Shin protectors for mountain bikers
Shin protectors are extremely essential for downhill, freeride or single trail rides on demanding terrain. Thanks to their special materials they absorb most of the impact energy in case of an accident. Moreover, shin protectors prevent painful cuts and laceration, wounds, which unfortunately are pretty common in mountain biking. For high speed purposes especially, a comprehensive safety equipment is recommended, since falls happen pretty frequently in this case.
Back protectors, gloves and knee pads are part of the basic gear. They are completed with shin protectors, ankle protection and robust MTB shoes. Downhill helmets and protective eyewear are mandatory anyways. Even though, the protective clothing for all mountain or enduro rides is lighter than for downhill rides, it definitely makes sense to wear lightweight shin protectors anyways. Many mountain bikers carry their knee and shin protectors in their backpack until they reach the top, and only put them on once they are ready to drive off.
Soft or Hard version: Shin guards for every purpose
Generally, two designs of shin guards are available for mountain biking. The much heavier and more robust version is a guard with hard shell. Usually, this model is also made in a combination with knee pads. Their perfect fitting is advantageous and prevents any slipping or twisting. This combination is also available for shin guards without additional hard shell.
Hard shell protectors especially make sense for downhill rides. Usually, they are more robust and long lasting. However, their breathability is not as good as that of soft guards without hard shell. Moreover, hard shell protectors are much heavier. Shin guards that are not connected to knee pads, are obviously also available as soft or hard shell versions. In their case as well, a decision between durability, protection, fitting and breathability has to be made.