Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: POC vs FOX vs 661 vs SCOTT

The knee battle.

I have been on a lot of knee pads these last few years, and been doing some reviews as well, but not anything in such a "grand" scale as this review. 4 different pads. 4 very different pads, if I may add so. All tested for at least 6 months, because long term testing is where its at. 
There is a clear winner, and a clear looser, so sit back, and dig into this knee-pad shootout.

The contenders:

661 - Evo Knee Pad
Fox - Launch Pad Pro
POC - VPD2 Knee Guard
Scott - Grenade Pro II Knee Guards

661 - Evo Knee Pad
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Fox - Launch Pad Pro
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 POC - VPD2 Knee Guard
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Scott - Grenade Pro II Knee Guards
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Actual Weight. All size M.

661 - Evo Knee Pad - 526g
Fox - Launch Pad Pro - 387g
POC - VPD2 Knee Guard - 574g
Scott - Grenade Pro II Knee Guards - 602g

So what do these numbers tell? Well, the 661, POC, and Scott are not that far from each other when it comes to weight. The one that stands out is the Fox Launch Pad Pro, its about 40% lighter than the Scott Grenade  Pro II. But does weight matter for a knee pad, in this weight class? My short answer is NO. These pads do not feel heavy, and weight is definitely not the decisive factor, whether its a good or a bad knee pad.

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Each pad is scored by the level of comfort, protection, ventilation, durability, and value for money. Lets get to it.

Comfort:
661: 3/6
Fox: 5/6
POC: 6/6
Scott: 4/6
My initial thoughts on the 661 Evo Knee pad where very positive; they where very comfortable  and the bed-in time is at just a few hours. Ill forgive its bulkiness, because these really are pads you forget that you wear after 30 minutes of use, and there is no cloth chafing. They did develop issues after long term use, read about that below.
The Fox pad is very resistant to unwanted movement because of a silicone strap in the top, and it sits very nicely on the leg. Note that the Fox Launch Pad Pro takes considerable more time to "bed in" - expect 5-10 rides.
The Scott pad feels good, and even tho it doesn't have a elastic strap, it follows the knee very nicely, but note that they get uncomfortable in hot temperatures, and that detracts from overall comfort-score.
POC takes a few rides to bed in, and requires that you select the perfect size for you, don't scale up or down when choosing size. But what you get, is a pad wraps discreetly around your knee, in a comparably, very comfortable manner, with no cloth chafing. A thick line of rubber at the top and bottom is resting against your skin, elimination almost all unwanted movement. 

Long term testing notes regarding comfort:
661: 7 months into the testing, the elastic back sleeve is getting a bit loose, making the pads more prone to sliding down the knee. This detracts from overall comfort-score. 
Fox: After a year of use, the pad began to irritate my upper knee. That was after a year of intense use and therefor does not detract from overall comfort-score, a year is a long time for a knee pad that's been used extensively. In addition to that, I will add that the silicon strap doesn't do well after washing, it disintegrates. 
Scott: Nothing to note - pad is doing great. 
POC: Nothing to note - pad is doing great.

Protection:
661: 2/6
Fox: 4/6
POC: 5/6
Scott: 6/6
Fox has good protection in the upper and lower front, the padding on the sides is thick as well. The knee itself is protected by a semi-soft plastic shell, its not a pad I would use for DH/FR, but for everything else it definitely does the job.
The 661 Evo knee has its D3o material, and while it does cover a alot of the knee, even down the shin a bit, its just scary thin, and I don't see it absorbing impact from sharper objects like rocks or similar. Blunt force is where this pad is doing its job best - but its without a doubt the least protective pad of the bunch. If you ride in rocky conditions, then stay away from the 661 Evo Knee!
The Scott is just a tank; big and thick, and you get a feeling that it can take some heat - because it can. The padding is thick, and has multiple layers besides the D3o, the pad itself is long and offers great side-protection as well. Put it to use for FR/DH - and get away with it, these pads are tough. Can be expanded with a shin-protector.
POC has to be the biggest surprise, it doesn't really look like its heavy on the protection side, but once you get it on, you appreciate just how much it does protect. The entire knee is covered with a thick layer of the VPD2 material, and it has a smart "hinge" system that allows the pad to follow your knee movement. You feel protected while wearing this pad. VPD2 is a "dough" that transforms impacts to the entire pad, instead of just concentration it into the impact zone, it also gets more flexible when warm, allowing it to bend around the knee when you use it. Can be expanded with a shin-protector.

The Scott Grenade Pro II is a tank. Its big, and thick, just the way the ladies want it.
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Its a whole different story with the 661 Evo Knee Pad. Thin, and...well just don't hit a rock.
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Ventilation:
661: 3/6
Fox: 4/6
POC: 4/6
Scott: 2/6
Fox, 661, POC - I don't feel much difference between the three to be honest. I do however think that there is room for improvement, for all of these brands. They do get hot on the warmest days in the summer.
Scott is definitely the hottest pad, great for winter, fall and early spring, but as soon it gets much warmer, these pads get way too hot - I wouldn't put them on, on a summer day.

Durability:
661: 6/6
Fox: 5/6
POC:6/6
Scott: 6/6
All pads tested are pretty tough, even after months of use, crashes, and what not, there is barely any scratch or malfunction. Fox was the only pad that did show some signs of wear, but its also the pad that I have been using the longest time for this review.

Value for money:
661: 2/6
Fox: 6/6
POC: 5/6
Scott: 4/6
The Fox is the least expensive of the bunch, but is a very good kneepad, so it wins big time in this department.
The 661 Evo knee is one of the most expensive knee pads on the market, only beaten by POC to my knowledge, and considering that the elastic back began to get more and more loose after just 7 months of use, the value for money isn't particular high.
Scott fares better. The price is somewhat similar to the 661, but Scott offers way more value; better protection and better comfort - just keep in mind that they do very hot on warm days.
POC might be the most expensive pad in this review, but its a pad what does pretty much everything right. Outstanding comfort, surprisingly protective, durable, and a ventilation that's comparable to the rest. Yes you pay more, but you get more as well.

Overall best pad:
POC VPD2 Knee Guard.

The POC VPD2 Knee Guard is getting top marks in almost all categories, and for good reason. Its very comfortable, has a very good level of protection, a good durability, and that puts it in a high score regarding value for money - you get a great knee pad. Its not perfect, the ventilation could have been better, but its not beaten by any competitors in this test either.
POC has obviously given this knee pad some thought, and that tells. Go get this pad, if you are into a upgrade, or just want to try something different, you will most likely not be disappointed, just be sure to get the right size for you.


Got questions, or a comment? Shoot away in the comments section.

17 comments:

  1. Awesome. I admit I got hooked on your blog because of the original 661 Kyle Strait v Fox Launch Pro pad review, and ended up getting the Fox pads (knee and elbow) after reading it. I'm still using my Launch Pros for more than a year already but it has shown much wear and tear, and found that one of the side foams on the right pad went AWOL. Am looking for a replacement and (as usual) am leaning to the POC pad thanks to your review. Alas, budget constraints and availability (POC isn't easily available here in the Philippines) means I'll be sticking to the Launch Pros (Foxhead has a bigger, settled presence here, thanks largely to the wrong assumption that it and Fox Racing Shox are one and the same company).

    As usual, if I know someone asking about knee pads, I'll point to them this blog. ^_^

    Looking forward to more reviews!

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  2. Thanks atctt, im glad that you like like the blog, and reviews as well. A shame that POC isn't available in your country, how about buying the from chain reaction cycles or some other internet bike shop?

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  3. Online purchase is always an option, albeit expensive one. Unless there's a discount sale hehehehe

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  4. I get you, some of these pads aren't exactly cheap either.

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  6. I have the Kyle Strait and it still in use after 2 years but it's time for new ones. Very likely I'd go back to the tried and true but I'm tempted to try new things.
    Thanks VP, That's a great review.

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  7. You are welcome, try the Fox Launch Pad Pro then, they had a "Kyle Strait feel" to them, but better in every way.

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  8. Just put in the order for some POC VPD2.0 pads, before I saw your review. Glad you agree on the choice :-) and nice to read that they hold up well compared to the other 3 options!

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  9. I think you are going to be happy with your choice : )

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  10. I've received my POC's but find they are very tight on my thigh (followed the sizing instructions of POC though). Did you also notice this?
    Or maybe I should just size upwards...

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  11. Yeah, mine was too, but after 3-4 rides they expanded a bit, and felt awesome. Give it a chance.

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  12. Hey V.P., great review! I'm in the market to replace my knee pads and find I keep coming back here for more info. I mostly ride AM/FR & some DH in the very rocky & very hot SW US. I'm leaning towards the Fox but you specifically state that you wouldn't use them for DH/FR. Would you use the POCs for DH/FR?

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  13. Hi Bryan, glad you like the review : ) Yes the POC pads are tough enough for FR and DH imo - just really good pads that I still use this day.

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    1. Best review I've seen, great work V.P. With regards to DH/FR have you tried the new POC Joint VPD 2.0 DH Long Knee Guards? They are slightly longer and have a hard shell over the knee cap. A comparison between these and the standard POC pads reviewed here would be interesting. I would appreciate your opinion. Thanks.

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  14. Thanks man, glad you like it. The POC Joint VPD 2.0 DH Long Knee are actually on top of my list. There will be a review : )

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  15. wonderful bikes stunt, good to see the biking route.

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  16. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
    product

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