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11 Best Bouldering Crash Pads of 2022

by | Apr 1, 2022 | Bouldering, Climbing Protection, Ropes & Crash Pads | 0 comments

Without a doubt, everyone wants the best crash pad for solo bouldering, even when you’re part of a group. A bouldering crash pad is an essential piece of gear that you must have, in order to climb boulders, whether short or tall. It is the only way to make your fall as safe as it can be.

The 11 best bouldering crash pads of 2022 are listed below, with options from regular to full-sized mats, so we’ve got you covered! If you don’t know which mat is best for you, then we have broken down the purpose of each pad, with what we like and dislike. With enough choices to confuse you, we also discuss both the types of mats and price ranges.

Here you will find a suitable option for both every budget and need. For more information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the reviews. Let’s go climbing!

Our Staff’s Top Picks- At a Glance

2022 Recommendation for Best Bouldering Pads

Because you have our best bouldering crash pads tips, you can now make a smart buying decision. With this in mind, let’s review each type of bouldering crash pads.

Given that the market is thriving with plenty of choices, it may take you some time to find the right one. But don’t worry, we have a few recommendations.

Editors Choice for Crash Pad Design

evolv Launch Pad

evolv Launch Crash Pad- Joshua tree print


  • Closure flap and durable design
  • Dimensions: 55 x 45 x 5 inches (open)
  • Weight: 19lbs
  • Adjustable shoulder, sternum and waist straps
evolv Launch Crash Pad- Joshua Tree print
Available in Joshua Tree and Skull

With this evolv Launch pad, you can prepare for rock climbs and crag. It’s bigger than the Drop pad and delivers simple landings, lightweight carrying, and a large rug square to clean your shoes, making it an excellent choice for outdoor adventures. The downside is that the Evolv Launch pad doesn’t have a closure flap and is on the expensive side.

evolv Launch Crash Pad- skull print
evolv Launch Crash Pad- skull print

Adjustable, contoured backpack straps for optimum comfort when carrying, as well as a sternum strap to keep shoulder straps in place. They also included load lifters, which shift weight off the shoulders and onto the hips. These are essential because the crash pad weighs 19 pounds! A larger and more cushioned waistband also adds comfort.

If you are looking to attach additional gear, then this may be your ideal pad. An all-around buckle closures allow for quick gear removal while webbing and flaps safely keep your equipment (not included) and/or another pad in place. We definitely likes that we could take the pad from boulder to boulder with ease, thanks to the accessible handles that allow you to do so without having to close it.

What We Like:

  • 5 inches of thick foam for safety
  • Shoe carpet to keep things clean
  • Long tie down straps

What We Dislike:

  • Heavy- Weighs 19lbs
  • White/cream pad can get easily dirty. Opt for the dark blue skull design if you are finicky about keeping your pad clean

Best Crash Pad for Beginners

Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad ($159.95)

Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad


  • Type: Classic Hinge
  • Open dimensions (Feet): 3×4
  • Folded dimensions (Feet): 3×2
  • Weight: 8.3 lbs
  • Shell: PU-coated 900-denier nylon
  • Interior: Closed-cell PE foam and EVA
  • Carry System: Both padded shoulder and waist straps

Let’s start by saying that this isn’t the best option for seasoned boulderers. In brief, it lacks the thicker padding by being just thick enough for short bouldering problems. On account of this, Circuit makes up for this by pricing their padding at a reasonable price.

If you’re looking for a backup crash pad or starting out, then you’ll benefit the most from the Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad. It has an approximate area of 12 feet, thus giving you plenty of space for short climbs. In addition, the square edges make it compatible with other similar pads because the edges will sit flush against one another.

Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad
Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad

The outer shell features a polyurethane-coated 900-denier nylon construction. Since it has a PU coating, it will shed some water, but it won’t be 100% waterproof. Inside the pad, you’ll find both closed-cell polyethylene foam and EVA foam layers to keep the structure rigid yet soft.

This hinge-style pad has a set of both adjustable shoulder and waist straps. However, only the shoulder straps have decent padding. Thankfully it only weighs 8.3 pounds. Still, its three easy-hook metal buckles keep the crash pad shut for transportation.

What We Like:

  • Affordable price tag
  • It comes with metallic easy-hook buckles
  • Lightweight
  • Pleasant soft landing area
  • Multiple color options

What We Dislike:

  • Not enough thickness
  • The waist plastic buckle is prone to break

Best Bouldering Pad for Uneven Ground

Mad Rock R3 ($201.75)

Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad


  • Type: Baffle
  • Open dimensions (Feet): 2.9×4.6
  • Folded dimensions (Feet): 2.9×1.8
  • Weight: 17 to 20 lbs. depending on the stuffing
  • Shell: 1680-denier nylon
  • Interior: 4 inches of shredded EVA foam
  • Carry system: Both adjustable padded shoulder and waist straps

Unusual as it might look, the R3 bouldering pad is the best crash mat for uneven terrain. To begin with, you can cover anything from tree stumps to boulders. This is all due to its peculiar build.

It has seven separate baffles, coupled with recycled shredded EVA foam inside each. In effect, each crash pad baffle is responsible for providing cushioning. The Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad also has a gap between each section, and as a result, this allows it to be shaped to whatever surface you’ll be falling on.

Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad
Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad

Additionally, this bouldering crash pad is easy to store. Simply wrap it like a burrito, and strap it down.

The 1680-denier exterior ensures that the pad lives to expectations. Without a doubt, it does. A fellow boulderer has one of these bad boys, and it hasn’t a single tear, in spite of the many falls it’s absorbed.

Mad Rock’s customer service deserves kudos because they sent him a bag full of recycled EVA foam to replace the stuffing of his R3 once it wore out.

Still, there are some cons. To clarify, the padding isn’t consistent across the crash pad. The impact might be felt more in some areas of the pad when falling from taller heights.

What We Like:

  • Uses recycled EVA foam
  • Ideal for uneven terrain
  • Easy to store
  • Plenty of space to stash some gear inside

What We Dislike:

  • Heavier despite other pads of a similar size
  • Uneven foam distribution

Best Convertible Crash Pad

Mad Rock Mad Pad Crash Pad ($186.75)

Mad Rock Mad Pad Crash Pad - Red


  • Type: Classic Hinge
  • Open dimensions (Feet): 3×4
  • Folded dimensions (Feet): 3×2
  • Weight (Pounds): 14
  • Shell: Nylon
  • Interior: 3-inch thick open-cell foam with two 1-inch thick closed-cell foam
  • Padded shoulder and waist straps
  • Chest straps
  • Velcro straps

Mad Rock offers a less expensive crash pad for the budget-conscious boulderer. Their starter pad, Mad Pad, retails for less than $200 and packs all the essential features that any beginner will need. But, if you’re willing to spend $50 more, then take a look the Joshua Tree Edition Crash Pad

The Joshua Tree Mad Pad keeps our ankles safe on tough landings while proudly displaying Joshua Trees, which are known for their toughness in harsh desert areas. It provides a whopping 5 inches of substantial assistance for solid (but pleasant) drops thanks to adjustable shoulder straps and a waist belt.

Similar to the Mad Rock R3, the Mad Pad has a classic hinge construction. But unlike the R3, this model lacks a PU-coated exterior, resulting in a shell that may tear more easily and isn’t as waterproof.

Mad Rock Mad Pad Crash Pad - Red

On the inside, you will find a single, 3 inch, open-cell foam layer sandwiched by two 1 inch, closed-cell foam layers. Indeed, there is nothing more reassuring than having a thick pad watching your back.

Not only do you get a thicker pad, but you also get 12 square feet of a safer landing than the previous crash mat. If you want to take advantage of the velcro straps to increase landing coverage, then fasten two or more Mad Pad together.

Not only do you end up with a thicker pad, but also make it suitable for a wider range of bouldering problems.

Lastly, this crash pad has padded shoulder straps, an adjustable waist belt, and a chest strap, which makes it easier to carry despite weighing 14 pounds.

What We Like:

  • The landing area is 5 inches thick
  • You can turn it into a lounge chair
  • Velcro straps allow you to fix several pads together without gaps

What We Dislike:

  • Shell has no coating
  • Foam loses its properties rather quickly

Best Supplementary Crash Pad

PETZL Nimbo Crash Pad ($94.95)

PETZL - Nimbo, Back-Up Pad for Bouldering


  • Type: Supplementary crash pad
  • Open dimensions (Feet): 2.5×1.6
  • Weight (Pounds): 1.7
  • Shell: Cordura (Nylon)
  • Interior: 1-inch thick PE foam
  • Single handle strap

If we didn’t mention the PETZL - Nimbo, Back-Up Pad for Bouldering, is a supplementary crash pad, then this wouldn’t be a comprehensive review. Although, you might well skip this one if you are looking for a stand-alone bouldering pad. All in all, it’s ideal for filling the gaps between two other pads.

Supplementary crash mats are used to add a couple of inches of padding on top of regular and full-sized bouldering pads landing areas, for times when you’re climbing greater heights.

The durable Cordura exterior also keeps the water from soaking the 1-inch polyethylene foam interior. Additionally, the reinforced lower seams help to minimize tearing. Both the waterproof material and strengthened stitching increase the lifespan of this bouldering crash pad.

It offers 4 square feet of coverage. While this isn’t impressive, it’s because this is a supplementary bouldering pad. In particular, what we didn’t like is that it only has one strap.

Even though the pad is not heavy, it can be awkward to carry since it doesn’t offer backpack straps. It’s best to stash it inside your main pad in order to keep your hands free.

What We Like:

  • Durable shell
  • Waterproof

What We Dislike:

  • The carrying system could be better

Largest Area Crash Pad

Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad ($429.95)

Black Diamond Equipment - Mondo Crash Pad


  • Type: Classic Hinge
  • Open dimensions (inches): 44 x 65 x 5
  • Folded dimensions (Feet): 3.7×2.5
  • Weight (Pounds): 20.6
  • Shell: 1000-denier nylon with PU coating
  • Interior: 5 inches thick foam
  • Padded shoulder and waist straps

With almost 20 square feet of the landing area, the Mondo is the biggest bouldering pad we’ve reviewed thus far. It’s also one of the thickest crash pads.

Black Diamond Equipment - Mondo Crash Pad
Black Diamond Equipment - Mondo Crash Pad

On the whole, we totally recommend this pad for all those boulderers that like to push their limits doing highball bouldering. Sadly for your wallet, you will pay more because safety comes at a price.

Overall, there is nothing to complain about construction-wise. To explain, you get a closed-cell PE foam at the top of the pad, a high-compression PU foam layer at the bottom, and soft open-cell foam in between. Falling doesn’t get more comfortable than this.

Black Diamond Equipment - Mondo Crash Pad

The Mondo crash pad has a durable and waterproof PU-coated nylon top and sides. It also has a rubberized bottom which increases the grip on slippery surfaces. In short, this long-lasting shell performs well no matter the weather.

Keep in mind that since this is a classic-hinge bouldering pad, you might have a hard time using it on bumpy uneven ground.

Both the padded shoulder and waist belt make up the carrying system. The shoulder and waist straps are adjustable, however, we think that Black Diamond could have added more cushioning to them, given that it weighs around 20 pounds.

What We Like:

  • Soft, firm, and durable interior
  • Waterproof and abrasion-resistant housing
  • Anti-slip rubber bottom
  • Four corner grab handles and two shoulder webbings for easy pad shuffling

What We Dislike:

  • Uncomfortable shoulder and waist straps
  • Very expensive

Best Oversized Bouldering Crash Pad

Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad (Price not available)

Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad Crash Pad


  • Type: Tri-fold Hinge
  • Open dimensions (inches): 44″x 70″x 5″
  • Folded dimensions (inches): 24″x44″x15″
  • Weight (Pounds): 24
  • Shell: Nylon
  • Interior: 5 inches thick foam
  • Padded shoulder
  • Adjustable waist belt

If you like the Mad Pad we’ve reviewed before, but you want something bigger, then this is maybe the one for you. With a little over 20 square feet, this oversized bouldering pad is the perfect buddy for highball boulderers. It’s similar to the size of a twin bed but wider.

Like the previous pad, the Triple Mad Pad has 5 inches of both open and closed-cell foam to absorb the energy of the fall and is great for tall boulders where you get more coverage. But it’s quite heavy to take on a long approach.

The foam is quite stiff, so this pad should last you a while but the shell isn’t that great. It’s neither waterproof nor as abrasion-resistant as other models. Then again, this isn’t surprising, given the low price for this oversized bouldering pad.

Both shoulder straps and waist belt could use work. Not only does it lack enough padding on the shoulder straps but also the waist belt for carrying the 24 pounds of crash pad weight. In other words, you may find it difficult to carry this pad on short walks.

While it does have metallic easy-hook buckles to keep it closed, there aren’t any exterior gear loops. You’ll have to decide whether the lack of extra loops to attach gear or hip belt padding is worth the savings on one of the most affordable oversized bouldering crash mats.

What We Like:

  • Affordable price tag
  • Thick landing area
  • Compact for it’s size

What We Dislike:

  • The shell is not waterproof
  • Heavy and uncomfortable to carry

PETZL Cirro Crash Pad (Price not available)

PETZL Cirro Large Crashpad One Color, One Size


  • Type: Taco
  • Open dimensions (inches): 58 x 46 x 5 in
  • Folded dimensions (inches): 30 x 46 x 14 in
  • Weight (Pounds): 20.7
  • Shell: Waterproof nylon
  • Interior: 5 inches thick foam
  • Padded shoulder
  • Padded adjustable waist belt

It is time to show something for the taco-style enthusiasts: The PETZL Cirro. Not only does it cover up to 18 square feet (3.8×4.8 feet) with 5-inch thick padding but this pad will take falls like a champ!

This hingeless pad has three layers of foam inside. Hence, each one has a different density and unique purpose. On the exterior, we find a waterproof reinforced shell. Equally, all corners and lower seams enjoy extra protection against hits and rough ground.

PETZL Cirro Crashpad
PETZL Cirro Crashpad

One thing that we love about this pad, is that it has zippers instead of straps, to close it. As a result, this safety feature allows you to stash some gear inside without worrying it fall out. Also, take advantage of the multiple handles to move the open pad around.

Thankfully, you do get a fairly decent carrying system with enough padding. You can also adjust all straps, as well as, the one on the chest, so the weight is distributed evenly. In addition, the straps keep the pad from moving as you hike.

The PETZL Cirro Crashpad also has a flap that zips over the carrying straps, which is definitely handy when bouldering over mud. Surely, you never have to deal with a muddy back!

What We Like:

  • Comfortable carrying system
  • Waterproof shell
  • Lower seams in contact with the ground are protected
  • Can also serves as a sleeping pad
  • 3 years warranty

What We Dislike:

  • The zipper is prone to break
  • Velcro adjustable straps don’t always ensure a perfect fit

Metolius Session II Crash Pad ($199.95)

Metolius Session II - Green/Black


  • Type: Angled hinge
  • Open dimensions (Feet): 3×4
  • Folded dimensions (inches): 29.5 x 46.5 x 13.8 in.
  • Weight (Pounds): 9
  • Shell: Nylon
  • Interior: 4 inches thick foam
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Padded adjustable waist belt

The Session II bouldering pad by Metolius features a classic hinge build with exactly 12 square feet of coverage. Together with a carpeted logo down the middle, this patch serves as a wiping mat for your shoes or to get rid of the excess chalk.

The Metolius Session II - Green/Black has a nylon exterior tough enough to handle sharper edges. However, if the terrain is rocky and you’re an experienced boulderer, you’ll want a crash mat with a more durable fabric.

Also, Session II isn’t waterproof. If you’re a seasoned climber who will be in place of your mat on wet ground, then you might want to pass on this pad.

Specifically, what makes the Session II unique is its flap closure system. Just wrap the pad with the flaps, then use the straps to fasten the cover. Once you are ready to climb, flip the mat over to cover the padded shoulder and waist straps while you are bouldering.

Not only does the Session II have a 4-inch thick closed and open-cell foam body, but gives just enough cushioning to handle most falls. However, we don’t recommend using it for highball bouldering, because it can’t absorb impacts from greater heights.

Lastly, if you plan on climbing to greater heights, then make sure to bring another crash pad.

What We Like:

  • Price
  • The flap closure system allows you to store gear
  • Very soft foam

What We Dislike:

  • There are several loose threads on the velcro
  • It isn’t waterproof
  • Not the best option for a rough terrain

Best Lightweight Bouldering Full-Sized Pad

Ocun Dominator Crash Pad ($359.95)

Ocun Dominator FTS Boulder Crash Pad
  • Type: bi-fold
  • Open dimensions (Feet): 4×6
  • Folded dimensions (inches): 52 x 40 x 11.4
  • Weight (Pounds): 14.1
  • Shell: Cordura paneling with Teflon and plastel coating
  • Interior: FTS Absorption 5.70 inches thick
  • Shoulder straps, carry handles, and shoulder sling give versatile carrying
  • Two locking hook-and-loop closing straps turn pad into couch

If you love tall boulders, but detest how heavy a large crash pad weighs, then you’ll love how lightweight the Ocun Dominator is in comparison to other similarly sized mats. All in all, it’s considered one of the best bouldering crash pads.

The designers of the Ocun Dominator went wild with their imaginations and designed a pad with perforated foam cylinders placed upright. This design was such a game-changer that Ocun was also awarded a prize by the international ISPO jury for innovation in outdoor gear, for their unique Foam Tube Suspension System (FTS).

Ocun Dominator FTS Boulder Crash Pad
Ocun Dominator FTS Boulder Crash Pad

A traditional mat made of foam sheets absorbs fall impacts in the center and over time, sinks in the middle, a point often overlooked. Think of a bed mattress after many years, eventually, it starts to sink. However, you won’t get that with this bouldering pad.

This crash pad is crafted specifically for highball boulders because the construction design incorporates vertical foam cylinders instead of foam sheets. In other words, the mat’s elastic tube design drastically increases the pad’s impact absorption capabilities from falls.

You can feel confident that your fall is cushioned from both great and small heights, from the bottom and top of the mat.

Moreover, you can use the straps and convert this bouldering crash pad into a crash “couch” to take a badly needed coffee break.

Despite being one of the largest pads on this list, it’s 20% lighter than the other crash mats. All things considered, if you’re looking for an oversized pad that won’t break your back after a long hike, the Ocun Dominator is a superb choice.

What We Like:

  • Even fall impact across pad
  • Light for its size
  • Converts to a chair /couch

What We Dislike:

  • A bit pricey

Favorite Bouldering Crash Pad for Soft Landing

Organic Full Pad


  • Type: Classic hinge
  • Open dimensions (inches): 48 x 36 x 4
  • Folded dimensions (inches): 36 x 24
  • Weight (Pounds): 12
  • Shell: 1050-denier seams and 1000-denier landing area
  • Interior: 4 inches thick foam
  • Padded shoulder
  • Both adjustable waist and chest belt
  • Straps and pocket flap

Organic bouldering pads are widely known for both their softness and durability. I had the opportunity to fall on the Organic Full Pad. Not only did I not feel the ground, but the impact did not take my breath away.

How is this possible? Organic changed the game by using a 1-inch memory foam layer, instead of using the classic closed-cell foam design for their crash pad. Furthermore, it has another 3 inches is an open-cell layer added to this best bouldering crash pad.

Although memory foam is softer than closed-cell foam, it still manages to distribute the weight from a fall. Organic is especially known for having one of the most durable foams ever.

The exterior matches the quality that you find inside the pad on account of the 1050-denier seams and the bottom improves resistance to tears and punctures. Also, the 1000-denier Cordura landing protects the foam without being too harsh for your skin.

Although looks are not as important as performance, we were glad to see plenty of color options for crash pads. You can even customize your bouldering crash pad to your liking as long, as you buy it directly from the supplier, of course.

The advantage of having a colorful pad is that it is easily visible and doesn’t blend with the surroundings.

With 3×4 feet landing area, it might be a little small for highball bouldering. However, the Organic Full Pad features long closure straps to piggyback another bouldering pad on top of it, allowing the pad to increase the absorption impact from falls.

What We Like:

  • Very soft landing area
  • Long-lasting shell and interior
  • Pocket flap and straps allow you to carry both an extra pad and gear
  • Colorful design options

What We Dislike:

  • Only the shoulder straps have padding
  • The frame is not rigid enough for high routes

Best Budget Bouldering Crash Pad

Metolius Short Stop Bouldering Pad ($49.95)

Metolius Short Stop - Black


  • Type: Supplementary crash pad
  • Open dimensions (inches): 36 x 23in x 0.75
  • Weight (Pounds): 13.75
  • Shell: Nylon
  • Interior: 0.75 inches thick closed-cell foam

Are you looking to add an extra layer of protection, or do you want to cover a rock or sharp edge? If you answered yes to either one, the Short Stop, by Metolius, then is an affordable solution.

It is larger than the PETZL Nimbo supplementary pad, thus offering more landing surface. However, what you gain in square feet, you lose in thickness. Important to realize, there is a single 0.75-inch closed-cell foam layer, barely enough protection.

Still, you are paying around 40 bucks less. So, we think it is an awesome deal for budget-conscious boulderers.

In the same way as most supplementary crash pads, the Short Stop exterior comprises a nylon shell with two handles at opposite sides. It also doesn’t fold. On the other hand, transporting it shouldn’t be an issue. Because it’s small, it can tuck inside a hinge-style bouldering pad.

What We Like:

  • Impressive coverage for a supplementary crash pad
  • Affordable

What We Dislike:

  • Under 1-inch of cushioning

Bouldering Pads Comparison Table

Bouldering Crash Pads Open Dimensions
Folded Dimensions
Weight Colors Type Rating Price
Black Diamond Equipment - Circuit Crash Pad - Black/Ultra Pink
Black Diamond Circuit
36 “48 36 “48 8 lbs. 5 oz.
  • Black/Aqua Blue
  • Black/Ultra Pink
  • Black/Lemon Grass
  • Black/Purple
Classic Hinge
4.8/5 Stars
No products found.
Mad Rock R3
33.6 ? 55.2 34.8 ? 55.2 288 oz.
  • Orange/Black
4.4/5 Stars
Mad Rock Mad Pad Crash Pad
Mad Rock Mad Pad Crash Pad
36?48 36 ? 24 14lbs
  • Mustache
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Hera/Blue
Classic Hinge
4.8/5 Stars
PETZL Nimbo Crashpad
PETZL Nimbo Crash Pad
30 ?19.2 29.5 x 19.6 x 1.18 1.7lbs
  • Orange/Black
Supplementary Crash Pad
4.7/5 Stars
Black Diamond Equipment - Mondo Crash Pad
Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad
44 x 65 x 5 3.7?2.5 20 lb 6 oz
  • Red/Black
Classic Hinge
5/5 Stars
Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad Crash Pad
Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad
44x 70x 5 inches 24x44x15inches 24lbs
  • Black
Tri-fold Hinge
4.7/5 Stars
Price not available
PETZL Cirro Large Crashpad One Color, One Size
PETZL Cirro Crash Pad
58 x 46 x 5 30 x 46 x 14 20.7lbs
  • Orange/Black
4.7/5 Stars
Price not available
Metolius Session II - Gray/Black
Metolius Session II Crash Pad
36 ?48 29.5 x 46.5 x 13.8 9lbs
  • Gray/Black
  • Green/Black
4.9/5 Stars
imgOcun Dominator 48 ?72 52 x 40 x 11.4 14.1lbs
  • Yellow/Black
Classic Hinge
4.5/5 Stars
imgOrganic Climbing Simple Pad 48 x 36 x 4 36 x 24 12lbs
  • Assorted
Classic Hinge
4.3/5 Stars
Metolius Short Stop - Black
Metolius Short Stop Bouldering Pad
36 x 23 x 0.75 0.75 13.75lbs
  • Black
Supplementary Crash Pad
4.8/5 Stars
56 x 42 x 5
42 x 27.5 x 10.5
17.0 lbs
  • Tricolor
Classic Hinge
4.7/5 Stars
Price not available

How to Choose a Bouldering Crash Pad?

It is crucial to understand both relevant features and tech specs of bouldering crash pads. Once you know what to look for in a mat, you’ll be able to decide on what features are important to you. Specifically, there are pros and cons of each mat, that you need to weigh in order to make the best decision on choosing the best crash pad for solo bouldering that suits your needs.

Below, we will talk about such features. Additionally, we will cover the important points and answer any questions that you might have about crash pads. If you are looking to get started and try out bouldering, then we have great tips in our bouldering for beginners guide and Bouldering Essentials.

They come in different sizes, thicknesses, and types

end of a successful bouldering trip-pile of crash pads
Climber with his bouldering pads to cushion his fall

Bouldering pads are available in different sizes, ranging from small supplementary crash pads to oversized climbing mats. Choosing the size that is best for you largely depends on the problem, your budget, and how portable you want the crash mat to be.

Each supports falls from different heights

To explain, a regular bouldering crash pad is more than enough for shorter boulders, so thicker padding isn’t so crucial. Generally, short falls are not that hazardous, and a regular crash pad will handle the impact. However, for those taller climbing routes, you will need a larger and thicker crash pad.

Let’s review some of the most common types of crash mats, when and how to use them:

Regular Size Bouldering Crash Pad

These are the most common crash pads you will find. These pads typically come in a standard 3’x4′ size, which is more than enough, for entry-level climbing problems.

No products found.
Closed Size: 24″ x 36″x10″
Open Size: 48″x36″x5″
Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad
Closed: 35 x 23.6 x 7.87 inches
Open: 35 x 47.2 x 3.93 inches

Both portability and affordability are the main advantages of regular bouldering pads. Undoubtedly, this is the reason why most beginners tend to purchase them.

Full-Size Bouldering Crash Pads

Full crash pads are between a mid-sized regular and oversized bouldering mats. If you are looking for a versatile crash pad, then these mats cover more ground, are thicker than regular crash pads, and are more portable than an oversized model.

Basically, the main advantage of large bouldering pads, as you might expect, is ground coverage. You will have both larger areas to land and roll after a fall. Still, oversized bouldering crash pads are inherently more expensive and tricky to transport.

Most climbers tend to purchase full sized mats, the best bouldering crash pads they can afford because these are suited for various boulder heights, problems, and scenarios.

Mad Rock R3
Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad
Closed Size: 35″ x 22″ x 9″
Open Size: 55 x 35 x 4 in
Mad Rock Mad Pad
Mad Rock Mad Pad Orange One Size
Closed Size: 24″x36″x10″
Open Size: 48″x36″x5″
Black Diamond Mondo
Black Diamond Equipment - Mondo Crash Pad
Closed Size: 44 x 32.5 x 10in
Open Size: 44 x 65 x 5in

Oversized Bouldering Crash Pad

If you want to go highball bouldering, then an oversized bouldering pad is what you need. Since this is over 20 square feet, it’s one of the largest crash pads you can find. Basically, they’re ideal for highball bouldering or rough terrains.

Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad Crash Pad
Open size: 44″x70″x5″
Closed Size: 24″x44″x15″

Naturally, oversized bouldering mats are heavier and more expensive than any other style we have reviewed thus far. We only recommend using them if you have both the means to transport and store them.

Supplementary Bouldering Crash Pad

Some climbers also refer to them as backup crash mats. These are the most portable bouldering mats you will find, yet also the smallest or thinnest.

Asana Climbing Rock Star Bouldering Pad

As the name suggests, supplementary bouldering crash pads serve as an extra layer of security, not for stand-alone use. For example, you can throw them above a larger crash pad to add some inches of cushioning. You can also use them to cover small rocks, uneven terrain, or fill gaps between bouldering pads.

How Thick Should It Be?

Not only does size matter, but also thickness. Indeed, thickness is one of the most important features of any bouldering crash pad. Basically, a thicker pad means more cushioning, therefore more protection.

However, the thicker the pad, the heavier and more expensive it gets. But hey! You can’t put a price on safety. As a general rule, we only recommend using bouldering pads that are at least 4 inches thick.

Sometimes 4 inches is simply not enough, especially dangerous for falls from higher heights. For example, highball bouldering involves climbing a 15 feet rock. As a result,a single bouldering pad is of little to no use. Stack two mats together instead.

Crash Pad Materials and Construction

All bouldering pads have two major sections: The shell and the interior. To illustrate, the shell is what keeps everything in place. It is also in direct contact with the ground and elements. Thus, a durable shell translates into a durable bouldering crash pad.

Moreover, nylon is the prime material used in the shell construction. It is flexible, abrasion-resistant, and light. Still, not all nylon yarns have the same properties. For this reason, look for the fabric denier rating. The higher the number, the thicker the fiber. And hence, more durable.

The inside of the mat, on the other hand, absorbs the energy of the fall. Therefore, the bouldering pad needs to be rigid to handle the impact, but soft enough not to hurt you.

This is where foam comes into play. It is light, and depending on the fabrication process, it can be both rigid and fluffy.

To explain:

Closed-Cell Foam

Climber hanging from boulder
  • Closed-Cell Foam: On closed-cell foam mats, the trapped air form pockets enclosed by solid material. Hence, neither water nor air passes through the structure. As a result, this increases stiffness, thereby, weight distribution. For example, a yoga mat is an example of closed-cell foam.

Open-Cell Foam

Most bouldering crash pads use both types of foams. Why? Because closed-cell foam helps with weight distribution and shock resistance.

  • Open-Cell Foam: By comparison, open-cell foam is just the opposite. Now that the air isn’t trapped, it can flow in and out of the structure. As you might expect, open-cell foam is more manageable. However, it lacks the strength to handle the entire shock by itself.

However, open-cell foam gives you a soft surface to land, provoking minimum damage. The number of layers as well as how they are stacked changes depending on the model.

Bouldering Pads have different folding methods

One would want all crash pads to be easily transported. Unfortunately, not all bouldering mats are equally portable due to their weight, size, carrying, and folding mechanisms.

Taco Style

Taco-style bouldering crash pads have a continuous frame with no hinges. The thickness of the crash pad has both stiffness and softness spread across the mat.

Folding these crash mats is a straightforward process. Firstly, bend them in the middle and buckle them up. Next, use your weight and push down on the mat and buckle the straps. Afterward, you’ll have a gap between the halves, hence the Taco nickname. Some people place some gear inside to make the most out of the space.

Black Diamond Equipment - Drop Zone Crash Pad

The taco-style crash pads are softer, which means they work better on both uneven terrain and are easier to fold and transport. If you choose this mat, then don’t plan on climbing taller boulders, because it won’t absorb the impact from a higher fall.

Ultimately, these type of mats needs to be replaced more often, because it lacks the hinges need to keep the foam from breaking down from frequent folding and unfolding.

Since these taco-style mats lack hinges, they will degrade over time because it lacks hinges. All in all, try your best to keep it unfolded at home to increase its durability.

Hinge Style

In contrast to a taco-style crash mat, a hinge-style bouldering crash pad comprises two separate sections sewn together, that are folded together like a book.

In other words, the foam doesn’t fold into itself time and time again, preserving its longevity. Moreover, the bouldering pad shuts completely, leaving no space between each section and making it easier to transport.

Ocun Dominator Crash Pad Hinge style opening

Regardless, not everything is as good as it seems. Hinge-style bouldering pads have a notorious weak point, which is the hinge itself. When the pad opens, a gutter forms at the opposite end, and it loves to engulf ankles.

This is certainly the reason most climbers avoid using them on uneven terrain. To fix the gutter issue, several brands, such as Black Diamond, have added velcro in order for the pads to attach together.

Tri-fold bouldering pads also fall within the hinge style crash pad category, with the biggest difference is they have three separate padded sections instead of two.

Crash Mat Carrying System

Bouldering climbers carrying their crash pads

Most beginners often overlook this feature, and the truth is that they shouldn’t. Because hiking to the bouldering spot is a physical activity on its own.

Imagine that you have to walk some miles with all your gear strapped to your back. Eventually, you will get tired. Given that you’ll need even more energy to climb once you get to your destination, a bouldering pad with a reliable strap system will greatly reduce the stress on your back.

Why Padded Shoulders and Waist Straps are Important

Try your best to find a crash pad with padded shoulders and waist straps, in order to distribute the pad’s weight as evenly as possible. Addtionally, make sure that you can adjust each so you can secure it tightly.

Some bouldering pads even come with chest buckles. While it is not mandatory to get one with those, it makes things easier. Moreover, a chest buckle helps to keep the pad in place so that it doesn’t move. Plus, it also keeps the weight closer to your back, making it easier to carry.

Closing Thoughts

Photo credits: Mark Mcgregor- friends helping each other boulder

We’ve given you all you need to know on how to choose the perfect bouldering crash pad for you. Now, with this in mind, it is time for you to choose which is the best one for you.

If you want to know what you need to get started bouldering, then we have an article on essential bouldering beginners gear.

Beginner’s Bouldering Pad

In general, we think that the Black Diamond Circuit is the best bouldering crash pad for beginners. It’s both large and thick enough for most entry-level problems. Plus, it’s lighter and cheaper than the Ocun Dominator, our first runner-up.

Supplementary Pad Recommendation

If a supplementary crash pad is what you are looking for, then we recommend the Nimbo by PETZL, as it happens to be the most durable option.

If you’re on uneven ground, then you won’t find any bouldering pad better than the Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad. Undeniably, its unique baffle design beat even the best taco-style crash pad. Besides, with a 1680-denier construction, it is the most durable pad on this list.

Oversized Crash Pad

Lastly, the Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad is our winner when it comes to oversized crash mats. We love that it’s large and thick, as well as affordable, three features that any boulderer will love.

So, tell us. Which is the one you love the most?

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Last update on 2022-02-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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