If you have done any length of military service chances are that you have seen one of Alta’s knee pad offerings. Of course being one the biggest knee pad producers means you get copied. The only real grumblings I have heard from co-workers on Alta pads ended up being clones. So at SHOT this year I popped by the booth to see what was new in the world of knee pads. I was shown the Contour knee pads and instantly liked what I saw. The pads articulate to move with you providing better coverage. Not only that but they fit over my giant legs which is nice.
-Articulated design allows the pad to feel more natural
-Comfortable padding helps absorb shock when going to the knee fast
-Strap system works and actually keeps the pad where it needs to be.
-Would have like to see the stitching reinforced a bit
Alta has been in the knee and elbow pad game for a long time. Through this they have come up with various design features that really stand out from the crowd. The first feature that I really like is the Altalok method of strap attachment. This method utilizes a strap that is adjusted through a plastic tri-glide. However unlike a normal tri-glide this one has a large triangular section with a hole in the middle of it.
The section with the hole has a large opening that fits over a post on the knee pad and then slides into a smaller section of the hole that rides under the head of the post on the main shaft that attaches to the pad. This method of attachment is far superior in my mind to Velcro. This leaves your pads adjusted to the same fit every time you put them on. It is also really quick to attach and will fail far after Velcro will lose its grip. The Altalok system combined with the two strap types makes for a comfortable fit that stays where it needs to be.
The top strap is a thick and wide elastic that can flex as you move. The strap is designed to keep the knee pad in place instead of being rigid and making your knee pad move around as you take a knee. I have seen a lot of other manufacturers knee pads wind up becoming ankle pads due to poor straps. The bottom strap is a beefy strap material. This one is not required to be as tight as the top strap because it’s just there to make the bottom of the pad stick to your leg. Each of these straps has a Velcro strap keeper This works well and makes sure the excess strap after things are tightened doesn’t flop around getting snagged on things.
The inside section of the pad at the top has a rubber backed strip to aid in the pad keeping grip on your pants. The rubber strip is attached to the main material of the back of the pad. This material is a soft almost fuzzy fabric to help stop hot spots from the pad riding against your knee.
The front of the pad is made of Cordura as the main material due to its abrasion resistance. The knee cap of the pad is made of a tough plastic like material that is held on with six grommets. The hard cap helps protect your knee when going down on a hard jagged object. We have all taken a knee in a spot without knee pads on and regretted it. The knee pad cap combined with the ample amount of padding behind it soaks up the force of the ground and anything you may be stuck putting your knees on.
The other really big feature about these knee pads that really sold me on them comes in the name Contour. These knee pads are made to be highly articulated. This means that the knee section stays in place while an upper and lower section are able to bend with your legs movement. This lends to the knee pad feeling quite natural as you walk and run and not just like a mass stuck to your knee. I really feels like it’s barely there until you actually need it and then you are happy its adorning your knee. The pads barely weigh anything which also helps in their low profile feel.
I just wish something like this existed years ago. It would have saved some of the knee problems a lot of soldiers suffer from. It can’t fix the largest problem of shock and stress on the actual joint caused by weight and leaping in and out of trucks but it certainly gives the knee cap and pad behind it a break. If you have suffered from ankle pads, chaffed legs or just want something to protect your leg better give the Contour knee pads by Alta a go when they hit the shelves.