Steel-Flex Knee Pads and Strapped Knee Pads Review
Steel-Flex knee pads are pricey, but the company is going to win over a lot of professional tradesmen if they can just get the word out to Pros.
Whenever I’m working on flooring or tile, I prefer work pants with knee pockets. Having owned and worn both Blaklader Bantam pocket pants and Armed Work Wear pants, I’ve just found the integrated pockets to be great for avoiding knee pads with straps. Steel-Flex (owned by Senco—I know, you gotta keep up!) is, as far as we can tell, the American distributer of the Redbacks knee pads technology. Redbacks knee pads are from Northamptonshire in the UK and only available on Amazon’s UK store. So, yes, that review we did back in 2013 was one big tease…but no longer! Steel-Flex knee pads bring Redbacks knee pad technology to the US market.
While you typical knee pad is a foam or gel-filled system, Steel-Flex knee pads use a leaf spring technology to disperse weight in all directions as they are compressed. The result is a nicely cushioned knee pad that doesn’t soften up or lose its springiness over time.
That’s an important feature if, like most Pros, you end up being knee pads often. Most don’t hold up all that well. Rubber wears out, foam loses its springiness…you get the idea.
Steel-Flex Knee Pads – a Familiar Design
The Steel-Flex knee pads have that same familiar honeycomb shape found in Redbacks knee pads. Since the technology is based largely on the central leaf spring, they can actually be trimmed as needed to fit into any size pocket.
Steel-Flex Strapped Knee Pads
The one difference between this review and our Redbacks review is that we got to experience the Steel-Flex strapped knee pads. These knee pads differ from traditional models in that they utilize the leaf spring design of the Redbacks technology. While they do a great job of dissipating weight from impacts and pressure, they also incorporate a thick padding behind the rubberized design that aids in cushioning.
You can also wash the Steel-Flex knee pads. Steel-Flex claims they can handle up to 990 lbs of weight, but I couldn’t find any tradesmen who weighed enough to txt that figure. The knee pads utilize a pair of velcro straps that secure above and blow the knee. The inside of the Steel-Flex strapped knee pads are slightly curved, so they conform better to your knee during use. This also helped keep them from sliding up and down.
Steel-Flex Strapped Knee Pads Features
- Design: Leaf-spring cushioning technology
- Soft rubberized materials w/100% shape recovery
- Care: Washable (40°C/104°F), dry cleanable
- Max weight supported: 990 lbs (450 kg)
- Thermal protection from warm and cold surfaces
- Curved to fit around knee
- 100% recyclable pad
- Waterproof and breathable
For testing we tried both the Steel-Flex pocket knee pads and the Steel-Flex strapped knee pads with a pair of Armed Work Wear pants. You can read our Redbacks knee pads review for more on our impressions of these vs. traditional foam and gel pads. What we tested anew for this review were the new strapped knee pads.
We used the same testing method we tried before: twenty knee drops in a row—straight onto concrete. I’m now 43 years old. That kind of test is not to be taken lightly!
My results were fairly conclusive. The Redbacks softened the blow considerably. Amazingly, in fact-though the Blaklader Cordura gel pads did equally well. That’s not to say there weren’t clear observable differences. For one, the Redbacks felt more solid. They weren’t uncomfortable, just more substantial, so that I didn’t feel as if I was wearing them out with each impact. They tended, in the Bantam pants at least, to slip downward slightly-just far enough to make me uncomfortable. It felt like the next kneel could result in a very sensitive part of my body coming into contact with the ground-but that never happened. The Blaklader Cordura reinforced pads had a bit more “stickiness” in the knee pocket of the work pants.
The other thing we tested was the comfortability with long term use.
It’s great that you can get these pads in the US. Steel-Flex is going to win over a lot of people if they can just get the word out to Pros. They’re currently available at select dealers and online via traditional channels. Expect to pay around $65 shipped for just the Steel-Flex inserts and around $100 for the full Steel-Flex strapped knee pads. That will sound very expensive to the DIY crowd, but if you’re a Pro who’s frequently working on his or her knees every day, that’s a sound (and affordable) investment. They may be the last pair of knee pads you ever buy.