Yesterday I talked about a new padding technology from Unequal Technologies called EXO Skeleton. I got a bunch of emails and facebook messages about it and at least one of our readers went ahead and bought some without me even doing a full review! For more photos and info on the pads, check out my post from yesterday. But have no fear, because the reviews are coming, and after messing around with the product for the better part of 2 days, I’m thinking the reviews are going to be pretty darn positive. I started off by using the Kevlar infused material to make a set of arm pads. From scratch. At home.
I figured if I could make a pair of arm pads out of sheets of material, and they actually worked, then the technology would definitely pass the lacrosse test. I’m a tinkerer and I’m doing this at home with scissors, a drill and some rigged up engineering. Now imagine what a lacrosse manufacturer has to work with, and how much more they know about padding. We’re talking major protective padding evolution here.
I wanted to base my arm pad off of the old foam dipped in rubber pads that I grew up with. For their time, these pads were great as they covered much of the arm, were light, and flexible. Their design was very simple with an upper arm pad and a lower arm pad that were both attached to an elbow area pad. There was a little overlap, and although the pads didn’t go around the entire arm, the part they did cover was well protected.
The first impovement that came to mind was to step up from simple rectangular pads, and move on towards padding that wrapped almost the entire arm. The flexible Repelversion of the padding made it easy to wrap my entire forearm in padding if I had wanted, but I cut it back a little to leave the inside of the arm a little more open. I then fitted the lower arm pad by cutting holes in it and lacing it up much like a lacrosse stick using sidewall lace. I repeated the process for the upper arm pad, but made the piece a little larger, since the upper arm is a little larger than the lower.
For the elbow pad, I used a piece of the Egis padding, which is SUPER protective. I had to use a drill to get through the blast shield, but this made nice perfect holes for when I strung it together. I used a piece of sidewall string to pull the pad into a U-shape, and it wrapped around my elbow nicely. I then drilled two holes on the top and bottom of the pad, and used more sidewall string to tie the lower pad to the elbow, and the upper pad to the elbow.
I now had a 3 piece arm pad. But when I put it on, it didn’t feel right. At first I thought it was my second evolution from the LAP pad, where I placed the elbow pad OUTSIDE the arm pads…
But then I realized my arm was too constricted by the lacing I had used to secure the padding. When my arm moved and flexed, the sidewall had no give to it, and I could feel it cutting off circulation. So I went out in search of small gauge bugee cord, but couldn’t find any. So instead, I bought up all the long hair bands I could and decided to give them a shot.
I pulled out all of the string (except where it was used to connect the lower and upper arm pads to the elbow pad), and began replacing it with these long, stretchy hairbands. The hair bands came in all sorts of colors, so I definitely got a rainbow warrior effect going on with the pads now, but I think it looks pretty cool personally.
The pads are flexible, comfortable, and for a first run, pretty damn awesome! I’m going to actually use them in a game either this week or this weekend, and I’ll be sure to report back with more information. I’m also going to try to make another pair of arm pads, but I can promise you, the second attempt will be MUCH more adventurous!
I did put the pads on for a while and just wear them, and even went so far as to hit myself with one of lacrosse sticks. it felt as good as any other pads I’d ever worn, so that is definitely a good sign. The padding is rubber against the skin, so they don’t slip at all, but they also don’t breathe much. But when the lacrosse manufacturers start to use this stuff, that will be much less of a concern, because they know how to vent gloves and arm pads much better than I do! For now, I’m just proud I made something that actually works! The look is still a little rough, but I’m still impressed with the technology!