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All About Advanced Protective Padding - d3o, VPD, Poron, etc.

by Jim Bartlett June 15, 2016

Advanced Protective Materials like d3o, VPD, and Poron - What Does It All Mean?

Most sports protective gear uses some sort of EVA foam (ethylene vinyl acetate) to cushion knee pads, elbow pads, and body armor. These EVA foam pads are used in different configurations, such as separate large pads; small, specially shaped pads; or articulated thermal-formed pads, in order to get around the structural limitations of the EVA foam. The padding is soft and cushiony, but can frequently bend or crush when you move. Some manufacturers use composites such as d3o, VPD, or Poron to get around this problem. These are all advanced materials designed to provide superior impact absorption as well as high performance and comfort. What makes these materials different from regular EVA foam and from each other?

What is d3o and Why Is It in My Knee Pads and Gloves?

  • What is d3o?

    d3o is a shock-absorbing compound made of advanced "smart" molecules that are soft and pliable until they suffer impact. Upon impact, the d3o compound stiffens dramatically to absorb much more of the blunt force than standard athletic foam padding.
  • What gear uses d3o?

    One of the things that makes d3o so unique is its pliability and flexibility. The compound was born out of the 2006 Winter Olympics, in which the British-based d3o Company provided protective-wear solutions to the US and Canadian ski teams. You'll find it in equipment made by Troy Lee Designs and SixSixOne
  • What should I know about d3o?

    According to the manufacturer, d3o does not "go hard," but remains soft over time. The material is designed to return to its original form after repeated compression, thus gear with d3o can recover from multiple impacts. However, the company notes that in cases of extreme force, the ability to recover fully may be compromised. The typical life expectancy of a d3o material is 2-3 years, depending on how much compression/impact the material has endured and how it is cared for and stored. As with any gear, closely inspect it after a major impact/crash.

VPD (Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough) - POC's own material

  • What is it?

    VPD (Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough) was developed by Swedish protective gear manufacturer POC as a body armor technology. The material does feel somewhat dough-like. It's also highly dampening. Upon impact, the VPD immediately stiffens and absorbs the majority of the energy from the impact. VPD meets the motorcycle safety standard, CE 1621.
  • What gear uses VPD?

    VPD was developed by POC, thus you’ll find it exclusively in POC body armor, pads, and shorts. Among the gear that features VPD: POC Spine VPD Vest, POC Joint VPD Knee and Elbow Pads, POC VPD Padded Bike Shorts and Padded Ski Shorts, and POC VPD 2.0 Body Armor Jacket. You can find POC armor with VPD in our collection of POC armor.
  • What should I know about VPD?

    VPD is soft and comfortable and adapts to create an individual fit for every user. It offers a high degree of flexibility and is very tear resistant. VPD armor and pads are designed to be worn close to the body—the VPD is most flexible and pliable when it is warm. For this reason, POC recommends that you do not expose it to prolonged cold conditions, such as leaving it in a cold car or wearing it outside ski or snowboard clothes.

Poron - another advanced material in protective gear

  • What is Poron?

    Poron is a high-performance urethane cushioning material made by the Rogers Corporation. Poron is available in a wide range of colors, thicknesses, densities, and surface textures to suit various applications. You’ll generally find Poron XRD in protective gear because it's designed to offer the best repeated shock absorption of any protective foam. Upon impact, Poron XRD is designed to instantaneously create a protective shield to absorb the impact.
  • What gear uses Poron?

    G-Form knee pads and elbow pads incorporate Poron XRD with their proprietary RPT™ Reactive Protection Technology. Their composite blend of Poron XRD and G-Form materials, along with G-Form's distinctive design, forms a rate-dependent impact protection pad that flexes comfortably while you're in motion.
  • What should I know about Poron?

    Poron urethanes are made without plasticizers, which means that the material will not shrink, become brittle, or crack with age. Poron is designed to remain soft and flexible. Moreover, the company claims that it has the best repeated shock absorption of any high performance protection foam for extreme applications. Impact force dissipates and is distributed over a larger area, resulting in lower stress to the wearer. Poron XRD is also designed to be effective even in thin layers, thus gear with Poron XRD can be quite flexible and comfortable, offering a wide range of movement.

d3o, VPD, and Poron - no matter what you call it, it's advanced protective material designed to protect you better

Whether you are mountain biking, snowboarding, skiing, racing BMX, longboarding, or just looking for more advanced protection without the weight and bulk of traditional pads, look for safety gear with this type of pad technology inside.

View Equipment that uses Advanced Protective Materials

Tap these examples to view a full range of products that use d30, VPD and Poron

Uses d30 Uses VPD Uses Poron

Learn More About: Body Armor Learn More About: Elbow Pads Learn More About: Gloves Learn More About: How to Choose Guides Learn More About: Knee Pads Learn More About: Padded Shorts Learn More About: Technology

Jim Bartlett
Jim Bartlett


Founder of XSportsProtective, snowboarder, mountain biker, father of four young kids who love action sports.

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