Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gear Geek - Organic Simple Pad Crash Pad

Organic Simple Pad Crash Pad
By Kreg Dobzinski

About two years ago on a crisp autumn afternoon I was wandering the Rumbling Bald boulder-field with just my Organic Pad on my back and the need to see a dime. A ten-cent piece wedged in the back of a crack. They call it the Dime Crack. It seemed within my ability level and it got me curious when I read about it in the guidebook. I had only owned my pad for a few months and it had not seen much use - suffice it to say that I had no real idea of how far a fall could be taken and still had more than a bit to learn about pad placement.

I finally located the Dime Crack problem, impatiently threw my Simple Pad down without much thought, and starting working on the crack and flake system in a desperate fervor to see that shiny profile of Franklin D. Roosevelt winking back at me. After some fussing with the initial beta, upward progress was gained and my inner scavenger hunter quickly overruled most of my careful climber instincts so that just as I gained view of the fabled coin - my foot popped and I barn-doored off the climb at a little more than fifteen feet off the deck. I had enough time in mid-air to realize I was falling horribly off target and tried desperately to readjust. Managed to land with one foot on the Organic pad and the other on an organic tree root.

Now, I wouldn't blame if you expect this next bit to be about a resulting injury and hobble back to civilization, but that didn't happen. Instead, Organic Foam and luck intervened on my behalf. Most of the fall force was dispersed through only one side of my body landing on the pad and the less accurate foot happened to place itself so the root ran right underneath the arch of my foot in the least harmful way possible. So other than being a little shaken up, I was able to walk away largely unscathed because my Simple Organic Pad. In my opinion and experience, these pads are different. Below is a list of positive and negative aspects I have noticed over time.

Pros: 1. Confidence when falling onto the pad - never was there a climb that I fell off that caused my heels to bottom out when landing, which cannot be said for any of the other mats I have fallen onto.

2. Large sealed pocket - was able to get two pairs of shoes, tape, snacks, keys, and a water bottle in it relatively easily

3. When the pad is folded - relatively well secured for stuffing other accessories between folded sides

4. Canvas skin durability - has been personally tested and proven, not to mention high quality stitching that keeps it all together

5. Made in America

6. Adjustable height of shoulder straps - I would weigh this more on the positive side because the minor annoyance of the velcro secured shoulder straps slightly peeling away when jostled or debris getting stuck on the unused/exposed area of velcro is outweighed by being to distribute its weight properly on longer approaches or bushwhacking. 7. Hybrid Hinge Design - works exactly as stated on website:

"All our pads now feature a new Hybrid Hinge. The best of both worlds, this design features a solid 1" layer of foam that extends across the entire top surface of the pad, and underlying foam is split with a hinge. This allows for a seamless landing surface, but protects your foam from weaking which can result from constant folding in a taco-style pad. It also keeps the folded dimensions tight and square, even with the stiff foam we use, so you and still tuck your mat neatly into your car or closet."

Cons: 1. Slightly heavier and pricier than similar sized pads - although this can be attributed to the unique foam that is used.

2. Questionable buckle durability - I had the waist buckle shatter, but that was after tossing it down a ravine onto some talus.

3.No carpet specifically integrated - Sometimes difficult to get excess debris off of shoes before send attempts.

4. Canvas weave - seems to hold thin layer of dirt dust unless cleaned regularly

5. Not as useful when flipped over to cover odd boulders or gaps - because of its stiffness and squareness it does not conform as well to uneven surface landings.

All in all, I still would much prefer an Organic Pad underneath me over most other pads on the market. Usually I do not buy into the hype surrounding any particular product, but now after personally using and abusing this mat for a few years it seems obvious that there was no overstatement. When topping out a boulder, the last thing you should be thinking about is what will happen when if you hit the ground and more focused on your actions to send. Organic pads put your worries to rest and are quite simply better than the rest.

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