Dakine has recently joined the rapidly growing number of companies in the protection game with two new knee pads. The Hellion is the heavyweight hitter to the more trail-friendly Slayer, featuring an upper thigh strap and increased medial/lateral knee protection. Dakine also acknowledges that many riders continue to earn their vert, and therefore considered pedal-ability when designing the Hellion. This 3D-molded foam pad construction promises to remain pliable during slow movements, such as pedaling, but still provide hard-shell-esque protection during a crash.
There was some initial awkwardness when I first slid the Hellion pads on–they're built to fit around a bent knee, and therefore resist straight-leg extension more than other pads do. Thankfully, a straight-legged position is relatively rare while riding, and my doubts about the Hellions' fit were quickly abandoned the moment the cranks begin to spin. Silicone grippers hold the pad in place on the lower thigh without necessitating cinching the Velcro thigh strap too tight. Rather than a lower strap, the Hellions have two elastic bands sewn in an X-shape into the AiraprenePro back material. This generated some concern as to whether or not the pad would stay put, but the ‘Cross X compression’ successfully prevented slippage without causing uncomfortable tight spots.
The comfy and secure fit allow hours of fiddle-free riding–more than can be said for most knee protection. The Hellions never caused any chaffing or discomfort during my testing. As expected, the pads kept my knees cozy during frosty morning jaunts, but I was surprised at how effectively the Hellions managed heat, preventing roasted knees when temperatures surged.
The Hellions had several opportunities to prove themselves. They shrugged off every tango with terra firma, leaving me thankful I had them on. They never fell or slipped off during a crash, a cardinal sin for any knee guard. The Hellions stayed put, and in one piece: after several hundred miles and many wash cycles, there are zero tears or signs of premature unstitching. Consider the Hellions a worthy option if you're in need of a quality pad capable of pushing the boundaries of pedal-friendly protection.