Best Bouldering Crash Pads of 2018

How to buy a crash pad? Which crash pads are more preferable? Can’t I just use a mattress instead of the crash pad?

These are normal questions that pop up, especially in case of beginners before buying a crash pad. Anybody who is into bouldering knows the importance of crash pads, as it is vital to climbing safety.

It is a rectangular or square pad infused with dual density foam to provide protection when bouldering. They soften the landing and some of the mats even convert into a chair for you to sit and relax.

These days most pads on the market use a combination of closed and open cell foam. It is always preferable not to buy used pads as there is no surety about the quality and the conditions they’ve been kept in.

Components need to be considered before you make a purchase

A lot of components need to be considered before you make a purchase. Let’s take a look at them:

  1. Folding– There are basically three styles of crash pad styles: taco, hinge or new baffled.
    a) Hinge– These crash pads are two pieces of foam held together by a thin piece of the outer fabric. They are more compact mat as it has a distinct fold line. They fold nicely and lay the flattest on flat ground. Angle hinge, hybrid hinge are various iterations of hinge pads over the yeas. However, they are not preferable for uneven terrains.
    b) Taco-style– In these mats, full mat area is padded with no dead spots. They are perfect for uneven terrains, as there are no hinges for rocks to get in. The taco mats are a pain to fold, as they can’t lay flat.
    c) New Baffled– Only the Mad Rock R3 crash pad features this style. Environment-friendly, they are made up of a couple of tubes of recycled material and has hinges. The best part about them is that they lay flat and conform according to the type of landing. The feature many partial hinges and are heavier than most pads.
  2. Material– There are two materials in a crash pad; the cover comprises of the outside material of the crash pad and the foam is the inside filling of the pad. Hard covers are more durable while soft covers can be used to lounge on. As far as the foam is concerned, there are Closed-cell foam, open-cell foam and memory foam. Closed- cell foam is hard and durable, while the open-cell foam is soft and not that durable. When taking long falls from taller boulders, closed-cell foam mats are perfect.
  3. Pad Height– Taller pads have more layers of foam, thus are more expensive than the shorter ones. Shorter pads can only be used for shorter falls.
  4. Budget– The quality of this most important safety gear should not be compromised for a few bucks. Pick out a crash pad that hits all your needs and fits in your budget, is not an easy task. So, be sure about what you actually need and likewise decide your budget.
  5. Storage– What kind of storage you have for crash pad also needs to be considered before making a purchase. If storage is an issue, do not go for a taco pad. Go for a taco pad, only if storage isn’t an issue.

best crash pads

If you are new to bouldering outdoors, then buying a crash pad may seem a challenging task. Amidst the plethora of mats to choose from, choosing the one you require gets more difficult.

Best Bouldering Crash Pads of 2018

To ease it out for you, we have listed some of the best bouldering crash pads of 2018. Take a look:

Mad Rock R3 Pad Crashpad

R3 stands for reduce, reuse, recycle. It is equipped with seven separate “baffles” that are filled with shredded EVA foam, which is dense and lends a soft and compact feel.

The best part about this pad is that it contains recycled EVA foam, which is usually collected and shipped for disposal. For every R3 pad purchased, 15lbs of EVA foam is being recycled/reused. So, basically, this pad not only protects your ankles but also mother Earth.

The main body is constructed out of 1680-denier polyester, which makes this pad durable enough to withstand any wear and tear. And when it’s time to replace the old foam, Mad Rock will refill your existing pad. It has also been treated with UV resistant treatment.


With its robust suspension system, you can pack a lot of gear into it comfortably. The closure flaps secure the items and prevent them from falling The baffled construction makes the pad so spacious that when it is folded in half, there is enough space to keep your items.

The shoulder straps and waist belt are well-padded, and the chest strap and the handle between the shoulder straps is really helpful when lifting the pad onto your back.

Featuring a minimalistic design and useful features, this pad does what it intends to do. The main reason behind its genuine price is that it eliminates all the useless features that increase the price.

This small and compact sized pad weighs around 17-20 lbs due to foam variance. The ground shield unfolds to protect the R3’s suspension system from dirt and moisture.

Due to its soft landing and foam with multiple hinges, this pad excels in conforming to uneven landing surfaces. It comes with limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty. For extremely high falls, its soft foam and slightly lumpy baffles are not the best choices.

Overall, this eco-conscious pad is an excellent satellite pad that can conform to any surface and handle complicate landings with ease. It is built to last and can stand up to years of constant use. Built with quality materials, this product has been reasonably priced and is a good value for money.

Mad Rock Mad Pad

This compact pad features two different high-grade polyethylene foams that allow for increased shock absorption. It is a medium size bouldering pad that features thickest and stiffest foam that can easily handle sharp rocks and edges.

The five inches of foam padding boosts the confidence on high falls. Amongst two closed cell foam layers, there is a soft open cell foam. It is one of the stiffest pad that will soften over time.

Best used for climbing, this pad weighs about 11 lbs. 8 oz. It has folded dimensions of 35.5 x 23 x 10 inches and it folds down in the center for a compact carry.


The padded shoulder straps with tough metal buckles allow for easy carrying. However, as it lacks closure flaps, Mad Pad is not recommended for carrying any extra gear, as items won’t be secured. Just use it to carry your basic essential items. It can easily cushion hard falls.

Mad Pad is available in some interesting new colours with reinforced stitching; the double stitching is to provide extra durability. With Velcro attachments on the sides, you can link multiple Mad Rock pads together to form a giant and huge pad.

The best part about this pad is that it easily converts into an oversized lounge chair, whenever you want to relax. This is a simple pad that also features the little detachable carpet square that helps in cleaning your shoes.

Overall, this is one of the most versatile pads that are available at a very low price. The thick foam is highly impressive and serves as a perfect entry-level model.

Best for all-around bouldering, this is a perfect blend of affordability and functionality. This is a great option for climbers on a budget, yet doesn’t want to compromise on quality and functionality.

Metolius Session Crash Pad

Made in the USA, this pad measures 36 in. x 48 in. x 4 inches when open, and 36 in. x 26 in. x 8 inches when closed. This versatile, do-it-all crash pad has burly 900d polyester outer fabric that is abrasion-resistant and tough enough to withstand regular outdoor use.

The carpeted, cross-clipper logo rug keeps shoes clean, and it also eliminates the need to carry an extra towel to clean your shoes.

With the weight of about 9 lbs, it features a sandwich foam design; 1” of a closed-cell top layer, 2.5″) open-cell center, and 0.5″ of a closed-cell base layer, which makes total of 4″ foam, provide the best possible impact absorption.


It has an angled hinge design that eliminates the gutter, giving you a flat surface to land on.

Featuring a simple bi-fold design, it is equipped with an elastic flap closure system that lets you keep your gear securely in place in the pad when closed. However, the closure flap can come open at the bottom in case you carry extra heavy gear. It has 12 square feet of landing space, which is amazingly enough.

The angled hinge folds flat, thereby preventing the pad from bottoming out. The padded shoulder straps make it easy to carry this pad. It also includes a waist belt. It also has burly, innovative speed-hook aluminum buckles that feature a lifetime guarantee. The custom molded carry handle makes it more convenient.

Overall, this is an easier-to-carry small pad that is highly durable and reliable. A great beginner pad, this one is bound to impress. For most bouldering sessions, this pad serves the purpose. Given the functionalities and price, this one is a great value for money.

Black Diamond Drop Zone Crash Pad

Black Diamond has been known to make quality, cutting-edge outdoor gear that is appreciated by beginners and experts alike. Black Diamond Drop Zone Crash Pad also features the same craftsmanship and quality.

This mid-sized, do-it-all pad features an improved multi-density closed-cell PE foam layup on top and the high-compression PU foam on the bottom. This premium foam setup provides for durable impact protection.  It comes with a taco-style fold design that provides for a continuous landing surface.


It is made up of polyurethane-coated 1000-denier nylon fabric on the bottom and up the sides, that is abrasion and water-resistant. The bottom fabric has been coated with rubber to provide for a better grip on slippery surfaces.

The best part about taco style is that it gives you a clean and continuous surface for any variable landings.

To keep your gear inside the pad, this pad features quick-closure elastic mesh flap with an easy-hooking buckle that keeps the pad closed and your items secure. The padded shoulder straps and waist-belt and two side grab handle allow for easy and quick pad shuffling when spotting.

It weighs around 9 lbs. 8 oz. and has a standard 48″ length. The center lift handle between the shoulder straps on top of the suspension system is one of the vital items, which many crash pads lack.

This lightweight pad with a large surface area is a great bouldering pad. The grippy waterproof backing and easy to use hooks are all eye-catchers. Drop Zone is one of the best taco-style pads that can handle low or high falls on flat ground or sharp zones.

Overall, this excellent all-around pad, equipped with some amazing features is a great value for money. Though bit pricey, but it’s still worth it.

Petzl Alto Crash Pad

Equipped with so many features, Petzl Alto Crash Pad is one of its kinds. Truly amazing, this pad speaks quality. All the problems from previous crashpad designs have been significantly engineered and corrected by Petzl.

Featuring an innovative design, this pad comes with a 4″ triple-layer foam assembly of different densities specifically developed by Petzl to provide better cushioning.

It comes with a soft 3″ layer of open-cell PU foam on top and a dual density of 1″ piece of high-quality closed-cell PE foam on the bottom.

To ensure uniform cushioning over the entire surface, it comes with the one-piece hingeless design. It features waterproof, ultra-durable fabric, reinforced in exposed areas to provide protection.


The Petzl’s patented folding system, i.e. a zippered flap closure covers the carrying system. It not only provides greater protection but also creates a storage space. This quality pad features a sleek look that is eye-catching.

Using a crashpad as a backpack is not that convenient because you end up losing something from the bottom of the pad. To counter this issue, this pad has a durable zipper along three sides, which eventually turns this pad into a backpack with a permanent top-opening.

Petzl added chair-convertible straps that convert this pad into a chair for use around a campfire. After a tiring day of bouldering, who doesn’t want a relaxing chair.

It folds up well for transport and storage. It features easily adjustable shoulder, waist and chest straps with solid metal buckles that are easy to use.

The adjustable bandolier allows for quick transport between boulders. The multiple handles are extremely helpful for carrying the open crash pad and the handles on the side even allow you to carry the crash pad by hand when it is closed.

The zipper flap closure system doubles as the suspension system coverage flap when in pad mode. Its zippers are truly amazing. The zipper cover flaps over the other side and protects the suspension system from getting dirty or wet, a feature that is extremely useful in a normal routine and in rainy weathers.

Overall, this crashpad offers excellent protection for bouldering falls. From entry to expert level bouldering and made with highest quality materials, the crash pad totally justifies its expensive price tag. If you don’t mind spending a few more bucks for some extra handy features and quality, then this product is perfect for you.

Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad

This mega-sized highball pad features a super-durable construction with an improved closed-cell PE foam layup on top and high-compression PU foam on the bottom. With more than twelve square feet of landing space, this pad is perfect for handling the tallest climbs.

The exterior has been made out of an extremely durable 1000d nylon that adds to the lifespan of the product. The top has been treated with a PU coating for water-resistant and abrasive protection, and the bottom has an EPO treatment for waterproof protection, and a rubber coated fabric that eliminates slippage and provides better grip.


The Hinge-style fold provides compact and easy transport. It features padded shoulder straps and a waist belt that adds to the comfort. Four corner grab handles and two stowable shoulder webbings provide easy pad shuffling.

It weighs around 20 lbs. 6 oz., is 5″ thick and folds down small for easy travel. The three-strap closure with easy hooking metal buckles keeps the items secure and makes the bag easy to carry. Due to its huge size, it works alone as a standalone pad and is easily manageable.

There are no straps for attachment, thus carrying the second pad can be difficult. It is a medium durable pad and won’t survive wholly in areas with sharp rocky landings. It comes with one year of manufacturers warranty.

Overall, this high-quality pad features an expensive price tag, but given its features and all-around functionality, it is totally worth the purchase. It is highly recommended for experienced boulderers who are willing to spend a large amount of money.

Comparison Table of Best Bouldering Crash Pads of 2018

Below-mentioned table filters out some the important features for you to make a better choice:

 

Basis Weight Material Folding
Mad Rock R3 17-20 lbs Polyester Baffled
Mad Rock Mad Pad 11 lbs. 8 oz Nylon Hinge
Metolius Session 9 lbs Polyester Hinge
Black Diamond Drop Zone 9 lbs. 8 oz Nylon  Taco-style
Petzl Alto 12 lbs Cordura ballistic Hingeless
Black Diamond Mondo 20 lb 6 oz Nylon Hinge

 

Buying a right crash pad depends upon individual needs and the climbing style you intend to do. Research all the options well-in-advance and make a well-informed purchase.

Rating Table of Best Bouldering Crash Pads of 2018

Best Bouldering Crash Pads of 2018
  • Mad Rock R3 Pad Crashpad
  • Mad Rock Mad Pad
  • Metolius Session Crash Pad
  • Black Diamond Drop Zone Crash Pad
  • Petzl Alto Crash Pad
  • Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad
4.7

Conclusion

For such a crucial piece of equipment on which your safety depends, don’t compromise on quality no matter what. There is no harm in shedding out a few more bucks for quality.

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