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Clothing & Outfits

Best Crash Pads For Bouldering In 2021 – Reviews & Guide

We use crash pads or bouldering mats not only for protection, but for just lying down to read a book or watch Netflix on a relaxing day.  Since they don’t come so cheap, if you’re planning to get one for yourself, you need to know which one might suit your individual needs and preferences most.

This is where we come in. We reviewing a number of crash pads that today’s market has to offer and finalized the most extraordinary ones right here. This is your chance to make a good investment that’ll serve you for years.

We use crash pads or bouldering mats not only for protection, but for just lying down to read a book or watch Netflix on a relaxing day.  Since they don’t come so cheap, if you’re planning to get one for yourself, you need to know which one might suit your individual needs and preferences most.

This is where we come in. We reviewing a number of crash pads that today’s market has to offer and finalized the most extraordinary ones right here. This is your chance to make a good investment that’ll serve you for years.

10 Best Crash Pads For Bouldering Reviews

01 Milliard Sensory Pad (Best Overall)

Milliard Sensory Pad

The Milliard Sensory Pad fits the top spot on our list, boasting a large surface area, soft foam, and easy to clean cover. The pad features foam blocks that make it useful for adults and kids that want a safe place to crash or a comfortable foam piece for reading or relaxing. Once you fall on it, the foam blocks release air through the four mesh vents to provide a cushion. You’ll appreciate how quickly it expands back to its original shape even after sitting on it for hours.

This pad is made with high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship to ensure you enjoy it for years. That said, it comes with an inner waterproof cover that you can easily wipe clean. The outer velvet cover is soft and you can quickly remove it to wash – no need to worry about a spill. We noticed the outer cover might degrade too soon if you keep it for hours under the Sun and we recommend that you don’t use it outdoors.

The Milliard Pad is big and measures at 5 feet x 5 feet, and with a thickness of 3 inches, it will be super comfy for your kids. It’s pretty easy to set up. Yes, it comes in a plastic wrapping, so when you release, it inflates itself and expands. This unit weighs around 30 to 32 pounds, so it’s a little too heavy for your young ones to move.

This Milliard crash mat features a zipper that extends to its three sides and prevents the foam from popping out during use. This zipper also allows you to pull off the cover to clean easily. This pad is tested and found to have low VOC and free of harmful metals.

Specifications

  • Thickness: 3 inches
  • Dimensions: 5 x 5 feet
  • Weight: 30 – 32 pounds
  • Closure: Zipper

Pros

  • Good size
  • Super durable
  • Includes a velvet cover
  • Removable and machine washable cover
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Inflates quickly

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Not suitable for high boulders

Our Verdict

The many positive reviews of this bouldering crash pad speak for itself. Luckily, it comes at a low-range price, making it an ideal for those looking for a pocket-friendly option. This Milliard pad was pretty comfy to lay, and we loved the removable softcover. Hence, we recommended it for every home, especially if you have kids with sensory issues.

02 Metolius Session II Crash Pad (Also Great)

Metolius Session II Crash Pad

Session II is a high-quality crash pad, but what’s most impressive is it’s the cheapest on our list. We like its flap closure system that makes it easier to fold and carry on your back. Besides, the bottom and side flaps connect to one buckle for quick adjustment and secure hold.

The session II features a sturdy outer fabric that can withstand regular use outdoors. It also has a carpet section for you to get a clean shoe wipe before you climb. This unit is lightweight and weighs only 9 pounds. So, with the padded shoulder and waist straps, you will have no problem carrying it.

What’s more, it has three specialized handles that make it easy to drag when unfolded. When opened, this unit measures about 4 x 3 feet, so it’s a little smaller than our top pick, but with a padding of 3 inches, you’re guaranteed a safe landing. The angled fold design reduces the possibility of injuries after hitting the gap. However, it’s outer cover is non-removable though pretty easy to clean.

Specifications

  • Size: 4 x 3 feet
  • Thickness: 3 inches
  • Weight: 9 pounds
  • Closure system: Flap
  • Fold Type: Angled Hinge

Pros

  • Durable exterior fabric
  • Shoulder straps and waist belt
  • Foldable design
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Suitable for outdoors

Cons

  • Non-replaceable cover

Our Verdict

For the price, this is the right pad for beginners and experienced climbers to add to their growing collections. It folds easily for transport, and the handles make it less hard to drag. Though it was a little firmer than our top pick, you should only use it for small boulders.

03 IncStores Landing Mats (Versatile choice)

IncStores Landing Mats

For those looking for a crash pad that can handle diverse tasks, this one is for you. Everything about this IncStores Landing Mats is fantastic, especially its solid build. It’s available in different sizes, which determines its price. But the smallest measures at 4 x 8 feet, so it’ll cover the right amount of area. Again, the foam is 8 inches thick that means you’ll find it suitable for any height.

This IncStores Pad features a crosslink Polyethylene foam, which is stiff but offers resistance against mold and mildew. So, it’s durable and provides adequate protection for high falls. The foam is in a vinyl fabric that doesn’t tear when dragged against rugged surfaces. The vinyl cover has a zipper, which allows for quick washing or replacement.

Air escapes through the mesh at the sides when compressed and therefore improves its ability to absorb shock. You’ll appreciate the handles whenever you want to carry. But it’s worth noting that this unit is heavy, making it hard to carry over a long distance. We liked its excellent stitches, and it met our expectations for durability.

Specifications

  • Size: 4 x 8 feet
  • Weight: 46 pounds
  • Thickness: 8 inches
  • Closure: Zipper
  • Cover Material: Vinyl

Pros

  • Mold and Mildew resistant
  • Vinyl fabric
  • Replaceable cover
  • Durable design
  • Good shock absorption
  • Available in different sizes

Cons

  • Large and heavy

Our Verdict

This IncStore model is for rock climbers who want a pad that covers a wide area and can withstand high falls. It’s well-made, but you also pay extra for the quality.

04 Metolius Magnum Crash Pad

Metolius Magnum Crash Pad

Another highly sought after option, the Magnum Crash Pad, is a little larger and thicker than the Session II version, making it a reliable choice for those who want to climb a little higher. Besides, the pad is large enough for you to feel safe, but you can quickly fold to walk through the woods. The burly fabric is pretty durable, and the handle, waist, and shoulder straps make for comfortable carrying.

With a thickness of 4 inches and the sandwich foam design, you’re guaranteed an excellent absorption for falls. As commonly found in other Metolius models, the angle cut hinges eliminate the possibility of getting an ankle injury during a fall.

Luckily, this unit has an external pocket to store personal belongings. Again, you keep your shoes and climbing suit in the large inner compartment and still feel comfortable.

Specifications

  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Item size: 4 x 6 feet
  • Thickness: 4 inches
  • Foam Type: Close-cell

Pros

  • Built-in carpet for shoe wipe
  • Low cost
  • Easy to fold
  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Angled fold
  • External pocket

Cons

  • Relatively large

Our Verdict

This crash pad performs fantastically per durability and impact absorption. The Magnum version is large and easy to fold, making it suitable for experienced and beginner climbers. It might cost a little more than our top pick, but you get what you pay.

05 Metolius Recon Crash Pad

Metolius Recon Crash Pad

The Metolius Recon has a trifold design that doesn’t only make it durable but more comfortable to store and transport. It can cover about 5.5 feet area, which is enough space to drop without risk of injuries. Besides, it’s big enough for you to rest on after climbing.

The 900D fabric is also durable and can withstand any weather condition, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a suitable crash mat for outdoor use. We used it for a few years without any sign of wear and tear.

Though the foam’s quality was impressive, it felt a little soft, making it less suitable for high falls. On the other hand, we liked how the hinge system helped to prevent rocks and other objects from hurting. Like our previous Metoilus choices, this one also came with the carpeted logo, which provided an excellent space for cleaning our feet.

Specifications

  • Size: 5.5sqft
  • Design: Tri-fold
  • Thickness: 4 inches
  • Closure: flap

Pros

  • Aluminum side clips for secure fold
  • Durable foam
  • 5.5 square feet provides more landing area
  • Excellent cushioning
  • Tri-fold design

Cons

  • Rounded corners

Our Verdict

This is an excellent crash pad, especially for its size and ease of folding. Overall, it comes at a low-cost, and we’re confident it will work well for you.

06 Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad

Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad

The name Black Diamond rings a bell in terms of quality, and the Mondo Crash Pad isn’t an exception. Unlike the Recon Crash Pad, this version features squared edges to allow you to combine pads to increase your landing area.

It is also known as the king of highball bouldering pads because of its sturdy design. The bottom has a rubber coating for better grip, and 1000D nylon material makes it extra durable despite repeated use. You’ll appreciate its padded shoulder straps and waist belt for smooth movement.

With open dimensions of 44 x 65 inches, this unit is bulky and may not fit your car trunk. But luckily for us, the Mondo mat weighed only 8 pounds and was more comfortable to carry on the back when folded.

Specifications

  • Material: 1000D Nylon
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Open Dimensions: 44 x 65 x 5 inches
  • Closed Dimensions: 44 x 32.5 x 10 inches
  • Padding: Closed-cell foam

Pros

  • Rubber coating at the bottom
  • Lightweight
  • Quality foam layering
  • Handy drag handles

Cons

  • Large

Our Verdict

The Mondo Pad is an excellent option for climbers who want a lightweight mat with heavy-duty performance.

07 Asana Sidekick Bouldering Crash Pad

Asana Sidekick Bouldering Crash Pad

If you want a bit of flair in your bouldering, the Asana Sidekick is your ideal choice. Besides the attractive look, this pad uses a 1000D nylon cover known for its super longevity and water-resistance. Moreover, it has a compact construction that makes it more suitable as a supplemental pad, but you can still use it for small climbs.

The Asana Sidekick pad has a trimmed design as the manufacturer removed the flaps and shoulder strap paddings to make pairing more comfortable to pair with other mats. We loved foam’s soft feel, but it didn’t provide enough cushioning for highball crash.

Specifications

  • Size: 48 x 36 inches
  • Thickness: 4 inches
  • Material cover: 1000D nylon

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Supplemental pad
  • Durable cover
  • Foldable
  • Trimmed design
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Relatively small

Our Verdict

Overall, this is an impressive mat for the money. It’s stylish, lightweight, and portable. So, for boulders who want a simple and eye-catching pad, the Asana Sidekick version is the right option.

08 PETZL Alto Crash Pad

PETZL Alto Crash Pad

The Alto Crash Pad has a no hinge design for ultimate protection when you fall. Luckily, it has three foam layers of varying densities to soften your fall, allowing you to build enough confidence to drop from any height.

It’s a little heavy but also easier to transport, thanks to its zippered closure system and wide shoulder straps. Besides, the zippered flap provides secure storage space for your valuables while you’re up.

What’s more, this unit has a waterproof cover, so wiping off dirt won’t be an issue. The seemingly weak fabric’s parts are also reinforced to make it long-lasting. That said, you’ll appreciate the orange color as it will make you the center of attraction among other boulders.

However, we recommend you pair it with other pads to increase your landing area.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 118 x 100 x 10 cm
  • Folded dimensions: 65 x 100 x 25 cm
  • Closure system: Zippered
  • Color: Orange/black

Pros

  • Adjustable straps
  • Side handles
  • Zippered closure
  • Excellent protection
  • 3-layer foam structure
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Should be paired with other pads

Our Verdict

This unit will make a great addition to your climbing expedition and is a perfect option for anyone looking for a reliable hinge less pad.

09 Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad

Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad

With its unique design, the R3 allows you to set up your pad on some of the most uneven surfaces. Of course, the foam design has seven sections that will enable it to balance on the ground to provide a well-cushioned landing point. Use it over holes in pads or fold to keep your gear. It has flaps that cover the straps to prevent dirt when you keep it on the ground.

What’s more, the R3 measures at 35 x 55 x 4 inches, and covers a broader area compared to most models in its price range. The use of tiny closed-cell foam construction makes it more effective at shock absorption than many 4-inch thick versions. However, we recommend you only use R3 to supplement other pads because of its lumpy parts and gutters, which might create an unsafe landing zone even on flat ground.

Weighing about 20 pounds, the R3 is a little heavy compared to its size, but that’s because of the high-grade 1680D polyester cover. Besides portability, another exciting feature in this unit is you can replace the foam and use it for many years.

Specifications

  • Size: 35 x 55 inches
  • Thickness: 4 inches
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Cover Material: 1680D polyester

Pros

  • Durable outer cover
  • Replaceable EVA foam
  • Easily conforms to uneven grounds
  • More pad for the money
  • Large surface area
  • Fully adjustable and padded straps

Cons

  • Heavy

Our Verdict

Finally, this is an excellent pad for any beginner boulder as it molds itself to any rock and uneven surface, creating a much safer landing zone. The pad caught our eyes for the price and build-quality. For its sturdy fabric, we believe it’ll make a fantastic mat for rock climbing.

10 Mad Rock Mad Pad

Mad Rock Mad Pad

The Mad Pad is an excellent choice for new and experienced boulders looking for a cheap second pad. Everything about this unit is reliable, and with the three by five feet surface coverage, it is suitable for almost any height. The foam’s thickness is around 5 inches, and that’s one of the thickest we’ve listed, so you’re guaranteed a safe landing. Besides, the foam is stiff, so use it as a standalone pad or supportive cushion for high falls.

The Mad Pad has flat sides and Velcro flaps that make it easy for you to attach other crash mats to create a larger landing zone. Most importantly, this model has a specialized design that allows you to turn it to a chair.

The outside material is vinyl, which is scratch-resistant and still provides a soft feel. However, the Mad Pad doesn’t have pockets for your items, and straps aren’t adjustable either.

Specifications

  • Open dimensions: 24 x 36 x 10 inches
  • Closed dimensions: 48 x 36 x 5 inches
  • Weight: 13.78 pounds
  • Outer material: Vinyl

Pros

  • Very thick
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Pocket-friendly
  • Suitable for high falls

Cons

  • No pockets

Our Verdict

Great quality pad for the price and one of the best for high falls. You can easily make a chair with it. Moreover, since the foam is stiff and durable, expect it to offer enough protection when you land.

Best Crash Pads For Bouldering – Buying Guide

1. Durability

Your crash mat’s cover could tear when dragged between uneven surfaces and jagged terrain. You should pick one with a durable cover material (not less than 900 deniers) and can withstand severe abuse. Our reviewed pads have quality construction, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

2. Crash Pad Types

Size is one of the most crucial factors for the quality of protection a bouldering pad offers. Thus, we’ve outlined them into four types: regular, full, oversized, and supplemental.

  • Regular

Around 4 inches thick and with an unfolded size of 35 x 40 inches, regular pads are perfect for beginner boulders who are on a budget. Since they’re smaller, you can always carry them as a second pad.

  • Full

Full pads cover area surface between 13 to 20 feet. They have unfolded dimensions of 34 x 45 x 5 inches and are in the medium category, and we consider them to be the standard design for everyone.

  • Oversized

Oversized pads cover larger areas and are most suitable for flatter landings. With a size of about 48 x 60 inches and more, they offer more reliable protection for 40 feet heights. However, they’re pricier and more massive than other crash pad types.

  • Supplemental

Sometimes you need an extra inch of thickness to feel protected; hence, a backup pad comes handy. These types come in a variety of sizes for you to easily use with other boulders. Supplemental pads function as a surface leveler and help keep your feet clean when bouldering in muddy terrain.

3. Materials and Craftsmanship

The original upholstery for bouldering crash pads is nylon and velvet. Many climbers prefer velvet materials because they feel more comfortable and useful for cleaning of the feet.

The crash pad receives a lot of blows from the frequent falls, so you should find one with heavy-duty construction, quality finish, and durable buckles. You should always be wary of the pad’s foam and outer layer. For better durability and resistance to weather, pick those with hardcovers; they won’t offer a soft feel.

4. Fold Styles

Most crash pads have collapsible designs for more comfortable transport, but the joint is their weakest part. Manufacturers like to use different hinge designs to make it more convenient for users. So, below are the main fold types available today.

  • Hinge

The hinge connects two separate pads to create a single fabric joint for you to fold with ease. This design prevents the need to compress any foam part when you fold, making it more durable and portable. However, a hinged pad has a gutter between the foam pieces, and that could lead to injuries if you fall on uneven terrain. So, if your landing area is flat, you can buy a hinged pad; and avoid it if rugged.

  • Angled Hinge 

As the name implies, angled pads have their foam pieces joined at a given angle. So, when you fold, the foam’s top part covers the bottom’s, and the base goes under, solving the gutter problem.

  • Hybrid Hinge

Hybrid hinge pads, on the other hand, has a thin foam layer over the whole gap. They may not close well, and the foam may not last when you fold repeatedly. Hence, we don’t recommend keeping them folded.

  • Taco

Unlike other hinge types, taco pads have no gutter, offering a safer surface for you to land. However, the foam’s compressed part will lose its foam over time and might not provide the needed protection when you fall. Besides, taco pads are hard to fold, and since they’re made of softer foam, you might avoid it when you’re much higher off the ground.

5. Weight

Most crash pads weigh around 10 to 20 pounds based on their size and thickness. Your ideal pad’s mass is dependent on your bouldering style. For instance, you should select a crash pad that suits your walk distance and climbing height. But you should also be mindful of your safety and comfort.

6. Portability

The best bouldering crash pad should be comfortable to carry over a distance and easy to load and offload from your vehicle. For this reason, look for those with top and side handles for an easy grab. Furthermore, the straps should be adjustable to give a snug fit and good quality, so you wouldn’t worry about them breaking off during your move.

7. Foam Thickness and Stiffness

The foam’s thickness offers protection when you fall; so, look for models with padding between 3.5 to 5 inches. A soft pad feels comfortable when you sit but isn’t perfect when you drop into it. A thick or stiff mat is safer when you land but feels too hard. While looking for your ideal foam density, remember that the higher your height of fall, the thicker the pad you need.

8. Foam Types

Crashpad foams are categorized as open-cell and closed-cell depending on their layering style.

  • Open-cell Foam

This one is soft and has loose cells for free airflow. An Open-cell foam releases air when compressed to provide a cushion.

  • Closed-cell foam

Stiffer and rigid foam that’s sealed to air and doesn’t deform under impact.

9. Closure Systems

The size and fold type determine your crash pad’s closure systems: buckle, flap, and zipper.

  • Buckle

The buckle is the most common harness system for boulder crash pads. You can find them on the pad’s side, top, and bottom areas. Most buckle closures on this list are secure and easy to use, but they don’t provide safe rooms for you to store other items.

  • Flap

Flap closures are mostly preferred because they offer a secure covering and allow you to keep items inside. Moreover, you can unfold the flaps to serve as a mat for wiping your feet.

  • Zipper

The zipper compresses the foam better than any other mechanism and provides a secure compartment for your items, eliminating any threats of them falling out. However, they’re less durable and prone to failure.

10. Organization

In addition to your crash pad, you’ll likely carry other belongings like phone, ID, climbing suit, shoes, etc.; so, their storage and ease of transportation is worth considering. You should select units with enough compartments for you to stuff in your items without having fears.

11.Budget

The crash pads on our list cost between $150 to $1000. Of course, you already know that the brand, material, thickness, and size affect their price. While this is something you should consider before making your order, we already picked a range of affordable prices for both beginners and advanced boulders looking for crash mats to boost their confidence.

Crash pads Maintenance Tips

For boulders, a crash pad is one of the most expensive pieces of gear to buy, so to avoid making unnecessary spending, we’ve outlined tips on how to keep your pad useable for many years.

  • Use a damp cloth to clean off the dirt from your pad and allow the moisture to dry before you store it
  • Repair any torn out part of the cover immediately to prevent water and dirt from getting to the foam
  • If possible, avoid dragging your pad across rocky surfaces
  • Don’t store your crash pad when compressed or under heavy objects to prevent it from losing form
  • Keep it away from excessive heat or sun’s UV rays that could harm the foam’s structure
  • Store all hinged crash pads in an unfolded position to prevent wear and tear to the foam

Tips for safer landing on crash pads

Below are ways you can land safely on your mat.

  • Fall Zone Matters

Make a careful study of the boulder’s base (where you’ll land after the fall) and completely cover these areas.

  • Check for gaps

Gaps between pads can be a potential source of injury to climbers, but you can avoid this. Remember that pads could shift as people move around or sit on them. So ensure they are together before landing. You can also opt for those with Velcro straps, which allow you to attach them and prevent gaps.

  • Create an even landing surface

Walk around and test your landing area to ensure it is even. If the ground is uneven because of rocks or holes, place a thicker pad over the hole or remove the stones.

  • Higher boulders, more pads

For higher boulders, you need to reduce the fall’s impact by building up pads.

  • Follow safe spotting practices.

Your job as a spotter is to safely ensure the falling climber lands on the crash mat you created. You should compel your climber to be on the look for you. Then, step out one foot to be more stable and stretch your hands to hold the climber at the hips, guiding her to land first on the feet. Try to prevent the falling climber from hitting any nearby wood or rock. Finally, where a climber falls from her back, do your best to protect her head from landing off the pads.

It’s Time to Wrap Up

Bouldering can be fun-filled and satisfying if you use the right protective gear, and that includes a crash mat. So, you’ve read our best crash pads reviews and now should know all about them. Again, whether you prefer outdoor or indoor bouldering, you should have found your most suitable option.

Pads are different in many ways, and even those from the same manufacturer can produce varying results. Therefore, you should always focus on the pad’s portability, weight, size, closure type, and carrying system before making your order.

Whatever crash mat you pick, our reviewed choices have excellent quality and offer the best protection when you fall. So, feel free to choose one today.

FAQs

1. How do crash pads work?

Ans. Crash mats are used to cover the ground to provide a cushion when the climber falls. As a rule of thumb, always look for one with good quality to reduce the impact of your fall.

2. Why are crash pads so expensive? 

Ans. The cost of the closed-cell foam is high, and that makes the rock climbing crash mat expensive.

3. Can you sleep on a crash pad?

Ans. Most crash pads for high falls are stiff and wouldn’t feel comfortable when you lay on it. But it doesn’t mean you won’t sleep on the soft types.

4. Can crash pads get wet?

Ans. The pad might still get wet if exposed to the rain.

5. How many crash pads do I need for bouldering?

Ans. If the boulder is high, the impact will also be hard despite landing on a flat surface. So, you can enhance the pad’s cushioning by layering two to three mats. However, you should take extra care with stacking because the gaps can make you less stable.

6. How do you carry multiple crash pads?

Ans.  You can carry one pad and hang the second pad over the first using the rucksack straps. You can slot in a third into the inside of your main mat.

7. How thick should a crash pad be?

Ans. Crash mats’ thickness varies between 2 to 24 inches, but your boulder height and weight determine what you need. That said, an 8-inch-thick pad should be ideal for everyone.

8. How safe is bouldering?

Ans. Bouldering is safer than any other form of climbing, but only if you use the right landing zone.

9. What are crash pads made of?

Ans. Crash mat’s inside are made of foam, and the outer layer has a fabric cover. It’s also equipped with straps or handles for ease of carrying.

10. Is bouldering a good workout?

Ans. Yes. Bouldering is a useful exercise and would strengthen your leg, back, shoulder, hand, and thigh muscles.

About the author

John Russel

A Climbing Specialist

Rock climbing is as thrilling as it gets as you climb high up the sky-high mountains. The story behind my becoming a climbing expert is simple yet full of romantic events and glorious achievements. I’ve undergone climbing adventures at least four times a year over the course of past two decades. Apart from the magnificence and perils of climbing, I took another job as part of my adventurous spirits. I keep notes of my feelings that change once a while. Whatever you read in my posts is based on my true climbing events. I hope you would enjoy!

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