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MTB Protection Guide

Mountain bike protection has been in ION's DNA since day one. We develop technical, award-winning elbow & knee protection as well as body armor for all riding styles. Wherever you go, we want to make sure you find the protection that suits you best depending on your ability, type of riding & what makes you feel comfortable on the bike.

How do I find the right mountain bike protection?

Regardless of whether you are a beginner or going pro on the mountain bike - all of us need a certain level of protection, which usually does not stop with a helmet or gloves. Depending on your skill & individual preference, you may require more pads or decide to focus on the essentials. To find the right knee and elbow protectors for you, you should consider various aspects such as protection level, fit and area of use. We show your perfect protection set up can look like so you can continue to have fun on the bike even in dicey situations.

The choice of the right mountain bike protection is mostly related to where you are riding. In the bike park, on jumps or fast downhills, most people go for comprehensive protection on the body, knees and elbows using pads with high-impact protection level certification. These protect you against impacts and bruises when things go south on rocky sections, steep lines, or mid-air. If you're more into trails, mellow runs, and enduro touring, you'll probably be fine with medium-level protection. One big advantage is that these pads are still comfortable when you need to pedal some sections or uphill as they come with better breathability. Still, our medium impact protection fulfills Level-1 certification and offers reliable protection. Touring and bike trips with uphills in between may require only basic protection and provide a functional fit while maintaining breathability, comfort, and light protection.

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All mountain / Enduro

Are you having fun on uphills & trails alike but wish for that little bit of extra protection? Then this category is for you! Lightweight & breathable materials, combined with light impact protection make you forget you’re even wearing pads.

Compression fit

Breathable materials

Light protection for elbows and knee

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Enduro / Downhill

Bikepark laps, shuttled enduro runs, or shredding your home trails – you feel at home on almost every terrain. To play it safe, you should choose at least medium impact protection if you tackle uphills in between (Lite). If you’re more a Bikepark-type of rider, go for the heavy impact protection right away (Pact).

K-Lite for medium-impact protection

K-Pact for heavy-impact protection

Zip-option available for easy on and off

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Mike Hopkins explains the K-Lite Zip

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Downhill / Freeride

Dirt jumps, downhill racing, and or technical backcountry rides - you make use of gravity to go fast. The risk of crashing in this field of mountain biking is higher and requires the most gear to keep you safe. The K-Pact (AMP HD) and E-Pact provide protection around the knee or elbow and absorb heavy-impacts on roots and rocks. They are made of extremely robust material and shock-absorbing SAS-Tec pads. In addition, there is the option to complement the knee protectors with the shin guard S-Pad or directly choose the knee-shin combo as K-Pact Select.

Level 2 (EN1612-2) certified

EVA side padding for lateral impacts


Be aware:

In the end, it’s up to your personal and individual preferences. Some riders feel safe with the minimum, others only feel comfortable with heavy impact protection. Please always try on your pads before using them to ensure a good & reliable fit.


Whether you need extra protection to learn that new trick or want to focus completely on what's in front of you. Sometimes you'll want to rely on extra protection for your torso, hips, and shins.

Our protector vests come with a SAS-Tec backplate that absorbs shock. Optionally, the Scrub Amp Longsleeve offers you additional light protection in the shoulder area and on the elbows.

The protection shorts also provide light impact protection and guard against abrasions on the side of the thigh, hips, and tailbone. ION protection shorts and vests are also suitable for wearing underneath outside the bike park thanks to their lightweight and breathable construction. The Protection Short Plus Scrub Amp even combines protection with comfort thanks to integrated SQLab Chamois and is therefore well suited for tours.

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Depending on the protection level, we use different foams that absorb impacts and distribute forces. For light protection against abrasion, we are using high-density memory foam (HD_foam). This foam allows for breathability and is also more flexible, making it perfect for pedaling in between descents. Our medium impact protection uses Level 1 (EN 1612-2) multi-impact compliant pads from Sas-Tec. This means that you don’t have to replace them after one crash (unlike helmets). They are still breathable but also provide a good amount of protection. Level 2 (EN 1612-2) pads can handle several heavy impacts that can occur when crashing with high speed or on hard ground (roots, rocks, etc.). Additionally, knee and elbow protection in this category features EVA side paddings that protect against lateral impacts as well.

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For both knee pads and elbow pads, a tight fit is important to ensure protection in exactly the right places. This means a snug fit is essential, yet the protectors should not pinch. The SAS-Tec pad is the heart of the protectors and should be centered directly above the kneecap. This ensures that nothing slips in the event of a fall and guarantees that the lateral padding is correctly positioned. Depending on the model, the knee pads extend differently over the shin. The same applies to the elbow protectors. Some are cut shorter or longer depending on the designated fit. The elbow pads are pre-shaped and adapt to the correct angle of the arms when biking. Doing so prevents your arms from feeling numb and supports you in the correct arm position.

Protector jackets and pants should also fit snugly like a base layer. So you almost do not notice that they are there.


Depending on the model, it is important that you find the correct measurement points. Since each protector is cut to different lengths, the point at which you measure the circumference changes. So it can also happen that you need different sizes for different models. If you are between two sizes, choose the smaller one for a tight and reliable fit.

Visit our fit guide to find precise measurements & instructions.



Say No to smelly pads! To ensure a pleasant wearing experience as well as an extended lifetime of your MTB pads you’ll need to apply some care from time to time:

  • After each use, allow your body armor to air out and dry well. Avoid direct sun as UV-rays can damage the material

  • There are specific cleaning instructions with each product. Please read them before washing. Often simple hand washing with mild soap is already enough.

  • Before washing, check if the pads can be removed. If so, do not machine wash them.

  • Allow your protectors to dry in the air and under no circumstances in the dryer.

  • Zippers tend to be particularly affected by sweat and dirt. If they no longer close and open properly, wash your protectors according to the instructions.


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