Paddling tips, tricks, news and gear reviews from an Unsponsored point of view

Elbow Pads

I must admit that I own a few pairs of elbow pads but as yet have never used them whilst kayaking. They have been worn and fully tested on many occasions whilst I’ve been biking/flying through the air.


As “creeking” has become more and more popular you now see more and more people wearing elbow pads whilst on the water and I can can see why. Banging your elbow usually hurts pretty badly, but banging your elbow whilst running white water could mean that you are unable to continue paddling on, fail a roll or put a nice big hole in your dry top/ dry suit.


I know that a number of paddlers see elbow pads as a no-no as it’s not the done thing. However I would have no problem wearing a set of pads whilst boating if it meant I was better protected from possible damage and therefore was still able to work the next day after my paddling trip.


661 make some really good pads and are popular with kayakers.

The Comp elbow pads from 661 seem to be highly regarded and hold up well to being used in water.

Sweet protection also do a range a elbow pads that many of the top paddlers use for creeking. I have a set here that I have been testing on and off the water (MTB). They are as you would expect excellent pieces of kit.

What are your thought on the use of elbow pads in kayaking?

Photographs: Martyn Butler
Paddler: Simon Jackson


  1. I use them quite a lot. In fact, I use them more often than I used to. On steep, tight creeks I deliberately use my elbows to push away from rocks.

    If I were to choose between elbow pads and a fullface helmet, I´d go for the pads.

  2. Got mine for creeking but to be honest i get the most use out of them leaning on rocks whilst jumping in and out of my boat and running safety for beginners as it means i don’t have to worry about my drysuit elbows.

  3. I use Race Face rally (seen in the top few pictures). Have 2 sets one for biking and one for kayaking. Really good fit, protect you well, but you do look like a storm trooper in them

  4. Shred Ready also makes a bomber elbow pad that stays in place pretty well

  5. I have only ever used a borrowed pair once on a steep slidy run. I don’t own any, but to be honest the main reason for this is a bit material in that some paddlers do tend to poke fun at people who wear them!

    For some reason it is often frowned upon. I can’t count the number of times I have whacked my elbows, forearms, and knees, mainly while swimming! And as you say, they can help stop holing a drysuit or dry top.

    Not sure they are really too needed though in most cases apart from to look good in photos!

  6. As a Southeastern US boater, I can say MOST of us use them when creeking, and even river running certain rivers (I wear mine when paddling slicey boats on Cheoah).

    We’ve got shallow and rocky rivers here–we wear out boats fast, and elbow pads are a must–sometimes upside down, and sometimes right side up!

  7. I use them often in Cumbria. Ditches and shallow water runs. Quite common on rivers like Sprint/Troutbeck/Croglin Beck/Langstrath Beck etc. I use Motorbike grade pads as the dont crack and take a lot more abuse. Knox pads. Also do quite a bit or WRT work too so have matching knee and shin pads. Would definately have chipped my elbow by now if it wasnt for pads.

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