[Updated October 2022] The Trangoworld Air Pad is no longer available.
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Trangoworld Air Pad Bouldering Pad Review, by Greg Chapman
The Trangoworld Air Pad is a massive, hinged, crash pad, which uses a (currently) unique form of air cushion technology, as part of its impact protection mechanism. Here we take a closer look at how it works as well as how it stacks up to the competition. Whilst 'air pads' are not a completely new concept they are still in their infancy, and the only established product currently available is the 'Ronin Air Pad', from Canadian pad manufacturer Flashed. Where the Trango pad differs from the Flashed offering, is the way in which the 'air cushion' is created. The Flashed pad works by utilizing a specially designed series of air chamber strips, sandwiched between two, thin hard cell foam sheets, whereas the Trango pad borrows technology directly from the self-inflating sleeping mat sector – a field in which Trango has extensive knowledge, due to years of manufacturing such products for the camping sector. Basically, the Trango pad contains a triple layer: consisting of a thick (5cm) layer of closed cell foam, on both the landing zone and ground side of the pad, which then sandwich an equally thick (6cm) sheet of self-inflating matting – the air cushion. Where the self-inflating matting differs, from say your standard Thermarest, is it has multiple valves (8 in total, 4 on each half), these are left open and expel the air when you land on the pad, and in turn re-inflate once you have stepped off the pad. The valves can also be closed when 'low balling' or traversing to create a more solid platform (over holes or dips etc.), although it is recommended they are left undone in most circumstances. Whilst both mechanisms achieve a similar outcome, the Trango pad does win out over the Flashed product in terms of its size to weight ratio; weighing in at a similar overall weight but being considerably larger, in both surface area and depth. It is also as much as £40 cheaper, and unlike the Flashed product, does not require assembly at the point of purchase.
Flashed Ronin Air Pad: 127 x 97 x 12.5cm (weight: 9kg) Trangoworld Air Pad: 140 x 110 x 18cm (weight: 9.5kg) Playing devils advocate, I'd point out that the Flashed product offers a more consistent soft landing 'out-of-the-box', where as the Trango pad does take a bit of bedding in, and can feel a bit solid, and almost bouncy when new. This does get much better after a few sessions. The Flashed pad can also be packed away to a much smaller volume if required (however, practically this is not something you would want to be doing too often!). Probably one of the biggest selling points of either of these air pads is their impact protection durability and thus longevity as a primary pad.
In terms of regular features the Trangoworld Air Pad is well endowed, and offers the usual metal 'unbreakable' buckles, multiple grab handles, well padded rucksack harness, and reinforced corners. As well as these standard features, it also comes with a built in zip pouch, big enough for a pair of rock shoes, a bouldering bucket and a few other essentials, such as tape, brushes, keys etc.
Dimensions: 140x110x18cm Weight: 9.5kg Foam configuration: 2x 5cm hard cell sheets, 1x 6cm air section. Padded rucksack harness x4 Drag handles x1 Suitcase handle Metal 'unbreakable' buckles Polymide 500D external fabric Keprotec reinforced corners Large zip pouch Price: £260
In my view this is a good super-sized crash pad, which it well built, packed with features and incorporates an interesting impact protection mechanism, that will no doubt inspire future crash pad design. If you have the extra cash this is definitely a marked improvement over most other giant pads, and will offer improved levels of impact protection for far longer than a pad using just regular foam. My only reservation would be towards falling on it from extreme heights (5m+), as when I tested in this way I found that there simply aren't enough valves to dispel the air fast enough, and you get quite a solid, overly firm impact. That said, this is still far more preferable than bottoming out, and is something that could be improved quite simply through the addition of more or larger valves. Overall, hats off to Trangoworld for coming up with something new!