G-form RPT Knee Pads – Review

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 20, 2011      

Knee pad for backcountry skiing.

G-Form RPT knee pads are a good choice for backcountry skiing.

Knees are not a bowl of easily damaged jelly like your skull and brain. So they’re easier to protect. As any properly armored telemarker can testify, a plastic shell with a bit of padding does a passable job of protecting your patellas. Telemarker or fixed heeler, kneepads can be a good addition to any skier’s getup. But bulky hard-shell kneepads have the downside of needing gangbanger sized pants to prevent binding at the knees, are harder to pack, and add weight.

G-Form Reactive Protective Technology (RPT) kneepads (and other protective wear) offer a soft energy absorbing layer that’s said to become firmer once it begins to absorb impact. Thus, they combine both hard shell and padding in one flexible low-bulk layer.

After a bit of research and homebrew testing it’s pretty obvious these pads are not made from some kind of alien unobtainium, but probably constructed from what’s known as “rate dependent slow-recovery polyurethane foam.” Whatever, protective gear is a good application of this technology and G-Form RPT kneepads appear to be a functional substitute for hardshell protection in all but worst-case situations. Test by hitting with a hard object, the harder you hit, the harder the pad, meaning it firms up as it absorbs energy.

I’ve been testing the RPT kneepads for some time now, and am happy with the way they work. They’re mounted on a stretchy nylon sleeve that keeps them located where they should be, but isn’t so tight (when correct size is chosen) as to feel restrictive or irritate tendons behind the knee. They’re warm and generate a bit of sweat if the day is hot, but keeping your knees warm makes them work better, so fine. They also wick and breathe as much as possible, thus mitigating any heat discomfort.

How do the RPTs do when protection is required? I’ve not gifted any big hits to my knees lately, as that’s not a gift that keeps on giving. But I have dropped down to a kneeling position on hard surfaces, as well as taking a few minor bashes from skis and truck bumpers. All good so far, and I trust from studying G-Form website and so forth that stronger hits will be absorbed as well as other types of pads would do.

Perhaps more than anything, the con for this pads is their garish yellow color. You can’t miss them bursting out of marketing images like, yes, alien unobtanium. Safe to say, most people would rather have the G-Form pads be an unobtrusive grey or black. (Sorry to generalize, if you want florescent green more power to you.)

Most hardshell kneepads seek to articulate with few if any hinges breaking up the continuity of the shell, thus keeping shell coverage more continuous to protect against pointed rocks and such. If there is any downside to the RPT pads, it is the upside that yes, they’re nicely articulated but that makes for lots of gaps where pointy objects could be a bother. They’re thus super comfy to wear but have a limit. That said, due to bulk and weight I’d give up on conventional knee pads. Now I’m wearing pads again and loving it.

To some skiers kneepads are as personal as their choice in ED medication, so please don’t think I’m advocating the RPTs as the end-all be-all. The choices are myriad. You can buy G-Form pads on their own website, or check out other options here.

Note to helmet optimists: While RPT foam technology may sound like the solution for helmets — it is — and it is not. Upside is this stuff is indeed an energy absorbing material that appears to firm up upon impact and also returns to shape slow enough to eliminate rebound. Thus, it could have some brain protection functionality. Negative is, as we’ve covered in previous helmet posts, what the brain needs in a helmet is SLOW DECELERATION and the only thing that gives that is distance. Thus, while some type of RPT material might make functional helmet padding (and perhaps a whole helmet that was soft at the outset of an impact but stiffened to provide a shell effect), you’d still need the helmet thickness so your head had distance for deceleration (and foam soft enough to allow that to happen). Again, without getting too medical or technical, the reason for this is the brain is a lot different than your knee or elbow, and requires markedly different protection in an impact accident. So wear your kneepads with joy, but I’d continue to advise a healthy amount of skepticism when it comes to helmet hype.


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16 Responses to “G-form RPT Knee Pads – Review”

  1. Scott Nelson April 20th, 2011 8:57 am

    I like the idea of keeping your knees warmer, and helping to enhance bloodflow, kind of like the whole compression tights theory. I tend to get patellar tendonitis, mainly due to running, but I can feel it skiing a little as well. Makes me think I should explore the pad or compression tights path, especially now that I’m not 25 anymore.

  2. naginalf April 20th, 2011 9:10 am

    At least the guys wearing Scarpa F1s will have some matching garb. I just wish that if they’re going to make something in alien green, at least make it glow in the dark, just my 2¢.

  3. ScottP April 20th, 2011 9:49 am

    Knee pads? For a second there I thought I was reading Dostie’s blog! Come to think of it, you should get him to test these for freeheel use…

    Considering these are meant to be worn on the inside of your ski pants, why is the color such a downside? Do your mates rib you about the underwear you choose as well? 🙂

  4. Dave Cramer April 20th, 2011 10:27 am

    I’m concerned by all the gear reviews that have been posted recently. With the increased number of skiers, how will I remain distinctive if everyone else knows about the latest and greatest knee pads, liners, and boots? I think you should show more discretion about publicizing these things (especially to non-locals), and give people the chance to discover new gear on their own.


  5. Matt Kinney April 20th, 2011 10:32 am

    Kneepads are not just for teleskiers. I am prudent about putting them on every skin day. In free-pivot, either AT or Telemark, it is common to drop to one knee and take a rest break, mess with your pack, etc. I like to rest kneeling if possible. With kneepads you have protection for one or both knees when they hit the top of your ski as you reach for a hard to find GU-tube or when stuffing skins into a pack behind a rock on a stormy col. It is nice to drop to one knee hard and fast and not care about banging your knees during the transition from skinning to skiing. I watch all gear types suddenly become sensitive and wobbly about knees at the transition. Some skinners stand, bend and stoop to work their gear and stash stuff.

    They are handy while digging pits. Its easier to shovel kneeling and better on your back. You can kneel face to face with working profile data versus teetering in some yoga balancing act with one knee barely above the ground. Try knee pads. I began wearing them about 5 years ago and they are good stuff and soon you will not notice them. (I use the BD pads BTW)

    FWIW I have never banged up my knees teleskiing anymore than a snowboarder might, so that is kinda of a telemyth. Like a helmet, an ounce of light-weight padded protection in the right place is worth avoiding injuries that could end your ski career.

  6. Brian April 20th, 2011 10:36 am

    In defense of gangbanger-sized pants, they feel sooo much better to tele in than anything remotely tight. The action of dropping a knee almost requires such pants.

  7. slave.to.turns April 20th, 2011 10:49 am

    Having played around with those pads, I think they are AWESOME. Perfect for taking small shots and deflecting ice chunks, small branches, skis flailing like heli blades on a leash, keeping the knees a little warmer..you name it. Cool fabrication too…why Lou is bent on the green color is bewildering.

    @ Scott Nelson: compression tights are worth every penny. CWX and Skins both make one that not only helps through the day, but for 2 hours afterwards do alot to help recover. I know a fair number of pro skiers that are swearing by them these days..

  8. brian h April 20th, 2011 11:38 am

    Dave Cramer ! Hilarious !!!

  9. Lou April 20th, 2011 12:15 pm

    You guys are too much. I leave for a few hours to sneak in a climb and ski, and let the laughs commence!

    Oh, and bring on the gangbanger pants, as well as the dayglo underwear.

  10. Lee Lau April 20th, 2011 4:26 pm

    yeah Lou -I’m with Dave. You’re taking away the magic of discovery. The magic! What’s next? Your heart-rate when you’re putting those things on? Precise directions on whether to put those on first or your tights first or your underwear first? Pictures god forbid? How will others have the joy of exploring how to put on their kneepads?

    So long, wildsnow

  11. Scott Nelson April 20th, 2011 5:17 pm

    Thanks Slave about the good words on compression tights. I think I’m gonna look into those. Now, if we could just get Lou to post a pic of himself in his tights…..or is that something we really don’t want to discover?

  12. Bob April 20th, 2011 6:53 pm

    “Perhaps more than anything, the con for this pads is their garish yellow color. You can’t miss them bursting out of marketing images like, yes, alien unobtanium. Safe to say, most people would rather have the G-Form pads be an unobtrusive grey or black. ”

    Tip: If you wear them under the pants, color won’t matter. Even telemarkers are finally catching on to this important fashion directive.


  13. Tim April 20th, 2011 8:22 pm

    If I wear these knee pads, can I ski my Dynafits at the resort?

  14. Lou April 20th, 2011 8:25 pm

    Tim, so long as you’re wearing a speedo, Euro style spring skiing!

  15. stephen May 13th, 2011 7:08 am

    Surely the best match for these pads would be a Borat Mankini – it’d go with the F1s too!

  16. Randy Smyth August 16th, 2011 11:06 pm

    G-Form is now available in Canada! Our Facebook page is up & running and our web site will be up in the next week or so.

    Sorry boys…no glow in the dark pads but we do have a real basic black now.


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