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Leatt has developed a new breed of armor in the form of the Arm Guard 3DF Hybrid and the Knee and Shin Guard 3DF Hybrid, which are re-incarnations of the company’s popular 3DF line with additional hardshell material for more durability and protection. This design is a “hybrid” between the 3DF and Contour product lines.

It's always nice to have a good set of pads when things get sketchy

It’s always nice to have a good set of pads when things get sketchy

Both the elbow and knee protection have additional coverage to shield the forearm and shins from damage, while maintaining a lightweight set of armor designed to be flexible and well ventilated.

The arm and leg armor are side specific

The arm and leg armor are side specific

The Deets (from Leatt)

  • Plastic reinforced 3DF soft protection
  • Hybrid combination, soft and comfortable, 3DF foam deflecting hard shell
  • MoistureCool wicking fabric
  • Silicone lamination to keep protector in place
  • CE certified for impact protection EN1621-1
  • Great fit and very comfortable
  • MSRP $69.00 (elbow pads) and $99.00 (knee/shin pads)

    As you can see, there are large areas cut out on the back of the leg armor to maximize airflow and keep you cool

    As you can see, there are large areas cut out on the back of the leg armor to maximize airflow and keep you cool

Testing

These were tested in the late Colorado winter, spring, and early summer. As it was pre-season I was able to ride them on my local technical trails before taking them to Trestle Bike Park for for gravity runs–they came in pretty handy when I cased a jump or two.

Part of the trick of early season riding is dialing in your speed for gap jumps. That's when full armor comes in REAL handy. #fail

Part of the trick of early season riding is dialing in your speed for gap jumps. That’s when full armor comes in REAL handy. #fail

Impressions

As with other Leatt products, quality and craftsmanship are immediately evident when trying on and wearing this armor. The thing I liked most about the elbow guards is that they felt very light, and laid flat so I could store them easily in my pack. I typically only put armor on at the top of a hill, since Colorado has so many long, uninterrupted climbs, followed by technical downhills. The 3DF elbow pads were perfect for that. The knee pads, on the other hand, are fairly bulky. Not in a negative way, but you would only want to wear these for shuttle runs or days with lift-serviced downhills–they are almost too big to put in a pack and scramble to the top (although I did just that every time). Leatt makes smaller pads for pedally rides.

The Hybrids ventilated well and offer great protection if you are killing it at speed

The Hybrids ventilated well and offer great protection if you are killing it at speed

Another feature that stands out, which I’ve already alluded to, is the breathability of the Leatt 3DF Hybrid pads compared to other pads on the market these days. The elbow guards are side-specific, and anatomically molded to slide over the arm like a sleeve without using any straps. This allows Leatt to construct the sleeve with a breathable mesh that is tear-resistant and helps with moisture management…keeping you cool and dry by allowing you to sweat through the pads. Even on a hot day at Trestle, I completely forgot that I had these on.

The 3D Hybrid pads are comfortable and ventilate well

The 3D Hybrid pads are comfortable and ventilate well

As you can see in the photos, the knee/shin armor is also side-specific, and is mostly open in the back, which also keeps the legs cool. The knee has the most padding, also utilizing a anatomically formed sleeve to encase the knee and protect it from the front and sides with lots of padding and armor. The calf is left open for ventilation, but the armor over the shin is thick and adequate for hard impacts. These are the beefiest pads I’ve tested in a while, and again, unbelievably lightweight.

These stayed put even on some rowdy wet rides

These stayed put even on some rowdy wet rides

Overall I really liked these pads with very few reservations. They seem to have a high quality standard–designed take a lot of repeated abuse, and hold up for many seasons. I didn’t encounter any craftsmanship issues on the trail when testing them, but you may feel the strap poking you or cutting you in the back of the knee on the leg armor if you pedal a lot in these.

Concerns

The only issue I really have with these pads are the fit. I would strongly recommend that you try these on before you purchase them. Despite measuring my biceps and forearms very carefully, the sizing seemed way off from what is listed in the sizing chart on the website. The elbow pads, for example, were so loose that I could easily rotate them around my arm circumferentially. I went down a size, and the forearm section was snug and comfortable, but the elbow pad itself, along with the upper sleeve, was still loose. So loose in fact that I don’t think my elbows would be protected well in a fall if I slid on the ground. Leatt was great about allowing me to swap sizes, and I settled on the smallest size (S/M), which is unusual for me as I typically wear a large. I do feel that Leatt probably should have made the elbow armor portion more cupped to stay put in case of a fall and slide.

The arm guards provide a lot of protection, but the elbow part is little too big and really should cup around the elbow more to keep this thing put during slides

The arm guards provide a lot of protection, but the elbow part is little too big and really should cup around the elbow more to keep this thing put during slides

I had the opposite problem with the knee guards. I cycle a lot like most of you, and I have large legs for my overall frame size. I typically do have difficulty buying pads and shorts from retailers because my quads and hamstrings are pretty beefy. My leg and calf measurements fell squarely in the XXL range (a size larger than I normally wear) but they barely fit at first. After breaking them in on a few rides though, they were really comfortable, so keep that in mind if you are sizing to buy. DCIM123GOPRO

All this to say that we are all made differently, and you should put these on in person instead of relying on the fit guide posted on the Leatt website.

Conclusion

If you ride aggressively, eventually you will fall…it is an inevitability of pushing your limits every time you go out. Having a comfortable set of pads that are light and breathable makes it easier to take them along with you. The Leatt Hybrid 3DF fits that bill–they are light, comfortable, have a lot of coverage, and are reasonably priced. If you are in the market for armor to keep your flesh pretty after rallying hard in the park, you should check these out.

Flying fatbike at warp speed. That is all.

Flying fatbike at warp speed. That is all.

Thanks to Leatt for providing the Hybrid 3DF gear for review.

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Paul stumbled upon mountain biking in his twenties after upgrading his rigid purple Roadmaster to a shiny yellow Cannondale Super V900 . He resides in central Colorado, where he preaches the gospel of the (true) fat tire and he's been known to ride excessive amounts of wheelies. He is known for being surly, is opinionated, delights in run on sentences, and probably doesn't care what you think. He believes in following the rules. He frowns on people who don't do the right thing, or people who take themselves too seriously. His biggest pet peeve are Subarus that creep along slowly in the left lane. His best conversations are often with himself. When he is not riding, he appreciates exotic espresso, craft libations, Led Zeppelin, and making excuses. He's been known to jump out of perfectly good aircraft and pet sharks underwater (simultaneously). His fat bike is more prepared for the zombie apocalypse than you are. When he is not trying to be funny, Paul also likes traveling the world, photography, being a dad, and chronicling his crotchety shenanigans. Platypus. That is all.
 
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