POC VPD 2.0 Knee and Elbow Armor Review

by Brian Mullin on August 14, 2013

The
Swedish based POC company was predominantly a snow sport protection
company, and they have always had safety at the forefront of their
research and technology. They have recently morphed over into the biking
protection world, and their VPD 2.0 armor system includes knee, elbow,
vest, jacket, hip and back protection packs.

The POC VPD 2.0
armor seems to fall in a cusp between hard-shell armor and soft, due to
the thickness of the VPD 2.0 protection material, robust stitching and
rugged fabric, and an overbuilt character. It doesn’t offer the ultimate
safety and protection of hard-shell armor, though it’s pretty darn
substantial for a softer based system, and it delivers more comfort and
is easier to carry. The VPD or Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough material
hardens upon impact for better protection and shock absorption, and in
addition, its lightweight, flexible and moldable. The second generation
VPD, which is called VPD 2.0, offers better shock absorption and allows
3D molding, in which they can create multiple densities within the
padding.

The Joint VPD 2.0 Knee
armor uses a perforated 3D molded VPD 2.0 knee protector, with tough
Kevlar reinforced stretch fabric in front, a stretchy and comfortable
Lycra inner sleeve, a securing top elastic strap with Velcro closure,
and another optional one towards the bottom. It comes in Black, and S, 
M, L and XL sizes and retails for $120.

The Joint VPD 2.0 Elbow
armor uses a perforated 3D molded VPD 2.0 elbow protector, with tough
Kevlar reinforced stretch fabric in front, a stretchy and comfortable
Lycra inner sleeve, an upper slip resistant neoprene cuff, and one mid
located elastic strap. Note that the latest model appears to have an
elastic strap with Velcro closure at the top and bottom, instead of the
singular version that I tested. It comes in Black, and S, M and L sizes
and retails for $100.

A portion of the inner sleeve material for
both the Knee and Elbow armor has Polygiene (natural silver salt)
applied to the fabric, which neutralizes odor by stopping the growth of
odor-causing bacteria and fungi.

Impressions
The
VPD 2.0 Knee offers good protection and wide coverage, and extends just
slightly outward at the knee cap. The straps make it easy to adjust the
tightness around your leg, though on long rides while doing lots of
pedaling they tended to droop sometimes, and a quick yank upwards was
required to put them back into position. The pre-bend of the VPD 2.0
knee cap kept them in place during a crash, tumble and while pedaling,
and though they offered enough flexibility and decent comfort, they
still felt cumbersome and restrictive on long spinning sessions. During
long rides where you’ll do lots of pedaling, I found that they slightly
rubbed and pinched on the inside of my upper calf, sometimes leaving a
slight welt mark. For that reason, I reserved the VPD 2.0 knee for more
serious, gnarly and technical rides, and bike parks. They also could get
warm and sweaty since their ventilation wasn’t the best, and the
front’s general thickness and tight weave of the Kevlar material didn’t
help matters. What they do offer is excellent protection when you crash,
and I didn’t suffer outstanding injuries when that happened on those
rare occasions when I cascaded into a rock field.

The
VPD 2.0 Elbow offers good protection and wide coverage, and the VPD 2.0
padding extends just slightly outwards at the elbow. Even though it
only had one strap, it stayed in place like it was attached to my elbow.
It’s rare that any elbow armor stays in place, as they always seem to
droop, and you’re constantly having to yank them back upwards. The VPD
2.0 Elbow armor never moved out of its location once I placed it there,
and between the use of different fabrics, the pre-bend of the VPD 2.0
elbow cup, and the upper neoprene cuff, it felt like it was glued there.
Even though it stayed in place, it was very comfortable and highly
flexible, helped greatly by the stretchy and soft inner sleeve, VPD 2.0
protection material and front Kevlar reinforced stretch fabric. The VPD
2.0 Elbow cup is fairly thick and bulky, and it might not fit under
every long-sleeved jersey and jacket, so it works best with loose
fitting garments. I took lots of mild tumbles and side fall over’s
wearing the VPD 2.0 Elbow armor, and outside of some minor scratching; I
never had any big injuries, though I didn’t take any high speed crashes
with them on. The VPD 2.0 Elbow is an excellent product, and is one
that I wear whenever I am going to be in some nasty terrain.

With
the robust stitching and materials, excellent construction, and
overbuild, the VPD 2.0 Knee and Elbow have been extremely durable, and
after prolonged use, they haven’t shown any premature signs of wear and
tear. Other than an occasional washing to remove sweat stains and dirt, I
have never done much else to care for them. They are both easy to slip
on, and once the straps were adjusted; I didn’t find a need for altering
them further.

Bottom Line
The
VPD 2.0 material offers excellent protection and shock absorption,
flexibility and comfort. The pre-bent molded shape of the knee and elbow
cups keep them in place, and it helps them to conform to your body for
better comfort and safety during a crash. The use of the perforated and
flexible pre-bent cups, stretchy and soft materials, offer maximum
comfort and generous body movement, whether that’s pedaling for the
knees or maneuvering for the elbows. I was satisfied with the Knee and
Elbow crash worthiness during my occasional tumbles and fall over’s, and
I didn’t suffer any undue injuries, which highlights their effective
protection.

I personally found the Joint VPD 2.0 Elbow to be my
favorite, as it always stayed in place while wearing, and was very
comfortable and flexible. I tended to reserve the Joint VPD 2.0 Knee for
gnarlier days when I needed the utmost in protection, since I found
that they rubbed and pinched the back of my leg if I did too much
pedaling. Overall, the Joint VPD 2.0 Knee and Elbow are great products,
since they use the excellent VPD 2.0 material with its shock absorption
and pre-bent molding, and have overbuilt construction, rugged stitching
and materials; all which make for a durable, comfortable and safe armor
product.

Pros
  • VPD 2.0 Material – Excellent protection and shock absorption
  • Easy to slip on
  • Elbow – stays in place
  • Elbow – comfortable and flexible
  • Durable and well made
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Knee – rubbing/pinching issues during long pedaling sessions
  • Knee – can feel warm (minor nitpick)
  • Knee – can droop (minor nitpick)

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