The Metolius Session II is a good budget pad with some decent features. Out of the box, it is among the softest pads that we tested, which is nice for low falls but not very confidence-inspiring once you're high off the ground. The Session II has an angled hinge design that, like most hinges, can bottom out if something protrudes into the hinge from underneath but with the angled hinge it is less likely. It lists for $150, making it one of the least expensive pads that we tested. While this pad has one our Best Buy Award in the past, we now think the higher scoring and only slightly more expensive Mad Rock Mad Pad is the better buy.
Metolius Session II Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Securely holds a fair amount of gear with easy flap closure, handy carpet square for cleaning shoes, durable, affordable
Cons: The single buckle flap closure can come open when hauling heavy or bulky loads
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Session II's 4-inch sandwich foam design has a 0.5-inch closed-cell ground layer, 3-inch open-cell foam core layer, and a 1-inch closed-cell top layer.This foam is uniquely layered in a way that cushions well in most scenarios from short back-jarring falls to medium-high falls. No hinged pad is completely failsafe and the hinge of the Session II felt especially thin. We preferred the Mad Rock Mad Pad's thick velcro hinge flap to the Session II's offset hinge, which tended to come undone up on uneven landings. Only non-hinged pads with a solid piece of foam are fully foolproof over sharp rocky landings. One of our favorite taco style pads is the Black Diamond Drop Zone. For landings that are lumpy and uneven the single best pad is our Top Pick Award-winning Mad Rock R3 that has multiple baffles that conform to uneven terrain.
The Mad Rock Mad Pad is in the same price zone and earned the Best Buy award for its super thick 5-inch foam. If you are bouldering mostly on highballs or in steep caves over mostly flat-ish landings then the Mad Pad's additional inch of pad thickness will help to cushion hard falls. The Mad Pad does have the basic hinge that is at risk of failing on sharp rocky landings so if you boulder over jagged rocks frequently then the Session II would be better or consider a non-hinged taco style pad that are the best for rugged landings. Also if you ever want to carry a large or heavy load the Mad Pad does not pack loads as well as the Session II or most taco pads. Simply put, the Session II is more than adequate to pad most falls on most landing zones.
This pad stores a small to medium size daypack or bag of gear, food, water bottle, etc., all very well with the easy to open/close one buckle flap. In backpack mode, the contoured shoulder straps and adjustable waist belt make it comfortable to haul medium to semi-heavy loads very well. The waist buckle is the standard medium size plastic clip style. The suspension lacks a chest strap, which made the pad feel a bit less stable while hiking on rough terrain but didn't make much of a difference for flat approaches.
The Session II securely holds an average amount of gear with the quick and easy to use one strap flap closure system. For heavier loads check out the uniquely baffled Mad Rock R3, as it comes with a very secure flap style closures. The thick 4-inch sandwich foam is good all around and the handy carpet square in the center of the pad is good for cleaning or drying off your rock shoes before burns.
After months of use, the Session II didn't soften up much. The material held up to abrasive rock very well and we'd expect this pad to survive many seasons of consistent use. The Mad Rock pads (Duo and Mad Pad) with 5 inches of foam retained much more stiffness over a longer period of time and are better options if you're seeking maximum durability.
The Session II is great as a first pad for a beginner or for an average level boulder and even as part of a collection of pads for an expert. It stores and hauls gear well for long hikes and the size is just big enough to use alone or with a single other similar sized pad to form a fair-sized landing zone.
For anybody on a budget, the Session II provides a great value at $150. It is relatively compact and covers a large enough area to work well as a standalone pad under problems that doesn't traverse much. For the price, the Session II offers a good all-around pad for most bouldering sessions. The $170 Mad Rock Mad Pad comes with much thicker padding but doesn't have as many features as the Session II.
The medium size of the Session II is just right for a solo lowball circuit or to pad a tall problem in conjunction with a few other pads. Although the Mad Pad is better for its thickness and durability, the Session II still has a place in the hands of boulderers on a budget and for those who are looking to add some extra cushion to their arsenal of pads.
— Steven Tata