The 7iDP Sam Hill Lite Knee pad is about as minimal as you can get on a kneepad before you’re simply wearing a knee warmer.
The 7iDP Sam Hill Lite Knee pad is built on a compression sock made of ripstop spandex that clings to your leg, with the aid of two silicone grippers on your thigh and calf. That means you can just pull them on without any faffing or fettling with straps. Sitting on that is a removable pad that at just 6mm thick is claimed to be the skinniest certified pad on the market – certainly, we couldn’t find anything thinner or more minimalist.
The pad in question is made from SAS-TEC, a kind of memory foam that offers impact protection. There’s no pre-shaping to it, the pad is completely flat and as such it bunches at the edges without laying flat to your skin. However, thanks to its memory foam properties it’s unnoticeable when riding, and coupled with the compression sock backing makes it the 7iDP Sam Hill Lite Knee the most unobtrusive and airy pad we’ve tested.
The compression sock stretches incredibly high up the thigh, adding to the comfort and meaning you can overlap them with your chamois for extra wind protection and to help them stay up. The knee pad stays in place brilliantly on rides without the need to hoik it back up your leg, and as a long-legged rider I particularly like the extended thigh coverage.
The trade-off is that there’s not much protection, something I found out first hand by stuffing my knee into the stem in an over-the-bars. The Sam Hill Lite Knee probably took the sting out of the impact, with no bruising anywhere under the protective SAS-TEC pad. It doesn’t cover the inside knee though, and I now have a lovely purple colour contrasting nicely with my pasty pale calves. I won’t hold that against the knee pad though, it did its job protecting against minor dings, and this is the price you pay for such a minimal feel. There are two flies in the ointment though, the first is it’s a lot of money for such a simple design, and you have to take the pads out to wash the sleeves.