Review: Leatt 3DF Soft Armor

I’ve been riding mountain bikes for many years and along the way have shed many tears… yeah, mountain biking is a dangerous sport.

In an effort to balance protection, heat management, and integration with other gear, Leatt has created the 3DF soft armor series. Depending on the level of protection you require, Leatt provides a full-on body protector, a vest, or back protection only. Brand new knee and elbow guards are also available. All the new 3DF gear is CE certified to EN-1621-2 / 1 standard, which is good to know when you’re about to meet the earth at high velocity (sans bike).


I opted to integrate the 3DF body vest and separate elbow and knee guards into my kit. I chose this option because I will be using mostly 3/4 length shirts, making the elbows visible.

The 3DF is a top-tier vest that is fully constructed from MoistureCool fabric that wicks away sweat and heat, keeping you that much cooler. The chest, side, and back impact points are made from layers of 3DF foam. What makes things interesting is how the 3DF foam works. Upon impact, the foam deflects and absorbs the energy from the impact, and then quickly returns back to its original shape in order to absorb the next impact. What sets the 3DF padding apart is that the faster the event, the faster return reaction takes place.

Another factor that really got me excited about the 3DF vest is the ability to customize the thickness of the front pad to fit my Leatt brace, which I never ride downhill without. The back of the vest has a removable pad for those riders who use a Leatt brace.

When using the vest, I quickly realized how easy this piece of equipment is to put on and use. It integrates the Leatt Brace perfectly once the back pad is removed.

An added feature that can be easily overlooked is the small brace hoops that hold the brace in place. These are a much better alternative to using the straps that come standard with a Leatt. Just slip them on the brace hoops just below the red tabs and you’re done.

The vest has a simple full-length zip with a little folded flap that prevents the zip from pinching your skin, giving you a compression shirt feel. Following Leatt’s recommendations, I used the vest with nothing underneath, giving me maximum cooling. Personally, I found the shirt very comfortable.

Knee and Elbow Guards

Speaking of comfort, I also found just as much comfort with the 3DF knee and elbow pads. The key to these pads was the lightweight, unobtrusive feel. Both the knee and elbow pads felt comfortable and stayed in place.

The guards use a silicon-backed version of the Moisture Cool fabric also found on the 3DF Vest. The elbow guard is a straight slip-on version, while the knee uses a single strap just above your knee to keep things in place. Both the knee and elbow guards use a low-profile 3DF pad covered in tough abrasion-resistant aramid fiber. All the guards are clearly marked left and right to avoid any confusion when putting them on.

General Impressions

Out on the trail, I was pleased to find that both elbow and knee guards fit snugly without a hint of movement. The combination of the shaped 3DF cup, silicon back stretch fabric, and strap (on the knee pads) keeps everything in place, even when hitting big jumps. A welcome feature on the knee pad was the added padding along the sides for an extra bit of protection for the patella and surrounding soft tissue.

Over all, I was impressed with the level of integration across all of their products that Leatt provides: all their gear fits very well with together. When using the 3DF gear, I found that after no time at all I almost forgot that I had the damn pads on. More than once I found that I forgot to remove my pads for the drive home–that’s how comfortable this gear really is! Just remember to try before you buy to get the perfect fit.

Elbow Guards MSRP: $49.

Knee Guards MSRP: $59.

Vest MSRP: $149.

Body Protector MSRP: $199.

Many thanks to Leatt for sending the gear down for review.