This Bouldering Pad is Made to Carry

The Backcountry Pad marries a backpacking harness with a bouldering pad. From Organic Climbing and Mystery Ranch Backpacks, this fall-catching surface can carry deep into the mountains. We put it to the test in Texas for this review.

Backcountry Pad Organic Climbing Mystery Ranch Review
Testing the Organic Climbing/Mystery Ranch Backcountry Pad

Core bouldering brand Organic Climbing released the Backcountry Pad during the 3rd Annual Joe’s Valley Fest on October 20–22, 2017. With a real backpack harness system from Mystery Ranch, boulderers can carry the Backcountry Pad far into remote areas.

Backcountry Pad Organic Climbing Mystery Ranch Review
Mystery Ranch adds a heavy-duty harness to the Backcountry Pad

Aiming to improve carrying capacity and comfort, the made-in-America climbing brand teamed up with Mystery Ranch, a brand known for heavy-load backpacks to utilize its adjustable yoke harnessing system.

Read on to learn about the pad and harness system and how it performed in the field.

Soft Landings With Organic Climbing Backcountry Pad: $345

Organic Climbing based the Backcountry Pad on its coveted Big Pad, the brand’s thickest pad.

Backcountry Pad Organic Climbing Mystery Ranch Review
The Backcountry Pad from Organic Climbing

One inch of U.S.-sourced memory foam resists creasing and makes up the top layer. One inch of urethane rubber closed-cell foam rides underneath to battle bottoming. A full three inches of soy-based open-cell foam at the base provides cushion.

The Backcountry Pad’s simple bi-fold design employs a hybrid hinge; only the one-inch memory foam top layer remains continuous and folds taco style. The pad cover is 1050d ballistic nylon, while the top cover is 1000d Cordura nylon.

Each Organic Climbing Pad is unique. Customers specify color combinations for the top cover, or they can design a fully custom top cover (for an extra fee).

Meet The Maker: Organic Climbing, Made In The USA
Meet The Maker: Organic Climbing, Made In The USA
Organic Climbing's American-made crash pads, chalk bags, and backpacks will last a very long time. Read more…

Three external carrying handles ease handling. There is an extra attachment point at the hinge-side handle for piggybacking additional pads.

Four diminutive (three on the side, one on the bottom), crushproof metal buckles hold the pad closed.

Comfortable Carry with the Mystery Ranch Suspension System

The adjustable suspension system goes far beyond the simple shoulder straps and webbing hip belt found on most bouldering pads. This is where the pad really shines.

Backcountry Pad Organic Climbing Mystery Ranch Review
The Organic Climbing Backcountry Pad has a hefty harness from Mystery Ranch

Thicker, pre-curved plastic and foam shoulder straps improve comfort and load control. The load lifters attach to the pad via metal hooks and daisy chain webbing that has ten anchoring points to provide a wide range of vertical adjustment. An ergonomically curved plastic frame sheet affords a rigid platform to aid with pad positioning and stabilization.

Organic Climbing’s “Muffin Protector Deluxe” hip belt adds both comfort and carrying capacity, offering a breathable mesh liner, EVA foam padding, and six inches of maximum width. All of these suspension components are easily removable to ensure a consistent landing zone.

Organic Climbing Backcountry Pad: “I Never Bottomed Out”

I tested the Organic Climbing Backcountry Pad at granite and limestone bouldering areas around Austin, Texas. First off, the pad is huge on the back. When closed, it measures 29 x 46 x 10 inches. These dimensions force active dodging of tree branches and removing the pad for portability; both happened more often than with smaller pads.

Backcountry Pad Organic Climbing Mystery Ranch Review
Bouldering with the Backcountry Pad from Organic Climbing and Mystery Ranch

The pad is hefty compared to smaller units, with a verified weight of 21 pounds, 12 ounces. But the suspension system is surprisingly comfortable once the load lifter straps are adjusted correctly for climber height.

The pad and suspension system had zero issues with swallowing 40+-liter backpacks and ferrying the heavy combination (tested up to 40 pounds) over long distances. Because there are no closure flaps or storage pockets on the Backcountry Pad, using a bag or pack inside was a must.

The Backcountry Pad’s 46 x 58-inch open footprint provides a more squarish landing zone when compared to other big pads or tri-fold pads. Five inches of foam lends massive confidence, particularly over rocky ground. The foam is on the stiff side, but the taller the boulder problems got, the more this relative stiffness matters.

Not once did I or any other tester bottom the pad out, regardless of fall distance. Although the hybrid hinge design makes the split in the foam barely noticeable when the landing area is flat, care must be applied when the landing zone is uneven. The pad folded upon impact in certain situations. Thus, orienting the hinge axis in the most stable direction is prudent.

Backcountry Pad Organic Climbing Mystery Ranch Review

Using the pad in the folded position as a cheater stack requires holding the pad shut or using the buckles, as the pad wants to reopen. I know through experience that this improves as the pad is broken in.

Remote Boulder Climbers Will Love The Backcountry Pad

The Organic Backcountry Pad is on the smaller side of large bouldering pads. If obtaining the largest landing zone possible is the concern, there are larger options. While standard pads are roughly 3 x 4 feet, the Backcountry is still massive at almost 4 x 5 feet.

Even larger pads exist, though. The Black Diamond Equipment’s Mondo Pad (44 x 65 inches) and the Metolius Climbing Magnum Crash Pad (47 x 70 inches) have larger landing areas. The dimensions of the Backcountry Pad make it too short for use as a sleeping pad. Its bi-fold design makes it too large to fit in some vehicles.

The Organic Climbing Backcountry Pad is well built and durable. It answers the call when the boulders are far into the wilderness, supplies bound, and multiple pads are in play.

The Mystery Ranch suspension system is unique and capable of harnessing large, heavy loads over long distances. Larger pads are available, but when mantling an airy, slopey, and frightening top-out, Organic Climbing’s five inches of proven foam can supply that last bit of confidence to commit and find glory.

Seiji Ishii

Seiji Ishii is the climbing and cycling editor at Gear Junkie and has enjoyed a lifetime of outdoor adventure and sports, from participant and competitor to coach and trainer, and finally as an editorial contributor. His interests have spanned cycling, climbing, motorcycling, backpacking, and training for all of it. He has also designed outdoor and off-road motorcycling gear. He lives in Wimberley, TX, with his daughter and a small herd of pets. Read more of his musings at seijisays.com.