Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Nature is beautiful. Until it wrecks you! There is nothing else quite like falling into the drink on some whitewater, getting tossed about and smashed off a few rocks.
Been there. Done that.
Learned a few things.
The answer to protecting my knees, elbows and shins while I'm out on the the river is G-Form. I don't think they knew when they designed mountain bike pads that they also came up with a design that works for SUP. They used the perfect materials. Due to the way they created their products, they are flexible, and quick drying. Best of all, the cost isn't going to break the bank.
Check out the knee pads. Light weight, flexible, and constructed from UPF 50 moisture wicking fabric.
Around the inside at the top and bottom is silicone. This gives the compressions sleeve grip and prevents it from sliding down.
G-Form uses something they call "SmartFlex (TM) Technology". Basically, even though G-Form is flexible and not the kind of hard plastic bulky knee pad you wore as a kid - it is going to harden on impact to protect you. You can learn more about this technology here.
In addition, I also wear the Pro-S Elite Soccer shin guards and the Pro-X2 elbow pads.
G-Form makes ankle and hip protection as well if you are interested in it. When you fall off your board in whitewater the last thing you want is an injury. You want to recover as quick as possible and get back on your board. If you are in blinding pain because you just full force smashed a knee or elbow off a rock getting back on your board might be very difficult or even impossible depending on how bad the injury is.
One of the cons to the G-Form pads can be the silicone ring that grips your skin and prevents the compression sleeve from being able to slide down, thus making the pad ineffective. The silicone can be uncomfortable and may feel like it's pulling on your skin or otherwise irritating your skin. From my personal point of view I would much rather have that minor discomfort than risk unnecessary injury. For me the bit of discomfort outweighs anything else.
Bonus tip: You can protect your tail bone area by wearing a NRS Pro Guardian Wedge Waist Throw Bag. This bag will sit on your lower back, if you hit a rock this will provide cushion against the impact. It will also provide you with a rescue tool should you need it.
Stay safe and have fun paddling!!
Extra Bonus tip: These pads work fabulously under a drysuit to protect you while working in a rescue capacity. Regardless of if it's ice rescue, you're point man on a boat skipping across choppy water and bouncing your knees off the aluminum floor, or doing anything that exposes you to banging yourself off a rock, these pads will save you a lot of pain.