Several weeks ago, the great folks over at Reebok sent us their brand new RBK 20K Pro elbow pads for review. With professional level protection, we put these bad boys to the test to see how they hold up.
The 20K elbow pads are a strong mix of white, charcoal gray and light gray. The design isn’t overly flashy by any means and features some intricate webbing patterns on the sides. The NHL logo is prominent featured on the outside of the bicep portion of the protection, and the Reebok name and logo appear a handful of times on the product. Again, they aren’t real flashy or attention grabbing, but when they are tucked underneath your jersey who cares?
To secure the pads in place, the 20Ks feature two neoprene straps—one on the forearm and one on the lower bicep—and a single Velcro strap in the middle. The elbow area incorporates an all FOAM cap to help protect the elbow, and the liner features molded air channels with supportive ventilation and added padding for refreshed comfort.
Let me preface this by saying that these are the first “real” hockey elbow pads I’ve ever used. I typically use a set of very old Rollerblade elbow pads made for recreational skating. Sure, not very protective, but excellent when it comes to mobility. Regardless, I was excited to test out these pads to see how they differed.
The first thing I noticed was the fit. I’m not an overly buff guy, but I have pretty average muscle mass. With that being said, the neoprene straps felt too tight and pinched my arms. I had a lot of trouble getting them situated correctly where they felt comfortable. Plus, as I moved around, the straps would sometimes fold, pinching even more and making it more uncomfortable on my forearms and bicep. My elbow was easy to secure in place and fit snugly into the pads, but the straps were difficult to adjust. I think I would have preferred three Velcro straps, offering the ability to customize the fit to my preference.
One thing I was worried about going to these pads was a loss in mobility. However, that didn’t seem to be a problem. The bicep quarter of the pads moves fluidly with your body and doesn’t hinder movement at all. The forearm section was firm, but was forgiving enough that the pads didn’t bother me when I was stick handling.
In terms of performance, the pads do what they’re supposed to do. I endured a couple falls while I was wearing them and they held up well and protected my arms. I noticed less bruising in the areas the pads cover, so they must have been doing a good job protecting my forearms and biceps from slashes (especially since I do have bruises outside of the areas the pads cover).
As mentioned above in the review, the pads feature molded air channels with supportive ventilation. This is a feature that I wasn’t overly impressed with and wouldn’t hang my hat on. I played a couple roller hockey games with these pads on in 90+ degree heat, and while the pads weren’t unbearable, I felt like the forearm portion of the pads definitely held in more heat and moisture. In a time when a lot of companies are looking to enhance ventilation to keep players cool and eliminate odor, the 20K elbow pads were still wet when I went to use them the next week. And the stench they retained after only a few games was pretty horrendous—and I’m a hockey player, so I’m used to foul smelling equipment.
Coming in at 204 grams, the 20K elbow pads are definitely light weight, and several teammates who tried them on even commented about how light they are. Really, when I was playing, I could hardly tell they were there thanks to how light they are and the mobility they provide.
I definitely like the added protection that these bad boys offer over my current pads, but struggling before (and sometimes during) every game with the neoprene straps is a hassle and tough for me to overcome personally, so if you’re considering these pads I highly recommend trying them on first. The ventilation is not very good and they will stink in no time. But they offer very good mobility and the light weight helps make it feel like you aren’t even wearing bulky pads. Like I said, try on a pair and see what you think. At $99, they are a hefty investment and, depending on your level of play, there may be better options for you.