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Organic Big Pad Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Bouldering Crash Pads

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: October 1, 2013
Street Price:   $315
Pros:  Great foam, easy to carry a big packpack, comfortable, durable
Cons:  Can't sleep on it, doesn't keep tiny stuff from falling out
Best Uses:  Big boulder problems
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Organic
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ March 14, 2012  
Overview
The Big Pad wins our Editors' Choice award for high quality custom craftsmanship but it is not available at any major retailers. The new Mad Rock R3 pad, which is available at major retailers, gets a shared award for it's quality, versatility and eco conscious foam.

This is one of the best big crash pads we have tested because of its awesome foam, durability and simplicity. With the same "memory style" foam used in all Organic crash pads it is both durable and great at absorbing big falls. While all foam eventually breaks down with heavy use, this foam breaks down slowly.

We love this pad. It's a good size, simple, and easy to carry around. We would recommend it to anyone who is a serious boulderer. The only big downside is that you can't use it as a bed. But if that is not important to you, we would highly recommend it. If you want the absolute least expensive pad, check out the Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad. If you love taco-style pads, check out the Voodoo Highball 5000 or Misty Mountain Magnum. If you want a bi-fold pad that is a little softer, check out the Black Diamond Mondo Pad. But if you want a good firm pad that will last forever, this one is hard to beat.

View our complete Crash Pad Review to see how this product compared to others.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
The foam is on the stiffer side, especially at first, but we like that. Big pads are usually intended for big falls and we like to know we are not going to go "through the foam" and find a rock on the other side. The use of the hybrid hinge made the middle seam barely detectable.

Instead of being longer and skinny (like most tri-fold designs and other big pads), it is short and fat (it uses a bi-fold design). It's not long enough to sleep on but it gives you a more square target to hit as opposed to the more rectangular target of the tri-fold designed pads. With the bi-fold design, it's easy to cram a big backpack in the middle and carry. It is also very fast to collapse and move from problem to problem as opposed to tri-fold pads that take more time to close up between problems. It's also fast to move around because of its simplicity. There are no extra flaps, pockets or straps to manage. The hooks that secure it closed are easy to operate and cinch down smoothly.

The carrying system is on the more comfortable side. It also has two different heights from which to attach the suspension. This ideal for shorter or taller people who can decide exactly where they want the pad's center to rest.

Because the pads are made to order, you can choose your colors and even if you want four-inch foam instead of the standard five-inch. The four-inch foam makes the pad a little lighter and softer over time. However, we highly recommend the five-inch since in general you want a big pad like this for big falls.

Click to enlarge
Anna Joseph on Fly Boy Arete, Bishop, CA.
Credit: Max Neale
Dislikes
This pad does not have quite the surface area of the Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad or the Metolius Colossus. This is not a big deal, but if you are looking for the absolute most surface area in a pad, this is on the smaller side of big crash pads. Also, because of the bi-fold design, it is not long enough to sleep on. While we like its simple design (see above), people who are looking for a pocket to stash shoes, chalk bags and other stuff may be disappointed. There is no closing flap at the bottom of the pad or on the sides. If you want to carry small stuff in this pad and be certain it won't fall out the bottom, you need to put it in a backpack or other bag and put that backpack in the middle. This is the way we like to carry stuff so this is not a big deal to us. Because of the bi-fold design, this pad may be a little harder to fit in the back seat of small cars.

Some people don't like the hinge design for big pads intended to absorb big falls. Pads like the Mondo and Triple Mad Pad address this by adding straps or velcro on the bottom so you can keep the pad from turning into a "bear trap." The Organic Big Pad does not come with this feature. But because most orders are custom, you can order this as an extra feature.

Best Application
This is ideal for big problems. Because its a little bigger and heavier, it's not as ideal for short little bouldering sessions. For that, we would recommend the Organic Simple Pad.

Value
This pad is a great value. It is one of the least expensive big pads and lasts a long time. Based on its quality construction and durable foam, it is one of the better long-term values.

Other Versions
This pad comes in 4" and 5" thickness. We prefer the 5" but some people prefer the lighter 4". If you go the 4" option, you save $16 (the price is knocked down to 299).

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The more crash pads the better. Bishop, CA.
Credit: Max Neale

Chris McNamara and Robert Beno

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 1, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   May 23, 2010 - 11:44am
octo · Climber · Kirkland, WA
I have bought a while back the Organic Full Pad and being very satisfied with it, when time came to look into getting a second, larger pad, Organic was on my list.

Now it happened that a couple of weeks prior to getting the Big Pad, I took a fall on my Full Pad, right on the hinge. The landing was uneven, some small boulders, and the pad "folded" on me (the bear trap that was described on this site). No big deal, I am light (120lb) and the top foam layer in this design kept my ankle safe. I guess any hinge design would have had the same problem with that particular fall.

When I decided between the finalists (Colossus and Organic Big Pad) I talked to Josh at Organic Climbing and I asked him to put 3 compression straps on the outside of the hinge (see the picture):

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3 compression straps that keep the pad from folding when on uneven terrain
Credit: octo

The minute the pad arrived, I simulated the fall zone with some bricks and I started jumping on it from a ladder. I hit the hinge a couple of times, and it felt every time as if I was falling on a non-hinged, taco style. Now, mind you, I am light, so a very heavy person might have a different experience (use 4 straps instead of 3?). I think this system is vastly superior to those velcro designs, which cannot withstand the forces developed in such falls. Nothing beats field testing, so yesterday I took it to my project, jumped on it's middle a couple of times, took some tall falls on it, and it performed as I was expecting.

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Full and Big pads strapped together
Credit: octo
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Credit: octo

I boulder a lot by myself, so the next biggest thing was how to carry the pads, especially when I (sometimes) hike for over 1 h. You see above how I ended up hooking together the Full and the Big pad. This system was not by design, but the metal hook-buckles that Organic is using not only are very sturdy, but also allow one to be very creative with how he packs his things:

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My bullet pack strapped on top; very easy way to carry my stuff without having it dangle on the sides of the pads.
Credit: octo

The Organic pads are on the stiff side (which I like as I am attracted to tall problems), and I also expect them to last a long time. The simple, no frills, design works great for me. Being made in the old good USA was also a factor; I could have saved some bucks going with my second choice, but my expectations of lasting longer and being manufactured here, tilted the balance. Last but not the least, the fact that Josh was so responsive to my suggestion for improving the pad with the compression straps, secured the deal for me.

Conclusions: I love both my Full and Big pads, I like the foam and the design, and I would recommend them hands down to anyone looking for great value for their buck. I personally consider the hybrid hinge + compression straps the best design currently available in bouldering pads:
  • is behaves like a taco, continuous top pad, when you tension the straps
  • the hinge allows padding of two planes of (think square boulders) by layering the pad in reverse (top layer facing the planes protected)
  • the continuous top layer of foam gives extra protection when doing the above


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 1, 2013 - 01:34am
Kari P · Climber · New Hampshire
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My super sweet Organic Big Pad.
Credit: Kari P

I cannot recommend this bouldering pad enough. It's absolutely awesome! One of my climbing buddies is big into bouldering, so I started tackling some problems with him and got super psyched. My only problem was that highball problems intimidated me quite a bit, as I had a major knee injury (torn ACL, MCL, both medial and lateral menisci) in college that occurred when I bailed out of a jump while pole vaulting and landed on a big soft mat, so jumping off a rock onto a tiny pad seemed stupid scary to me. I decided to get the Organic Big Pad because it seemed like the best on the market, and I hoped it would inspire some confidence.

The Big Pad is awesome. Josh, Organic's owner, is a super awesome guy to deal with. He answered all my emails and questions in a timely manner and seemed genuinely excited to make me a pad. I ended up choosing my own colors but not going for a full custom design, and the resulting design is sick. I love it! It's pretty cool that I have a one of a kind pad. I like knowing that if anyone ever steals my pad, I'll be able to call them out on it without any confusion. I ended up getting my pad one week from the day I placed my order, because I was lucky enough to do so during a time when ordering was down, so production and shipment happened very fast.

The pad itself is very well made. Craftsmanship is top notch, and the harness design is comfy and makes the pad easy to carry. I like the adjustable attachment point, which makes it easier for me to carry the pad without it banging on my legs as I walk. I can shove a good amount of gear into the pad (I just put it all in a small bag and shove that inside), cinch down the straps, and be on my way. The pad closures are easy to operate. I store my pad open and face down under my bed, because it has a tendency to not want to fall open all the way if it is stored folded. I also think this will help preserve the life of the foam at the crease.

The pad softness is perfect. It's a stiff pad that doesn't feel hard at all. I have zero worries about bottoming this out or rolling an ankle, and at the same time I don't get the wind blown out of me when I fall. It's the perfect mix of supportive and cushioning. At 4x5 feet, the pad is big enough to cover me on a route that is taller or where my fall is less predictable. Because it is so large, I have to fold down the back seats of my car (a small sedan) to take it with me places. FYI, I got the 5" version.

My bouldering buddy has a Black Diamond Impact (on its last legs) and Black Diamond Mondo (new), and he was ready to buy an Organic Big Pad after the first day he used mine. I told him he ought to at least beat up his Mondo a bit before splurging on an Organic pad. But then again, I was ready to purchase an Organic Full or Simple Pad and Half Pad combo right away because the pads are so nice.

I love that my Big Pad will outlast many of the other pads my friends have. Buying Organic makes sense for so many reasons - they make the best pads and the pads and foam are durable and last longer than competitors. While the price is a little more, having a pad that lasts 3x longer more than makes up for it. I even have a BD prodeal and decided it was worth it to spend extra to buy this pad at full price. In the long run, buying an Organic pad will save money because you are replacing it less often, which also ends up being better for the environment because there is less waste. Organic even uses soy based foams and fabric scraps in its pad designs, so they are definitely eco-conscious.

So far, I have ZERO complaints about this pad. I love it and think it was worth every dollar I spent - I'm more than happy to support a company producing such a nice product and rocking it in terms of customer service. Go buy an Organic pad - you won't regret it!

Click to enlarge
Some friends aid climbing next to my Big Pad (I climbed the route next to where they were practicing).
Credit: Kari P


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Organic Big Pad
Credit: Erisa Coppernoll
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