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D30 Knee Pads by Musto

The secret to unparalleled impact resistance? Silly Putty.

March 29, 2011
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What’s the magical substance that gives Musto’s D30 knee pads superior impact resistance?

Silly Putty, of course! Well, not quite. But close. Like Silly Putty, D30 is a dilatant compound, a silicone-based polymer with a soft, elastic feel. Upon impact with a hard surface, D30’s “intelligent molecules” lock up, forming a chemical matrix that distributes energy, reducing the effect of the blow. By the time Musto introduced the technology to sailors last year, D30 had already proven its effectiveness in protective gear for military, motorsports, and contact sports applications.

Courtesy Musto

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Musto’s D30 knee pads deliver a new level of impact resistance, thanks to a silicone-based polymer with “intelligent molecules.”

The D30 material incorporated within the Kevlar pocket of Musto’s knee pads is relatively thin—not more than 1/4-inch thick—and extremely flexible. When I slipped the knee pads on for the first time at the Sperry Top-Sider San Diego NOOD, where I crewed aboard Luke Sayer’s Catalina 36 Sea Q, I could hardly feel the padding. And, to be honest, as I scrambled around the deck during the first few races, I didn’t feel a whole lot of cushion between my kneecaps and the unforgiving fiberglass. The knee pads were comfortable—barely noticable, actually. And, due to a grippy texture lining the elastic cuffs, they didn’t slip down over my ankles. But they didn’t seem to be softening the impact much at all.

Courtesy Musto
According to www.d30.com, “The functionality of the raw material originates from the synergistic effects of the polymer based dilatants. Energy is distributed throughout the synthetic elastomeric polymer and the enhanced chemistry continues to distribute energy on throughout the matrix, significantly reducing the effect of impact.”

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The wind was up for Day 2, and I pawned the knee pads off on our bowman, Atlee Hitchcock. In the wind and waves off Point Loma—the kind of conditions that’ll turn a bowman black and blue—Hitchcock had a wild ride wrestling with the whisker pole. When he returned the knee pads at the end of the day, he was impressed with their performance. “At first, I didn’t notice the padding,” said Hitchcock. “But they definitely kept my knees protected from the normal bumps and bruises. You just don’t get that cushy feel you get with other pads.”

If I had my doubts about D30 after taking my turn with the knee pads, all it took was two races not wearing them to convince me of the technology’s effectiveness. When I took off my bibs after that blustery day of sailing—a day I spent bouncing around Sea Q‘s cockpit like a kernel of popcorn—my knees showed all sorts of ugly colors, and they were tender to the touch.

Musto’s Amy Smith directed me toward this video comparing D30 with other impact-resistant technologies. Ever since I watching the lab footage, I can’t help but picture my kneecaps in place of those shattered subway tiles. (Also, why does that scientist guy keep writing on the camera lens?)

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Musto D30 Knee Pads, €49.00 (approx. $68), www.musto.com

(APS sells them for $55, and has reviewed the product for its Stern Scoop blog.)

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