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Best Bouldering Pads Reviewed & Rated for Quality

last updated Jul 28, 2019

If you’ve ever been to a carnival, a festival, an event held at your school, or really anything that had a lot of people having fun, you are likely to have seen what’s known as a bouldering wall. Of course, the more common name for the activity is “rock climb” for obvious reasons. Bouldering is the activity in which you climb up an artificial rock wall to test your endurance and stamina, oftentimes without the aid of a support wire or net. And when you have neither of those things, how do you protect those that inevitably fall off? Simple, you use a bouldering pad. Bouldering pads can be used for a variety of things, and often are, from karate to yoga, and much more. However, the most common usage of these products is keeping people from breaking their necks after falling off the rock climb.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research

icon
 Mad Rock Hera Crash
99.6/100 our score
Model
99.2
Features
99.5
Value
100
Mad Rock Hera Crash
Why is it better?

The soft, light foam material

Very easy to use

Affordable

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
 Mad Rock Hera Crash
Test Winner: Mad Rock Hera Crash
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
17
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
24
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
10
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
46
Products Evaluated
Sorting Options
Model Features Value By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.6
Model
99.2 %
Features
99.5 %
Value
100 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$199.95
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97
Model
97.2 %
Features
96.4 %
Value
97.5 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$44.99
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.7
Model
95.8 %
Features
96.4 %
Value
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$164.95
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.7
Model
93.5 %
Features
94.8 %
Value
92.8 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$285.00
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.6
Model
90.5 %
Features
91.4 %
Value
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$198.95
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.9
Model
88.5 %
Features
88.2 %
Value
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$54.95
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.6
Model
85.2 %
Features
86 %
Value
85.7 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$174.95
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.6
Model
82.1 %
Features
81.6 %
Value
81 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$268.95
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.9
Model
79.5 %
Features
78.2 %
Value
79 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$147.36
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77.5
Model
77.5 %
Features
78.9 %
Value
76 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$119.99

10 Best Bouldering Pads

1. Mad Rock Hera Crash

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.6
 Mad Rock Hera Crash
Amazon Link
Model
99.2
Features
99.5
Value
100
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$199.95
Pros:

The soft, light foam material

Very easy to use

Affordable

Cons:

Can be difficult to carry from place to place

Starting off our list on the right foot, we have the Mad Rock Hera Crash Pad. Expect to see a lot of Mad Rock on this list, since pretty much no one has them beat in terms of consistency in their products. With the Hera, you aren’t just getting the features we’re about to list, you’re also helping fight ovarian cancer, as a portion of the proceeds goes to ovarian cancer research.

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Light interior foam

A lot of these manufacturers think the way to go with these crash pads is to make them as stiff as possible, and as anyone who has sore joints will tell you, landing on that has very little difference from just landing on the ground. Fortunately, this crash pad’s interior foam is very light, with a nice firm bounce to its composition, making for a softer, safer landing.

Easy to use

It may be a bit cumbersome to carry around, requiring the aid of one other person to get it from place to place, once you deploy it, there’s very little work required. Just blow it up and fold it out once and you’re all set to go. Making this one of the easiest to use crash pads on the market.

Cost and Value

If you want a good crash pad and considering the alternative leads to a lot of lawsuits, you likely do, then you need to be able to hand over a lot of cash. Fortunately, the price of this crash pad is very reasonable in that regard.

2. Everlast Folding

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97
 Everlast Folding
Amazon Link
Model
97.2
Features
96.4
Value
97.5
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$44.99
Pros:

Easy to transport

Non-absorbent shell

Cheap

Cons:

Stiff foam

In the second place slot goes the Everlast Folding Pad. This is a cruder, utility model for a bouldering pad. Not meant to look flashy, just meant to keep you from breaking something when you hit the ground. And we can appreciate such a straightforward design.

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Easy to transport

Since these pads tend to be pre-blown up when you get your hands on them, it’s important that they be as easy to lug around as possible, since they’re rather large and cumbersome to carry. Fortunately, this pad isn’t as big as the others on this list, not too small, but small enough to be easier to deal with. Add onto that a sewn handle that gives you good leverage, and this pad is remarkably easy to carry.

Non-absorbent shell

These sports can be rather physically harrowing, and a lot of people can walk away from these rather sick because of it. And when their sickness, well, gets the better of them all over your crash pad, it helps to know that cleanup won’t be too hard. Thankfully, the non-absorbent shell of this pad is very easy to clean when unfortunate accidents like that occur.

Cost and Value

While we do maintain that a really good crash pad requires quite a bit of capital if you want the good stuff, this pad is actually remarkably cheap in comparison to its peers on this list.

3. Skil-Care Crash

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.7
 Skil-Care Crash
Amazon Link
Model
95.8
Features
96.4
Value
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$164.95
Pros:

Perfect for kids with sensory disorders

Long-lasting

Comes with a removable, washable cover

Cons:

Could use a few more vent holes

Bouldering pads come in a lot of different forms, not just for rock climbing. In fact, this one is meant to be used, not for breaking the fall from a high place, but for play with your kids in the safety of your own home. Which is why we’re rounding out the top 3 segment with the Skil-Care Crash Pad.

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Perfect for kids with sensory disorders

While you can play with this pad no matter what your family looks like, this pad is particularly great for kids who have some kind of sensory disorder. Its large, soft body makes for fun times for toddlers who may not have other forms of play available to them for their own safety.

Long lasting

One may look at this pad and others like it and deem that it has maybe a week before it randomly pops and deflates. Well, rest assured, not only is this pad safe for your kids, it’s guaranteed to last for years to come, no matter what your kids may put it through during that time.

Cost and Value

This pad’s price depends on the size you want it in. if you have multiple kids, then we recommend you buy a larger pad for them all to play on. But be forewarned, you will be paying a lot.

4. Tumbl Trak Junior Crash

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.7
 Tumbl Trak Junior Crash
Amazon Link
Model
93.5
Features
94.8
Value
92.8
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$285.00
Pros:

Non-skid bottom

A soft, rugged foam interior

Handles on the ends to make transport easier

Cons:

Tends to be on the small side

In the #4 spot, we have the Tumbl Trak Junior Crash Pad. Let’s face it, most of us didn’t first see a crash pad at a fair, we saw them at P.E. class, we just didn’t know what they were called back then. The Tumbl Trak crash pad is the kind you’d see padding the walls of the gym, so the sound doesn’t disrupt the other classrooms, or for when the gym teachers are teaching stretches.

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Non-skid bottom

It can be hard to tell the bottom from the top with these pads since the manufacturers didn’t really think of that themselves. With most crash pads, you can use either side. However, this pad definitely has a side that you need to put on the floor. The bottom of this pad has been outfitted with non-skid material that, when used on smooth surfaces, keeps the padlocked in place.

Soft, rugged foam

Since you’re most likely to find this foam in gym class, it’s important that the foam inside it be safe and soft enough for kids to get rough on without hurting themselves. Fortunately, the foam interior of this pad is made from a soft, rugged foam that keeps those on top of it safe.

Cost and Value

This pad is a fair deal more expensive than the #1 entry, but nowhere near the price of the previous entry in its latter sizes. So, if you’re a gym teacher who needs a new mat, look no further than Tumbl Trak.

5. Mad Rock R3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.6
 Mad Rock R3
Amazon Link
Model
90.5
Features
91.4
Value
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$198.95
Pros:

High-quality foam

Extremely flexible

Versatile design

Cons:

Pricey

In the #5 spot, we return to Mad Rock, with the Mad Rock R3. Even in the stellar lineup of Mad Rock, this is the pad you look for if you need a pad that offers both flexibility and durability in its design. This is a pad meant to be accommodating in pretty much any bouldering environment you could throw at it. How does it do this? Well, let’s see.

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High-quality foam

The interior of this pad is filled with a combination of EVA and PU recycled foam, two of the highest quality foam materials out there. EVA, in particular, is primarily used as padding inside baseball and football helmets. Combined, these foams make a combo that’s both durable, and very comfortable.

Extremely flexible

Unlike the other entries on this list, this pad is made with what’s known as an “accordion” design. This means that the pad is designed to be rolled up instead of folded, making it not only easier to transport, as you can very easily just tuck this pad under your arm, but it’s also much more flexible, so you can use it in more unorthodox bouldering scenarios.

Cost and Value

It doesn’t take a genius to look at what we’ve just covered and deduced that this makes this pad one of the more expensive entries in the Mad Rock lineup. And it definitely is, but you are also more than getting your money’s worth out of it.

6. Metolius Magnum

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.9
 Metolius Magnum
Amazon Link
Model
88.5
Features
88.2
Value
87
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$54.95
Pros:

Clever design

Three-layer interior

Large

Cons:

Could be thicker

If Mad Rock has a rival in any of the brands on this list, it’s Metolius. Many purveyors of crash pads consider Metolius to be just as good, and often better than Mad Rock. And one of the examples they immediately point to as proof of this is the Metolius Magnum. Let’s see what gives these people such confidence.

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Clever design

It’s shocking just how many functions Metolius managed to cram into such a simple device as a crash pad. For one, it's sandwich design isn’t just for transport, if the rock climb it’s being used with it rather tall, then you can fold it in two to make it twice as shock and impact absorbent. On top of that, portions of the pad are a bit rougher, so you have somewhere to clean off the soles of your shoes. Finally, the pads have an angled hinged design, so dust and debris fall off easier.

Three-layer design

There isn’t just really good foam inside this pad, there are three layers of protection to this pad. Specifically, a 2.5-inch thick closed-cell top layer, an open-cell 2nd layer, and for the base layer, they go for a closed-cell design. By sandwiching an open-cell layer between two closed-cell layers, this pad becomes even more shock absorbent than its peers.

Cost and Value

Of course, none of this is cheap to make, and thus not cheap to buy. While not as cheap as the larger sizes of the #3 spot, it’s still very expensive in its own right. However, if you’re leading a small group that loves a good outdoor adventure, then this pad will pay you back in dividends.

7. Mad Rock Mad

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.6
 Mad Rock Mad
Amazon Link
Model
85.2
Features
86
Value
85.7
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$174.95
Pros:

Versatile use

Can combine with other pads

Affordable

Cons:

While nice and soft for long drops, short fallers will find the landing a lot stiffer

In the #7 place, we have the Mad Rock Mad Pad. Some have looked at the design and interior choices of this pad and rejected it as a rip-off of the Metolius Magnum. However, this pad does just enough original stuff to separate it from the Magnum in key areas.

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Versatile use

There are quite a few different ways you can use this pad after the climbing has concluded. For one, it comes with a rug meant for cleaning shoes, but can also just be used as a normal rug for gathering students around. It can also fold into a chair design, so you can sit back and relax while your students do other routines.

Can combine with other pads

Of course, you don’t just want to have a single crash pad between your climbers and a broken spine. But when you try pushing these pads against others like them, they can end up causing them to slide off, creating just enough of a space for a kid’s head to land in between. Which is why the Mad Pad comes with Velcro straps which can be attached to other pads to keep them both in place.

Cost and Value

With this simpler design comes a more modest price, as this pad isn’t priced much higher than our #1 pick in more retailers. Making it a great choice for the gym teacher on a budget.

8. Mad Rock Triple

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.6
 Mad Rock Triple
Amazon Link
Model
82.1
Features
81.6
Value
81
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$268.95
Pros:

Three sectioned sandwich design

Polyurethane interior

Durable

Cons:

Hard to transport

Kicking off our final three is another Mad Rock entry (we told you that you’d be seeing more of them on this list) with the Mad Rock Triple Pad. This is the Mad Rock Pad that you go for when you’re looking for support and firmness that outrank almost every other entry on this list. How does it achieve this? Let’s take a look.

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Three sectioned sandwich design

Unlike other sandwich designed crash pads on this list, this one is split into three different sections rather than just two. So, if your climber is going up a very precarious climb, you can fold this pad into one single, super thick pad to break his fall.

Polyurethane interior

Whereas other pads use EVA or PU foam, this one uses polyurethane, which is one of the firmest and most supportive kinds of cushioning foam out there. And with a mix of closed and open-cell polyurethane making up the interior of this pad, you’re guaranteed the maximum amount of support when using it.

Cost and Value

While not unreasonably expensive, this pad is still much more expensive than some of the others on this list. So, if you’re on a particularly tight budget, then this may fall just outside your range of affordability.

9. Metolius Session Crash

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.9
 Metolius Session Crash
Amazon Link
Model
79.5
Features
78.2
Value
79
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$147.36
Pros:

Angled hinge

Shoe cleaning rug

Affordable

Cons:

Buckles can be difficult to use

In our second to the final entry, we have another contender from Metolius, the Metolius Session Crash Pad. This is the Metolius pad you look for when the keyword that’s primarily on your mind is efficiency. So, what is it that makes this pad more efficient than its other Metolius peers? Let’s take a look and find out.

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Angled hinge

When you go rock climbing, even on artificial bouldering surfaces, you’re bound to kick off some dirt and debris. This stuff can be a pain to clean up, especially when you have to clean it off of a bouldering pad. Unless, of course, you have a pad like the Session, which has angled hinges that help to keep the dirt from staying on the pad for too long.

Shoe cleaning rug

And just as you kick off a lot of the dirt, a lot more of it is likely getting caked onto the bottom of your shoes. This leaves you in need of a means by which you can get the stuff off of your shoe, which the Session is more than happy to provide. Using a special rug included with the Pad, you can quickly and cleanly wipe off your shoe.

Cost and Value

Unlike the previous Metolius entry, this one is very mercifully priced, being significantly cheaper than the magnum. So, if you want a great Metolius pad, but can’t afford the magnum, this is a great alternative.

10. We Sell Mats

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77.5
 We Sell Mats
Amazon Link
Model
77.5
Features
78.9
Value
76
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$119.99
Pros:

Sponge foam core

You can choose how thick you want it to be

Very affordable in smaller sizes

Cons:

Pricey in larger sizes

Nothing all that special about it besides

For our final entry, we have the We Sell Mats Bi-Folding Crash Landing Mat Pad. Try saying that three times fast. These are great if you aren’t looking for, or simply cannot afford, anything too special. If you are on the tightest of tight budgets, then this is the mat pad for you.

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Sponge foam core

The interior of this pad is made from a durable sponge foam. While not as high quality as polyurethane or EVA, it’s a lot more comfortable to use than other entries that fell short of this list altogether. Add onto that a heavy-duty 18 oz vinyl exterior, and you have a pad that will last you quite some time.

Thickness choices

With other entries on this list, you were pretty much stuck with whatever thickness the manufacturer stuck you with. So, if a Mad Rock Pad is too thin for your needs, then you pretty much just had to deal with it. However, this pad comes with the option to choose how thick you want it to be when you buy it. Leaving you with a lot more choices available to you.

Cost and Value

Depending on the size and thickness you choose for this pad, this can either be incredibly expensive, or very affordable. In latter sizes, it actually becomes the most expensive entry on this list, which cost it quite a few points.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Model

This is one area that, on a base level, bouldering pad manufacturers essentially have down to a science. After all, the basic design of a bouldering pad is that of a square or rectangle, usually folded up in some way to make transport and storage a lot easier. However, that’s only the base level. There are tons of nuances to the design that extend beyond that. For one, there are different, more efficient ways to design a bouldering pad, as we’ve seen with the entry that opted for more of an accordion-like design, which allowed it to be more flexible and able to be used in more complex scenarios.

So, for this criterion, rather than judge how well the entries managed to pull off the basic design criteria, we instead judged them based on how cleverly they played with their designs.

Features

As we’ve showcased throughout the list, there are a shocking number of features you can add onto a bouldering pad, far more than we expected when we started researching this list. None of these features are strictly necessary, so we judged them instead by what they brought to the experience and how worthwhile it was in so doing.

For example, one feature that a lot of people approve of is the addition of non-slip surfaces to one side of a pad. This keeps the pad from moving around too much when you put it down, and when you put it up against another pad, it keeps there from being any cracks between pads, which would endanger anyone who fell in the direction of those cracks.

Features like that, as well as others such as rugs that help you clean your feet and angled hinges to remove dirt, make an already good bouldering pad into a great one.

Value

Usually, it’s a bit clearer cut in this part, because the higher the price, typically means the higher the quality. However, as our #2 entry, the cheapest entry on this list showed us, that is not the case here. The price of a bouldering pad tends to vary depending on the materials used to make it, the features it boasts, and the thickness of the pad. The more features and interior material used to make the pad, the more money it has to make back because a lot of the materials used to make these pads are not cheap. But with that said, they are worth the price, so if money is no object for you, then there shouldn’t be an issue.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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Ease of transport

Before you can use your bouldering pad, you actually have to get the thing out of the shed and lay it down where you need it to be first. And if you look at your average bouldering pad, you can start to see where people might have problems with this step. It’s no secret that, in order to perform their function effectively, these things need to be big and bulky. This is another reason that people prefer the accordion-style of design for a bouldering pad, as you can simply roll it up until it fits under your arm and carry it to the location.

Interior

The composition of the interior of a bouldering pad is the thing that’s going to keep you from hurting yourself when you hit it after a long drop. When arranging the interior of a bouldering pad, the manufacturer will choose to either do it in cells or layers. Think of the interior of a bouldering pad like that of a mattress. How much support you get out of the mattress all depends on the nature of the inner foam material within. And when you fall on a bouldering pad, you need that pad to strike the perfect balance between shock absorption and flexibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: If someone else is bouldering with me, does that mean I have to have more than one bouldering pad?

a:

Not just for one person, but in the bouldering community, it’s considered the standard practice to have one bouldering pad available per participant. And the reasoning for this is as such:

For one thing, different people always have different needs when it comes to what kind of bouldering pads are best for them. Some folks may need their pads to be firmer, while others may need them to be softer and more flexible. You never know what a person’s physical needs may translate into for a crash pad.

Next, you may need more crash pads depending on the heights to which you plan on climbing. The higher you go, the more you’ll need to break your fall, and while a folded-up sandwich pad will do the job just fine to an extent, if you’re going for the particularly high bouldering walls, then you need a few more layers stacked on.

q: I’m just starting out with bouldering, is there a type of bouldering pad that’s best for a beginner?

a:

In general, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you make sure to buy a high-quality pad, then it won’t really matter which one you get. But if you want a few pointers on what to look for, consider the following:

First off, you need a pad with a lot of surface area that has good traction on most floors, even smooth ones. Because you have our personal guarantee that you are not going to fall correctly the first 3-5 times. Few things frighten the brain as much as falling from a potentially fatal height, because it’s the definition of helplessness.

Second, make sure the mat you get is fairly thick. Four inches should do the trick just fine.

Finally, get a pad that’s easy and convenient for you to use and move around. If you hate moving it from place to place, then you’ll likely try to avoid using it, even when you have to.

If you want good design to start off with, a lot of bouldering pros say they started off with the taco style crash pad, because of how it offers a continuous fall surface. However, the tradeoff is that they’re incredibly cumbersome and hard to work with.

q: How do I tell if my crash pad is getting too old?

a:

Well, the best way to tell is to simply ask yourself how often you’ve used the pad. If you use it very regularly, then it’s going to wear out on you a lot faster than if you only used it every now and then. If you suspect that you’re going to be the former, then it’s best to get a crash pad with interior foam that can be replaced when it wears out.

Sources

  1. Editing Team, Bouldering Mat,
  2. Adele Watson, Best Bouldering Crash Pads,
  3. Kim McGrenere, Best Bouldering Crash Pads of 2018,