Climb Higher With Confidence Using Bouldering Crash Pads

As people focus more on their health with fun, exciting ways to stay active, rock climbing has become a particularly popular recreational activity over the last few decades. As the number of people participating in this hobby increases, it makes sense that the potential for injuries is greater than ever before, based solely on numbers. Combining that increasing number of climbers with their inexperience, it’s not hard to see why injuries connected to this activity are on the climb as well.

Lux-HQ Crash Pad Core

Lux-HQ Crash Pad Core

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself while staying safe as you take on the challenge. The simplest and first step to take in rock or wall climbing is to give yourself plenty of time to get used to even the most basic climbs and to always practice with others, while listening to the advice of more experienced climbers. This is more common sense than anything, though it can prevent a majority of accidents. When you’re prepared to take on a greater commitment to climbing, one of the first things that should be done is to add fall protection equipment to your gear, in the form of a crash pad. These protective cushions are made from layers of foam, allowing a bouldering crash pad to provide a forgiving surface that softens tumbles and reduces the chance for broken bones, bruises and sprains. Fall pads can be expensive however, especially for people still deciding how involved they want to become in their new hobby. For these people who enjoy climbing but also like not breaking the bank (or their bones), The Foam Factory has the foam materials to assist in the construction of your own individualized crash pad.

Climbing is not a one-size-fits-all activity, so the creation of your own do-it-yourself pad is often a sensible decision. Every climber has their own preferences in climbing, so it only makes sense that they have their own requirements for what they need in a cushioning fall pad as well. The Foam Factory’s inventory of open and closed-cell foam materials provide a broad selection of feels and support to help you create a crash pad that fits your exact specifications.

Made from layers of cushioning material with both closed and open-cell foam in their construction, crash pads combine foam types to achieve a balance of stability and cushion for climbers. The use of multiple types of safety foam is necessary to the performance of the product. Combining closed and open-cell foam provides a pad that functions much more safely than a pad made of any single material.

Tumble pads often stick to the same basics in design, with variations based upon a climber’s preferences and usage style. The typical design of a pad entails a 1 or 2 inch thick section of closed-cell foam layered atop 2, 3 or 4 inches of shock absorbing open-cell foam. Occasionally, designs add a third layer of closed-cell foam on the bottom to protect the pad against terrain and add height.  The materials used in each layer are where the customization of bouldering pads takes place.

Closed-cell top layers in crash pads are imperative because of the stability they provide in a landing, combined with the dissipation of energy from the fall. That stability of closed-cell foam and foam rubber is important because many falls are controlled falls. When you are prepared to fall, you want a surface you can land on feet-first, without rolling ankles. The firmness of the closed-cell layer provides that while still having enough give to make these controlled falls easier on your joints.  Polyethylene foam is the most popular foam material for this use. Resilient and shock absorbing, it easily handles the weight of a climber without giving them a jarring impact. It spreads the impact force through the material, so the material lasts longer as well. Polyethylene can be cut in solid thicknesses from ¼ of an inch up to two inches and sheets of polyethylene foam can be laminated together to create thicker, custom sections. The Foam Factory suggests 2.2 pound density for all-around performance at a great value, but high density foam varieties are also always available with values of 4, 6 and 9 pounds in-stock. Lighter, 1.7 pound density is also available for individuals looking to create different material combinations. Sheets are offered in dimensions of 54 by 24 inches, 108 by 24 inches and 108 by 48 inches.  For an extra-firm top layer, gym rubber is also available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses.

Beneath the pad’s top layer is the section that provides the majority of a pad’s thickness as well as the cushion that provides safety from higher falls. Open-cell cushion foam making up the main body of the crash pad is a necessity, not only for protection when attempting climbs to greater heights, but also for the cushion it provides in unplanned, out of control falls from any height. The firmness of closed-cell foam provides stability, but on its own, it may not be enough to prevent injury in an unplanned fall. The thicker open-cell foam padding in the interior of a bouldering mat is what handles heavy impacts and makes the difference between waking up sore and possibly waking up in the hospital.

To handle falling, full-body weight in repetition, the open-cell interior must be firm enough to support that weight while still having the yield to provide the cushioning it is designed for. Old foam, used foam or even new foam that isn’t strong enough can open the possibility of bottoming out, which carries the same consequence of not having any pad, since you are falling through the cushion to the first resistive surface; i.e.: the ground.

Gray Gym Rubber Landing Layer

Gray Gym Rubber Landing Layer

To strike that balance of softness and strength, The Foam Factory suggests Lux-HQ foam for its ability to stay firm under compression, while cushioning rough landings. Lux-HQ is available in solid sections from 1/2 of an inch up to 8 inches and comes in sheets 82 inches wide with lengths of 24, 36, and 76 inches available depending on thickness. While you wouldn’t want a material too soft to protect against a fall, overcompensating with a foam that is toofirm can also be a problem. The inability to cushion and absorb makes for a landing area too similar to the ground you’re trying to avoid falling on. Foam like Lux-HQ is the right blend of resilient firmness and cushioning softness with the durability to last and give you safer bouldering falls.

In addition to Lux-HQ, The Foam Factory also stocks Dryfast foam, a material designed to drain water and resist bacterial, mold and mildew growth that is soft enough for cushioning protection. For extra prevention against rolled ankles and wrists, foam can be tapered or beveled to combat potential injuries caused by abrupt mat edges.

Climbing and bouldering can be exhilarating and challenging and is a great way to stay active. However, safety still needs to be the most important factor when climbing, no matter what. To help you get the most out of your climbs, The Foam Factory’s materials will help you create a covered foam crash pad tailored to your exact needs.

*Always be sure to check with local business and construction regulations before the purchase and installation of materials.

NOTE: This information is provided at your own risk. The Foam Factory is not responsible for injury, death or loss arising out of the use or misuse of our products. The Foam Factory will not have any liability to anyone for incidental or consequential damages or any other liability, injury, loss or damage arising out of or related to our products, even if The Foam Factory or an authorized representative of The Foam Factory has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

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29 Responses to “Climb Higher With Confidence Using Bouldering Crash Pads”

  • Kurt says:

    How much does it cost to make my own crash pad?
    Thanks

    • Foam Factory says:

      Hi Kurt,

      This is a difficult question to answer, if only because building your own crash pads gives you the opportunity to customize them to the type of climbing you do, and the size and padding you feel is right for you could be totally different from the next person. There are also the covering materials you need to protect the cushioning, and whether you choose to DIY that, or outsource its sewing and construction has an impact on cost as well.

      However, if you have a pretty good idea of what you may want to put together, visit our Contact Us page and shoot us a message – we’ll see what we can do for you!

      – Foam Factory

  • Erik Johnson says:

    Any thoughts on how thick the pad should be for every foot of rise? I’ve got a wall that’s about 9′, and my best guess would be for 3″ foam, but I don’t know if that’d be too shallow (or if it’d even be too deep for what I need).

    Thanks!

  • Allen says:

    I just built a rock climbing wall in my garage. I would like to lightly pad about 90 sq/ft of floor (three 6×6 sections). I have two Black Diamond crash pads which will be placed under the primary fall zone of a section when I climbing it, but would like to pad the entire surrounding area to prevent elbows, knuckles, knees, and feet from hitting the concrete. My thought was to lay down a 6×6 tarp, then a layer of carpet padding, then 2 inch of closed cell polyurethane, then a piece of remnant carpet, then I would top it off with my Black Diamond Pads. I could slide the sections around on the tarps when I wanted to move them. My local foam store wants $300 for the 102x80x2 inch polyurethane foam which seems like a lot. I just wondering if anyone has a better suggestion for me. Foam Factory seems to have the best prices, and the name comes up a lot in bouldering forums.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  • Kendell Macomber says:

    I am building a crash pad for an aerial gym where the max height is 16 feet. Do you have a recommendation on the layers? Thanks

  • Elle says:

    I am looking for a pad for aerial drops at a max heigh of 5 feet for under a yoga hammock. Do you have recommendations? I know this is a limited fall range but it’s on a hard floor.

    • Foam Factory says:

      You could go with a rock climbing setup, which uses 2″ of 2.2LB Polyethylene foam over 5″ of Lux Regular foam. Be sure to test to see if this will work for your application.

  • Justin Bitner says:

    Interested in buying foam from you for a 9ft tall bouldering room 15ftx15ft. What’s your recommendation for layering and do you sell a product to go over the foam? Since it’s goin to cover the room entirely we wanted to cover it in the same way a gym mat is covered.

    Thanks!

  • mmins says:

    Is there a standard for how thick mats should be for every foot of rise so I can set height parameters for a climbing rope? Does anyone know who sets these standards?

  • Duncan Vajeeharan says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you were able to supply some foam padded mats for a manufacturing company.

  • Joseph Currie says:

    I’m looking to build a trifolding 84”x48” crash pad with three foam layers laminated together. I’m looking to shed a little weight since the size is bigger understanding that it will be a stiffer pad with the bottom layer.
    First layer would be 1.25 in 2.2 lb polyethylene
    Second layer would be 2.5 in lux-hq
    Third layer would be .25 in 2 lb polyethylene
    Each of the three blocks would be cut 28in x 48in so that when folded out I would have a crash pad that would be 84in x 48in
    I was curious about what the approximate cost might be and if you have any thoughts on foam selections or if dimensions seem strange.
    Feel free to email me back

  • Alex says:

    This is a great article yet posted in 2012. In 2019, is the ” 2″ of 2.2lb density polyethylene foam over 4″ of Lux Regular foam” still the recommendation? I have a home climbing wall that only about 8′ high by 20′ long and I’m in need of padding to go the full 20′ length and would like to know your 2019 recommendations.

  • Tyler says:

    I really messed up my knee and am stuck at home for the next month while I rehab in preparation for surgery (torn ACL, LCL, PCL, some other smaller stuff, along with a damaged peroneal nerve). The only way I can get comfortable outside of laying in my bed, is a really old Metolius crash pad that I put on the floor and sit on. It’s 10+ years old and pretty beat up, so I’m on the lookout for a replacement.

    I know this isn’t really a crashpad (at least in the traditional sense) question, but what would you suggest? I don’t boulder anymore, and have no plans on starting again, so this wouldn’t receive the same type of impact generated by falls.

  • Katie says:

    I’m building an indoor bouldering wall and can’t find any mats. Do you know ny sites that are cheap?

  • Kai Roche says:

    I’m working with a Cross Fit Gym to build a climbing wall in a humid environment that doesn’t have A/C. I’m curious if the Quick Dry foam would work similarly to the Recommendation you made earlier for “[..] 2″ of 2.2lb density polyethylene foam over 4″ of Lux Regular foam.” The height of the bouldering wall is 16ft and the size of the pad that we’re looking to make is 24ft by 9ft (3 8ft by 9ft sections) Do you have any suggestions regarding the material? It’s very hot in the gym and humid and I’d be concerned about pads getting heavy, or moldy over time. Thoughts on materials for covering or someone who could sew the cover? Thanks for your time!

    • Foam Factory says:

      You could use 4″ of dryfast foam in place of 4″ of Lux foam. However the 2.2lb density polyethylene is still suggested. The Polyethylene foam is a closed cell foam, so it will be resistant to absorbing moisture. Cover suggested would be a vinyl for durability. A local upholstery shop may be able to assist you in making the cover.

  • Yusuf kohgadai says:

    Hi there,
    I am starting my our training facility and I am going to purchase an 8×12 board, for it suggests I used either an 8-12′ thick foam mat? Look forward to hearing back! : )


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