Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Buyer's Guide to Wrist Guards & Elbow and Knee Pads

If you already have wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads, check that wrist guards have a hard splint and that elbow and knee pads are well-padded with a hard shell. Soft pads without shells such as for volleyball, or lightly padded shells such as for inline skating, are not suitable protection for derby.

Basic Protection
Probably the least expensive acceptable option is the Razor brand set of wrists, elbows, and knees that you can get at mass market retail stores.

Better Protection
Both Pro-Tec and Triple Eight are better beginner options and still reasonably priced. Pro-Tec Street wrist guards and Triple Eight Hired Hands and Wrist Savers are good options for wrist guards; however, note that Triple Eight Anti-Gloves do not have hard splints, and are not acceptable protection for derby. Pro-Tec Park elbow and knee pads are slimmer than Pro-Tec Street elbow and knee pads, their heavier-duty option. The Triple Eight Park two-pack includes their EP-55 elbow pads and KP-22 knee pads, which are comparable to the Pro-Tec Street line.

You can find the sets of both Pro-Tec and Triple Eight via online retailers, and you can sometimes find the Triple Eight set at sporting goods stores. A note on sets, though: your arms and legs aren't necessarily the same sizes. Just saying. You can try on gear at skateboard shops and skating rinks, which carry these and other brands.

I wore Pro-Tec Street wrists, elbows, and knees through two seasons of Derby Lite and my first WCR home season. I mean, I went through three pairs of wrist guards and two pairs of knee pads; but that's normal for gear to last about a season. I think elbow pads last longer for me because I don't fall on my elbows much, and I wear socks as gaskets. I also wear Gladiator knee gaskets that together with the Pro-Tec knee pads provide pretty acceptable protection in my opinion.

Best Protection
Many girls continue to be happy with their Pro-Tec or Triple Eight wrist guards and elbow pads; as long as they fit well and don't slip, they should provide adequate protection. However, 187 Killer Elbows and Rector Proformer Wrist Guards and Fat Boy Elbow Pads are heavier-duty options.

What's really worth budgeting for is better knee protection. Recommended brands include 187 Pro Knees, TSG Force III Knee Pads, and Rector Fat Boy Knee Pads.

For the new season I am trying Rector Proformer Wrist Guards and Fat Boy Elbow and Knee Pads. I like the knee pads, they seem more padded yet aren't too bulky. I haven't fallen on them yet, though. I'm not sure that I like the elbow pads, which do seem bulky and there's a weird design issue with the bottom strap. The wrist guards are okay, they're padded which I suppose is more protective but seems a little overwrought to me.

I also have on deck a set of 187 Killer Elbows and Knees. 187 doesn't make Wrists. All I have to say about those right now is, those are some huge knee pads.

More detailed reviews of the pads I have owned TK.