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Bouldering 101: Welcome to Crashpads!

Bouldering 101: Welcome to Crashpads!

What is a Crashpad?

For those new to the concept,A crash pad is gear primarily used in the style of climbing called ‘bouldering’. It’s a padded, portable mat designed to be placed on the ground beneath where a climber, where they’re most likely to fall. Its main purpose is to cushion the fall and reduce impact if the climber loses grip or falls off the wall during a climb.

Crash pads are constructed from materials that offer a combination of strength and impact absorption, such as high-density foam or air chambers. They feature a non-slip top surface to maintain stability when positioned on uneven terrain. Additionally, they typically include handles or straps for easy transport and positioning in various climbing areas.

Using crash pads not only enhances climber safety by reducing the risk of injuries from falls at moderate heights, but it also plays a vital role in environmental conservation by minimizing the impact of repeated foot traffic in natural climbing areas.

Photo by @stevie.imperatrice

Tips for optimal use:

Here are some key tips for ensuring your crashpad is effective:

  • Proper Positioning
    • Strategically place the crash pad below the climber’s potential falling zone, 
    • cover cracks, rocks, and other obstacles that could increase injury risk. 
    • Consider the effects of gravity based on the climber’s body positioning and direction of travel in relation to the surface of their potential fall zone.
  • Communication with Partners: When climbing with others, communicate your anticipated position and intention to fall to avoid collisions and ensure a clear, well protected landing.
  • Landing Surface: Ensure the area beneath the crash pad is level and free of debris to prevent injuries upon landing.
  • Training in Use: Familiarize yourself with proper falling techniques onto a crash pad to minimize injury risk, including correct falling form and rolling to distribute impact. Remember that this will feel different than landing on the mats in a bouldering gym!

These are just a few tips to reduce the risks of falling, but it’s also important to follow steps for maintenance and durability:

  • After each use, clean the crash pad to remove dirt, sand, and debris that may accumulate on the surface and folds.

    Photo by @stevie.imperatrice
  • If the crash pad gets wet, ensure it is thoroughly dried before storage to prevent mold formation and material deterioration.
  • Store the crash pad in a dry, ventilated place, preferably flat or upright, to prevent deformation or damage to the padding.
  • If you can, avoid storing your pad where any rodents might take up residence, as foam is an exciting, soft bedding material to small critters.
  • Like all safety equipment, check that it’s in good shape prior to using the crash pad, and if the materials are old and/or showing deterioration or wear, consider replacing this important piece of gear.
  • Avoid overloading the crash pad beyond its recommended maximum capacity to prevent damage to the material and structure, but also to avoid ‘bottoming out’ and sustaining bodily harm. If in doubt, add another well placed pad!

If you want more information about bouldering outdoors, come to any of our locations and talk with our desk staff or check out some resources from reputable brands like Flashed who offer great crashpads and great advice based on 20+ years of experience.

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