Shred Ready Tsunami Elbow Pads
Size Tested: One size fits all
Reviewer Info: 5’10”, 175 pounds
Reviewer’s Forearm Length: 13”
Reviewer’s Forearm Circumference: 12″
Days Tested: 30+
Locations Tested: Eagle and Mosier Sections of the Beaver, the Raquette, and the Bottom Moose, NY; Gulf Hagas, Sandy Stream, Smalls Falls, East Branch of the Piscataquis River, Cathance River, Orbiton Stream, Canada Falls, Bull Branch of the Sunday River, and the Carrabasset River S-Turns, ME
When the going gets steep, shallow, and rocky, I like to protect my elbows. The Shred Ready Tsunami elbow pads are well-built, comfortable, reasonably priced, and have definitely saved my elbows from some solid hits.
The elbow pads are made up of two hard plastic sections with ~1cm thick, comfortable interior foam padding. One section cups the elbow while the other wraps around the forearm. Two large elastic straps with velcro tabs on the ends criss-cross from one section to the other over your inner forearm, letting you tighten and secure the pad on your arm—at least in theory. (More on this in a bit.)
The padding wraps ¾ of the way around my forearm, while the remaining gap is bridged by a stretchy piece of fabric that, depending on your forearm size, should help hold the pad in place. However, this piece of fabric stretched out quickly and now just keeps the pads from falling off my arms completely when the velcro straps fail.
The pads are somewhat bulky, but they don’t hinder my paddling or prevent me from bending my arm. And the pads’ bulk adds protection that I appreciate when I nail my elbow against a rock.
The Tsunami pads work really well when they’re properly placed, and have definitely saved me from some potentially painful elbow bashings.
Most kayaking elbow pads have a hard outer plastic shell, a feature I like. I think this hard plastic protects you better from super hard hits than just foam padding would. (For example, the Immersion Research Swellbow pads, which retail for $29.95, don’t have a hard layer.) The foam lining of the Tsunami pads then cushions the blow.
That said, at least on my arms, these pads don’t always stay in place…
If I was using these pads for, say, rollerblading, I think they’d likely stay in place. However, when rocks and water are added to the equation, the pads have a tendency to move.
When I flip over and roll or even punch through a large hole, the elbow pads will usually move around. They either slide down my arm, or the velcro comes undone completely so that they slide and the elbow section flaps around, fully exposing my elbow. They only thing keeping them on my arm at that point is the piece of fabric that bridges the gap in the forearm section—if I went swimming or let go of my paddle, the pads would probably come off.
I should note that this problem is not unique to the Tsunami. Blister reviewer David Spiegel noted a similar problem with his SixSixOne Comp Elbow Guards—these had a tendency to slip on his arm, especially when he was wearing a dry top or hydroskin. And I’ve heard my friends who wear the NRS elbow pads (pricier at $56.95) frequently complain that those pads slide down because the straps, which are made from adjustable elastic—not velcro—don’t stay tight.
While the Tsunami pads don’t slide nearly as much when I’m wearing thick layers, they definitely do still move when I’m in a drysuit. And as David noticed with the SixSixOne pads, the Tsunami sticks better to bare skin than it does to a thin, slick dry top or a hydroskin.
I think the Tsunamis have a tendency to move partly because of their bulk, which as I mentioned before, can be a nice feature. The elbow cup extends past my elbow when my arm is fully bent so that water catches it and pushes the pads around.
Despite the fact that the Tsumani pads have a tendency to slide, they actually fit me pretty well—I don’t feel like my arms are swimming in them or that the pads aren’t covering enough of my elbow. I do think that a smaller person might have even more trouble keeping them in place though, since the rigid plastic shells don’t conform to your body. I have a friend with smaller arms who also uses the SixSixOne Comp Elbow Guards, which she loves partly because she can buy them in a small.
I do find that I’m unable to tighten the straps as much as I would like. If there were more velcro on the strap or if the straps were a little shorter, this might be less of a problem. I find that while paddling, I frequently need to slide the elbow section back into place.
It’s too bad that the Tsunamis don’t stay put, because they provide good protection when they are in the right place, and they come at an affordable price.
They’re certainly better than no elbow padding and, as I said before, they have definitely saved me from some bruising. But the last thing you want to do when you roll up in the middle of a sketchy rapid is strap your elbow pads on again.
In the future, I’d be inclined to buy a more streamlined, sleeve-like design such as the Level 6 Amour Alls that secures to my arm better and won’t flop around even if it slides a bit.