I have just returned from jumping off a stool onto boulder mats. Under the boulder mats was an electronic force plate connected to a computer. At the controls, my wife, who runs a human movement lab at the University of Nottingham. Why you ask?.. we are looking to produce a boulder mat this spring and these initial results have lead me to suggest the make up of our mat. This will be the first in a range of mats and my brief for this one is to make a £50-£60 medium sized hinged mat.
The shell will be a tough, no frills construction with a simple adjustable shoulder strap that can be used rucksack or shoulder style. For the base fabric we have two choices: PU coated rucksack nylon or a rubber backed nylon similar to lorry tarpaulins. What are your thoughts?
After bouncing around on several mats I have come to the conclusion that a sandwich of closed cell, open-cell, closed cell foam is best. The open cell foam will be a 'High Load Bearing' open cell foam, lighter than equivalent higher density foams though it can be easily damaged when removing from the shell if you are not careful. The quality of the closed cell foam ultimately dictates the overall price of the mat and there are two real choices. Non-cross linked, this tends to be white and is common in packaging. When new it is fine but it quickly loses its ability to return to its original state as it is possible to burst the air spaces. Cross-linked foam costs almost twice the price but is far more durable and is available in many different densities so can be used thinner if required.
Would you prefer a cheaper mat with less durable foam? Do you prefer a harder or a softer mat?
The current 'beta' design is 1m x 1.3m open (about 3ft x 4ft). This is a little larger than most medium size mats but smaller than the taco style mats. This is the most efficient use of foam so making it smaller won't necessarily make it cheaper... How does that size up for you?