How Climbing Gear Works

Crash Pads

Crash pads are a beautifully simple idea: They're placed between the climber and the ground to help reduce the impact from falls. Crash pads are made of foam, covered with a durable fabric and feature straps or handles for easier handling.

Crash pads are most often used for bouldering and sport climbing when routes are determined before the climb, and they're positioned beneath tricky locations where a climber is most likely to lose footing and fall.

While the first commercial crash pads did not appear on the market until 1993, many climbers today rely on crash pads to help protect their bones from occasional falls. There are dozens of options on the market, ranging from $75 to more than $350, and they range in size from the popular 3 foot by 4 foot (0.9 meter by 1.2 meter) pad that fits in a gear pack to larger pads that are designed for more permanent placement.

When shopping for a crash pad, look for one with a good foam quality to cushion the force of impact and absorb the shock of the fall. You should feel like you're falling into a sand pit, not a trampoline.