I am continually impressed with the durability of these pads. After two full seasons of riding at least four days a week from May to October, they are still in excellent shape. There are some minor signs of wear—some of the air venting holes on the back of the pads have stretched a little bit—but overall these pads have not stretched very much at all.
Because the Fox Launch Pro pads slip on, I almost never have to adjust the straps, which preserves their elasticity and keeps the Velcro in excellent shape. In comparison, the elastic straps on my 661 4X4s stretched to the point that they were not use able anymore. With the Fox pads, I’ve only had to tighten the Velcro straps slightly over time, and that has kept the pads fitting perfectly.
Every few months I throw them in the washing machine, using the normal warm cycle, and then use a dryer to dry them. I don’t know whether this is recommended, but I have had no issues washing the pads in this manner.
Fox Launch Pro vs. Fox Launch Knee/Shin vs. Fox Launch Pro Knee/Shin
Before I purchased these pads, I was using the Fox Launch Knee/Shin pads with hard plastic protection. I liked those pads, but decided I did not need shin protection—I have not slipped a pedal since I started using 5.10 Impact shoes years ago. And after two years of wearing just the knee pads, I still have not suffered any major shin impacts. I also prefer to have more of my leg uncovered. The minute I started descending with the just knee pads and felt the cool air hitting my shins, I knew I would never wear shin protection again. Aside from that, I also think the knee pads look better than the knee/shin combo.
But the Fox Launch Knee/Shin pads are still a great option if you are just getting into the sport. My only gripe with them is that the top of the pad did not stay flush with my skin when my knee was bent. If you fall face first and drag your knees across the ground, they will literally scoop dirt and rocks into your knees. So in this regard, I feel like the knee pads offer much better knee protection than the knee/shin combo. But I can tell you from experience that if you take a direct hit, the hard plastic will protect your knees.
I have also tried Fox’s newest offering: the Launch Pro Knee/Shin pad. While these pads are great in theory (basically Fox added some shin protection to an already great knee pad), they did not stay in place and constantly slid down my leg, which severely compromised their comfort and effectiveness.
The one negative of the Fox Launch Pro Knee pads compared to the other two options is that you have to take your shoes off to put them on, but I don’t see this as a major issue. Plus, once they’re on, you do not have to adjust the Velcro straps. This “set it and forget it” system keeps the Velcro closures from wearing out; after two years of use, the Velcro is still in perfect shape. When I’m hanging out before or after a ride, I just slide the pads down off my knees and just let them sit loose on my shins. This allows my knees to breathe a little and any sweat on the pads to dry out.
As a person who is very critical of my riding gear, I can recommend these pads for any experienced rider, with no hesitation. I love the subtle styling, fit, and performance. The Fox Launch Pro pads are also well priced and will pay for themselves the first time you put them to the test with a crash.