Kneepads don’t work so well when they’re around your ankles. That’s why Specialized made its lightweight Atlas pads with a kneewarmer-like design that extends the material to the upper thigh–high enough for a pair of liner shorts to overlap with them. Not only does this apply more holding power to the already silicone-gripped, 1.5-inch-wide elastic top cuff, it eliminates the possibility of the dreaded 'gaper gap' of skin showing between your shorts and kneepads.
The foam padding itself is just 8 millimeters thick, putting the Atlas squarely on the minimalist side of the scale. While the material is thin, the padded area covers the entire knee sufficiently. There's also some side protection sewn into the durable nylon material on either side of the main pad.
I've gone down multiple times over the past year while wearing these pads, and they've done a fantastic job of keeping skin attached to my body. That's how I think of pads in the lightweight category–they protect against cuts and abrasions, not broken bones.
The $65 pads are quite abrasion-resistant themselves, showing very little evidence of being dragged through dirt and decomposed granite on several occasions. What has changed over time, however, is how well they stay put. The silicone grippers and elastic upper cuff have lost their holding power, now causing me to stop every so often to hike them back up. For a year's worth of epidermal preservation, I'm satisfied with the value of the Atlas pads.
$65 / Specialized.com