Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $119 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros: least expensive, compact (small but burly), thick and stiff foam (also a dislike)
Cons: thick, stiff square cut foam, hard to pack, hinged
Best Uses: all-around bouldering
Manufacturer: Mad Rock
The Mad Rock Mad Pad is one of the least expensive pads out of all the medium size bouldering pads we tested and it has some of the thickest and stiffest foam. It was nearly impossible to "bottom out" and hit sharp rocks under the pad from any height. For its size it is relatively light and compact.
This used to be our Best Buy for bouldering pads because it was the cheapest, was versatile, and came with a lot of features. That said, this was the stiffest pad we tested. If you don't do many tall problems, you might want a more forgiving pad with an angled hinge like the Metolius Bailout, which is now our Best Buy winner. The Bailout edged ahead because it is easier to carry stuff with and we preferred the little details. The Mad Pad will last a long time and might even be sort of shiny when its time has come. If you have the cash, we would recommend the the Metolius Boss Hogg or the Organic Simple Pad. But overall the Mad Pad is the most foam you can get for the money.
View our complete Crash Pad Review to see how this product compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Mad Pad stands out for how much foam you get for $140. This is the least expensive pad we reviewed and and only the massive Black Diamond Mondo Pad has thicker foam. The Mad Pad's five-inch-thick foam is the stiffest of all the pads we tested. When you put it over a sharp rock it is almost impossible to feel it whether it is a big or small fall. The foam is also durable. While the pad softened up a little over time, it did not do so nearly as much as most pads. All pads eventually have their foam break down, but this one should last a long time.
The top material was shiny and easy to keep clean. Most pads have a durable Cordura that is hard to keep clean after a while. The Mad Pad uses a more shiny material that is not as cozy to hang out on but is easy to clean with a damp cloth.
One of the cool features not found on many other pads is the Velcro attachments on the sides that let you link multiple pads into one giant Mad Pad. This is a great alternative to buying a really big pad if you are on a budget. Buy a Mad Pad and then later, when you can afford it, buy another one and some webbing to lash the two together. Chris Summit did this for a few years with the Metolius Stomp and it was a great and versatile system. He had a two-door hatchback and fitting a giant pad would have been really hard. The one downside to the Stomp was it didn't link together so you always had to mind the seam where the pads met. The Mad Pad solves that issue with its Velcro.
Another cool feature is the little detachable carpet square for cleaning your shoes before a problem. This makes up for the fact that it is hard to clean your shoes on the Mad Pad's slick fabric. Finally, there are some extra long straps so that you can turn that pad into a lounge chair aka "Super CrazyCreek."
The stiff and thick foam takes a long time to break in. During that time it is almost too stiff to fall on for short falls on your butt or back. We would jokingly pad the Mad Pad with a softer pad for repeated falls. Part of why it is stiff is because there is so much foam. The other reason is that there are two layers of closed cell foam on top whereas most three-layer bouldering pads like the Metolius Boss Hogg or Organic Simple Pad use a layer of soft foam, then hard then soft again. It seems possible to open up the pad and rearrange the foam to your liking maybe a closed cell on top, soft open cell in the middle and then closed cell on the bottom. However, the foam is so tightly packed in fabric that Chris Summit gave up after a few minutes of trying. He figured if it was that hard to wrestle the foam out, it would be even harder to get it back in.
Also the thickness of the foam and the fact that all the hard foam is on top makes this pad among the most prone to rolled ankles when you land on the edge. One solution is to do what John Sherman does with many of his pads: take a knife and cut slits a few inches deep all around the pad. This makes the edges of the pad softer and more forgiving. Another option is to turn the pad upside down for lower problems. When it is upside down, the softer foam is on top and the pad becomes quite forgiving. The downside is that there is then a big crease in the middle that a foot can find and you have to remove or otherwise manage the shoulder straps.
This pad is best for all-around bouldering from beginner to expert. It is ideal for climbers on a budget. Entry level boulderers need to pay attention to the ankle-rolling possibilities and not learn about them the hard way!
At $140 this is the least expensive of all the pads we reviewed and one of the lowest priced overall. Combine the low price with its long lasting thick and stiff foam and it could be a good deal for a basic all-around pad. The other medium size pad in this price range is the Metolius Stomp for $142.
The larger 3 sectioned/3 fold Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad
— Chris Summit and Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: January 5, 2014
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