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Mad Rock Duo Review

Great crash pad distinguished by its innovative strap system for carrying a second pad.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $240 List | $179.21 at MooseJaw
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Pros:  Straps to attach a second pad, plush suspension, sturdy foam for high falls
Cons:  Foam is hard for low falls, stiff for uneven landings
Manufacturer:   Mad Rock
By Steven Tata ⋅ Senior Research Analyst  ⋅  Feb 2, 2018
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • High Falls - 30% 9
  • Low Falls - 30% 6
  • Durability - 20% 8
  • Packing Gear - 10% 9
  • Features - 10% 8

Our Verdict

With thick foam and excellent functionality, the Mad Rock Duo took our Editors' Choice Award home. For climbers who want to carry multiple crash pads at once, it is a uniquely designed pad with a strap system to make this task relatively comfortable. A large pouch and two straps on the back of the pad accommodate the addition of a second pad. Its stiff foam was great for high falls and a large footprint makes it a good pad on its own. The Duo has many features, including a water bottle pouch, integrated doormat, and straps that convert the pad into a couch. It shined while padding even landings and we couldn't get it to bottom out, even in long falls.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


We felt comfortable climbing high above the Duo.
We felt comfortable climbing high above the Duo.

Padding Falls


With 5" of padding, the Mad Rock Duo was only beat by the Black Diamond Mondo in terms of thickness. It features the same padding as the Mad Pad and Triple Mad Pad. There are three layers of foam; 3" of soft open cell foam sandwiched between two 1" layers of stiffer closed cell foam. The foam didn't soften much over time and we found it to be best suited for relatively high falls where softer pads would likely bottom out. This was comforting over landings with sharp rocks that would be felt on softer pads like the Mad Rock R3. For low falls the Duo was less plush than softer pads like the R3 and Black Diamond Drop Zone.

There is a velcro flap on the back side of the pad that prevents the hinge from folding, which is the primary safety concern of using a hinged pad. This is not a foolproof safeguard against landing on the hinge but felt significantly better than landing on an open hinge.

A long Velcro flap closes the hinge of the Duo.
A long Velcro flap closes the hinge of the Duo.

Because the Duo's padding is fairly stiff it performed best on relatively flat landings. It has integrated velcro flaps on all sides, which enables it to be connected to other Mad Rock Pads, except the R3, which does not have this feature. By connecting pads you essentially create one giant crash pad with covered seams.

Packing Gear


The Duo's name comes from its unique strap system that enables you to easily attach a second pad. This is incredibly useful and compatible with any crash pad that fits under the straps. Two straps attached to a large pouch cinch down a second crash pad. We liked this feature a lot, especially for solo missions that would have been sketchy with only one pad. Any smaller pad will fit and we easily attached larger pads like the Mad Rock R3, though this made approaches noticeably more tiring. A small backpack also fits in this space if you don't have a second pad but want to carry a bag.

The daisy chains on the back of the Duo can be used to attach a second pad and can be used for clipping extra gear.
The daisy chains on the back of the Duo can be used to attach a second pad and can be used for clipping extra gear.

Because it is hinged, the Duo does not have much space for stuffing smaller items between halves of the pad, which is much easier with taco-style pads like the Mad Rock R3 and Black Diamond Drop Zone. This wasn't much of an annoyance because the back of the pad has daisy chains that are good for clipping gear such as shoes, chalk bags, and water bottles. It's also possible to fit extra items inside the pouch when a second pad is being carried.

Load lifting straps made the Duo feel more like a backpack than a crash pad on approaches.
Load lifting straps made the Duo feel more like a backpack than a crash pad on approaches.

It has a thick removable hip belt, fully adjustable shoulder straps, and comfortable shoulder padding. At 17 pounds and significantly heavier with a second pad attached to it, the Duo was one of the heaviest pads that we tested, yet we still found it to be one of the most comfortable because of its plush suspension system that evenly disperses weight between your shoulders and hips.

The Duo's comfortable suspension system evenly disperses the weight of two full-size pads.
The Duo's comfortable suspension system evenly disperses the weight of two full-size pads.

Features


The Mad Rock Duo was one of the most highly featured crash pads that we tested. In addition to its standout suspension and pad attachment system, there are two daisy chains on the back for clipping gear. Testers liked the integrated water bottle pouch, which enables you to stay hydrated on the approach without having to take the pad off.

The water bottle pouch makes it easy to stay hydrated without having to take the pad off.
The water bottle pouch makes it easy to stay hydrated without having to take the pad off.

A built-in mat serves as a place to wipe your feet before stepping on the pad and starting up your problem. This is a nice feature that keeps the pad clean and saves you from cleaning your shoes on the pad or pants. The mat also doubles as part of the closure system when the pad is closed.

The welcome mat is a great place to clean off your shoes before climbing and saves the pad from dirt.
The welcome mat is a great place to clean off your shoes before climbing and saves the pad from dirt.

When you're taking a break in between burns or hanging out at around the fire the Duo can double as a couch with two straps that connect opposing corners of the pad. This adds to the pad's versatility and we missed this feature on ones that lacked it.

The Duo makes a great couch to hang out on when you aren't bouldering.
The Duo makes a great couch to hang out on when you aren't bouldering.

There are several handles on the pad and it is very easy to move around. These include a center lift handle and two handles on opposite sides. Having plenty of handles was helpful for moving the pad when it is fully loaded with gear and a second pad strapped to the back of it.

Durability


Because it has such stiff foam and reinforced stitching the Duo is one of the most durable pads in our review. The foam softened up after extensive use but not to a point where it wasn't effective at cushioning hard falls. Compared to most pads in our review, Mad Rock's 5" foam layering was some of the toughest out there and it seemed like the closed cell foam layers helped to maintain stiffness. Using the welcome mat also saves the pad from excessive wear on the top material. The strap holster on top of the pad ended up with a few holes but is still functional. This was the one component that could have been made with a stronger material.

Best Applications


If you want to easily carry two pads then the Mad Rock Duo will not let you down. With abundant features and a large footprint of 56" x 42" the Duo is well suited as your only pad but its main advantage is in the strap system to accommodate a second pad. This capability makes it a great option for people who boulder alone and want to carry two pads or for those who want to maximize padding under tall problems.

Value


The Duo lists for $240, putting it among the more expensive pads in our review. This is a great value given the pad's area, which is almost as large as the Black Diamond Mondo and larger than the versatile Black Diamond Drop Zone. It has more features than any other pad in this review, which seems to be factored into the pad's price since simple models like the Mad Pad and Metolius Session II are much cheaper. If you want to maximize cost per square foot with a large pad then the Mad Rock Triple is a better option, with a greater area and the same foam as the Duo.

Conclusion


The Mad Rock Duo is unparalleled when it comes to carrying multiple pads at once. Its well-padded suspension is designed for this task, making it comfortable to carry on long approaches. If you don't want to carry a second pad then the Duo may be too heavily featured and more affordable options might be more appealing.


Steven Tata