While touring the Chamonix Valley for its hidden bouldering circuits I thought it would be a good idea to focus on Snap bouldering mats. I’m currently equipped with a Snap Calzone pad for my tour of the valley, but who are Snap and what are they about?
Well, Snap is a Chamonix based climbing product company who produce a fine range of bouldering mats from as little as £30. At these dirt cheap prices you may be thinking that you’re going to be paying for absolute garbage, thankfully not. Alpkit have proven many times over that you don’t need to break the bank to get quality climbing products and Snap is in the business of proving the same. The difference between Snap and Alpkit being that Snap have an extensive range of shapes, sizes and styles of mat. Even on 1st look, the mats on offer look to have had people who regularly boulder behind Snap’s mat designs.
The Calzone is Snaps flag ship mat, an excellent all rounder offering approximately a metre squared of safety but when folded the mat takes on a noticeably small profile. It folds to around the same size as the average old style mountaineering backpack. The old ones, with the frame (If you are old enough to remember those).This is particularly handy as I travel to and from the bouldering spots on foot, usually down narrow country roads with no pavement. I feel much safer knowing I can look behind me easily and that a bus isn’t going to clip the back of me due to excessive mattage. Why walk you may ask, well most of the spots are within 5 miles of Chamonix central and Chamonix is expensive enough without adding unnecessary fairs. Anyway, it’s the French Alps in the summer the weather is awesome.
The Calzone folds just like other Calzone style folding mats. The pad rolls over rather than being hinged, this prevents the hinged area from creating a gap for a rock to squeeze through or maybe your elbow can get in and miss the matting. Not good! So in this respect the Calzone style mats allow for a nice even surface.
I prefer the hinge style so they can fold flat for easy storage, the Calzone rolls over more than actually folding. This is the way to go if you are in the habit of stuffing your pad with your gear or even if you have one of the bouldering bags that fit inside your mat. The Calzone will curve round this extra load, because calzone mats roll over it’s doing less damage to the mat and won’t squash your gear.
I’ll take a side step at this moment to point out that I have seen many people stuffing thick hinge style mats with loads of travelling gear. This does put additional strain on your mat working on the hinge section and closing straps. It is also going to compress the foam and leave some points less spongy. I’m not saying don’t maximise your usable space, a rope coiled flat or shoes, maybe a towel, boot mat, maps, things that can be laid fairly flat can go inside your mat to make the approach to the bouldering site easier. I’m just saying don’t go overboard I’ve seen people stuff their mats like they are trying to flit a house. With the bottom squeezed as shut as possible, odds and ends hanging out the top and sides like a burst couch, the mat ends up barrel shaped and it will turn your uniform flat landing surface into a skateboard halfpipe.
So this is where Calzone mats come in handy, designed to roll rather than fold there is no stress on the hinged area if you stuff it and the closing straps are not being wedged apart by your change of clothes.
Snaps Calzone has the previously mentioned 1metre square landing zone with 2.5cm of EVA closed cell foam, this is sandwiched with 6.5cm PU foam giving you a comfortable 9cm of protection. The closed cell foam offers an elasticated surface to take the initial impact. The high stiffness PU foam acts like a shock absorber. Snap mats are designed to let the air forced from the foam inside the mat, out through a decompression mesh. This simple yet thoughtful design allows the mat to cushion your fall more and adds to the life of the mat, air constantly trying to burst its way out a mats seams will wear out the stitching. Snap mats have a ripstop landing surface and a tarpaulin – esque underside which can be cleaned with a sponge. The Snap Calzone that I have has a full length zip on one side, I think this is meant so you can swap the foam if it gets tired or to wash the cover (again similar to Alpkit) . This allows handy storage of a boot mat, towel, maps or other handy flat items.
In short, if you are looking for a nice multipurpose mat that’s easy to carry while storing all your bumf in, then Snap and their Calzone range are the mats for you. They come in an extensive range of colours and are available for less than a ton, not something you see often. To see the extensive styles and colours that Snap have available visit Snap’s website at snapclimbing.com.