Best Bouldering Crash Pads
One of the most versatile and enjoyable aspects of the climbing world is the fine art of bouldering. Not only does it test your flexibility and ingenuity, but it also requires very little equipment. One of the required pieces of equipment however, is a quality bouldering crash pad. After all, whether by accident or design, you are going to fall while bouldering. If you’re worried about finding the best bouldering crash pad to fit your needs, don’t be. We’ve done the research and came up with ten of our favorites.
- Petzl Alto
- Easy to transport
- 3-layers of foam
- Mad Rock Triple
- Superior firmness
- BD Drop Zone
- Great shock absorption
- Easy to transport
10 Best Bouldering Crash Pads
Not only does this bouldering crash pad fold down easily for carrying, it also features a zippered flap enclosure and a backpack carrying harness that allows it to quickly move from one location to the next with amazing ease.
The interior material is created from polyurethane foam that is relatively stiff and offers great overall shock absorption. In addition, there are three individual layers that help to distribute the force of your weight quickly.
When it’s fully extended, this crash pad measures 118 x 100 x 10 centimeters, so it’s a relatively good size for a single person. The folded dimensions are much smaller, and can easily fit onto a back for an easier climb to your destination.
One of the nicest things about this particular bouldering crash pad is that it is so easy to transport from one place to another. It easily folds down so that the weather resistant outer cover protects the foam from the elements, and slides easily into the harness that you can wear as a backpack. Simply put, if you can get to the bouldering field, chances are this crash pad can do it as well.
Perhaps the one drawback that we found concerning this particular crash pad was the overall thickness. It measures about 10 centimeters when fully deployed, which is slightly thinner than we would like to see. If you’re bouldering escapades take you to greater vertical distances, you might want to consider other options.
If you’re looking for a fantastic all around bouldering crash pad that has great versatility and portability, the Petzl Alto is certainly one to consider. If you don’t mind giving up a bit of thickness overall, this go-anywhere bouldering crash pad can certainly serve you well.
- Easy to transport
- Three layers of foam for added cushioning
- Relatively uniform shock absorption.
- Not as thick as we would like to see.
Mad Rock Triple
This particular bouldering crash pad is a three sectioned sandwich style that allows for the pad to be easily folded into one flat surface. This can either be used to add additional thickness when needed over a smaller surface area, or it can help keep the storage space to a minimum.
This bouldering crash pad is designed with both closed cell and open cell polyurethane material, which allows for maximum firmness and support when in use.
When it is completely deployed, this bouldering crash pad is fairly large, measuring approximately 44 x 25 inches, and weighing just of 13.5 pounds. It is a bit bulky at times, but when it comes to protecting you from falling injuries, it’s hard to beat.
Perhaps the one drawback to this particular crash pad is that it’s not easy to move around. The overall size and weight make it a bit cumbersome to move, or transport, even in a car. This is one piece of equipment that doesn’t quite have that “go anywhere” vibe.
The thickness of the mat is approximately 5 inches thick. Also, because of the nature of the interior portions, it can easily hold this thickness and the firmness of the mat long after others have worn out.
If you’re not worried about transporting this bouldering crash pad from place to place, and you want to provide the maximum protection you can, this is certainly an option. Designed for both firmness and cushioning, this is one of the best bouldering crash pads on the market today.
- Superior thickness and firmness
- Large size to provide maximum protection
- Not very easy to transport
Black Diamond Drop Zone
This bouldering crash pad has a simple and foldable taco design that is easy to store away and transport. It is small enough when folded and features a quick-closure elastic mesh flap for a secure hold.
While many bouldering crash pads feature a three-layer interior design, this one features a two-tier design. There is a closed cell PE foam top layer, and a high compression PU foam in the bottom one. This allows for great overall shock absorption, but it does leave a bit to be desired when it comes to overall comfort on the landing.
This bouldering crash pad is relatively small, and a great choice overall for a single climber. It measures 48 x 43 inches in size when completely deployed and offers a continuous fall surface because of its design.
With its easy to fold nature, and included shoulder straps and waist belt, this bouldering crash pad is simple to transport from one locale to the next.
The pad itself measures about 4 inches in thickness, which makes it about average. We would have liked to see a bit more, but considering the easy portability, we can forgive the relative thinness of the pad itself.
The Black Diamond Drop Zone Bouldering Pad is extremely portable, and provides great overall protection and shock absorption with its dual-layered technology. While we certainly would have liked to see that pad a bit thicker, overall, this is a great choice for a single bouldering adventurer.
- Very easy to transport
- Offers great shock absorption
- Could be slightly thicker
Mad Rock R3
This bouldering crash pad has a baffle or accordion style of design, which makes it extremely flexible, and easily used in a wide range of bouldering environments. Chances are if you can get it into position below you, it will provide great fall protection, and allow you to “even out” the bumps in your terrain quite easily.
Each section in this crash pad contains both EVA and PU foam recycled material. It is designed to both lay flat and be rolled up for easy transportation.
When completely spread out, this bouldering crash pad measures approximately 35 x 22 inches. It’s relatively small, and is a great choice for a single person, or an area where an overall smaller size can make the difference.
Overall, transportation and portability of this bouldering crash pad can be somewhat cumbersome if it isn’t folded down correctly.
This pad is approximately nine inches in thickness. It’s clearly one of the thicker ones on the market today, and offers a great deal of cushioning and support.
If you want a bouldering crash pad that offers fantastic flexibility and comfort while in use, it’s had to mess with this choice. While it’s not the best bouldering crash pad when it comes to portability, what it lacks in ease of carrying it more than makes up for in comfort.
- Easy to use and flexible.
- Very comfortable
- Versatile design
- Not easy to transport
- Can be a bit large
This bouldering crash pad features a sandwich foam design that allows for maximum impact and shock absorption. It also has a portion of the pad that is rougher that is designed for cleaning shoes, and an angled hinged design that helps to keep dirt and debris out of the folds for long lasting durability.
The interior portions of this crash pad features a closed cell top layer that measures approximately 2.5 inches, an open cell middle layer, and a base layer that features a closed cell design. This allows for fantastic shock absorption and a relatively lightweight pad.
When fully deployed, this crash pad measures four by six feet in size, making it ideal for use by multiple people.
The sandwich tri-fold design allows this mat to easily fold down into a size that can be carried on the back, or within a sedan or truck. While it may be slightly heavy, it’s still quite manageable.
This bouldering crash pad measures four inches thick when fully deployed. It is a bit thin for our liking, but with the triple layer design, it still offers great protection.
If you’re looking for a bouldering crash pad that is a great choice for a small group that loves a rugged adventure, this Magnum Crash Pad from Metolius is a great overall choice
- Extremely durable
- Designed for rugged use
- Large size
- Not as thick as we would like
Black Diamond Mondo
This bouldering crash pad is a fantastic choice for when having a compact size is ideal. It features a relatively slim taco style design with a three-strap closure to allow the user to reduce the already compact size for easy transportation
This pad features a dual layered system including a closed cell PE foam top layer and a high-compression PU foam on the bottom. While it certainly offers a great deal of firmness and support, it’s not what we would call the most comfortable landing pad available.
This pad is relatively small, measuring just 44 x 33 inches when fully deployed. It’s a great choice for those who are more experienced, and only need a small amount of protection while bouldering.
This bouldering crash pad features padded shoulder straps and waist belt, as well as four grab handles at the corners. It’s also fairly lightweight, so transporting it from one place to another is fairly simple.
This pad is surprisingly thick for its size, measuring about 10 inches.
If you’re looking for a pad that can easily be moved into position at a moment’s notice, and has a great thickness for shock absorption, this crash pad is worth a second look. While the landing may not be as comfortable as we would like it still gets the job done
- Very thick pad, great for shock absorption
- Easy to use and transport
- Not as large as some others available
This bouldering crash pad features a tri-fold design that can be easily folded out to provide over five square feet more than most conventional pads, but folds down to be about 4 inches less overall for easier storage and transportation.
The interior portions feature a sandwich foam design with multiple layers that allow for a good deal of shock absorption and impact from the closed cell top layer.
When fully spread out, this crash pad measures 44 x 23 x 14 inches and weighs about 19 pounds.
While the pad is certainly large enough for use by multiple people, at 19 pounds, it can be slightly heavy for one person to carry over long distances. This pad is a great choice for those relatively short jaunts, or when transportation by car is the norm.
The pad is approximately 4 inches thick, which is somewhat thinner than we expected. However, with the closed cell design, it provides more than enough cushioning for most uses.
If you’re looking for a bouldering crash pad that is great for a group of people, provides adequate protection, and you don’t mind some added weight, the Metolius Recon Crashpad is a great choice.
- Great choice for multiple users
- Offers more surface area than most standard pads
- Can be somewhat heavy to carry
Mad Rock Hera
This bouldering crash pad features a bi-fold sandwich design that allows the user to easily carry it to the destination and deploy it with relative ease.
The interior foam is actually quite a bit lighter than what is seen in most cases, and this provides for a greater overall “bounce” and softness when landing. If you’re worried about hurting your joints because the mat is a little too stiff, this is definitely one to keep on your radar.
When this bouldering crash pad is fully deployed, it measures a respectable 48 x 36 x 5 inches, and folds easily in half. It weighs just under 14 pounds, so it is also relatively lightweight.
With the included handles, this crash pad is fairly easy to carry, although it is slightly on the bulky side overall. This is something that is more easily carried by two people than one.
When fully folded out, this pad measures about 5 inches in thickness. It’s more than enough for what most people need.
If you’re worried about protecting your joints from impact damage, and it’s caused you to shy away from bouldering, you should consider this option. It’s lighter, has a bit softer bounce, and gives you ample room for falling.
- Lighter, softer foam material
- Easy to use
- Somewhat cumbersome to transport.
This bouldering crash pad features a bi-fold design that is fairly easy to fold and store away. However, unlike most crash pads, this one features a gusseted closure system that helps to keep the foam from breaking down over time, and reduces the dead spaces that can be created with use. In addition, it features high-friction corners that help to keep the pad in place, even in the windiest conditions.
Unlike many of the other bouldering crash pads, this one features continuous top and bottom layers of foam on the inside. This helps to the foam keep a uniform thickness. However, it also means that it doesn’t have quite the level of shock absorption that we would like.
When in use, this bouldering crash pad measures approximately 40 x 24 x4 inches. It’s a respectable size for use in most situations. It also weighs a little over 13.5 pounds, so it is fairly lightweight.
When it comes to portability, it’s hard to beat this particular crash pad. It can be easily transported in the car, or carried using the convertible shoulder and backpack straps.
This pad measures about 4 inches thick, so it is a little on the thin side for our tastes.
This bouldering crash pad from Evolv is a great choice if you want a pad that is designed to fit and stay in just about any climbing environment, and keep its overall shape. While it’s not as thick as we would like, overall it is not a bad choice.
- Fully enclosed system
- Easy to transport
- Reduces the appearance of dead spots over time
- Not as thick as we would like
- Doesn’t have quite the shock absorption we’d expect.
Amber Sporting Yosemite
Instead of focusing on overall size and foldability, this particular bouldering crash pad is significantly smaller and thicker than others on this list.
It is a single, non-fold design, but with its relatively compact size it is still a good fit for your car or to be carried on a person. In addition, the reinforced corners and rip-stop outer fabric make it easy to use this bouldering crash pad just about anywhere.
The interior portions of this bouldering crash pad features a number of thick alternating layers of open and closed cell polyurethane foam that allows for a more comfortable landing with great overall shock absorption as well.
At twelve pounds and a size of approximately 19.5 x 39.5 inches, this pad is significantly more compact than the others on this list. This is one that is best used by more advanced bouldering enthusiasts who can control their fall more easily.
Because of its relative size and weight, this bouldering crash pad is fairly easy to carry.
This pad measures about 11 inches in thickness, which is over twice the normal thickness seen on the market today.
If you want to upgrade your bouldering crash pad to reflect your more advanced skill, but you still want it to be easily moved from place to place, this bouldering crash pad from Amber might just be what you’re looking for.
The compact size overall and thicker dimensions make it an ideal choice for those who only use bouldering pads as a safety precaution.
- Compact size
- Much thicker dimension
- For advanced users only.
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
When it comes to bouldering crash pads, there are a number of criteria that most rock climbing and bouldering enthusiasts look for. First on the list for many is the overall design of the crash pad, or simply put how it folds or lays flat. Generally speaking, there are pads that fold like a sandwich, those that fold like a taco, and those that actually are more akin to an accordion. Each has their advantages and drawbacks.
For example, the type that folds more like a sandwich, like the Black Diamond Mondo often offer great “bounce” and support for landing, but will often require something like a Velcro fastener to keep them together. And while the accordion style offers fantastic versatility, it doesn’t often last as long as the simpler “taco” or “sandwich” design. And while the “taco” design does offer fantastic cushioning when using it as a crash pad, it’s not as portable as the other choices.
For the most part, the interior of a bouldering crash pad is made of some type of foam material arranged in either “cells” or “layers” One way to think of the interior is much like a mattress. The firmness or stiffness of the inner foam material is often what dictates how much support or give the pad provides. This is important, since you want a good balance between providing good shock absorption and flexibility when you fall. The stiffer the foam, the more shock absorption, the softer, the more “give” the bouldering crash pad will have. And while hopefully, you’ll not have to replace the interior foam of your bouldering crash pad, it’s good to know that in some cases, it is possible.
The overall size of the crash pad is another important factor to consider when purchasing one. Of course, you’d want to get one that is sized appropriately for your body. A good general rule of thumb is to use a large bouldering crash pad in the beginning, one that can easily cushion your entire body. Once you get better at bouldering, smaller pads become an option as you learn how to fall correctly.
Of course, being able to transport your crash pad to the bouldering location is another thing to consider, and one that quite a few beginners tend to overlook. While the accordion or sandwich style of bouldering crash pad is often cited as offering the best portability due to their foldable nature, some find that the larger “taco” style is just as preferable. This is true especially when the location can easily be reached by car.
And finally, when it comes to finding the best bouldering crash pad for you, you need to consider the overall thickness. As expected, the thicker pads not only offer more cushioning for your body, but also more shock absorption. However, it’s also important to remember that they do weigh more, sometimes by quite a lot. This decreases their portability and usefulness, especially if your boulder field is slightly inaccessible.
More to think about when choosing your next bouldering crash pad
What type of terrain is nearby?
The nice thing about bouldering is that it can often be enjoyed in a wide range of scenery. Of course, this means that you’ll need to be able to deal with a good variety of terrains. Often the type of ground can influence what type of bouldering crash pad is best suited. For example, rocky surroundings need a crash pad that is somewhat thicker to accommodate for the uneven ground, allowing for more shock absorption overall. While a more gentle ground slope can often make use of a somewhat thinner pad. Also, a “taco” or “sandwich” style of crash pads often need a relatively flat surface to be effective. They can often fold unexpectedly on rougher terrain. In most cases, rougher terrain is best suited for an accordion style of bouldering crash pad.
How often will you be using it?
Over time, crash pads will wear out. It’s just the nature of the beast. The more you use the crash pad, the faster you’ll have to replace either the interior foam material, or the crash pad itself. So it’s definitely important to consider how often it will be used when making a purchase. If you know that you’ll be a frequent user, it’s probably a good idea to consider a bouldering crash pad that uses replaceable foam for the interior. This can greatly extend the overall life of your pad. Also, it may be in your best interest to use a pad with fewer movable parts if frequent use is expected. Using a pad that has less foldable parts or creases means that there is less chance of accidental tears or wear spots caused by transportation or use.
How long will it take to get to your bouldering area?
One of the drawbacks of bouldering crash pads is that they do have the potential to be heavy and bulky at times. Even if they can fold up beautifully, they often can be difficult to carry, especially over long distances. So when you’re looking to purchase a bouldering pad, it’s important to consider how you will be getting it to where it needs to be. Is it easy to get to, such as an interior bouldering field sometimes found at an indoor climbing area? Or is it slightly more inaccessible, such as after a long foot hike through rough terrain? If you know that your favorite bouldering spots are a little more off the beaten path, then a bouldering crash pad that is lighter and easier to carry may be worth considering.
What is your overall joint health?
Bouldering has the potential to be a physically demanding sport, especially on your joints. Chances are you’ll be using your arms, legs, knees, torso and even your elbows in ways that you probably never imagined. So when you fall, especially in the beginning, chances are your joints are going to be taking some abuse. This is especially true for your knees, hips, wrists, and ankles.
If these are problem joints for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your bouldering days. Instead, talk with your doctor and describe the activity that you’ll be doing. If he approves, chances are he or she will tell you to get a crash pad that offers good shock absorption, with more than one layer of interior foam material. Using both open and closed cell construction, a quality bouldering crash pad can help to distribute your weight more evenly when you fall, which lessens the impact on the individual joints. This can help you prevent unnecessary injury.
Q: How should I care for my bouldering crash pad?
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to keep your bouldering crash pad, cool, clean and relatively dry. Excessive heat and sun can break down the interior foam faster, and dirt and debris can often lead to weak areas or even tears with frequent use. Also, storing it even a little bit damp can lead to greater deterioration over time.
Q: Do I need more than one crash pad if more than one person is bouldering with me?
For the most part, having a bouldering crash pad per person bouldering is a good idea. There is a few reasons for this. First, different people may have different needs and preferences when it comes to a crash pad. Second, if you expect to be bouldering at greater heights due to working as a team, a few layers of crash pads can mean better cushioning and shock absorption.
Q: I am a beginner. What style of bouldering crash pad should I use?
In truth, the overall style and design of the bouldering crash pad that you use is really a matter of personal preference. However, there are a few tips that can help you choose one that may be better suited to you as a beginner.
First, consider that in most cases falling can be a scary experience, and you’re probably not going to fall correctly the first dozen or so times you do it. So you’ll want a mat with a good amount of surface area to allow you the maximum amount of room. Also, make sure that your mat is fairly thick, at least four inches to help absorb the shock of the fall. Also, you’ll want a mat that is fairly easy for you to move around. After all, if it’s not convenient to use, chances are you might not remember to use it.
Most people choose to go with the “taco” style of crash pad since it offers a continuous fall surface. However, they can be a bit bulky and hard to manage.
Q: What’s the difference between “open cell” and “closed cell” foam? Which is better?
Simply put, an open cell style of foam is a style where individual cells have been “opened up” so that only a generalized framework of foam material is available, much like a cobweb. A closed cell foam, on the other hand, features closed pockets of air, that are completely surrounded by material. You can think of them as a bunch of small balloons packed together.
Each one of these foam types has their advantages and disadvantages as well as intended uses. For example, an open cell style of foam is often softer and more flexible than the closed cell counterpart. It can offer a softer bounce and more give. However, a closed cell style of foam is often firmer and can offer more support and can distribute the shock more evenly.
In most cases, the bouldering crash pads use these two different types of foam to provide a good balance of softness, flexibility and firmness.
Bouldering may be a fairly simple sport on the face of it, but it certainly can provide quite a few challenges to your body, mind and spirit. Having the right equipment, including the best bouldering crash pad available can mean the difference between concentrating on the next boulder or worrying about your next fall. We hope that this list has provided some inspiration and insight into what makes up the best bouldering crash pad, and that it helps you to find exactly what you need.