Dave tests out the small but mighty Pluto crash pad from Moon Climbing
When you shoulder your MOON pad after using it over muddy ground, the lower (dirty) surface of the pad folds in, saving your clothes, your car seats, or your mother’s carpet, from that dirt you’ve been throwing it into all day long.
I go back to the days when we used to boulder with a beer mat and your rucksack for a pad, then we used to make homemade ones using karrimat, gym mats and gaffer tape. It was a revelation when I bought my first one on a Font trip in the (very) early nineties. Since then I have been a total convert and have owned a variety of different ones which I use recreationally and for my courses. There are several things I am looking for when I buy a crash pad: portability at the crag- I want it to fold quickly to be transported between problems; hardwearing – crash pads take a lot of hammer; to fit in boot of my VW Golf – I have a giant pad that fits on my backseat but will only go into the boot of my Vauxhall Zafira.
The Moon Pluto Crash Pad fitted all those perfectly. It was nice, lightweight and easy to carry; it has a bombproof construction – I recently used it for a school group bouldering session and it easily withstood the constant trashing it took all day and it fits most medium car boots. So it ticks all the boxes in those requirements. The crash pad is a taco style pad, that is it folds without a crease and so provides a better surface for landing one. Although clam style pads fold up more compactly, they do have a weak spot in the crease. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages, I use both and feel that the smaller size of the Moon Pluto is better for being a taco style. When folded the Pluto had two aluminium buckles to cinch it in place so you can expect them to last a good while – I have broken plastic buckles in the past when I have landed on them which is very annoying. There are also two grab handles so it was super easy to chuck some kit in and carry it around a circuit. My preferred method of carrying the Moon Pluto was rucksack style as I have a bouldering bag that I carry on top. The Pluto can also be converted to carry as a an over the shoulder pad, this was easy enough to do so it will be just a matter of preference as to which style you like. The fold is a reverse fold system which means that the landing surface is facing outwards when you are carrying it. The advantage being that you are not getting your clothes or car seat/boot dirty when you have finished using it. The disadvantage being that the strap is exposed on the landing surface. Moon have overcome this by placing a velcro securing tab that releases the carry strap so that it can be moved out the way. The photo shows it exposed but I often tucked it under the mat if I felt I was going to stumble in the fall zone. The carry strap was easy to position with velcro and was secure enough for all the carries I did, even with my loaded bouldering bag on it.
The all important foam padding was great, there are two densities a thinner high density over a thicker lower density foam. The foam could be easily changed with the zipped opening and came wrapped in polythene. You can remove this if you want but leaving it on will help keep the foam dry. It provided an excellent, firm landing area and the foam from Moon is now sourced in the UK but you can’t, unfortunately, buy replacements directly from them.
The cover is made from ballistic nylon and feels very solid and durable. The underside has two extra burly, studded strips to make it even more durable and help keep the Pluto stay in position. The corners are also made using the heavier material. The landing surface is made using a slightly lighter ripstop nylon (but in no was less burly) with a nice large Moon logo to help as a landing target (believe me when your stood at the crux on Pyscho any mat will look tiny and you’ll want a landing target!) and it helps with the styling.
All in all, the Moon Pluto Crash Pad is a great, compact bouldering pad. I’ve enjoyed using it and it has quickly become a favourite due to its lightness, portability and ease of use. Especially for zipping around a bouldering circuit – which is a lot of what I am doing these days or those longer moorland days. It is also useful as an extra to use in conjunction with a larger pad for when you are needed extra padding for that highball where its lightness will pay dividends. I reckon that the burliness could be improved by using some bar tacking to help reinforce key areas such the grab handles and the buckle straps – these are only minor points in what is a great pad and great value for money.
Available from Moon with free postage and packing
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