Many changes to operational clothing and equipment came out of the British Army’s experiences in the War on Terror. One change was the almost universal adoption of knee pads on operations, and frequently during exercises in the UK as well. The ground in Afghanistan and Iraq was often very rough indeed and patrols would frequently need to drop to one knee to scan the terrain. The rough nature of the terrain made doing this repeatedly very painful and it was decided that padded knee and elbow pads should be introduced in line with other countries’ modern infantry units. The basic British knee pads are made of a padded cup, covered in DDPM fabric:They are secured with a pair of elasticated tabs with a piece of ‘hook’ Velcro on the end of each:These are passed around the arm or leg and the ends attached to the loop portion of the Velcro on the front of each pad:The inside of the pad has a black non-slip fabric that was designed to prevent them from sliding out of position too easily (it does not work particularly effectively):A single label is sewn into the rear of each pad with stores information:The issue knee pads were often criticised for slipping down and moving round in combat. One user though found a workable solution:
In Afghan I found that the standard issued knee pads worked well. The trick to do with the tabbing I found was to just wear one (on which ever knee you favour) and have it loose so it sits around your ankle whilst walking/running/tabbing. It only take a second to pull up to your knee and if you can’t waste a second then it won’t matter as you’ll have far more important things to worry about.
Photographs of these soft issue knee pads in service are hard to find, as most soldiers replaced them with commercial designs, I have managed to find this image though of them being worn by a soldier from the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan in 2008:These soft pads have since been replaced in service and a variety of knee pads produced by companies such as Blackhawk are more common today. They are not a bad design, there are just better designs out there that replaced them and these pads can be found from under £5 a pair in the collector’s market.