Hands-on Gear Review

Mad Rock Mad Pad Review

Mad Pad
Best Buy Award
Price:  $169 List | $168.95 at Backcountry
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
Bottom line:  Excellent value pad with thick foam and no frills.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Size (inches):  48 x 36
Thickness (inches):  5
Weight (lb):  10
Manufacturer:   Mad Rock

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 one of our Best Buy award winners 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, our other Best Buy award winner, or the impressively plush Mad Rock R3. Overall, the Mad Pad has the thickest piece of foam you can get for the money.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Bouldering Crash Pad Review


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris Summit, Chris McNamara, & Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Friday
February 2, 2018

Share:

The New Mad Pad vs. the Original


While still retailing for $159, the Mad Pad is now available in five additional colors and with reinforced stitching. Check out the new colors below, and then keep reading for the full details on the updates.

Mad Rock Mad Pad
Mad Rock Mad Pad
Mad Rock Mad Pad
Mad Rock Mad Pad
Mad Rock Mad Pad
  • Colors — Seen above, the Mad Pad is now available in red, green, blue, orange, and mustache. (We realize mustache isn't exactly a color.)
  • Stitching — According to Mad Rock, all the stitching on this pad has been doubled for extra durability. We haven't been able to test this ourselves just yet, but we like the sound of it!

Because we haven't yet tested the newest version of the Mad Pad, the rest of this review continues to reflect the original model.

Performance Comparison



Padding Falls


The Mad Pad features the same foam as the Mad Rock Duo and R3, with 3" of soft open cell foam sandwiched between two harder 1" closed cell foam layers. Mad Rock's foam was very stiff and only softened up a bit by our testing. This was great for cushioning high falls but detrimental to low falls, especially if you land on your tailbone or back.

With 5" of firm foam, this is among the stiffest pads we tested. When you put it over a sharp rock it is almost impossible to bottom out 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 when its straps are tightened down. It was good enough for shoes, chalk, food, and water, but if you want to carry more than the necessary bouldering items you'll need to pack a small backpack or throw things into a friend's 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. Another cool feature is the little detachable carpet square for cleaning your shoes before a problem. This is a welcome addition since the slick material on the surface does not do a great job of cleaning your shoes.

The Mad Pad's carpet square is helpful for keeping the top of the pad clean.
The Mad Pad's carpet square is helpful for keeping the top of the pad clean.

One of the 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" thick foam is identical to that of the Duo and Triple Mad Pad with 3" of open cell foam between two 1" 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.

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 $159 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.

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 you cover more ground under your project.

Chris Summit, Chris McNamara, & Steven Tata

You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 2, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)

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)
Climber

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jan 6, 2014 - 01:36am
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.

Climber

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jan 29, 2010 - 04:46pm
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.


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...