you are wanting something a bit more protective, you will typically pay a bit more and sacrifice pedalability. However, if you don’t actually pedal in knee pads all that often, we would recommend checking out the Fox Launch knee pads or the Leatt Ambush. These pads give you a bit more bulk and protection around the sides of the knees for any hard impact.
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid is an excellent choice for someone wanting a light and comfortable set of pads that can still handle a bit of force. The material is hard-wearing, and will last you a long time to come.
They are easy to pedal in, easy to chuck in a backpack or keep around your shins while not in use, and you don’t need to worry about them stretching out of place. You get an optimal fit and superior comfort with the Leatt Airlex Hybrid knee guards.
If you enjoyed this Leatt Airflex Hybrid Knee Pad review, and want more trail rider/enduro rider gear, have a look at: