This is the second in Tom Dixon's bouldering mat review series. The first was Moon Bouldering Mats which you can read here
I was so excited to hear that Snap, the French bouldering company, were finally going to be given proper representation in the UK via the County Climbing Company that it actually made me feel quite happy about my life, for too long had I seen French people foisting about these sexy slices of foam. The Calzone is Snap's workhorse offering, and is the most readily available mat in their range, despite this however it measures in at a mere one metre square which is a tad small, I would like to have seen them match its surface area to that of the Moon Warrior pad, however take a look inside the cover and there is one obvious difference.
Snap, in their eternal wisdom, have given you a full inch of astoundingly good quality hard foam as your landing surface. This gives the mat a much firmer feel and means it is capable of absorbing more impact by spreading it out to a greater area of soft foam; take a big fall on to one of these things and you'll appreciate the way it nullifies the blow more so than softer feeling mats. This is due to a unique treatment, which Snap gives to their hard foam by which it is heat treated in a special atmosphere reducing the size of the cells whilst at the same time thickening their walls, giving the whole top sheet of foam more elastic properties. The end result of this treatment is foam which absorbs more impact and lasts longer so you won't be needing to replace it any time soon Brilliant.
The Calzone is a burrito folding design and folds with the ground side inwards, to prevent the Woodstock look. However due to the mat being a little smaller and the foam being a little tougher it is a more difficult to fold away initially, this however, does ease with use. Snap have used a simple bombproof D ring closure, which makes the mat quick and easy to stow away whilst providing some adjustability in the tension so you can snugly secure your bouldering essentials inside it.
For me Snap have also used one of the best designs when it comes to removing the shoulder straps. It's a non fussy affair with two hoops to thread the strap through and specially designed buckles that easily clip on and off at the bottom of the mat. This means that the straps don't depend on the strength of the velcro closure to hold them in place and hence they won't be affected with wear.
Finally all of the Snap mats are stitched together like they are about to go through a war zone; the bases are made of a hard-wearing ballistic fabric which is anti-slip, and easy to clean. The corners of the covers are stitched with a tough mesh to facilitate escaping air from the open-cell soft foam on the bottom meaning the mat deflates under impact rather than acting as a bouncy castle. These thoughtful chaps from across the pond have also included a small carpet on the landing surface, stowed under their logo, to wipe your feet on before you set off.
The Calzone is unique in that it has enough shock absorption to act as your main pad, but is small enough to be carried around as your second pad. A truly great little contender to buy as your first mat due to its versatility.
For anyone looking for a bigger pad Snap also do a double-folding version called the Burrito which is essentially the same as the Calzone but with an extra fold; the advantage being twice the landing surface.
Taco style model without folding for a homogeneous landing surface.
Can be rolled in 3 for transport.
Open size : 200x100x9cm
Closed size : 100x60x40cm
Weight : 9 kg
The Whopper is a more traditional hinged pad with a twist, it folds with the groundside inwards like the Calzone, however this does create a problem. When laying flat the Whopper has a very obvious split down the middle. This looks a bit ominous from above, but there is consolation in that the hinge is velcro so you can split the mat in two and use it like two smaller mats to cover more ground. This is how you will find yourself using the pad most of the time especially on traverses or roof problems.
As with all Snap pads the Whopper features their superb foam set up which is amongst the best I have used. The straps are removable in the same way as the Calzone and the Whopper is also slightly larger, closer in size to the Moon Warrior pad when fully opened out.
Can be seperated in two and used independently for traverses.
Open size : 130x100cmx9cm
Folded size : 100x65x18cm
Weight : 6.5 kg
Snap Quarter Pounder
This is really well thought out little mat which folds up a bit like a cluedo board and gives a landing surface bigger than the Whopper, but it will easily fold up to fit in the tiniest of car boots.
Unfortunately it does suffer from the same splitting problem as the Whopper. When lying flat there are some ugly looking crevices in the pad so I wouldn't want to use it for problems of any great height. In practice this turns out to be far less of a problem than it would appear to be but it does take some getting used to.
The Quarter Pounder also fills Snap's niche as a perfect little traveling pad as it folds up small enough for hire cars along with all your baggage, so it's ideal for running around circuits in Font (it would appear someone told Snap about the boulder bus). Like the Whopper it can also be split into smaller pads so if there is a group you can separate to do different things.
Tom Dixon is almost entirely taken by bouldering, nothing else gets him psyched aside from the odd bit of easy winter climbing when the conditions come good (he's done a winter ascent of Tower Ridge) and he has walked from Ambleside to Newcastle. He works at Lakes Climber (www.lakesclimber.com) in Ambleside, Cumbria.