Not long ago, I was asked by a newbie in my climbing class about the best bouldering crash pads. Obligated, I started enumerating to him the most popular bouldering crash pads in the market today. I also gave him a checklist of the factors he must consider when choosing a crash pad.
Of course, a crash pad is a cushioning foam pad that you can utilize to cushion your fall in bouldering. Its name explains what it is for. It is a pad that lets you safely crash. You would usually put it under you so that your body will be protected from the hard surface or protruding objects on the ground when you fall.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Crash Pad
Given the myriad of crash pads in the market today, you can get confused about which one to choose for your climbing needs. Thus when choosing a crash pad, it will be best to look at the following factors to consider when buying a crash pad:
Crash pads come in sizes of small, medium, and large sizes. Each size, of course, has a different purpose. Yet, generally speaking, climbers use the small pads called sliders to cover up cracks or edges. On the other hand, many crash pads users go for the medium-size pads because of their portability. The large-sized pads, however, are used for higher fall.
If portability isn’t an issue, I would recommend bringing a large size crash mat with you. However, due to the large pads’ size and heavier weight, it is always not practical to carry large crash mats.
When choosing a crash pad, always go for an excellent foam. A superb foam should be soft enough to catch you while cushioning well the impact of your fall. Moreover, it should stay firm for a long time. Crashing pads feature a variety of foams. Yet, it will help if you choose a crash mat with high density while remaining thick enough for cushioning your fall.
You will find that most pads come in a mixture of foams. They come in 2 to 3 layers of foams as if like a sandwich. The outside layer comes with a denser foam, while the inner layer comes with softer foam.
The hard outer foam is usually referred to as closed-cell foam. This type of foam is denser and can distribute weight across the pad. Without this layer, the pad becomes useless, for you may still feel the floor’s impact without this layer. We refer to this occurrence as bottoming out. The softer foam can absorb the fall’s crash. This open cell foam lets air inside, which enables it to cushion your fall.
You would also need to decide on whether you want a pad with a hinge or none. You can go for an uninterrupted pad or split in the middle for easy folding and storage. Moreover, you can go for one with a taco hinge that is also a complete pad. Yet, it is more challenging to store because it doesn’t have a split hinge.
Another factor is the extras that come with your pads. Extras, however, vary from one pad to another. These extras include pockets, small mats for wiping shoes, and other features that you may like. Moreover, it should come with durable outer material to protect the foam.
Other factors that you must consider include portability and thickness. It should be around four inches thick or more. Moreover, it will be useful to know the thickness guidelines when choosing a pad.
You can always get away when falling with 2 to 3 inches of foam thickness if you fall from three feet above. However, if you fall from three feet or more, you will need a four-inch-thick pad. If you fall from over six feet, then you will need 5-inch thick or more.
Recommended Bouldering Crash Pads for Beginners
Aside from being cognizant of the essential factors to consider when choosing a crashing pad, it will also be useful to know the following most recommended bouldering crash pads for beginners in the market today:
Mad Rock Mad Pad
If you are looking for the most popular crashing pads, you should consider the Mad Pad by Mad Rock. It features an excellent crashing pad with decent foam and great portability. It also comes with a carry system that makes for greater portability.
The Mad Pad is the right choice if you are on a budget. It comes in different colors with straps that let you transform it into a couch while keeping it flat. Moreover, it comes with velcro inside its hinge to prevent a gutter. Its velcro on its long edges let you connect it with other Mad Rock pads. If you are a beginner, the Mad Pad is an excellent option for you.
Metolius Session II Crash Pad
The Metolius Session II Crash Pad is a mid-sized pad that features a very durable fabric with cool patterns. It also comes with an excellent carry system with buckles. Moreover, it features three layers of foam, made of a high-density soy-based, open-cell for its lower layer, rubber for its middle layer, and memory foam for its top layer.
Metolius Session II Crash Pad also comes with a hinge with a little extra padding for stopping gutter problems. It also features top-notch stitching and materials. You can also order a replacement foam directly from the company.
It comes with tough exterior fabric that could withstand regular outdoor usage. It also features a carpeted logo for wiping your shoes clean. Moreover, it features padded shoulder straps for ease of carrying. Plus, it comes with a waist belt.
Black Diamond Drop Zone Crash Pad
The Black Diamond Drop Zone Crash Pad features an enhanced closed-cell PE foam on top and a high-compression PU foam on its bottom. It also features a taco-style fold for a more expansive landing surface. Moreover, it comes with a quick-closure elastic mesh flap, which you can secure using easy-hooking buckles.
The Black Diamond Pad also comes with shoulder straps, two side grab handles, and a waist belt. It also features a 600D Ripstop polyester (PU-coated) on its up and bottom sides for water and abrasion resistance. This pad is a lightweight pad that offers heavyweight performance.
Metolius Short Stop
The Metolius Short Stop is a closed-cell foam that covers the gaps while offering extra protection. It is very lightweight. Moreover, it is a handy gap-filler and can act as a buffer-boosting backup when used with a regular crash pad.
It comes in dimensions of 36 by 23 by 0.75 inches. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to use this pad alone, but it is perfect for slipping it under or over your main pad for added cushioning and peace of mind.
Informed of the essential factors to consider when choosing a bouldering crash pad, you are now better positioned to make a wise purchase of crashing pads. Additionally, if you know the most recommended crash pads in the market today, you can choose with ease the right crash pads for your needs.
After reading this post, I hope you can breeze through the choosing process for the right bouldering crash pads. With the suitable crashing pads at your disposal, you can assuage any type of fall, from craggy falls to groomed landings.