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CRASH PAD, an inseperable companion
Cristian Brenna
Cristian Brenna bouldering at Fontainebleau.

Over the last couple of years bouldering has developed rapidly, with cutting-edge problems being established, and repeated, at dazzling speed worldwide. And, at a grassroots level, bouldering has undergone a mini-revolution too, with more and more climbers hooked to the “essence of climbing”. Much of this popularity can be attributed to the newcomer, the crashpad which, together with chalkbag and toothbrush, has become an inseparable bouldering companion.

Crashpads are excellent friends, as they protect the boulderer when falling off those problems (by definition the majority) that simply don’t want to be climbed. Pads help climbers push the limit and dare just that bit more. And, together with a trusted spotter, are indispensable nowadays on increasingly demanding and exposed problems.

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Make the right choice
Length, width and height are obviously the pad’s most important characteristics. Choose the right size, but also bear in mind the quality of the material and workmanship. Increased thickness obviously corresponds to increased protection, as does the number and density of the different layers.

Pads also differ in the way they are transported (suitcase handle, over-the shoulder webbing, twin shoulder straps) and how they are closed (plastic clips, aluminium buckles etc). Make sure these are sewed securely to the outer and robust.

Crash pad components
A crash pad is comprised of two main parts: the internal padding and the protective outer layer. Various accessories complete the pad, such as closing buckles, shoulder straps, external pockets etc.
The internal padding is comprised of two or more layers. The upper layer is more dense than the other layers and generally 3-4cm thick. The role of the upper layer is to distribute the impact load evenly across the entire mattress. The lower layer (or layers) is roughly 6cm high and dissipates the energy crated by the fall. It is important to underline the fact that the various layers work together to absorb the energy.
Daniel Vecchiato climbing in South Africa.
Robust outer
The internal padding is protected by a robust nylon or Cordura outer sheet. This stops the padding from ripping on rocks and stops the falling climber from slipping off the mattress.
Many companies now offer accessories such as removable pockets, rugs to keep climbing shoes clean, and, more recently, launch pads for sit-down starts.
The art of maintenance
Most pads have removable inner paddings that can be washed. We recommend you do this regularly, as dirt and small crystals can damage both the outer and inner.
Article published in
Alp Wall 1 - 2003

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