The Updated Mondo
Great news: the Mondo has been updated, and in the process, Black Diamond has dropped its price by $50 - a significant decrease on this expensive jumbo sized pad! All of BD's crash pads were updated with square corners, a new suspension system for transport comfort, updated buckles for more durability, and new graphics. See the new pad in its fully open position below. The second photo shows the older Mondo pad we initially tested.
Since we haven't tested this new version yet, the following review pertains to the previous version of the Mondo.
Hands-On Review of the Mondo
Mark Nicholas above the Black Diamond Mondo Pad at the Deli Slicer, South Lake Tahoe.
What makes the Black Diamond Mondo Pad stand out is how big and thick it is without compromising all-around functionality. It comes with a ton of cushy foam and of the big pads we tested, this is soft and forgiving out of the box. It is great for problems of all heights, and comfortable to sleep on. Because of its size, the Mondo works well as a standalone pad and is much more manageable while spotting than trying to move around two smaller pads. It is 5" thick, with a layer of closed-cell foam on top of softer open-cell foam. Unlike Mad Rock's system of two closed-cell layers sandwiching a thick open-cell layer, the Mondo's open-cell foam on the bottom layer feels much softer on short falls or back-first landings. We recommend the Mondo over the other two large pads, the Mad Rock Duo and Triple Mad Pad, if you want foam that is thick but not overly stiff.
If you land with your foot exactly in the center, you can feel the hinge more than with other big pads. This happens because the foam is a little softer than that of other big pads, so your foot can really find its way into the seam. Rather than a full-length Velcro flap to close its hinge, the Mondo only has two buckles to prevent the pad from folding. This works well on flat landings but isn't as safe as pads like the Mad Rock Duo, which has a full-length velcro flap to close the hinge.
With very thick foam, you need to be especially careful about landing on the edge of the pad and rolling an ankle. Also, because this pad is so wide, you need to make sure your car is big enough to transport it. It can be a struggle to get in the back seat of a compact car but unlike taco style pads it does fold into a thin space.
Even though it doesn't have any closure flaps, the Mondo can fit a lot of gear when closed because of its large size. A small backpack fits well inside the folded pad and loose items can be squeezed in if the closure straps are tightened down. Carrying a second pad can be difficult since there are no straps for attachment and we recommend the Mad Rock Duo for this application.
The Mondo has large handles on two sides that are big enough to get over your shoulder, which helps when moving the pad short distances. There are also two handles on the corners that help when moving the pad from problem to problem. We liked how the suspension is sewn in and comes with a grab handle above the center of the shoulder straps. When you stuff your pad full of gear prior to putting it on, that extra grab handle helps a lot. The hook buckle on the hip belt was a unique feature that our testers liked; the hook buckles on this and all Black Diamond pads were some of our favorites.
The Mondo demonstrated medium durability and its soft foam broke down a bit faster than Mad Rock's 5"-thick pads, yet we'd still expect to get a few good years out of it. The nylon material that covers the foam was less durable than that of Mad Rock pads and we've heard of it tearing in several cases. This is a significant issue if you boulder in areas with sharp rocky landings.
This pad excels at high problems yet still soft enough for lower problems. It is best suited for experienced boulderers who want a jumbo-sized pad in their quiver as well as a small pad. If you're willing to spend the money and want a massive pad then the Mondo will be a nice addition to your collection of crash pads. The Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad is 5" wider and significantly less expensive if you are okay with compromising on features and just want to cover the most ground possible. Novice boulderers or those on a budget will probably want to buy a smaller pad and then invest in a big pad later. The Mad Rock Mad Pad is a good inexpensive pad to start with and has Velcro attachments to connect with other Mad Rock pads. The other good small pads are the taco style Black Diamond Drop Zone and uniquely built Mad Rock R3, which is filled with shredded recycled foam rather than traditional open and closed cell foam layers.
At $350, the Mondo is the most expensive pad in our review. The Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad is slightly larger, the same thickness, and lists for $259; almost $100 less than the Mondo. Aside from the Petzl Alto, the Mondo has the highest cost per square foot, and the cost is hardly justified by its performance. It's a solid pad that works well, but we think that better value can be found in the Triple Mad Pad or Mad Rock Duo.
We recommend the Black Diamond Mondo if you seek a plush pad that covers a massive area. Its the most expensive pad we tested and is best for boulderers who are looking to invest in a large high-end pad.