If you haven’t heard of Organic by name and you’re a climber, you will definitely know it by sight. Open any climbing mag or watch any of the recent American produced movies and you’ll see brightly coloured and designed mats coating the landings to most featured problems. Once based in Laramie Wyoming, creator Josh Helke supplies quality pads to all the Colorado based crushers, namely Paul Robinson and Daniel Woods. But on my travels from one coast to the other in the States, i came across their distinctive colours at almost every crag i visited.
Unlike all the other pads out there, Josh offers the custom option to the punters, meaning you specify the colour scheme and design, and he’ll build it for you. I’ve had the Full Pad since mid 2008 and it’s only now, after constant use, starting to wear thin. The canvas and fittings have remained in bomber condition, despite being dragged around Yosemite granite, the talus of RMNP, and soaked with Castle Hill winter snow. It may not be as big as some other pads of the same type, but it makes up for this with the quality of its innards. Check out Organic’s wee videos on Youtube and you’ll get the full run-down. It’s a basic hinge design with a layer of closed-cell protecting the gap, rather than something like Metolious’ offset hinge structure. Does this create an ankle-breaking dead-spot down the centre of the mat? Well you’d think so, but I’ve cratered off some pretty tall things since I’ve had it and at no time did i hit the ground beneath.
The Full pad comes in standard, but can be upsized with a hipbelt and second baby pad that fits nicely under the straps. This is good for little other than protecting those annoyingly pointy rocks, sit starts, or for sliding down grassy/snowy slopes on. If the ground is uneven, it goes under the mat and creates a nice level plane to splash into as well. The full rig will set you back $400nzd (plus shipping).
Harness-wise, I’ve stuffed two months worth of travel items into it and used it as a pack (pain in the ass!), but it’s comfier to wear than most actual packs I’ve tried on. This to me is the biggest factor in a mat. If the harness doesn’t fit, I don’t give a rats ass how good the foam is. I’m a boulderer, hence I will complain endlessly about sore shoulders impairing optimal crushing ability, and when walking up Flock Hill with a dead bear on my back, I’ll take the best I can get.
Joshes’ pads are all hand made by either himself or one of his small crew, rather than an infant chained to a sewing machine somewhere in central china or Taiwan. The quality of the craftsmanship really shows through when placed next to one of the bigger name pads. Although i have to admit, sketching out on bad footholds high off the ground, its a little disconcerting looking down and seeing my pad as little more than a blue and orange stamp in the grass. This is possibly because I never have any more than two pads when foolishly embarking on high problems.
Organic also make big pads, but if you’re traveling around a bunch, the smaller one seems the convenient option.
Star Rating: 4
You get them straight from the garden at Organic. Click on the order link and all will be explained