SixSixOne 4×4 and 2×4 Armor Review

by Brian Mullin on December 20, 2009

I first saw the SixSixOne 4×4 and 2×4 soft body armor while I was at Interbike this year. The ‘x4’ series of soft armor, is comprised of the 4×4 (Knee/Shin), and the 2×4 (Elbow/Forearm) guards. They both use an EVA foam padding as the main structural protection entity with some nylon inserts for rigidity and additional protection, while the main body is made from a Denier nylon shell with a Coolmax liner, and it’s held together with Velcro closures.
Why Wear Armor?
Since I started riding tougher terrain of late, I thought it best to start wearing armor more often. Protecting my 50+ year old body from the occasional crash, and tree and rock scrapes seems like a rational idea? I have used hard plastic armor, but I found them to be uncomfortable, hot, and a over zealous amount of  protection for the slower speed All Mountain riding that I participate in. Hence, my preference is to use soft armor. Just over a year ago I took a nasty crash on the Templeton Gap trail in Palmer Park, and I removed a good portion of skin on one forearm, ouch!
 Grumpy says to always wear protection!
The crash helped reinforce the need to wear body armor. I swear that any time you decide to not wear armor, you are going to fall!  So consider it a double safety blanket, or redundant backup, as it were?

2×4 Elbow and Forearm Guard
I have been using the 2×4 Elbow guards for a couple of months now, and they worked quite well. I didn’t get to try them in the brunt of summer, but in the last vestiges of warm weather, they were not too hot. All the armor I have ever used is warm, some more than others, and the 2×4 is on the cooler side of the spectrum. They were comfortable, although I had to watch how tight I got the upper Velcro band, else my arm would be a bit sore the next day. I liked having almost my entire arm covered with protection, especially in the local scrub oak, which tend to chew your arms up. You can sort of body check the bushes! The only problem was that I couldn’t wear my fat watch any longer, since the coverage goes all the way down to your wrists, making it a bit difficult to attach the watch. They didn’t really slide down my arm much, and seemed to pretty much stay put. I could wear them under my long sleeved jackets, but it could be a bit tight with jerseys and light pullovers due to their slight bulkiness, so it was easiest to wear them over most apparel? It was very easy to put them on, you opened up the Velcro closures (upper and lower), and slid your arm into them, and then re-cinch the Velcro closures down. After using them a couple of times, I started to take them off by just loosening the lower strap and pulling them off without changing the upper strap. They offer around 90 degrees of protection on the outside of your forearms, and cover from just above the wrist to a couple of inches above the elbow. I have done a couple of good crashes with these guards, and they offered some excellent protection, and although my body was still sore I didn’t have any scratches nor abrasions. I always wear my elbow guards, unless I am going to ride a very mellow trail, better safe than sorry.
That you call me crazy
I can’t stay cause I need room to breathe
There’s nothing left to say
Better sorry than safe

4×4 Knee and Shin Guard
I recently started to try out the 4×4 Knee/Shin guard, and although it’s made from the same material, it is a whole different beast than the 2×4. In comparison, they are more bulky, have a prodigious number of straps, and are slightly warmer. For their bulkiness, they articulate well at the knee and are moderately comfortable. I think an extremely important factor is getting the proper sizing for the 4×4, and the most important measurement is the knee to top of shoe distance. Like any knee guard, they tend to slide down (especially when pedaling), and by keeping the lower length as close as possible to your leg dimension, it prevents them from slipping down as much. I did not notice any wear or sore spots on my legs from using them, which is a good sign. I did have to pull them up regularly, but I do that with all my knee guards. I did notice that the material on the inside upper portion (right where the knee chafes the bike) was wearing slightly, and was starting to fuzz. After an initial adjustment to get them to fit properly, I left them alone and only would open the lower strap to put them on and off. That made things a bit more pleasant, since there are a lot of straps and closures (7 to be exact) to deal with on the 4×4. I liked having the full protection wrapped around my leg, even a simple thing like bending down on your knee (like to work on our bike) was much more pleasant. They were warmer than the 2×4, but that was nice in cooler weather since your legs stayed a bit warmer. The protection was very nice, and bashing through the scrub oak, or any occasional foray onto the ground, made me appreciate the beefiness of this soft armor. They wrap around to offer 120 degrees of protection over your legs and knee, and cover from just above the foot to a couple of inches above the knee.

Measured Specs (medium size)
Weight – 4×4 526.9 grams, 2×4 228.9 grams

Length – 4×4 19 inches, 2×4 13 inches


Bottomline
The SixSixOne ‘x4’ (can I call it that?) series of soft armor is a very nice product, with a lot of good design elements that add to both the safety features of the product (meaning body part protection) and functionality. I found the 2×4 (Elbow/Forearm) to be comfortable, not to warm and easy to wear over many apparel items. It added a nice amount of protection, whether bashing through trees and bushes (hockey check), or taking the occasional flying dive off the bike. The 4×4 (Knee/Shin) offered slightly more coverage than the 2×4, which is essential for lower leg protection. Getting the correct size is paramount for the 4×4, which helps prevent them from creeping down below the knee. The 4×4 are going to be warmer than the 2×4 during the summer months, although they do ventilate well for a knee/shin guard. The 4×4 was comfortable for all its bulkiness, and pedaled nicely without any abrasion or annoyance spots. I always wore the 2×4 elbow guards, and tended to only put the 4×4 knee/shin guards on when I was downhilling or was going to ride in very technical terrain.
The SixSixOne 4×4 and 2×4 are fine products from a great company, and the lightweight and soft armor is comfortable, and offers great protection, and was crashed tested for worthiness. Pastajet approved!

Strengths
– Lightweight
– Good protection
– Good coverage
– Crash tested!
Weaknesses
– Knee/Shin fraying prematurely on inside of knee
– Elbow Guard slightly constricted upper arm
– Knee/Shin might be warm in summer
MSRP:
4X4 Knee/Shin $49.95
 2×4 Elbow Guard $39.95

Overall Rating: 3 Thumbs Up [3 out of 4]

4X4 Knee/Shin Specs
-12mm EVA foam padding with nylon inserts for impact protection.
-300 Denier nylon outer cover takes the abuse.
-New wide mesh open weave circulates air to keep you cool & dry.
-Coolmax® liners wick away moisture keeping you cool and dry.
-Sizes: Youth, small, medium, large, x-large
-Color: black

2×4 Elbow Guard Specs
-300 Denier nylon outer cover takes the abuse.
-New wide mesh open weave circulates air to keep you cool & dry.
-Full wrist to above the elbow protection.
-Coolmax® liners wick away moisture keeping you cool and dry.
-12mm EVA foam padding & nylon inserts for impact protection.
-Sizes: Youth, small, medium, large, x-large
-Color: black

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous January 15, 2011 at 1:52 am

I loved your blog. Thank you.

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