Modern bouldering relies on crash pads. Although early boulderers used only shoes and chalk, today’s boulder problems are harder, higher, more obscure and involve crazier landings. So, how do you protect yourself when bouldering? Have the best bouldering crash pad laid out beneath you to protect your fall.

Crash pads vary in size, thickness, stiffness and price. The type of boulders you are climbing and where you find them may dictate what type of pad you need.

Are you bouldering in Bishop, California where the landings are flat but high balls abound? Or are you bouldering in Squamish, British Columbia, where high balls are rare but the landings are rocky and uneven? Read on for tips on how to choose the best bouldering pad for you.

 

QUICK ANSWER: THE BEST BOULDERING CRASH PAD 

1. BLACK DIAMOND MONDO

2. METOLIUS MAGNUM

3. BLACK DIAMOND IMPACT

4. ORGANIC CLIMBING FULL PAD

5. ASANA HERO HIGHBALL

6. MAD ROCK MAD PAD

7. METOLIUS SESSION

8. BLACK DIAMOND DROP ZONE

9. PETZL ALTO

10. MAD ROCK R3

 

 

 

FREE BONUS! Click here to download the AJ Quick Starter Guide To Climbing

 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST BOULDERING CRASH PAD

PICTURE
CRASH PAD
BEST USE
DIMENSIONS
THICKNESS
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
CRASH PAD
BEST USE
DIMENSIONS
THICKNESS
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
Black Diamond Mondo
All Around
44 in x 65 in
5.0 in
20.5 lbs
$$$
4.2
METOLIUS MAGNUM
All Around
47 in x 70 in
4.0 in
18.7 lbs
$$$
4.3
Black Diamond Impact
All Around
39 in x 45 in
4.0 in
9.0 lbs
$$
4.5
Organic Climbing Full Pad
All Around
36 in x 48 in
4.0 in
12.0 lbs
$$
5.0
Asana Hero Highball
All Around
36 in x 48 in
4.0 in
12.0 lbs
$$
4.4
Mad Rock Mad Pad
Budget
36 in x 48 in
5.0 in
10.0 lbs
$
4.8
Metolius Session
Budget
36 in x 48 in
4.0 in
9.0 lbs
$
4.7
Black Diamond Drop Zone
Uneven Landings
41 in x 48 in
3.5 in
9.5 lbs
$$
4.6
Petzl Alto
Uneven Landings
39 in x 46 in
4.0 in
12.5 lbs
$$$
4.5
Mad Rock R3
Uneven Landings
35 in x 55 in
4.0 in
18.0 lbs
$$
4.4

 

 

BOULDERING CRASH PADS 101

 

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST BOULDERING CRASH PAD

So you’re set up with your shoes and your chalk bag is full of fresh white gold. All you need is a crash pad and you’ll be hitting the boulder fields to take down your latest proj.

But what should you consider when buying a crash pad? The foam? The pad design? It’s carrying ability? The value? A mix of all of the above?

 

1. FOLD STYLE

Crash pads unfold to provide the protected landing zone you need while bouldering. Pads are big; they come with a variety of closure styles so you can carry them around or fit them in your car.

Usually, crash pads have one of three primary fold-up systems: Hinge, Taco and Burrito.

 

HINGE

The hinge style is the most common system out there, with a midway seam allowing the pad to fold neatly in half. Hinge pads often have stiff, sturdy foam making it a breeze to pad out your boulder problem. They are also easy to store and carry.

However, the hinge can bottom out if you land directly on the seam with a rock or other feature underneath it. Some companies do their best to reduce the chance of a pad bottoming out by incorporating a hybrid hinge design to eliminate the gutter.

 

TACO

A taco style pad has no hinge. Rather, it is a single piece of foam that you fold in half to transport. These pads better protect uneven landing zones, but are somewhat more difficult to carry around.

 

BURRITO

Like the taco style pads, burrito fold ups have no hinge. It can conform to obscure landing zone features. We recommend a solid foam burrito or taco fold up pad when bouldering over uneven, jagged landings. A burrito style pad is rolled up for transport.

 

2. THICKNESS

Crash pads are usually constructed with either 4 or 5 inches of foam inside a durable outer covering. While 4 inches is suitable for most scenarios, you might want to consider a thicker pad if you know that you’ll be climbing a lot of high balls.

Foam also breaks down and softens over time, so investing in thickness may help your pad last longer.

 

3. STIFFNESS

The stiffness of your foam becomes important depending on whether you are climbing high or low ball boulder problems. If you love climbing problems that are low to the ground, a softer pad will make your falls much more comfortable.

If you know you might be falling from high up, a stiffer foam will better protect you from bottoming out your pad.

Most crash pads are filled with several layers of foam. Polyethylene (PE) foam is closed-cell and very stiff. It provides a stable footing for landing does not distribute much of the energy produced in a fall. Polyurethane (PU) is softer, open-cell foam that is better at absorbing the shock energy from a fall.

 

4. SIZE

A standard medium pad is about 3 by 4 feet (36 in x 48 in) and will meet most of your bouldering needs especially when you are starting out. Medium pads are easy to carry, fit in most car trunks, can protect most boulder problem heights and are a great addition to other pads.

While large pads are heavier, more expensive and harder to transport, they offer better coverage with reduced risk of ankle-breaking seams between pads. If you are bouldering solo with only one pad, a large pad could be your best bet.

There are other sizes of pads on the market that are meant to complement your main medium or big pad set-up. Mini pads are great for filling gaps, using as starter pads or wiping shoes. We have not covered mini pads in this review as they will not effectively protect a fall on their own.

 

5. DURABILITY

When you’re bouldering, your crash pad is your life line. Make a quality investment.

Many pads have durable, water and abrasion resistant bases that will keep them lasting long. Most crash pads are constructed with a high denier material, meaning the outer fabric is thick and sturdy.

Durable fabric is important as you will be tossing, scraping and dragging your pad around in addition to landing on it. So, you want your pad to last.

 

bouldering crash pad must-have

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/petrflgl

 

 

BOULDERING CRASH PAD REVIEWS

BEST ALL AROUND BOULDERING CRASH PADS

 

BLACK DIAMOND MONDO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Large size pad for good landing coverage, high balls

DIMENSIONS: 44 inch by 65 inch

THICKNESS: 5.0 inches

WEIGHT: 20.5 pounds

FOLD-UP: Hinge

MATERIAL DURABILITY: 600d ripstop polyester on bottom and sides

PROS: Pad made with closed-cell PE foam layup on top and high-compression PU foam on bottom, excellent coverage, thick and sturdy, easy-to-use buckles, abrasion and water resistant base and sides,

CONS: Heavy and expensive

 

 

 

METOLIUS MAGNUM

Check out the latest price on:
Backcountry

BEST FOR: Large size pad for good landing coverage, high balls

DIMENSIONS: 47 inch by 70 inch

THICKNESS: 4.0 inches

WEIGHT: 18.7 pounds

FOLD-UP: Double Hinge

MATERIAL DURABILITY: 900d body fabric

PROS: Trifold pad made with 1 inch closed-cell top layer, 2.5 inch open-cell center and 0.5 inch closed-cell base layer, rug for cleaning shoes, angled hinge to eliminate gutters

CONS: Expensive, heavy, buckles somewhat difficult to tighten and loosen, harder to pack

 

 

 

BLACK DIAMOND IMPACT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Medium size pad, low ball to medium height problems

DIMENSIONS: 39 inch by 45 inch

THICKNESS: 4.0 inches

WEIGHT: 9.0 pounds

FOLD-UP: Hinge

MATERIAL DURABILITY: 600d ripstop polyester on bottom and sides

PROS: Semi-stiff and sturdy pads made with closed-cell PE foam layup on top and high-compression PU foam on bottom, lightweight, comfortable for falls from low to medium heights, easy-to-use buckles

CONS: Expensive for a medium pad, hinge fold is not ideal for rocky or uneven landings

 

 

 

ORGANIC CLIMBING FULL PAD

Check out the latest price on:
Organic Climbing

BEST FOR: Medium size pad, low balls and high balls

DIMENSIONS: 36 inch by 48 inch

THICKNESS: 4.0 inches

WEIGHT: 12.0 pounds

FOLD-UP: Hinge

MATERIAL DURABILITY: 1050d ballistics shell with 1000d Cordura landing zone

PROS: Industry standard for medium pads, functional and sturdy with 1″ hard foam and 3″ soft foam, creative and aesthetic designs that are customizable, long straps enable carrying multiple pads together if necessary, great customer service, USA made

CONS: Somewhat expensive for a medium pad, hinge fold is not ideal for rocky or uneven landings

 

 

 

ASANA HERO HIGH BALL

Check out the latest price on:
Asana Climbing

BEST FOR: Medium size pad, low balls and high balls

DIMENSIONS: 36 inch by 48 inch

THICKNESS: 4.0 inches

WEIGHT: 12.0 pounds

FOLD-UP: Hinge

MATERIAL DURABILITY: 1000d nylon bottom and side flap

PROS: Pad foam is 1 inch of closed cell, 2 inches of open cell, 1 inch of closed cell, comes with adjustable suspension and three carry handles, customizable colors, hybrid hinge design eliminates gutter, USA made

CONS: Expensive for a medium pad, foam combination is somewhat soft, stored items can fall from pad due to poor closure

 

 

 

BEST BUDGET BOULDERING CRASH PADS

MAD ROCK MAD PAD

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Medium size pad, high balls

DIMENSIONS: 36 inch by 48 inch

THICKNESS: 5.0 inches

WEIGHT: 10.0 pounds

FOLD-UP: Hinge

MATERIAL DURABILITY: Unknown

PROS: Inexpensive, sturdy construction of 1 inch closed-cell, 3 inch open cell and 1 inch closed-cell, thick and durable foam to protect high falls, rug for cleaning shoes, turns into a chair for when hanging out at camp, velcro straps can combine additional crash pads

CONS: Hard landing for short falls, five inch stiff foam creates dangerous ankle-rolling edges

 

 

 

METOLIUS SESSION

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Medium size pad, low balls and high balls

DIMENSIONS: 36 inch by 48 inch

THICKNESS: 4.0 inches

WEIGHT: 9.0 pounds

FOLD-UP: Hinge

MATERIAL DURABILITY: 900d poly outer fabric

PROS: Inexpensive, lightweight, angled hinge to eliminate the gutters, rug for cleaning shoes

CONS: Small packed gear can fall out the bottom, buckles somewhat difficult to tighten and loosen

 

 

 

 

BEST BOULDERING CRASH PADS FOR UNEVEN LANDINGS

BLACK DIAMOND DROP ZONE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Medium size pad, low balls with bad landings

DIMENSIONS: 41 inch by 48 inch

THICKNESS: 3.5 inches

WEIGHT: 9.5 pounds

FOLD-UP: Taco

MATERIAL DURABILITY: 1000d nylon on top and sides

PROS: Waterproof rubberized backing, very dense and sturdy made of 1 inch closed-cell PE foam on top and 2.5 inch high-compression PU foam on the bottom, no gap in foam on uneven surfaces, great for packing heavy loads, easy-to-use buckles, good coverage for a medium sized pad

CONS: Foam is thin, so despite stiffness it will have reduced longevity, no sternum strap

 

 

 

PETZL ALTO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Medium size pad, low balls with bad landings

DIMENSIONS: 39 inch by 46 inch

THICKNESS: 4.0 inches

WEIGHT: 12.5 pounds

FOLD-UP: Taco

MATERIAL DURABILITY: high-strength Cordura ballistic fabric with waterproofing

PROS: Made from triple-layer PE and PU foam of different densities, no gap in foam on uneven surfaces, zippered flap closure covers the carrying system, turns into a chair for when hanging out at camp

CONS: Zipper style closure can get gummed up with chalk and dirt in time, does not pack heavy gear well

 

 

 

MAD ROCK R3

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Medium size pad, low balls or high balls with bad landings

DIMENSIONS: 35 inch by 55 inch

THICKNESS: 4.0 inches

WEIGHT: 18.0 pounds

FOLD-UP: Burrito

MATERIAL DURABILITY: 1680d nylon shell construction

PROS: Inexpensive, innovative baffle design, great for covering up tricky landings, baffles filled with recycled foam, no gap in foam on uneven surfaces, great for packing heavy loads, large coverage for a medium pad

CONS: Heavy, sharp rocks can cause the baffle seams to bottom out in some landing zones

Best Bouldering Crash Pad - Rock Climbing Tips for Beginners – Rock Climbing Workouts and Exercises to Improve Your Training – Bouldering and Climbing Articles

About The Author

Climbing Junkie

Kim is an all-around climbing addict. She’s been pulling down on rock and plastic for 12 years and has travelled all around North America to climb. Her favourite disciplines are sport climbing and bouldering, but you may find her plugging gear as well. When not away on climbing roadies with her husband, she is based just outside the granite wonderland of Squamish in British Columbia, Canada.

Related Posts

21 Shares
Pin8
Share4
Tweet9
Flip

LOOKING FOR AN EPIC GIFT FOR CLIMBERS?