The Session Pad from Metolius is a mid-sized crash pad that shares many features with the popular Boss Hogg. Although the price of the Session puts it at the budget end of the range, it hosts an array of features that you find on a more expensive models by other brands. The Metolius range has featured a budget pad for several years, and this slot has been filled most recently by the Bailout, and before that the Stomp. With each incarnation comes an upgrade which brings better value. The Bailout upgraded the light weight (and a bit flimsy) fabric of the Stomp and the Session brings in a full wrap around closure system. Here’s a run-down of some of the features:
The new wrap around closure system is perhaps the most important new feature of the Session, and it replaces the simple webbing buckles of previous versions. I tend to stuff my bag into the middle of the mat for long approaches, so I’m very pleased about this upgrade. This makes the Session great for carrying gear and means you can be confident your stuff isn’t going to fall out.
The flap was quite tight on mine when the pad was new so pulling it over the corner was tricky at first. However, with a bit of use it has softened up and now it gives a nice tight closure that is quick and easy to secure.
Tough fabric and quality foam
Having owned the Stomp I was impressed by the durability of the foam, but disappointed that the lightweight cover fabric didn’t quite match it. The foam on my old one is still going strong, but the cover is riddled with holes that I’ve had to tape up. The tougher nylon outer fabric of the Session seems to have solved this problem, which means that this pad is likely to endure over several years, whatever you throw at it.
Of course, the foam is the most important element of a good bouldering mat as it’s the part that will save your ankles. With this in mind I find the variability in foam quality among even well regarded brands quite surprising. Metolius are one of the companies that you can rely on for using good foam time after time, and the foam of my Session pad is performing as well as other models I’ve used. It stays firm as well as any other brand and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it if I had to replace the foam in any of my pads. The Session also features Metolius’ hallmark hinge design, which uses an angled feature to overcome the potential soft spot along the hinge. This gives the security of a taco pad, but means that it also sits much flatter when folded, which is useful when packing it into your car.
The carpet panel in the centre of the Session pad is a nice new feature, and it can be used both as a target to aim form, and a place to wipe your shoes. I prefer this to the fully carpeted landing zone of the Boss Hogg as it keeps the weight down, and the panel offers plenty of space for shoe wiping.
The Session pad may be a burlier beast, but it retains the light weight of previous versions and this means it’s great for carrying to the crag. On more remote missions I’ve been known to have one of these in each hand and a larger pad on my back, so the weight is absolutely crucial. The more hardwearing outer of the Session adds to its weight a little, but it still clocks in at a very reasonable 4kg (compared to other mid-sized models like the Moon Warrior at 6kg, or the Black Diamond Impact at 4.5kg).
The only real criticism I would level at the Session pad is that it could do with some grab handles at either edge. These would make dragging it along while spotting much easier, so it might be something for Metolius to think about in the next upgrade. Having said that, overall I rate the Session pad very highly, and would recommend it to anyone as a great value and well featured mid-sized pad.