Best Crash Pads of 2017
As bouldering has become its own niche within climbing, it can be challenging to figure out exactly what differentiates one crash pad from another because they all look very similar. From my own experience and after talking to numerous other boulderers about this, from novices to professionals, and they almost unanimously said the same thing: FOAM. Who has the best quality and combination of foam? Obviously, other factors came into play such as cost, value, durability, special features, weight, comfort, et cetera. So we set out to test four crash pads in the deserts of Utah and Nevada, in the mountains of Colorado, on scree, on dirt and on rocky foundations to see if we could find some answers to our questions.
Did the foam hold up to a series of long falls? Was it soft enough without bottoming out? How did the nylon shell hold up being tossed around on rough rocks? Is it functional for carrying loose gear? How comfortable is it to carry long distances in the backcountry? Was it lightweight? Did it have grab handles to toss the pad around? Was it modular to carry more than one pad?
Our crew of testers used five different categories to encompass the experience boulderers would want when purchasing and using crash pads: quality of foam, shell durability, functionality, carrying systems, and maneuverability.
For this particular review, we found the Organic Simple Pad ($175) to be our all around the “Best in Class” pad. It was not only the best quality and combination of foam, but is was also Organic’s attention to detail for each and every custom pad that they ship out the door. The Simple Pad was durable, lightweight, comfortable to carry, and 100% made and assembled in the USA. That said, the other pads in the review did notably well from the value priced Metolius Session ($150) to the well known Asana Hero Pad ($225) to the cadillac of pads, the Kinetik Newton Deluxe ($240). Beyond the differences in the foam, our testers found vast differences in the functionality of the pads. Each had their own proprietary system for carrying loose gear from simple webbing straps to elaborate military grade velcro flaps. Both Asana and Organic had modular systems in place to carry one or two extra pads, respectively. Metolius literally cut the corners on their Session Pad as well as figuratively by using 900 denier nylon as opposed to the more common 1000 denier or higher Cordura. Whereas, Kinetik pulled out all the stops by using the highest rated ILD foam, the highest denier nylon shell and a military grade waterproof vinyl flap with an elaborate carrying system. However, per the old adage, “it’s what’s inside that counts” is what gave the Organic simple Pad the edge to come out on top in this review for value and quality.