In recent years, bouldering has become an incredibly popular discipline of climbing and is especially popular among new climbers due to the low cost of entry into the sport and relatively easy learning curve. However, one of the most expensive parts of this new sport is purchasing crash pads which are necessary for safe climbing. Crash pads can easily cost over 200 dollars each, and when you often need at least two to three to protect most boulder problems the price can quickly become significant. Finding the best budget crash pad can help beginners enter the sport without spending too much money. In this review we will list the best budget climbing crash pads to save you money and get you climbing outside quickly.
One of the most ubiquitous crash pads found in bouldering crags is the Session II from Metolius. This crash pad can usually be found for around $150-$160 and is a good all around crash pad that comes at an affordable price. The crash pad has standard features such as backpack straps for east transportation and velcro at the seam to keep the pad flat when you want it to be. Furthermore, this crash pad often is on sale on sites like backcountry which can help you get them for even cheaper. One drawback is the fairly stiff foam when new which can take a little while to break in.
The Black Diamond Circuit crash pad is my second choice for best budget crash pad available in 2021. The circuit crash pad is a no-frills pad that works well and has fairly stiff foam which provides good cushioning from falls despite its fairly think 4 inch construction. One of the drawbacks of this pad compared to the Metolius session is the use of plastic clips and fasteners which can break more easily especially when subject to the abuse that a crash pad can go through. The other drawback is the closure system which is not as durable as the Session II is. Overall the circuit is a great crash pad that comes in at a slightly lower price than the Metolius session and with slightly fewer features.
The Mad Rock R3 differs from all other crash pads on this list as it rolls out instead of folds out. This allows for the pad to compact down to a different shape which may be easier to fit in compact cars. In addition, this pad measures three feet by four and a half feet long making it the largest pad on this list. One drawback in the foam is not as thick as other crash pads however it is a much softer pad which can be advantageous in some instances. Pair this crash pad with some Mad Rock bouldering shoes for the perfect bouldering set up!
The Mad Rock Mad Pad is similar to both the Black Diamond Circuit and the Metolius Session but is an inch thicker at 5 inches. Overall the crash pad is similar in many ways to others on the list but gives a little more fall protection due to its thicker foam and sturdier construction. With this said, it is also twenty to thirty dollars more than the others at $180. While a single four inch thick crash pad is typically adequate up to an 8-10 foot boulder, one may want a thicker pad for anything higher or for extra fall protection and the Mad Rock Mad Pad is a great option.
The most bare-bones (and cheapest) option on this list is the Metolius basic pad. The basic pad is a simple fold-out crash pad that covers a three foot by four foot area and is 4 inches thick. The pad does not come with other features such as felt to wipe your shoes off on and has a more basic closure system as well. This pad is a great option for those looking to spend the least amount of money. While it lacks the features that other pads have, the price is hard to beat.