Metolius Recon Review
Cons: Does not carry very much gear (barely even the essentials), tri-fold hinge is often flip floppy or overly rigid on uneven landings
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With 4" of foam, the Metolius Recon did not stand out for its cushioning abilities. Similar to the Mad Pad layering, but thinner, the Recon has 2.5" of open cell foam between stiffer closed cell foam layers that are 1" on top and 0.5" on the bottom. It was plenty thick enough to cushion medium and low falls but we preferred the thicker foam of Mad Rock's Mad Pad and Duo for high falls and rocky landings.
The Recon becomes very rigid when the Velcro hinge flaps are secured, but this is often as helpful as it is annoying. It is hard to lay flat on uneven terrain and with the flaps secured it can sometimes be too rigid — it slides out of place or sits unevenly. If you frequently climb over uneven or rocky landings, this pad is not the best choice. When the flaps are secured the rigidness also makes the pad work great as a back pad against a vertical surface or to flatten the landing over a crevice.
The main drawback with the Recon's tri-fold design is that it holds very little gear. This pad barely fits the essentials (shoes, chalk bag, etc.). Our testers found most of our pada that folded in half worked well to carry a small daypack with all of the essential items, the recon was unable to do this. Our testers preferred the Mad Rock Duo for its ability to carry multiple pads as well as a small day pack.
When folded up for carrying the Recon resembles a suitcase and can be carried like one, making it a great secondary pad. A separate main pad can be used to carry the group's shoes and extra gear. The carpet square sewn onto the center of the pad works well for drying/cleaning shoes and makes a sort of bullseye to aim for when jumping/falling.
With multiple layers of foam and relatively thick body fabric, the Recon proved to be a durable pad. Its foam softened up gradually and seemed less sturdy than that of the Mad Pad or Black Diamond Mondo.
The Recon is best for bouldering in areas with flat landings and works especially well as a supplementary pad because of its ability to be carried like a suitcase. The tri-fold design is similar to that of the Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad, but with thinner foam. The Recon is one of the best secondary pads with its quick single-strap closure, compact design, and easy-to-transport shape.
The Metolius Recon is about the same price as comparably sized pads, yet not as thick. The Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad is 1" thicker, 2" wider, and 10" longer with a lower list price. If you're looking to maximize area per dollar the Triple Mad Pad provides a better value and is better for cushioning hard falls.
While it wasn't a favorite, the Recon worked well covering a large area for flat landings. We liked the Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad better as a standalone pad because of its larger area and thicker foam but would use the Recon as a second pad.
— Steven Tata