Dakine Hellion Knee Pads
Size Tested: Medium
- 3D molded CE certified foam knee protector
- Lateral and medial side padding for extra protection
- Interior patella support
- Cross X elastic compression design on back of calf for secure fit
- Bonded hem seam construction and open back design to eliminates hot spots and increases breathability
- Pre-curved ergonomic patterning for enhanced fit
- Adjustable thigh strap
- Silicon gripper elastic
Reviewer: 6’,0″ 180 lbs
Intended Use: Gravity Protection
Days Tested: 12
Test Locations: Teton Pass, WY; Whistler Bike Park, BC
Dakine might be best known for their bike packs and apparel, but their Hellion and Slayer knee pads mark their move into the protection market.
The Hellion is the more downhill-oriented knee pad, and Dakine says that it’s “for the gravity focused rider that also wants a comfortable pad for the journey up.” The Slayer knee pad is Dakine’s more pedal-friendly option.
Since we’re currently on our annual Whistler Bike Park review trip, the Hellion seemed like the obvious choice for this review.
Dakine provides a useful chart with both thigh and calf measurements. My legs are on the big end of Medium / the small end of Large according to their size chart, so I opted for Medium Hellions.
They ended up being a little snug, but I appreciate that since it means that they don’t move around as much, and its a pad that I’m not going to be pedaling much in. So I don’t mind a snugger fit.
The Hellion uses a 2 mm AriaprenePro material for most of the body of the pad. Ariaprene is said to deliver, “four-way stretch, water resistance and durability within a lightweight range of thickness.”
I haven’t noticed anything too special about this material yet, but it has done a good job of shrugging off the few crashes I’ve put the Hellion through so far, and hasn’t torn or frayed.
The Hellion uses all foam padding. Dakine doesn’t give too much information about this foam, but it feels very similar to the visco-elastic foam (that hardens on impact) used in most kneepads. There is no hard plastic shell inside or outside of the fabric. That means that the Hellion is pretty flexible, but it won’t slide as well if you do end up on your knees.
In addition to the main foam knee cap pad, the Hellion also has smaller, softer pads on the inside and outside of the knee that do a good job protecting the sides of the knees from top tube hits.
The Hellion only has one strap which runs along the top of the pad, around the thigh with a silicone gripper strip around the inside. It’s elastic, with a velcro closure. However, since there is a full length elastic sleeve on the pad it’s impossible to take the pads on or off without removing your shoes.
The Dakine Hellion sits somewhere between a simple knee pad and a knee-shin combo for protection. It doesn’t extend all the way down the shin, but it does offer a little more shin protection than something like the POC Joint VPD 2.0 knee pad, for instance.
The Hellion knee pad stays soft when riding, and is more flexible than the VPD 2.0 or the IXS Dagger — although it’s nowhere near as flexible as the G-Form Pro-X Knee Pads. The Hellion also feature a more narrow pad than the VPD 2.0, which means they’re a little less bulky while pedaling.
So far I’ve had a few big crashes in the Hellions and a lot of smaller impacts and pedal strikes, and the pads have done a great job of keeping my knees and upper shins injury free. While the pad stays flexible and soft until impact, it does a good job of dissipating force when the time comes.
I really appreciate the smaller pads on the inside and outside of the knee. They don’t offer the full protection that the main kneecap pad affords, but they do a good job protecting from the smaller impacts from the top tube or trailside vegetation.
So far I’ve used the Hellion for lift- and shuttle-serviced DH riding, and a few burlier trail rides. While they are too hot and bulky for extended pedaling (that’s the domain of lighter pads like the Dakine Slayer), short climbs aren’t the end of the world.
While cranking out DH laps, the Hellions do a good job of staying put, even in a couple of faster, sliding crashes I took while testing. Initially, I thought I would need a second strap on the calf, but after 12 days in the pads I haven’t missed it. That can at least partly be chalked up to my decision to go with the Medium instead of the Large Hellion.
The pads are warm and do get sweaty, but that’s to be expected from a DH-oriented knee pad. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay for the added protection.
At an MSRP of $75, the Hellion is much cheaper than many of the other options on the market; the POC Joint VPD 2.0 costs $126, while the IXS Dagger costs $95. While both the Dagger and the VPD 2.o feature a second calf strap, I’ve had a good enough experience with the Hellions staying put that that’s not too much of a consideration for me. The Dagger does have a plastic shell, which should help you slide out without catching in crashes on firmer trails, but for me, that’s not too much of a priority, and you’ll have to weigh how much that matters to you.
Dakine’s Hellion Knee Pads deliver good protection in a comfortable and secure package. They’re neither the lightest nor the most breathable option out there, but they do deliver a great value to the gravity rider looking for affordable protection.