Best Bouldering Pads Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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.
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.
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.
10 Best Bouldering Pads
1. Mad Rock Hera Crash
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.