Instructables

How to make a bespoke bouldering mat

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If you enjoy climbing but not going very high and enjoy challenging problems but hate ropes, then bouldering is for you! Since there are no ropes for belay, your only safety is a nice mat to land on when you slip off or reach the summit and top-out.

A bouldering mat is basically a firm crash mat that you carry around with you to outdoor climbing locations and your climbing buddy places it underneath you as you climb. The large mats can cost £150+ which is more than I wanted to spend to save myself from broken bones and sprained ankles. I have access to foams and a sewing machine so made my own and you can too.

Please feel free to throw a vote my way if you like this!

 
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
IMAG0910.jpg

A good sewing machine
Scissors
Tape measure
Straight edge
Scalpel / long craft knife
Biro / Marker pen

3.5 x 1.5m of waterproof, hardwearing material. I used PVC coated nylon. A good tarp sheet could work too.
2 x 1.5 x 1.0m of high density closed-cell polyethylene foam. 18mm thick. Camping mats are an easy source of this.
1.5 x 1.0m of low density upholstery foam. 50mm thick. There’s a truck in the market that sells foam cut to size. Sofa cushions are full of this stuff if you’re not buying it.
25mm nylon webbing
50mm nylon webbing
2 x 25mm bullet clips
2 x 50mm strap sliders
1.5m of 25mm wide Velcro
Lots of heavy duty thread.

poofrabbit7 months ago
Just wanted to say congratulations on being a finalists in the Great Outdoors Contest! This was a fantastic instructable! Good luck!
Jayefuu9 months ago
Great project and documentation. You can get a mat cheaper and better from Alpkit, but you wouldn't have had nearly as much fun I expect. Also, that vinyl's going to be terrible for wiping your feet.

What crag are the photos taken at?

I smile every time I see a swann morton scalpel used in a project. So much better than the American's xacto knives!
chiok (author)  Jayefuu9 months ago
This project came about because I had the foam needed, it just needed a bag to put it in. The material was a compromise on Cordura but had perfect waterproof qualities. We just slid a cheap IKEA doormat inside for wiping feet off. We just couldn't afford this Alpkit: http://www.alpkit.com/special/beta/sflash.php

That photo is from Woodwell in the Lake District. We also went to Redwall which is a quarry that was really nice.
Jayefuu chiok9 months ago
Ha ha. Another reason I love Alpkit, they're funny :D

Not been to Woodwell. I live pretty much in the Pennines so lots to go at there!
thinkpadt309 months ago
Shouldn't you be wearing a helmet? That was the first thing I noticed about this 'ible. I would much rather have a nasty bruise on my back than blood on the brain. I'm definitely not trying to be snarky or anything, but that just leapt out at me. By the way, I made a similar mat for my large dog as a bed, and she absolutely loves it! Good 'ible except for that safety thing.
Helmets restrict vision and alter balance. Boulderers never/rarely wear helmets, the pad is to protect ankles/back/limbs, a boulderer will almost always use a friend to protect their head. The friend (spotter) makes sure the climber lands on the mat and keeps their head off the floor.
chiok (author)  Jayefuu9 months ago
This man speaks the truth. You put trust in your friend to spot you. It's a buddy activity.
Kiteman9 months ago
That's a cracking project.

(Your opening shot reminds me of Jayfuu's avatar...)
Jayefuu Kiteman9 months ago
:D
EcoJym9 months ago
"...and we all drank lemonade." Sounds like a perfect ending to any day! I just got into bouldering, so this tutorial is perfectly timed! Thanks so much!
jonnysoups9 months ago
Great Project! I've always wanted a crash pad, but they're so expensive for what they are! What'd it end up costing?
chiok (author)  jonnysoups9 months ago
The material was £23 ($34) with delivery from eBay, the dense foam I used is about £30 a sheet and the soft foam is about £20. So to build it to this spec will be £110 ($165), which now that I think about it, wasn't that cheap after all. But I didn't have to buy the foam so saved most of the money that way.

For the cheaper method, use camping mats or yoga mats layered up to 15-20mm thick. It's a similar foam and this dense layer withstands the point impacts of heels, knees or rocks. For the soft foam, salvage old sofa cushions or foam mattresses. There is a design of mat that uses shredded foam you find in pillows and such, stuffed into fabric tubes stitched together like baffles. It works the same and supports the dense layer by decelerating impact. As for cheaper fabric, you could use a tarpaulin.

The important point is the design for transport and triple layer foam. I think you could make the cheap version for £40 ($60).
barista9 months ago
Are you taking commissons?
AnimattersInc9 months ago
I just wanted to share - we looked into building bouldering mats and crash pads but new foam is crazy expensive around here. You can get about $600 worth of foam in a used foam mattress for about $100. We're stockpiling now to build a crazy climbing wall for next summer (outdoor).
Teachable9 months ago
Nice job.
ardnon9 months ago
Very nice. I'll take one.
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