POC Joint VPD System Elbow Guard: Rider Review (Do I Need Elbow Guards?)

First off, I have to admit that I was not totally sold on wearing elbow pads at all. I generally ride trails in northern CA and the Sierras and enjoy earning my descents. Given the whole climbing-and-sweating thing (didn’t I just call that enjoyable?), the thought of wearing additional pads beyond my knees wasn’t super appealing. I’d also heard that elbow pads can contribute to arm pump on longer descents and a lot of reviews say they tend to slip down. But mainly I’m insecure and don’t want to be judged as “that Jerry with the elbow pads.” Elbow pads are so not enduro bro.

POC VPD System Elbow Guard Review
However, as I push my own riding and flirt with the limits of traction, my spills are beginning to get a bit more, shall we say, exciting. I had a big fall a few months ago that resulted in a torn rotator cuff and a wrist-to-elbow raspberry (why are they called raspberries? Raspberries are delicious. There is nothing delicious about MTB raspberries.).

POC VPD System Elbow Pad Review
After that, I figured I’d go in for some minimal elbow pads but couldn’t find much that actually offered protection while not looking like something hanging in Darth Vader’s closet. The POC VPD System Pads looked promising but I couldn’t get past the $130 price tag. So, I tried on the POC VPD Air Pads. They offer good protection but felt too rigid for trail riding and the shape of the pad has a weird angle above the elbow that makes the top of the pad stuck out from my arm. Ultimately, they didn’t fit me well enough to make me want to wear them all the time (after all, pads don’t do you any good sitting in your car). I also tried the Fox Launch Enduro elbow pads which were a fit great and were super comfortable but the padding is so soft and pliable that I doubt it would absorb much of an impact.

Finally, I came back to the POC VPD System pads and figured if they offered a decent level of protection and were comfortable enough to wear all day, every day, they would be worth the price tag. To cut to the chase, they are awesome. They are as comfortable as the Fox pads but offer way more protection like the VPD Airs (maybe even more so), all in a relatively slim form factor. The padding is actually two separate layers which I think helps the pad flex as you move your elbow. The padding is pretty warm on a hot day but it’s honestly not something that bothers me during the ride. The POC VPD System pads have a sleeve-like design (no straps) so they do cover a fair bit of your arm relative to the VPD Airs. It is worth noting that the unpadded sleeve material is very breathable. Since this is the side that faces forward and the padding is behind your elbow, your arm actually gets good airflow as you ride.

POC VPD System Elbow Guard Review
My other original concern was about the pads sliding down. These guys are held up by a web of grippy silicone around the elastic at the top and bottom cuff. The first test of the pads was a full day of long descents at Downieville and they stay put. Zero movement. The same has been true on my local rides which have less continuous vertical but many require a lot of arm movement (roots and rocks). Fit is key, so try on a few sizes. I was on the low-end of the Medium size range, so I tried small and medium and kept the mediums.

As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I wear these elbow pads every time I ride. I am psyched about the POC VPD System elbow pads. I don’t think they would prevent a rotator cuff injury, but they may save you a broken elbow. At a minimum, they will see to it that the only raspberries you see will be at the grocery store.

POC VPD System Elbow Guard Review

So, does wearing elbow pads make me a Jerry? Probably.

Do I care? No.

Okay, maybe a little but these pads are comfortable enough that my bruised ego can deal with it.

POC VPD System Review

October 30, 2018

Customer Review › Elbow Pads › Gear › POC ›

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