The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Mad Rock Mad Pad Review

Excellent value pad with thick foam and no frills.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $169 List | $168.95 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 3 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
Manufacturer:   Mad Rock
By Chris Summit, Chris McNamara, & Steven Tata  ⋅  Nov 7, 2018
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • High Falls - 30% 9
  • Low Falls - 30% 6
  • Durability - 20% 8
  • Packing Gear - 10% 3
  • Features - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Mad Rock Mad Pad is one of the least expensive medium size bouldering pads we tested and has some of the thickest and stiffest foam out there. It was nearly impossible to "bottom out" on sharp rocks under the pad from any height. For its size, it is relatively light and compact. This is our Best Buy Award winner for bouldering crash pads because it is among the least expensive, most versatile, and well-featured pads available. That said, it is very stiff and low falls can be slightly jarring. If you don't do many tall problems, you might want a more forgiving pad with an angled hinge like the Metolius Session II, or the impressively plush Mad Rock R3. Overall, the Mad Pad has the thickest piece of foam you can get for the money.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Our testers felt comfortable climbing high above Mad Rock's Mad Pad.
Our testers felt comfortable climbing high above Mad Rock's Mad Pad.

Padding Falls


The Mad Pad features the same 5 inch-thick foam as the Mad Rock Duo and R3, with 3 inches of soft open cell foam sandwiched between two harder 1 inch closed cell foam layers. Mad Rock's foam was very stiff and only softened up a bit through our testing. It was great for cushioning the impact of high falls but low falls didn't feel great and landing on your back or tailbone could be pretty jarring on a new pad.

Aside from its impressively thick padding, the Mad Pad's best feature for protecting falls is a full-length velcro strip that runs along the backside of its hinge. This virtually eliminates the hinge and we struggled to think of scenarios where it would fail. Although it makes the pad too rigid for extremely rocky landings we felt better about not having to worry about injuring an ankle in the pad's hinge.


With five inches of firm foam, the Mad Pad is among the stiffest 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. It will soften over time, but not much compared to other pads we tested.

Packing Gear


With no closure flaps the Mad Pad is not great for carrying gear but still can accommodate the basic items that most boulderers carry. Smaller items tended to fall through the pad in our testing but we never had issues with loading shoes, chalk bags, and jackets in the Mad Pad.

The lack of closure flaps made it difficult to pack more than the essentials into the Mad Pad.
The lack of closure flaps made it difficult to pack more than the essentials into the Mad Pad.

Features


The Mad Pad was one of the simplest pads we tested and has some useful features. Our favorite is that it can be converted into a couch with two straps that connect opposing corners. This is great for hanging out around camp and between bouldering sessions.

When you aren't busy climbing  the Mad Pad makes for a great couch.
When you aren't busy climbing, the Mad Pad makes for a great couch.

One of the cool features not found on many other pads is the Velcro attachments on the sides that let you link multiple Mad Rock pads (except for the R3) into one giant pad. If money is tight or you just want a more flexible pad configuration, this is a great way to go.

Durability


The Mad Pad's 5-inch thick foam is identical to that of the Duo and Triple Mad Pad with 3 inches of open cell foam between two 1-inch layers of harder closed cell foam. It softened up a bit over time but not as much as we initially expected. Because of how hard the foam is in a new pad, this aging makes the pad more versatile under shorter falls. We found the Mad Rock foam layup to last longer than that of most other pads.

The Mad Pad's stiff foam and reinforced stitching make a very durable crash pad.
The Mad Pad's stiff foam and reinforced stitching make a very durable crash pad.

Best Applications


This pad is best for all-around bouldering and also makes a nice addition for climbers building a quiver of pads. If you are on a tight budget, it's hard to beat the Mad Pad's low price and proven ability to cushion hard falls. It only has an average area and is best for use with a spotter who can move it under the climber.

Value


The Mad Pad stands out because of how much foam you get for $169 and it was one of the least expensive pads that we reviewed. With few frills and impressively durable foam, this is a great option for climbers who are looking to save money without compromising functionality. Although you won't be able to carry tons of gear in it, the Mad Pad does a good job of performing its primary function of padding falls.

Conclusion


For those on a budget, the Mad Pad provides excellent functionality. It's a great pad for a variety of users because of its medium size, thick foam, and low cost. For climbers getting their first pad it's an affordable entry-level model, and for those supplementing a collection of pads, it will help to cover more ground under your project.


Chris Summit, Chris McNamara, & Steven Tata