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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Can't sleep on it, doesn't keep tiny stuff from falling out
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.
RELATED: Our complete review of bouldering crash pads
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
— Chris McNamara and Robert Beno
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: October 1, 2013
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