Metolius released the Session II in 2014, and it became the bestselling crash pad in the U.S. The brand has updated the pad regularly, and we tested the latest (fall 2018) version for 5 months.
From alpine boulders in Colorado to flat land blocs in Central Texas, the Metolius Session II Crash Pad has proven capable for everything except highballs. And it won’t bust your wallet at MSRP $200.
With just enough features to please almost all pebble-pinchers, this pad is a great choice when you want to spend your money getting to sick boulders instead of blowing it on gear.
The Guts: Proven Foam in the Metolius Session II
Bouldering pads are all about foam. The Metolius Session II uses a proven half-inch-thick closed-cell bottom layer, a 2.5-inch-thick open-cell middle layer, and a one-inch-thick closed-cell topsheet. This 4-inch-thick “foam sandwich” is supportive on the outside layers to prevent ankle rolling but compliant enough on the inside to absorb impacts effectively.
This foam configuration is the same foam layup used in all of Metolius’ current pads, and it has proven to be safe and durable over time. Some of my Metolius pads have been lying under my home boards for almost a decade, and they still go into the van on trips to Hueco Tanks.
The “hingeless” design incorporates mated angled edges at the middle fold, so there isn’t a “gutter” to fall into, and it works as designed. I never once felt my foot go in between the halves of the pad. This design also makes the pad super easy to fold and buckle closed compared to “taco”-style pads that use continuous layers of foam.
The Session II padding proved stiff enough on impact to prevent easily rolled ankles, but it absorbed enough impact for all but highball projects. I repeatedly launched off the lip of a 12-foot local boulder on a rock-strewn landing zone, and all was fine.
The foam is also stiff enough overall to remain completely flat when placed over boulders in the landing area to provide a much safer initial touchdown. And this stiffness made the Metolius Session II efficient to carry and easy to set up as a vertical bumper on trees or nearby boulders.
The Metolius Session II measures 36 x 48 x 4 inches when open and 36 x 26 x 8 inches when closed.
Just Enough of Everything
The Metolius Session II uses a buckled and Velcro flap closure system that kept things stored inside from falling out. The flap reversed when the pad was open to cover the shoulder straps while bouldering.
Two drag handles eased moving the pad, and the classic cross-clipper carpet mat was convenient to clean shoe rubber before pulling onto the problem.
The simple shoulder straps are lightly padded, while the hip belt is 1.5-inch-wide webbing. The speed buckle used to close the pad is the trademark Metolius aluminum one, which I haven’t broken in decades of use across several products. Metolius guarantees them for life.
This shortlist of features keeps the Metolius Session II light. The pad weighs a verified 10 pounds 5 ounces, making it easy to carry and comfortable despite the minimalist shoulder straps and hip belt.
My climbing partners and I tested the Metolius Session II with many other pads. It was one of the few that didn’t get complaints of an uncomfortable carry from anyone — short, tall, man or woman, sometimes on hourlong approaches in the alpine.
Conclusions: Metolius Session II Crash Pad
There are thicker and bigger pads with all sorts of zippers, pockets, and other features that are usable. But these extras add weight and cost. I’ll also add that the Metolius Basic Pad is a great option if you’re looking for a more minimalist, lighter, and less expensive pad.
Bouldering is often a social endeavor, and, at least for me, it’s rare that I’m the only one schlepping a pad. So, in these cases, carrying several “normal”-size pads like the Metolius Session II or the Basic makes sense.
The Metolius Session II is an economical yet capable bouldering pad for everything except solo missions (I would want a more oversized pad) or highballs (I would like a thicker pad).
It’s got everything you need and nothing else, for a great price. Really, it’s hard to argue the bestseller status of the Metolius Session II.