Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $175
Pros: Quality foam, quality workmanship, color/design customization
Cons: Can only order direct from manufacturer
Best Uses: All-around bouldering: beginner to expert and high to low problems.
True to its name, this Organic Simple Pad is simple. Just great foam and all the essentials with nothing extra. Between two layers of soft open celled foam is layer of squishy yet responsive harder foam. It is not closed cell hard foam, rather more like "memory foam" that is unique to the bouldering pad industry. The pad uses a hybrid hinge design with a single layer of continuous foam on top to help protect if you land on the hinge. If you don't mind the hinge style and like its flat, predictable landing zone then this is one of the best hinged pads on the market.
It is not only one of our favorite pads, for $175 it is also a great deal considering that it is so durable. For hinged pads its main competitor is the Metolius Boss Hogg, which had more little features and a more comfy upholstered top but also costs another $40. If all you want is a pad with just the essentials and great foam, the Organic Simple Pad is tough to beat. Just about everyone we talk to who has one, raves about it. If you want the simple pad with the closure flap, it's only another $10 to get the Organic Full Pad.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Organic boldly says on its web site, You could wrap this foam in a burlap sack and it would still be the best pad on the market." Maybe a little cocky, but this is our favorite foam and we imagine how much better a pad like the Black Diamond Drop Zone would be if you could sneak into it a layer of the "memory foam." Not only does it hit a nice balance of being sturdy yet forgiving, it is very durable. All pads eventually have their foam break down, but this is the most resilient to getting packed out and going soft. This foam is some of the stiffer stuff, but we like that. We would rather have the confidence of taking a big fall on rocky terrain and not feeling a sharp rock come through. Because it uses a hybrid hinge, the pad lays perfectly flat and you don't have to worry about the foam deforming in the middle and the separate sheet bunching up. This design is part of why the foam lasts so long.
The Simple Pad is designed for boulderers who either don't want to spend money on extra features or just don't care about them. There is no closure flap, which means the pad is streamlined and quick to move around, open, and close.
The shoulder straps have two settings for climbers of varying height. We generally don't like Velcro and prefer sewn-in shoulder straps but we have yet to see a pair of these wear out. Shorter climbers will appreciate they can move the suspension down a few inches.
Because this pad is usually made to order from the manufacturer, you can get custom color choices for free. Also, you can pay extra to have your own personal design. If you view the Organic photo gallery you can see flags are a popular choice like this one.
As with any hinged pad, you have to be extra careful when the pad is on uneven terrain. Yes, there is a hybrid hinge of one inch of soft foam. But that is not enough to save your ankle if a sharp rock sneaks directly under it. Also, when you walk on the pad on uneven terrain it acts a bit like like a bear trap (see photo above). It is debatable whether the Metolius Boss Hogg does a better job of addressing this issue with its angled hybrid hinge. This is not a deal breaker, it is just something that you have to be aware of with all hinged pads. When on uneven terrain, it is best to have another pad underneath it.
With the exception of a few places like Touchstone Climbing Gym Retail Stores, you must order this pad directly from the manufacturer. This has some benefits (mentioned above) but it also means you can't feel the pad yourself before buying and you must wait to get it. Also, the return policy is such that you can't return the pad if you don't like it. This makes the purchase more committing than with retailers that have more generous return policies. Organic's owner told us that part of the reason it has to be made to order is that foam is just so expensive. They would have to charge a lot more for the pad if they sold it through retailers. Also, like many pads made in the USA, its just a lot more expensive than getting them made in Asia.
Because there is no closing flap, you must be careful about your shoes and chalk bag falling out while hiking. Or, put all that stuff in a bouldering bag or backpack. If you want a closure flap, spend another $10 and get the Organic Full Pad. We prefer the Simple Pad. But if you want a multi pad system, it's a pretty good deal to buy the Full Pad plus the Half Pad ($65 w/ purchase of Full Pad). When bought together, you get a lot of foam for $250.
This is a great all-around pad for problems high and low. The quality foam and workmanship will usually last for years of ritual abuse and the custom color combinations will help you express yourself.
This is a good value at $175 considering the quality foam and workmanship. Only the Metolius Stomp and Mad Rock Mad Pad are less expensive, but they do not score as well.
Organic Full Pad
— Chris McNamara, Chris Summit
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Most recent review: March 31, 2010
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