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There are many schools of thought on protective gear. Some skaters prefer minimal protective gear, claiming that anything more is too bulky and restrictive. While this is certainly each individual skaters choice, I hate to see girls rolling around in paper thin pads because they believe that more substantial gear would slow them down.

On the contrary, quality protective gear can make any skater more confident, because it reduces your risk for injury and allows you to play the sport more aggressively. After all, kneepads are a lot cheaper than knee replacement surgery. And if you're looking for a quality set of pads, I highly recommend Pro Knees made by the 187.

187 Pro Knees
Price: $65-70


Comfort and Fit: 187 Pro Knees have an open backed design so you can get them on and off without removing your skates. The butterfly closure on the back is made of thick neoprene that doesn't pinch even with nothing on underneath them. In fact, the entire front interior of the pad is lined with soft fleece making it extremely comfortable, even over sweaty fishnets.

The double Velcro and cinching closures mean these kneepads stay where they do the most good: on your knees. The seamless hinge design moves with you, whether falling, sliding, or crossing over. One of the best things about these pads is that they're highly resistant to twisting, slipping or otherwise migrating off of your kneecaps.

The large, flat caps are also easy to slide and turn on, making your falls and slide easier to control so you can focus on getting back on the track.

Protection: 187's dual density interior foam feels like falling on pillows, and is contoured to fit the bent shape of your knee during a fall. The Pro Knees also feature extra thick replaceable caps, so if you ever manage to crack one, you can just swap it out.

The actual protection of these pads during a fall is amazing. If you've been knocking around in a set of department store skate pads, you'll wonder how you ever survived after your first double knee fall in these. The protection ought to be amazing, after all, they were designed for vert skateboarders, and can handle sliding all the way down to the bottom of a pool from the lip, so they hold up for roller derby quite well.

Quality & Value: Pro Knees are about as bomb-proof as they come. Double stitched high strength ballistic nylon, replaceable caps, machine washable; it's like these pads were made for rollergirls. At around $65 a set, 187 Pro Knees aren't cheap, but compared to a torn ACL or damaged meniscus, they're a steal.

And if you're one of those ladies who just has to be different, 187 makes Pro Knees in special prints, like the Bandanna, pictured below, and the super-limited edition derby print, available from Sin City Skates.

187 Pro Knees in bandanna print
The only complaint I have ever heard about the Pro Knees comes from girls who like to wear pads that look like lightday pantyliners, and that is that they are on the bulky side. Not hugely bulky in a Kubrick sort of way, but it might take a couple of days to get used to them. I actually see the shape of the 187's as a positive, since they encourage you to bend your knees, get low, and skate with proper form. When I first started wearing these kneepads my speed and stride actually improved because of the way I had to widen my crossovers to clear them.

Bottom Line:

Money well spent for superior protection and fit. You just can't go wrong with these. I would especially recommend them to girls with knee problems, or those who would like to avoid them.

Rei Zerburnn

187's Website
187 Sizing Chart
187 Pro Knees on SinCitySkates.com

For a comprehensive guide to buying your first set of roller derby gear, check out my New Skater Gear Guide!