Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $249
Pros: Least expensive, turns into comfy couch, inovative way to seal up hinge, big enough to sleep on.
Cons: Not most comofortable to carry, can't carry much gear.
Best Uses: Tall bouldering problems.
The Triple Mad Pad is the least expensive of all the big crash pads we tested and comes with a ton of features. It has a convenient strap and tri-fold design that turns it into pretty comfortable couch. It took me a while to start testing the pad because I enjoyed keeping it clean and pristine as a second couch in my tiny apartment. It also has Velcro tabs that mate each fold together and make it very unlikely that if your foot lands on a hinge it will go through. This is a very cool feature and more or less eliminates most people's concerns with hinge-designed pads (look out taco pad lovers!).
Like all Mad Pads, it comes with a convenient little carpet patch that is ideal for cleaning your feet before problems. It is long enough to sleep on and the perfect size to line a pick-up truck bed. However, it is too wide to fit in the back of a station wagon as a bed. Unlike the Mad Pad, which comes with three inches of open foam and two layers of one-inch closed foam, the Triple Mad Pad comes with four inches of open cell foam and one inch of closed cell foam. This means it is a little softer than the Mad Pad but still pretty firm. I found it a little firm at first to sleep on, but that is a good thing.
This was the stiffest pad we tested. You might want a more forgiving pad with a hybrid hinge like the Organic Big Pad, which is $50 bucks more expensive. 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 Organic Big Pad, Voodoo Highball 5000 or Misty Magnum. But overall the Mad Pad is the most pad you can get for the money.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Triple Mad Pad[/url stands out for how much foam you get for $249. This is the least expensive big pad we reviewed and has the most foam. Only the Metolius Colossus has a bigger landing area, but it is not by much and the Colossus is only 3.5 inches thick. 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, no matter 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 use 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 mega 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 start connecting them.
The one downside to many hinged pads is if you land on the hinge it can cause the pad to "bear trap" around you. The Triple Mad Pad solves that issue with its Velcro which links the pad together on the bottom.
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 the pad into a lounge chair aka "Super CrazyCreek." This seemed a little gimmicky at first but we found it quite useful.
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 jarring falls on your butt or back. We would jokingly pad the Mad Pad with a softer pad for repeated short 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 our testers gave up after a few minutes of trying. They figured if it was that hard to wrestle the foam out, it would be even harder to get it back in so they left it as is which works well for what the pad is mainly designed for, medium to high falls.
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. The waist straps would also fall off when the pad was laying on the ground being used as a pad.
The main dislike is that with the triple fold design it's hard to carry much stuff in it. You have to put everything in a small backpack and really tighten it down. Even then, the weight carries a little awkwardly. For many serious boulderers this is a giant deal because it makes it hard to bring extra pairs of shoes, a big chalk bucket, etc.
Also, the shoulder straps are not the most comfortable. They are similar to the Mad Pad's, which work fine for light loads. However, with heavy loads the shoulder straps cut into my shoulders a bit. Since this pad comes with a waist belt, that is not a giant deal. One minor dislike: that same great long strap that turns the pad into a couch also is a bit annoying when carrying the pad. You always have to tuck it away. That said, I love the couch feature so this minor annoyance is worth it.
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 $249, this is one of the least expensive of all the big pads we reviewed. 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 Mad Rock Mad Pad is the smaller version of this pad (36" x 48").
— Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: March 26, 2015
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