Review by planetFear
Monday 5th February 2007

I must be feeling my mortality. After 20 years of nothing more to land on than a grotty little handtowel, I’ve finally become the owner of a bouldering mat! This piece of foam is a revelation. It’s called the ‘Totem’ and is made by PAD, who are based in the Czech Republic. PAD currently have four mats on the market of which the Totem is the smallest and lightest.

So what does this ‘old timer’ see in his first crash pad? Ok, the first thing I noticed was its colour. Magnolia... Sandstone Dawn... Monkey Sick... whatever you want to call it, it’s still beige. But you get used to it, and used mats end up brown anyway. The next thing I noticed is that this is a lightweight pad. Personally I need light things, because I’m light. With the dainty 3.9kg Totem on my back, all roadside crags are within easy staggering distance, even in a headwind.

The mat’s simple shoulder straps are removable, and adjustable with aluminium buckles (better than plastic buckles as they won’t break when trodden on). The Totem is a ‘taco-style’ pad, i.e. the foam just folds in half and is not hinged. This means I can easily stuff my slippers, newspaper and pipe into the ample crease. There’s probably room for a small dog too.

Canvas flaps (beige!) are sewn into two sides of the pad, and wrap around the folded mat to keep it closed. They are secured via straps and aluminium buckles - two on the long side, one on the short. The long-side flap has a carry handle, as does the pad underneath. The trouble with flaps is that, well, they flap about. And because they’re joined at the corner (with an elasticated strip) they have to fold under the mat when it’s open, which means they could snag on beer cans and broken glass when you’re repositioning the mat on the ground. I hate flaps. But their great advantage is that when the pad is closed and carried on your back, your boots and chalkbag can’t fall out. I love flaps!

When first opened, the mat tends to sit in a U shape on the ground. I guess this is a drawback of ‘taco’ pads, but the Totem does quickly submit when jumped on. When flat, its dimensions are 1200x1000x90mm. The 90mm thickness is made up of 20mm polyethylene foam on top of 70mm polyurethane foam. As you’d expect, the cover is tough and water-resistant - though I notice that it’s single-stiched.

The edges of the pad are all nicely rounded, so I can’t hurt myself when banging my head on it, repeatedly. There is an intriguing (hidden) zip down one side - which would be great for hiding magazines in, were I teenager again. I suppose it’s really just for getting the foam in and out of. There is also a small loop of tape on one of the corners, which I imagine is vital for hauling on big walls.

In short, this mat does exactly what I want it to do. It’s light enough for carrying around between lots of problems/solos, and isn’t too bulky for storage. That said, it’s a proper crash pad alright and will take some big blows. (But best take some extra towels for those sketchy highballs.) On a more serious note, I like to think that my new pad will protect not just me, but the long-suffering ground too.

At a glance:

Dimensions: 1200 x 1000 x 90 mm
Dry weight: 3.9 kg

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