G-Form Knee, Elbow and Shin Pad Review

by Brian Mullin on January 15, 2012

The G-Form company makes protection gear for consumer electronics and extreme athletic endeavors, that makes use of PORON XRD, which is a density changing and impact rate-dependent material. The basis of their product is RPT, which is Reactive Protection Technology, and is a combination of the PORON XRD material and their proprietary G-Form technology. What the product does is stiffens instantly on an impact, and it absorbs over 90% of the energy, providing excellent protection in a lightweight and flexible format. They had a small demonstration at Interbike this year, in which they dropped a bowling ball on some M&Ms that were in cased inside the product, and they survived with very little damage, showing how much energy was dissipated, and protection was provided. The change in durometer of the material during impact is easy to test, and if you slowly poke the material it’s soft, squishy and pliable and leaves an obvious dent, while if you slam it fast and hard, it stiffens up substantially with less penetration.

The G-Form exoskeleton armor comes in three different versions currently, the Knee Pad, the Shin Pad and the Elbow Pad, with each retailing for $49.95. They should hopefully be releasing a compressive shirt and crash shorts; shown above; some time this year? The slip-on armor utilizes an elastic fabric tube, made from a nylon and spandex blend, in which the molded RPT padding is flat stitched onto the material. The top cuff of the tube has a silicone gripper band, which offers adhesion, to prevent the armor from creeping and moving downwards during use. The design mimics a set of arm or knee warmers, and the fabric fits snugly to assist in keeping things in place, and also provides compressive qualities. They come in eight sizes, 2XS, XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL and 3 XL, so they’ll cover the gamut of body shapes and girths. Their website has detailed sizing charts for each of the versions to make sure you get the appropriate fitting set of armor.

They all share the same sort of segmented pattern for the pads, in the shape of a cross or diamond, with a circular section in the middle, which then radiates outwards with smaller sections and segments, with cutouts and depressions to facilitate flexing, movement and articulation. The knee pad covers a larger surface area, and has a protuberance that extends around the edge of the knee to protect the joint, while the shin and elbow share the exact same shape and size. The knee padding is slightly thicker than the shin and elbow versions, approximately 8mm vs 6mm, respectively. The fabric tube is black, while the padding comes in either basic black or a bright neon yellow color.

Measured Specs:

Size Pad Size Pad Thickness Weight
Shin Pad 11″ x 5″ 8.5″ x 6.5″ 6mm 99 grams
Elbow Pad 13″ x 5″ 8.5″ x 6.5″ 6mm 103 grams
Knee Pad 12″ x 5.5″ 9″ x 8.5″ 8mm 141 grams

Impressions
The ridges, shape and hinges of the gear, which look very skeletal, help the padding flex and bend when in use, to prevent any binding and to aid in better conformability, for comfort and proper impact absorption. The entire scheme of things takes on a Spiderman or Super Hero look, albeit in a geeky manner, but I happened to like the way they looked, although it might not be everyone’s cup of tea? Plus, you can try out for a part on the new Tron sequel if the armor doesn’t pan out?

The product is lightweight, very flexible, breathes well, isn’t bulky and can be tossed into the washer when needed. The way the pad is shaped and molded, and that it’s attached to a compressive and stretchy fabric, helps keep the padding close to the body, in a very form fitting matter, so that it won’t move out of place during usage, enhancing its functionality and protection properties. The design does mean you have to take your shoes off to put on the knee and shin guard, but that can be a common issue with many armor systems.

What really sets the armor apart from the rest of the crowd is its incredible comfort. You can put any of the versions on, and ride around for 4-6 hours, and hardly notice you are wearing anything, and it almost feels like your just wearing a set of Lycra warm ups. The elbow and shin guards were especially invisible, while the knee was pretty close, but it would be occasional binding on the back of the knee during long spin sessions, due to the bunching of the material. With all the hinges and cut out design, the pads were highly flexible and offered little resistance, offering a great amount of freedom of movement, so spinning, body contortions and technical maneuvers were never constraining. The slim fit, and lack of bulk meant that they can be worn under clothing, without any bind issues. In warm weather, the armor got slightly warm, but it was never obtrusively hot, and the material wicked and breathed well, keeping the moisture level to a minimum.

I found the knee pads stuck like glue on my legs, and didn’t creep on me, and I greatly appreciated rarely having to yank them back into place. The elbow pads unfortunately liked to creep down, and would require some periodic rearrangement, which was a pain if you were wearing them under a long-sleeved shirt. Getting a smaller size helped somewhat, but it was still a problem. As far as sizing goes, I found that it was best to go up one size on the knees, else they were too constrictive, and stay with their recommended size for the shin and elbows that are listed on their website.

Surprisingly, the armor has been incredibly durable, and no stitching has pulled, and none of the armor plates have been degraded nor abraded, and the only thing that shows wear, was their small decals are peeling off. I am not a nice person to gear, and my substantial abuse, including multiple crashing, trail maintenance work, along with hard usage and multiple washings have done nothing to them, and they have proven to be undeniably rugged. The yellow colored pads showed a few dirt spots, but it was very minimal, and I liked the yellow contrast against the black fabric, and thought it looked cooler than the black padding.

I took some decent crashes in rock gardens, rolls and sliders in the dirt, and impalement into bushes and trees, and the armor did a great job in absorbing the impact and protecting my body, and the only thing I came up with was an underlying scratch or two. Even with some prodigious encounters with terra firma, I was well protected and the armor did not abrade nor did the fabric get torn, again emphasizing the durability of the product. I used the armor in some pretty ferocious All Mountain terrain, and I felt more than comfortable and safe using the product, and consider it well suited to anything outside of full blown downhill adventures. One odd thing, is that in really cold weather, the padding gets stiffer, so it has a bit less flexibility, albeit the impact properties remain the same, offering the normal crash and safety protection. The product isn’t going to offer the prodigious amount of protection that a heavy duty set of armor can provide, but it is obviously not where this set of gear is meant to compete. It offers pretty great protection in the conditions and terrain that most of us will ride in, and I can vouch for the safety and protection it provided me in some fairly heinous that I ventured into, and it adds the benefit of being extremely comfortable and flexible.

I do wish the knee had some additional padding on the sides of the knees, and that the shin had something that wrapped around the ankle, both of which would offer some protection to vulnerable areas.

I am also testing one of their computer G-Form Extreme Sleeve units, but I doubt I will try to purposely drop my laptop to see if it survives? They have a wicked video on their website in which they drop an iPad in one of their sleeves from 60 feet in the air, to show the amount of protections the product provides. I will try and obtain a case to test out my new iPad that I received for the holidays.

Bottom Line
The G-Form body armor, which includes the Knee, Elbow and Shin guards are supremely comfortable, lightweight and very flexible. The Reactive Protection Technology (RPT), which is a composite blends of the PORON XRD material and their proprietary G-Form technology, offers a slim form fitting set of armor, and the synchronicity of the exoskeletal pads with all its segmentation, and the elastic and compressive fabric provides an ideal combination of safety, comfort and protection. This armor can withstand multiple crashes and significant abuse and hasn’t shown any signs of wear and tear, outside of the decals peeling off. It is pretty impressive how durable the armor has been, while still offering great protection and excellent freedom of movement.

I only had a few minor nitpicks with the armor: The back of the knee can bind sometimes on long rides, and I wish it had additional protection on the sides, and the elbow creeps downwards, and the shin can be tough to pull on.

This product suite is the most comfortable set of body armor I’ve ever worn, and the knee pads are the highlight. They are comfy, stick like glue while wearing, and offer great safety and protection in moderately heinous terrain at respectable speeds.

Strengths

  • Incredible comfort
  • Exceptional durability
  • Good price point
  • Lightweight, breathable and flexible

Weaknesses

  • Knee Pad – material can bind on the back of the knee on long rides
  • Knee Pad – needs additional padding along the sides
  • Elbow Pad – they can creep downwards
  • Shin Pad – they’re hard to pull on

MSRP: $49.95

G-Form Armor Specs:

  • Visit the G-Form website, or the Knee, Elbow and Shin
  • MSRP – $49.95
  • Flexible • Lightweight • Breathable • Wicking fabric
  • Utilizing RPT – Reactive Protection Technology
  • Composite blend of PORON XRD material and proprietary G-Form materials and technology
  • Stretchy and compressive fabric – nylon and spandex blend
  • Sizes – 2XS to 3XL
  • Colors – Black and Yellow
  • Lifetime warranty

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