Bouldering is a climbing sport that doesn’t require any ropes or harnesses. There are only a few things you need to start: special climbing shoes, chalk, and a crash pad.
A bouldering crash pad’s purpose is to ensure your safety should there be any mishap like failing to have a secure foothold which could result in accidental falls.
Crash pads have one thing in common – they are all made up of foams. With that, the best crash pad you should be seeking is the crash pad that possesses and transcends all of the features listed in this article.
More importantly, you’ll find our thorough reviews quite helpful. Have a look and take your pick!
Top 5 Best Crash Pad Review
The following crash pads featured in this article all have their unique characteristics and their capabilities.
It’s time to gauge whether they’re the best match for you with their detailed pros and cons.
Mad Pad is one of the least expensive crash pads out there. As such, this is best recommended for beginners like you.
For newbies, it’s best to start with medium/standard size crash pads and later upgrade to the larger versions when you’ve become more absorbed to bouldering.
In Mad Pad’s case, it’s a great crash pad because it’s considered as one of the thickest and stiffest foam despite its price.
Mad Pad is only available in one size which is the standard 3 x 4 feet. However, it makes up with its characteristics you don’t want to miss. This crash pad is highly versatile because it’s a hinged type. It means that you can convert it into a chair for lounging because it folds neatly at the center.
We consider the Mad Pad to be the stiffest pad among the pads on the same price range. It measures 5 inches of foam padding for enhanced shock absorption and ‘boosts’ confidence on highballs.
The Mad Pad makes use of both open cell and closed cell foam types. The closed cell PE foam is located at the top to disperse the impact of your fall towards the softer open cell foam at the bottom.
This crash pad does what it’s supposed to do. However, due to its stiffness and thickness, it takes a long time to break in.
Falling in short distances can be very painful. One reason why it’s considered to be one of the stiffest foams around because of its two consecutive close cell foam layering.
Turning the crash pad upside down makes it more forgiving as the softer open cell foam is now on top.
However, beware of the big crease on its middle wherein the foot can find itself inwards. This alternative solution is only applicable for short falls, though.
Mad Pad has a shiny top material that is easy to clean with just a damp cloth. Because of this, converting the crash pad into a comfortable chair for lounging doesn’t have any problems.
One of the cool features of this crash pad is the abundance of handles and buckles for easy transporting and your safety.
Vital areas such as shoulders, chest, and hips, have strong handles and buckles. It also has Velcro attachments on its sides to let you link it to other Mad Rock crash pads. This provides you a greater landing area.
The R3 is one of those crash pads we recommend to cater most bouldering applications.
This crash pad makes use of durable materials which you can rely on for lowball falls.
Though it’s not really designed for high landings, this is the crash pad you can use in areas with uneven landings.
The R3 stands for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle which pertains to the foam used to make up this crash pad. The foam used is recycled EVA/PU foam which is normally collected for disposal.
Mad Rock shredded the foam into small pieces and compressed them to the seven baffles of the crash pad. The separated baffles are necessary to keep the shredded foam compact.
Another advantage is the easy conforming of the pad to uneven landing zones than other pads of the same size.
As a result, this medium-sized foam feels squishy, flexible, and dense. It shall provide great cushioning for low to medium falls.
If you feel that the R3’s foam doesn’t provide the original cushioning after long-time usage, Mad Rock offers replacement foam to extend the crash pad’s longevity.
Because the manufacturing costs are greatly reduced due to the use of recycled foam, the Mad Rock makes up with the high-quality 1680 denier nylon shell construction which is said to be the most durable material to be used on crash pads. Thus, this is the best crash pad for covering rocks or for use in uneven terrain.
One thing that can be noted upon using this pad is its heaviness. Compared to the other standard-size crash pads, R3 is heavier by a few pounds.
It’s already said that the R3 is great for low to medium falls. As for the highball falls, we tested the crash pad to be below average for its size.
We suspected the softness of the foam to be the main cause as it can cause ankle rolling for people who are lighter.
The R3 has all the necessary straps to easily transport the pad. There is also an extra handle strap located between the shoulder straps for easy hauling.
Furthermore, daisy chain webbing is found all over the back of the crash pad which makes it easy and quick for attachments and adjustments.
The R3’s orange flap/tarp is a good addition so that you can attach it to another side of the pad when it’s folded. The space in between gives ample storage for your gear.
The flap/tarp also protects the area where your back is when the pad is folded from a muddy and dirty environment.
If you’re more into larger crash pads, you’d better be prepared to spend extra dollars! Metolius Magnum is one of the best choices among the huge-sized crash pads.
It’s an all-rounder bouldering mat to meet your desired results. Of course, thanks to its size, you can sleep comfortably on it.
This crash pad features a tri-fold design. The hinges are angled to maximize the padding and to protect you from unexpected sharp pokes from the uneven terrain.
Despite its design, this crash pad collapses effortlessly to the ground in a matter of seconds.
The foam composition consists of the following: 1-inch closed cell (top layer), 2.5-inch open cell (center), and 0.5-inch closed cell (base). This sandwich foam design is specially engineered to maximize the impact absorption from different falls.
Other features for Magnum includes the use of durable body fabric, cross-clipper logo rug for cleaning shoes, and the closure flap that reverses to cover the should straps.
The straps used are made of nylon webbings which are very durable and long lasting. Magnum also has long-term aluminum buckles for the folding of the pad.
As already indicated, not only is this crash pad’s size massive, its weight is also massive. The shoulder straps make it easier to transport the pad on your back. However, you will feel a bit off balance from carrying this from time to time.
Also, getting past from vegetation to reach your designated boulder can be a pain though because the massive size gets caught with tree branches and tall plants.
You can store your gear and other necessities in this crash pad. It has a few pockets to cater small items. But don’t forget to remove them before positioning it to the ground!
Metolius Session is one of those budget-friendly medium-sized crash pads on the market today.
Though it belongs to the lower price range end, this crash pad has certain features which make it comparable to other expensive models by other manufacturers.
In fact, Session is an improved version of the old Metolius Bailout. It also shares similar features with the ever-popular Metolius Boss Hogg.
Session is a hinge type crash pad with its hinge angled. The angled hinge protects you from the protrusions caused by hard and sharp rock formations which may found themselves into the gap.
Moreover, the angled hinge is covered by a 1-inch extra layer of foam for extra protection.
Like the Metolius Magnum, this crash pad incorporates a sandwich foam layering design to maximize the shock absorption of the pad. On the top layer, there’s the 1-inch closed cell followed by 3-inch open cell foam layer and 0.5-inch closed cell bottom layer.
Session has the same features with Magnum crash pad. It makes use of tough exterior fabric with a carpeted logo to wipe off your shoes clean. It also has the flap closure system with stash pocket wherein you can secure your small items.
And lastly, Session has the necessary strappings and aluminum buckles which are long lasting.
Session is already a great entry-level crash pad with some minor drawbacks. One of those is the lack of handle straps at both sides when the pad is folded. Dragging the crash pad from one location to another would be kind of cumbersome.
Perhaps the main advantage of Session over other similar-sized crash pad is its lightness. It only weighs 9 lbs. and you won’t have any problems with carrying and transporting the pad.
5 Skil-Care Crash Pad – Jumbo Foam Mat For Kids
Of course, a crash pad’s purpose is not restricted to bouldering. It can also be used for lounging, sleeping, or any other indoor activities.
This crash pad is specifically designed for kids so you may want to buy your children one of these for extra fun in your living rooms and playrooms.
This crash pad has a measurement of 5 by 5 feet. It can fit any corner of the room if you’d like. The foam used is soft and squishy but can withstand bouncing.
This means that this crash pad wouldn’t bottom into the hard bottom surface. The inside is all made up of impact-absorbing high-density polyurethane foam blocks.
The nylon cover is available in different colors. Cleaning with just a damp cloth and sanitizer is easy. If it suits your circumstances, you remove the cover and wash it with soap and water solution.
As already indicated in this review, this crash pad is not for intense bouldering. The foam composition wouldn’t handle falls from high elevations.
This crash pad helps with your child’s vestibular and proprioceptive senses. It can handle extreme playing and other physical activities of a child.
You can also choose from the medium (3 x 4 feet) and large (5 x 5 feet) versions.
Crash Pad Buying Guide
Although they may look the same in your eyes as just foam mattresses, their compositions are individually unique. So are their characteristics and purposes.
At the very least, the best crash pad we recommend is something that you won’t only use to shoulder your impact from landing. There are good crash pads out there where you can hang out, put stuff, and sleep.
1. Foam quality
Manufacturers based on the three factors to come up with crash pads that differ from one another. These are the foam type, foam composition, and foam thickness. The first factor is segregated into open cell, closed cell, and memory foam.
Open cell type uses polyurethane foam while the closed cell type uses polyethylene foam in layers. The closed cell type dissipates the force of impact because of its thick and stiff layering. In fact, it’s better to be used for long falls rather than short falls. It will also last longer.
However, some manufacturers don’t stick to a single foam type for their crash pads. They can freely combine them to have the desired applications such as having the stiff foam on one side and softer foam type on another side.
In this way, you just have to flip the crash pad to suit you.
One thing to remember in selecting the foam is to be careful around ultra-soft crash pads.
The cushioning is springy, and a person falling from a tall height will bottom out the pad. It might also cause you to bounce back and hit a hard area outside your crash pad.
Crash pads can either be medium (3 x 4 feet) or large (4 x 6 feet). In choosing the size, you will have to consider if transporting the crash pad would be easy by foot and on your vehicle.
Also, the larger the size, the more expensive the crash pad would be. So, for starters, we recommend that you start with the medium size if your storage space and money aren’t that much.
Large crash pads provide a large landing area and more recommended as you get more into bouldering. On the other hand, standard size bouldering pads may have smaller landing area, but they are lighter, cheaper, and versatile.
The design of a crash pad can be divided into two main categories: hinged and taco. The hinged design has a foamless seam at its center for easy folding. It folds neatly on even ground and doesn’t get picked up by the wind.
However, its major disadvantage is more pronounced when the hinge is on an uneven terrain. In this case, it’s best to avoid placing the unprotected hinged area on sharp rocks for your safety. Another downside is it doesn’t have a large carrying capacity.
The taco style of folding the crash pad doesn’t have any seam or unpadded area. It’s a one piece solid foam which is folded over itself – just like a taco. It provides great coverage and protection on uneven terrain. It also has more carrying capacity for your extra gear and items.
The downside of the taco style is it doesn’t stay flat when it’s folded. It can also be hard to fold when it’s made up of stiff foam material.
4. Buckles and Straps
A great crash pad has handles for easy carrying when you’re walking towards your bouldering area.
Another great purpose for handles is to pull the large crash pad over in short distances rather than exert more effort by carrying it from one distance to another. This is especially true when you’re positioning the crash pad to the best possible landing position.
The placement and the material used are important to consider. Vital areas such as the shoulders and the waist should have buckles/straps for carrying the crash pad on your back.
For easy transferring in short distances, there should be a durable strap located at the folding point of the pad.
The best crash pad is the pad that you can rely on from short to high falls. Their prices differ from the size, foam composition, brand, and many others.
Through our brief guidelines and reviews on some of the crash pads worthy of your attention, we hope that we have shared enough knowledge to help you jumpstart your bouldering experience.