The Metolius Session is a no frills crash pad made for the value conscious consumer. Testers really favored the flap-closure system for securing loose gear during transport and the angled hinge design for eliminating the common dead space in the center of the pad. However, the Metolius Session pad boasted the softest foam of the test pads which was liked by some testers for short falls but disliked by many testers for longer falls or when covering uneven terrain.
Foam Quality Every tester noted the difference in firmness of the Metolius Session versus the other pads. Testers remarked how much they liked the soft foam for flat landings and short falls under five feet. However, depending on the climbing area, landings are rarely perfectly flat or rock free. Thus, the soft foam wasn’t a tester favorite.
Shell Durability The Metolius Session was the only pad we tested to use 900 denier nylon shell, the least durable of the test group. Testers found some early signs of wear and tear in the shell when used in talus or around sharp rock.
Functionality The Metolius Session earned kudos in functionality for packing convenience, being lightweight and easy to load in the car. The flap-closure system was simple and easy to ensure that smaller items like water bottles would stay inside the pad. Testers liked the durable metal buckle for the closure. The soft foam made it easy to stuff a full backpack inside the pad and have it form fit around the pack.
Carrying System The Session has a carrying system similar to the other pads in the test. It consists of a single-piece padded shoulder strap with a webbing waistbelt. Several testers wished it had a sternum strap and the ability to adjust the height of the shoulder straps.
Maneuverability As the lightest pad in the test, the Session was easily maneuvered around rocks and roots. It lays flat thanks to two velcro patches in the hinge. However, testers were looking for webbing handles to make it easier to grab and move on the fly.
David Garcia has been a trail running fanatic with a climbing problem for over 25 years. David works as a firefighter in his home base of Boulder, Colorado where he has easy access to some of the best trail running and climbing that the state has the offer. David tests trail shoes and bouldering crash pads for Gear Institute.