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Hands-on Gear Review

Mad Rock Mad Pad Review

Mad Pad
Best Buy Award
Price:   $159 List | $127.16 at Backcountry
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
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Mad Rock

Our Verdict

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 is our Best Buy for bouldering pads because it is among the least expensive, most versatile, and featured pads available. 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 Session. 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 Organic Simple Pad. But overall the Mad Pad has the thickest piece of foam you can get for the money.

RELATED REVIEW: The Best Bouldering Crash Pad Review

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Size (inches) Weight (lbs) Foam Thickness listed top to bottom (inches)
Editors' Choice Award
41 x 47 10.5 3.6 (1.1 C - 2.4 O)
Top Pick Award
55 x 35 18 4
46 x 39 12 4"
44 x 65 20.5 5 (1 C x 3 O x 1 C)
Best Buy Award
36 x 48 9 4
Best Buy Award
36 x 48 10 5 (1 C, 1.2 C, 2.7 O)
44 X 70 24 5
45 x 39 9 4"
42 x 60 14 4

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Chris Summit
Review Editor

Last Updated:
March 26, 2015



The Mad Pad stands out for how much foam you get for $159. This is one of the least expensive pads 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.

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 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.

Best Application

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 $159 this is one of the least expensive 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.

Other Versions

Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad
Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad
  • Cost - $249
  • Larger version of the Mad Pad
  • Best for all-around bouldering from beginner to expert
  • The least expensive of all the big crash pads tested
Chris Summit and Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: March 26, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 67%  (2)
3 star: 33%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Jan 5, 2014 - 08:36pm
aclimbingcarr · Climber · Blacksburg
Just wanted to provide a quick update to the review for this pad. Mad Rock has since added a waist belt, and they also fitted a type of Velcro closure to keep the hinge area closed. Hard to really describe, but it keeps rocks from getting into that dead area. It is still pretty stiff, but it gives me more confidence on higher boulders knowing if I fall I wont go right through the pad and hit anything underneath. Love this pad and hope they keep making it so I can get another in the future!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 29, 2010 - 11:46am
Novak · Climber · Den-verrr
I have owned a Mad Pad for about a year and I feel it has been a great pad for my usage. I do not boulder often, but when I do, I generally boulder alone and want some insurance under me. Its thickness is about right, its light enough for "alpine bouldering", and is comfortable to wear even packed full of beer. AND, the price is right. The only drawback I can see is its size, and the center "dead" hinge section, but I am always aware where my feet will land, so its never been an issue for me. I also love the little shoe-cleaner carpet; I feel wrong when I can't clean on actual routes! I say its $130 well spent if you're not going super highball and want a good all arounder. I dig it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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