This week, i’ve become aware of a few new bouldering pads soon to hit the market, so thought i’d share! There are quite a few already on the market, and a very brief guide to them can be found in the Kit tab above, but the fact is, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to innovate and come up with something new. Still, there have been a few big steps forward in recent years, with varying results.
As long ago as 2009 (i thought it was a lot more recent than that but there we go), 8a.nu reported on a pad by Swedish company HGB that was inflatable. The rumours flew around for quite a while and yet none ever really managed to make it to the boulders of the UK, mysteriously, and i’ve never seen one in the flesh. There was another available at Rock+Run a couple of years later but that didn’t make it to the hills either – it’s possible that climbers being pretty tight was the critical factor given they had a pretty hefty price tag!
Snap came into the UK within the last couple of years and came out with the Bun: different in that it went down upside-down to the norm, keeping the mud off your back and your car, and had a waterproof base too, keeping the mud and water off the pad. I’ve used one and they are the pick of the bunch in my opinion (the aforementioned article on here needs updating by the way…) but this month, their new pad has hit the headlines.
The Wrap pad is something more than a little different, incorporating both of these aspects in many respects. It is air-filled, along with a healthy dose of foam. From what i’ve read, it has small holes in it, where the air can go in or out. Hop onto it from a small height, the force isn’t high, the air seeps out and you slowly float to the floor, like with a soft foam. Hurtle down from a great height, with a bigger impact force, and the air can’t get out the holes quick enough, and the pad feels tougher, and stronger. It’s quite clever, and could be a welcome change to the pretty standard mats out there already. Big price tag again though.
Of course that doesn’t mean that the others aren’t worth a look too and this week, i’ve learned that Petzl have now thrown their hat into the ring too. They look pretty good, nothing too game-changing but impressive nonetheless. The thing i really like from the pics is the substantial waist band and shoulder straps; something most other brands often unduly disregard, considering how much weight you can end up carting around the crags. There are three sizes, the Alto, Cirro and Nimbo, with the latter being a supplementary pad. They seem well thought out too: triple layer, room inside to stash stuff, chest strap (no other pad has this) and a large zip panel that keeps it all tidy away.
So some new developments to look forward to over the next year. I’ll let you know if i find some shops that decide to stock them so you can go and have a proper gander.