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.
Mad Rock Mad Pad Review
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
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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