Our Top 6 Picks for 2023
A common question we frequently get from our readers is whether paintball elbow pads are really necessary and what makes the best elbow pads for paintball?
First off, paintball elbow pads are a must-have protective gear, if you want to avoid elbow and forearm injuries. While most paintball jerseys claim to provide enough forearm and elbow protection, additional protection is necessary for beginners and professional players.
In this post, we have compiled the best paintball elbow pads for hobbyists and professional paintball players. We have also included tips on how to buy one.
The Top Elbow Pads for Paintball
#1: Tactical EXO.E1 ELBOW PADS
Overall Best Paintball Elbow Pad
- HIGH-GRADE ELBOW COVER – Specially constructed to take the pressure off your elbows with a molded and flexible cap improved with built-in traction for easy and comfortable movement.
- ULTIMATE PROTECTION – The flexible molded cap is reinforced with an EVA foam pad that provides effective shock absorption for increased protection. It’s developed to prevent you from skinning or bruising your elbows.
- SMART DESIGN – Engineered with thick woven straps that feature an adjustable and non-slip fit, keeping the gear in place even against intense movements.
- EASY INTEGRATION – Designed for military, law enforcement, and operational use, this protective gear can be paired with the 5.11 knee pads for complete gear protection, so you can get into any shooting position safely and comfortably.
- TRUSTED BRAND – Developed with quality in mind, 5.11 Tactical offers a wide range of products that includes shirts, pants, bags, accessories, and more. Defining their brand through challenge and fortitude, 5.11 promises readiness beyond limits.
Our top pick for the best paintball elbow pads is are the 5.11 Tactical EXO.E1 Elbow Pads that are best for players who have jerseys that have adequate forearm protection.
These pads have molded and flexible caps to absorb force when you slide or dive, protecting your elbows from bruises.
To enhance protection, the caps have built-in traction and feature EVA foam pad for improved shock absorption. This protection also ensures your elbows don’t get sore from friction between your skin and the pads.
When it comes to the material, the 5.11 Tactical EXO.E1 Elbow Pads are made of 100% nylon, while the straps are woven. The adjustable straps are elastic, and non-slip to keep the pads intact when you dive or slide. Because of the elastic straps, these pads are one size fits all and are available in ranger green and brown colors.
We also love that the 5.11 Tactical EXO.E1 Elbow Pads are open on one side, adding to breathability and arms movements. Something else we love is the double stitching and the raised and padded edges.
If you are looking for a pair of pads that provide the best combination of comfort, arms movements, and protection, the 5.11 Tactical EXO.E1 Elbow Pads are our recommendation.
#2: Freeflex Elbow Pads/Arm Pad
Best Professional Paintball Arm Pad
- Thermoformed elbow and forearm pad is engineered to encapsulate a custom-molded, ribbed elbow-cup that enhances durability and flexibility.
- All-new pass through retention strap compresses and conforms pad to forearm for a tighter, lower profile.
- Retention strap is entirely removable and rotatable–velcro strap adjustment won’t irritate or inflame skin.
- Adjustable velcro retention strap can be rotated so adjustment system is concealed behind pad–no more accidental loosening or detachment.
- Compression molded hand padding absorbs impact and prevents bruising
If you are looking for an arm pad that provides full protection for your elbow, forearm, and wrist, the FreeFlex Elbow Pads/Arm Pad will be a great pick.
These pads provide protection for the elbow, forearm, and back of your palm thanks to its quad-core padding system. Something we love about the padding is that, despite the generous padding, the pads are still lightweight.
The elbow and arm paddings are ribbed so that the pad can easily conform and bend with your arm depending on where the impact is. There is also a retention strap that you use to keep the pads intact. The strap also improves how the pads conform to your arms.
One thing we love about the strap system is that it is removable and rotatable. This lets you hide the Velcro strap behind the padding to avoid accidental loosening or detachment during the game giving you peace of mind.
Something else we love about the design is the anti-slip silicone bands and moisture-wicking neoprene high-quality material that is stretchable and breathable. The FreeFlex Elbow and Arm Pads are available in 4 sizes
#3: BLACKHAWK Advanced Tactical Pads v.2
Budget-friendly Elbow Pads
- Closed-cell foam padding provides excellent shock resistance adn little to no moisture retention
- 600 denier nylon shell
- Non-slip, flexible, molded polyurethane cap
- Contoured interior ledge prevents pad slippage
- Hook & loop elastic straps keep pad in place
If you are in the market for a budget-friendly pair of elbow pads that will get the job done, you will love the BLACKHAWK Advanced Tactical Elbow Pads v.2.
First off, the BLACKHAWK Advanced Tactical Elbow Pads v.2 is a military-grade knee pad that has stood the test of time. These pads have been on the market for over a decade!
The knee caps for these pads are made from 600 denier Nylon shell with a good amount of thickness and is very durable. Unlike with most other pads, the caps are smaller but provide for better arms movement.
The BLACKHAWK Advanced Tactical Elbow Pads v.2. has a closed-cell foam padding for improved shock absorption adding to the protection provided by the polyurethane cap. We also love how the interior of the pads is contoured to keep them intact when sliding or diving and when you are aiming on your knees.
Each pad has 2 elastic straps with a hook and loop locking design for easy wearing and removal. These pads are available in coyote tan and black colors, and it’s a one-size-fits-all.
#4: HK Army Crash Arm Pads
Premium Professional Arm Pads
- Enhanced comfort and durability
- Contour, dual-layered, high-impact padding
- Neoprene arm support
- Lightweight, breathable 4-way stretch sleeve
- Adjustable velcro strap, Built-in thermoformed protective glove
HK Army Crash Pads make a great pick for professional players looking for a high-end model arm that provides full arm complete protection. These arm pads are designed to protect the elbows, forearm, and back of the palm.
The HK Army Crash Arm Pads are very similar to the FreeFlex Elbow Arm Pads in terms of features, design, and price.
When it comes to padding, these arm pads have a high-impact dual layered padding to protect your elbows and forearm. These pads feature thermoformed low-profile groves with padding at the back of the palm for extra protection during the game.
Unlike the FreeFlex Elbow Arm Pads that have a strap at the middle, these have a single bicep strap. The back of the arm pads is made with a breathable 4-way stretch sleeve that is breathable and also provides a comfortable fitting.
Something else we love about this pair of elbow pads is that they provide better protection around the wrist using a stretchy recoil compression neoprene material. They are available in 2 color options and 3 sizes.
#5: Bunker Kings V2 Royal Guard Elbow Pads
Best Comfort for Arm and Forearm Pads
- [Tri-Flex Protection] – High density BK foam | Dual layered in major impact zones | Duraflex covering
- [Second Skin Fit] – Stay-In-Place inner compression sock | Double ventilation for breathability & quick-drying | Skin soft elastic bands
- [Royal Guard] – Optimal protection + comfort | Hand & wrist protection with thumbhole
- [Full Mobility] – Superior protection that doesn’t restrict movement ability | Separated side padding | Multi-flex neoprene
- [Action Sport Friendly] – Perfect for any professional athlete. It is suitable for outdoor sports like Snowboarding, Airsoft and Paintball and will withstand the toughest environments with its long list of durable features
One of the major complaints about many paintball arm pads is the padding being extra hard making them uncomfortable. If you are looking for a more flexible arm pad that provides a great combination of protection, flexibility, and a natural elbow bend, you will love the Bunker Kings V2 Royal Guard Elbow Pads.
The first thing you will notice is the dual-layered design on three sections. One for the elbows, forearm, and back of the palm. The padded sections are made of high-density foam and a Duraflex covering.
The best thing with Duraflex is that it provides wear resistance of polyurethane and the elasticity of rubber. This is why these pads offer impressive freedom of movement. If you are a player who loves diving and sliding, make sure you are wearing a long-sleeved jersey for more protection.
Other features we love about the Bunker Kings V2 Royal Guard Elbow Pads are the double ventilation for improved breathability, inner compression fit, and the low-profile glove.
This mid-level players model is available in 4 sizes, and the manufacturer recommends getting a size bigger.
#6: Dye Paintball Performance Arms Pad
Best for Forearm and Palm Protection
- DYE Performance Elbow Pads are the culmination of years of player testimonials and extensive product research, design, and testing.
- Lightweight EVA foam is pre-shaped to conform to the natural bend of the elbow point, providing ultimate comfort and flexibility.
- Each pad comes with a custom gel insert that is highly impact resistant and helps absorb the brute force created from intense slides and dives.
- Adjustable straps allow you to tighten the elbow pad and keep it in place at all times.
- Integrated slider gloves on each hand provide reinforced palm protection to keep you safe from turf-burns and gravel. The back of the slider glove features neoprene compression for added protection to the back of the hand. **To find your best fit, please reference the size chart in the photos to the left**. When in-between sizes, order one size up.
If you are looking for an arm pad that provides the best protection for your forearm, palm, and wrist, the Dye Paintball Performance Elbow Pads will be a smart pick.
The Dye Paintball Performance Pads are designed to protect the elbows, forearms, and palms, letting you slide, dive, crawl, and rest on your elbows without getting injured. The flexible elbow cap is designed in such a way that it cradles your elbows nicely. The inner side of the elbow joint has a slit so that when you bend your arms, there will be no pinching.
The elbow and forearm pad has a custom gel insert and extends inwards near the wrists providing additional protection. There is also an integrated slider glove with neoprene compression padding at the back of the palm for added protection during the game.
Another small detail we love about these Dye Elbow pads is that the low profile glove has two loops one for the thumb and for the small finger, to keep the gloves intact when you slide or dive.
How to Choose Paintball Elbow Pads
Padding and Protection
The first thing to consider when buying paintball elbow pads is protection. Do they have an adequate protection mechanism to protect the elbow and forearm?
Most elbow and arm pads have a hard outer layer and a second layer made with shock-absorbing memory foam or soft foam padding.
If you are a professional player who slides and dives a lot, look for a product with adequate forearm and wrist protection.
Models with a generous amount of padding are also the best for players who wear short-sleeved jerseys. On the other hand, if your jersey has good arm protection padding, then a softer and more flexible pad is ideal.
There are two types of elbow pads, one for just the elbows and arm pads that have extra padding to protect the elbow, forearm, and palm.
Fit and Comfort
Something else to consider is the fitting and how comfortable the product is. You don’t want a pad that is loose or too tight to limit the freedom of movement. Make sure you have selected the right size for your body. Remember to check what the manufacturers recommend, as most of them advise buyers to pick a size bigger.
Also, make sure the elbow pad has sufficient adjustment mechanisms either at the top, middle or bottom. Some pads don’t have straps but have an elastic reinforced seam or anti-slip silicone weave.
Apart from, arm movement, size, and plenty of ventilation look for an elbow or arm pad that has a contoured padding design or a ribbed elbow cup so that it can easily conform to your arm for maximum comfort.
The durability of these protective gear depends on the materials used and how stitching has been done. If the padding material is very hard, it’s susceptible to breaking. For the stitch quality, look at the sleeves and straps.
While the looks of a paintball arm pad have little contribution to performance, it’s something to consider. You don’t want something ugly! Pick a stylish model that is stylish and that conforms to your arm perfectly but don’t compromise on the quality. Luckily most elbow and arm pads look great.
Like with most other paintball gear, your budget will also determine the elbow and arm pad you can get. Elbow pads range from $15 to $40, while arm pads range from $20 to $90. The arm pads on the upper end are professional-grade and offer the best protection, comfort, and performance.