Our hands-on (and feet-on… and backs-on) Black Diamond Impact review lasted six months and put this bouldering crash pad to the test in a variety of settings.
This is a well-made pad that is best used for low to mid-height boulder problems with safer landing zones. Since beginner boulderers usually start out on these types of problems, it is a great choice for boulderers looking for their first crash pad — arguably the best choice.
The Impact is sturdy, durable, and well-designed. However, it is pricier than other entry-level crash pads. If you want to know what else is out there, check out our list of the best crash pads.
PROTECTION & PADDING
The Impact has average dimensions and thickness for an entry-level crash pad. However, don’t think that average is bad in any way. For low to mid-height problems, the padding is sufficient.
Every fall we took on the Impact resulted in safe, soft landings. We never bottomed out or rolled an ankle. It should be noted, though, that pads with hinge closures like the Impact can leave a gap in the middle of the pad where rocks and roots can poke through on landings. If you buy the Impact, beware this gap when padding your problems.
The Impact covers a decent amount of surface area but not enough to comfortably be your only pad on highballs or problems where you could fall at many different locations. We always took the Impact out with other pads (which we also highly recommend you do regardless of the pad you purchase) to increase the amount of protected surface area.
So, if you’re looking for a regular-sized pad the Impact is just that. If you’re looking for lots of surface area or more than four inches of padding, you’ll likely need to spend more money (you can read our recommendations for large pads here).
To us, it seems the Impact wasn’t designed for carrying a lot of gear. Since there is no closure flap at the bottom (just a strap), there is a chance small pieces of gear will slip out of the pad when you’re hiking. You can easily stuff large items like climbing shoes in the middle of the pad and cinch the pad closed. However, small items such as climbing brushes or rolls of climbing tape could fall out.
One solution to this potential problem is to bring a backpack, store your small items in it, and then put the pack in between the crash pad’s two closed halves. Or, you could just wear a backpack across your chest and the pad on your back. This is our preferred solution, and the Impact is so light it’s easy to carry another pack at the same time.
After six months of testing the foam is a protective as ever and the pad shows no signs of wear. If we washed off the dirt and chalk the pad would look brand new. Black Diamond is known for quality and long-lasting products so the high price point might be taking into account the longevity of the pad.
Some threads have frayed slightly which is pretty typical after many months of use, but we’ll keep an eye on them and update this section if any new durability developments take place. So far, though, the pad has had no issues.
Every feature of the Impact is simple, sturdy, and well-designed. The shoulder straps are padded and durable; the metal closure buckles (shown in the picture) are incredibly easy to hook and undo; and the side-grab carrying handles are perfect for quickly shuffling pads from one spot to another. The user-friendliness and design of these features sets the Impact apart from some other entry-level pads.
Also, the Impact simply looks cool. While the pad only comes in one color combination — yellow-green and dark grey — it works. Fellow boulderers often lauded the clean design of the Impact when they saw it.
Lastly, the Impact is lightweight. It weighs a little under ten pounds which is among the lightest you’ll find. Similarly sized crash pads can weigh almost twice that.
Some crash pads come with a strap that you can buckle across your chest. The Impact doesn’t have one. We frankly didn’t miss this feature but it’s worth pointing out for those of you who might desire it.
Second, as mentioned above, there is no bottom flap for storing gear inside. If you’re used to carrying all your loose gear in your crash pad then know that you’ll have to rethink your approach with the Impact. Two solutions mentioned above are to put all the loose gear in a pack which you place in between the pads or wear the pack across your chest.
- Weight: 9 lb, 8 oz (4.33 kg)
- Dimensions: 39 x 45 x 4 in (100 x 114 x 10 cm)
- Surface Coverage: 1,755 sq in
- Closure: Hinge
Overall, the Black Diamond Impact is a quality crash pad. It is arguably the best entry-level crash pad out there in terms of design and durability. However, it is a little pricey given its standard dimensions, so it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for a standard-sized pad for a great price, check out the Mad Rock Mad Pad. Though if you’re willing to spend a little extra to get a durable and well-designed crash pad of standard size, the Impact is a top option.
Due to its thickness, hinge closure, and surface area coverage this pad is best suited for entry-level boulderers or boulderers who will be climbing problems of ordinary height with decent landing zones. If you’re climbing highballs or need to cover up sketchy landing zones, look at something like the Black Diamond Mondo or Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad.