Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad
Dimensions: 44” x 65” x 5” (112cm x 165cm x 12.5cm)
- Top Layer: 1” closed-cell PE foam
- Bottom Layer: 4” high-compression PU foam
Construction: 1000 dernier nylon exterior with PU coating (top) and EPO treatment (bottom)
- Padded shoulder straps and waist belt
- Four corner handles
- Two extra storable shoulder straps for shoulder bag style carry
- Hinge- style fold
- Three closure straps with hooking metal buckles
Stated Weight: 20 lb 6 oz (9.25kg)
Test Duration: 7 months
Test Locations: The Rock Shop, Wyoming; Farley, Massachusetts; Great Barrington, Massachusetts; Joe’s Valley, Utah; Moe’s Valley, Utah; Red Rocks, NV
The Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad has been a staple under big and committing boulder problems for as long as I have been climbing. Black Diamond recently released an updated version of the Mondo with a redesigned construction and what they claim to be an improved foam structure.
As someone who boulders a lot on my own and enjoys taller problems, I was excited to check out the new Mondo and see how it compared to previous versions as well as other large pads like the Asana KJ Signature Highball2.
I’ve always enjoyed how large of a landing zone (slightly larger than the Asana KJ) previous versions of the Mondo provided, but I felt that the quality of the pads’ foam and their overall construction left something to be desired. Considering these are the exact problems that Black Diamond claims to have addressed in the redesign, I was really optimistic that the latest Mondo would be my new go-to highball pad.
In the Mondo, Black Diamond uses 5 inches of high-quality foam. These 5 inches of foam, combined with the pad’s size (44” x 65” x 5”), create a confidence-inspiring, almost 20 square foot landing area. Again, as someone who frequently climbs alone and also enjoys highballs, I really appreciate being able to cover so much of a landing with just one pad.
Black Diamond chose to use a two-layer foam system in which 4” of high-compression PU foam sits underneath 1” of closed-cell PE foam. This two-layer design (the same as in previous versions of the Mondo) differs from that of the Asana KJ, which sandwiches 3” of open-cell foam in between 1” of closed-cell foam on both the top and the bottom.
Having the closed cell foam on both the top and bottom of the KJ is nice in that it allows for the pad to function properly even when draped upside down, but I have not found the Mondo’s two-layer construction to be an issue. In reality, the Mondo is large enough and thick enough that it is almost always the first pad I put in place, then pad out the rest of the landing around the Mondo. As a result, not having the closed-cell foam on the bottom of the pad to drape it upside down is almost never an issue.
Overall, I think the sheer size of the Mondo and the amount of foam it provides makes it one of the most confidence-inspiring pads available. When you are sketching out high off the deck, you will never be upset to look down and see the Mondo underneath you.
I mentioned that one of my major complaints about previous editions of the Mondo was the quality and resilience of their foam. I found that with older Mondo pads, the foam would start off firm and supportive, but would quickly degrade and become too soft and flimsy so that rocks or roots in landings could be felt through the pad. Although all pads soften in this way eventually, considering the price tag ($400), I was not pleased at how quickly this occurred with older Mondos compared to other large pads like the Asana KJ or the Organic Big Pad.
However, the foam in the new version of the Mondo seems much more durable. Initially, the foam was almost too stiff, and I found myself using older, softer pads if there was the threat of a backslap. But after several sessions with the new Mondo, the foam softened up a bit, and the stiffness was no longer an issue. Now, after seven months of use, the foam has not really degraded further, and still provides a firm enough surface for a safe landing.
Shell Construction & Durability
My other main complaint with earlier versions of the Mondo had to do with their overall construction quality. I found that the shells of these models were especially prone to abrasion and that the corners would blow-out relatively quickly. I spend a significant amount of time bouldering in alpine talus fields, my pads often get dragged across rough rocks, and I highly value having a shell that will stand up to this kind of abuse.
For the redesigned Mondo, Black Diamond switched to a burly 1000 denier nylon shell with a PU coating on the top and EPO treatment on the bottom. The PU coating on top is supposed to provide added abrasion protection, as well as create a water-resistant surface. The EPO treatment on the bottom is designed to be waterproof and creates a grippy surface to prevent the pad from sliding underneath your feet. So far I have been pleased with the top and bottom coatings. Since I don’t usually go bouldering in the rain, I have not tested the shell’s water repellency or waterproofness, but the shell seems to repel dirt and dust well.
However, I have found that the Mondo’s overall durability is still a little lacking. Like the previous models, the Mondo’s corners are already wearing through after seven months of use. And while the waterproof EPO treatment on the bottom of the pad has been keeping the foam dry when placed on damp landings and helps prevent the pad from sliding, the shell has begun to tear where the carrying straps attach.
While I am not pleased with the amount of wear and tear on the Mondo already, only the shell has really started to degrade. The foam is still nice and stiff, so once the pad is in place, the Mondo still provides a solid, safe landing, which is what I care most about.
For the Mondo’s carrying system, Black Diamond provides padded shoulder straps and a waist belt. Unfortunately, though, the carrying system has disappointed me most with the new Mondo. As stated above, once the pad is underneath a problem, I am completely happy with its performance. However, getting the Mondo to any problem that isn’t very close to the road is quite a chore.
The first reason the Mondo is so difficult to transport is that while the backpack straps and waist belt are padded, they are still very thin and lightly padded compared to straps on other large pads like the Organic Big Pad or the Asana KJ. The Mondo weighs over 20 pounds before it is loaded up with a day’s worth of climbing gear, so I’ve found that its lack of substantial padding makes carrying the pad pretty unpleasant.
Compounding this issue is the placement of the Mondo’s waist belt. I’m 5’10”, 155lbs, and personally, I find that the waist belt is located far too low on the pad itself. As a result, if I hike the Mondo up far enough to cinch the waist belt in place properly, it lifts the shoulder straps too high above my shoulders, causing much of the pad’s weight to fall back, away from my body. Since I can’t adjust the placement of the shoulder straps or the waist belt, I never use the waist belt and end up carrying all of the pad’s weight on my shoulders, making the lack of padding further apparent.
I’ve also found that the shoulder straps are set a bit too wide (for my frame, at least). While this is only a minor annoyance for someone of my size, my girlfriend, who is 5’5” and has much narrower shoulders, finds that the wide-set shoulder straps make the Mondo quite difficult and uncomfortable to carry. While these sizing concerns for the straps and waist belt should be less of an issue for larger, taller climbers, I think that bigger climbers would still find that the Mondo does not carry as well as other large pads because of the thin padding on the shoulder straps and waist belt.
One new feature on the redesigned Mondo is the addition of two stowable pieces of webbing attached to the sides of the pad, which allow you to carry the pad across your body like a shoulder bag. Even though carrying the pad this way is not suitable for longer approaches, it makes it convenient to move it quickly and efficiently between problems close by. The straps also make it easy to move the pad while spotting a fellow climber. Ultimately, while I still find carrying the Mondo on long approaches rather cumbersome, the addition of the side-mounted shoulder webbing is a nice, convenient, and unique feature.
For the Mondo’s closure system, Black Diamond uses a three-strap design (two on the side and one on the bottom) with their classic metal buckles that hook through loops of fabric. This system is very simple and I have been completely happy with it. The buckles are extremely durable and very easy to use, and I’ve had no issues loading the Mondo down with a day’s worth of gear, food, water, and even a smaller pad like the Black Diamond Satellite, and securely cinching the straps down so that nothing falls out of the bottom while hiking.
Despite my issues with the pad’s durability and carrying system, the redesigned Black Diamond Mondo is a highly effective, large pad that inspires confidence under the tallest and scariest highballs. Boulderers looking for a pad that will cover a large amount of surface area and allow for safe falls from high off the deck should definitely check out the Mondo. Smaller climbers and those who spend more time at areas with long approaches should consider pads with more robust, comfortable carrying systems.