Here we take a look at the latest, freshly updated version on the Bun crash pad from French pad maestros Snap Climbing. Snap Timeline: Since developing their first crash pads back in 2000, Chamonix based climbing company Snap steadily built up a solid reputation across mainland Europe for both the design ethic, build quality and the impact protection offered by their excellent bouldering mats. In spite of a few less than successful forays into the UK market, Snap finally gained the stability and credibility required to push the brand forward this side of the channel when they sealed a distribution deal with Andy and John Earl's "County Climbing Company" back in 2007/8, after which Snap enjoyed a couple of modestly successful years in some of the UK's better climbing stores. Unfortunately, due to parting company with the CCC back in 2010 and some subsequent issues with distribution and relocating their manufacturing base, Snap pads have been off the grid since then. Fortunately however, as of Spring 2012, Sheffield based distributors, Beta Climbing Designs took up the UK reigns of the Snap brand and its freshly revitalised products. As one of the original backers of the Snap crash pad range it made sense for Rock + Run to bring the brand back into the fold. That said, due to the fact that this latest batch of Snap pads have had several minor design updates, we thought it only prudent to put one of these latest incarnations to the test. So over the last few months I have given the Snap Bun an intensive and varied workout, using the pad extensively on trips to Switzerland and Scotland, as well as on numerous outings across the Lakes and the North of England.
Features & Materials
The Snap Bun is essentially a full sized (125x100x12cm), taco style crash pad with all the trimmings. The first thing you'll notice about the Bun is its thickness - it's one fat momma! In fact at 12cm deep its pretty much the thickest standard sized crash pad available in the UK and a full 2 centimetres thicker than that excellent and renowned fatty, the DMM Highball. Of course, it's all well and good being a whale sandwich of crash pad but if the foam's not up to the task it isn't worth squat. Fortunately, I can report that the foam in the Snap Bun seems very good and once bedded in provides quite a soft forgiving landing whilst retaining easily enough rigidity to prevent anything close to bottoming out. The foam itself combines the traditional double combo of a load-spreading landing zone sheet of closed-cell EVA, with a much thicker base sheet of open-cell PVA foam, to absorb the brunt of the impact. Proportionally speaking, the Snap Bun's EVA landing sheet is thinner when compared to some other pads, which is something that initially concerned me when I first got hold of the pad. However, having now used the pad extensively I see that any issues with the pad getting overly soft are overcome through Snap's use of such high quality foam and the fact that the softer PVA sheet is so significantly thicker than in other pads - making for an extremely comfortable landing. The cover utilises a tough rip-stop polyester landing zone combined with a grippy rubberised fabric on the base of the pad, this replaces the slippery and overly heavy PVC used on the original version of the pad and not only provides excellent water-resistance but also grips any kit stuffed inside the pad (during an approach) very well. The landing side of the cover also incorporates a neat logo foot mat, for cleaning your boots pre-send, which makes for a neat and useful touch. As the pad offers the now fairly standard configuration of landing side facing outwards (when folded), as you would expect the pad has a detachable carry harness. The padded rucksack straps remove via a Velcro flapping mechanism which is very simple and effective, although as with anything totally reliant on Velcro if removed overly often I suspect the Velcro's grip will lessen with time, as such I would recommend only removing the straps when absolutely necessary - I have had no issues with leaving the straps on, I simply tightened them up when the pad is in use. Peripheral features include the usual stout alloy buckles, a small internal zip pocket and three particularly burly grab handles, which make dragging the pad from problem to problem a breeze.
This is without doubt one of the better pads available on the market, although as with most products there are a couple of minor tweaks which I believe could make it that bit better: my only real gripe relates to the carry harness which isn't as comfortable as some other pads on longer walk-ins and is also not all that easy to adjust quickly. The comfort issue relates to the Velcro method used to make the straps detachable [see adjacent image], which whilst very effective in terms of attaching and removing the straps, is designed in such a way that the straps are separated by a wider distance than that on some other pads, meaning I found the straps felt like they were slipping off my shoulders at times. Also, the fact that, unlike most other pads, the loose ends of the straps are sewn into tri-glide buckles means that, whilst looking neat, it is actually harder to slacken or tighten the rucksack straps quickly or when you are carrying the pad.
Overall the Snap Bun is an excellent pad and is hard to fault in terms of its primary function - that of fielding falls. The foam is just about as good as it currently gets, the build quality is excellent and the price is on the money. As for the issues raised regarding the carry harness, these will only really be noticeable to those who regularly visits crags with longer approach times (30+ minutes) and as such are unlikely to be much of a problem for most users.