Saturday, October 16, 2010

2011 Mission Crash Pad

First of all, let’s start off with a little spray from our current catalog:


This is our forte. Nobody has developed more innovations to bouldering gear than our team of designers. We have introduced some 60 different Crash Pad models for five companies over the years, more than everyone else combined.

The burrito fold, the taco fold, reverse folds, the hinge/taco combo fold, closure flaps, full suspension pack systems, XXL highball pads, lightweight ‘circuit’ pads, upholstery tops, almost all of the standards, benchmarks and advancements have come from this small, dedicated crew.

That would be enough for us to sit back and rest on our laurels. But we have no intention of doing that. In fact, we have some more design breakthroughs in the works; we’re just sorting out some of the fine points. Just wait and see.”

And with that, we would like to introduce the Revolution 2011 Mission Pad.

This little blog post is mostly writing and a few photos, not as many crude jokes and Photoshoppery as I usually include. I'll throw in a little humor, but please try to stay awake...

For those of you who’ve been keeping up to date on Crash Pad designs over the years (which means almost nobody), you may have noticed that I like to redesign the Revolution line on an annual basis. Those changes usually mean better foam, different closure systems, more versatile carrying systems or maybe just new colors.

But this year, we’re doing a big change to our two most popular Crash Pads, The Mission and The Commando. For anybody who’s been bouldering for a fair amount of time, you probably recognize that the “taco” fold is the safest design for a Crash Pad, as it does not have any built-in weakness, gaps or hinges down the center of the Pad.

But taco folds do have some faults, most of them aesthetic. Since the stiff foam is on the top of the foam layers, it’s on inside of the fold. That makes folding the Pad a little more difficult. Also, the top layer of foam can develop a warp or a slight crease, meaning the Pad never fully lays flat unless you bend it the other way first. And if you’re using a very firm foam on top, it can lead to the corners of the Pad “tweeking” out a little bit when folded.

To keep the landing surface completely clear, the backpack straps are on the outside of the fold. But that means the backpack area will be facing the ground. This is not really a big deal if you’re in dry areas like Bishop or Hueco, but if you’re in a rainy area like England, your back will eventually be covered in mud from carrying the Pad.

And chicks don’t want to hang out with grimy, muddy bastards…. so now you see the problem.

In 1999, I came up with a potential solution to this problem with the Cordless Evel Pad. It had a “reverse taco fold”; meaning the top stiff layer of foam was on the outside of the fold. And the shoulder straps were removable, so there would be no obstructions on the landing area. But it wasn’t perfect.

So for the last few months, I’ve been wanting to work with the “reverse taco” design again, but I couldn’t think up a way to keep the pack area off the ground and still have a landing area that was clean, clear and ready for business.

But somebody else did figure it out. And due to the previously described mud dilemma, it makes sense that the idea came from the UK.

The crew at Moon Climbing came up with a solution to this problem that is so simple and obvious, that I feel like an idiot for not thinking of it first: The bottom flap is the pack area. Duh!

(side note: unlike certain douche-bag companies that are content with only biting other people’s designs and contributing zero to the bouldering world, I prefer to give credit and support where it’s due: Nice one, Ben.)

The backpack set-up of the new Mission Pad consists of 3/8 inch (1cm) thick padded shoulder straps with metal buckles and an adjustable 2 inch (5cm) wide hip belt. The shoulder straps are removable and adjustable for climbers of different height, ranging from torso lengths of 15 inches (37cm) to 23 inches (58cm).

Here’s our male model Johnny showing of the latest in fall fashions with his Zoolander inspired look “Sleepy Magnum”…

See that silver ring and strap behind his head? That’s what pulls in the top and bottom flaps. Just one strap goes from the top flap, through the ring and attaches again to the top flap. The ring acts like a pulley to keep the tension on both flaps. And it’s all hooked together with a single metal buckle.

Since the stiff foam is on the outside of the taco fold, the corner “tweeking” has been eliminated, which means the sides and corners meet with a tighter, cleaner fold.

And if you didn’t notice in the above photo, the flaps are in opposition; the side flap closes on the opposite side of the Pad as the top and bottom flaps.

Big deal, you say? Well, here’s the benefit; with almost all other Crash Pads that are available, the top, bottom and side flaps are all dependent on each other to close up the Pad, that's if they have any closure flaps at all.

Having the flaps close independently from each other means just one buckle can close up the Pad, for a short stroll between boulder problems or a quick approach. It also means you’ll have an easier time stuffing all your gear inside.

So what about the whole “keeping-the-backpack-area-dry-and-clean" or "keeping-the-landing-area-open” situation? Here’s the answer: the top and bottom flaps can hook together on either the top or bottom side of the Pad.

If you don’t mind the backpack laying on the ground, hook it up like this…

… or if you prefer to have it out of the dirt, hook it up on the top side…

… or if you think both of those methods totally suck, there’s a third option. Just roll up the bottom flap/backpack thingy…

… and take the built-in Velcro strip to cinch down the roll (by the way, the Velcro strip is behind the flap/pack, so you won’t even notice it when it’s not in use)…

… and there you go, the whole thing is out of the way and will stay dry and clean. It’s even been suggested that this backpack/bottom flap rig would work great as a clean area for sit-down starts, but that’s up to you.

Yes, I know that this means 1 or 2 extra steps to get your Pad all prepared for a super-kick-ass bouldering session. But trust us, it's worth it.

The 2011 Revolution Mission Pad
is 48" x 41" and 3.5" thick (122cm x 104cm x 9cm), same dimensions we've been rolling with since 1995. The new photos and info will be on the website in the next few days. We're starting production on these rigs in about a week, so feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. And your credit card number.

And for all you guys in the E.U., Norway, Japan and Australia who need to get hooked up with the best bouldering gear in the world, get at these guys:

Friction Walls (Scandinavia)
Crux Co. (Japan)
Big John (Australia)
and our Euro office, Revolution Climbing EU

Thanks Everybody, and say no to drugs!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


For those of you who don't know what a Quinceañera is, it means a 15th birthday party. No, it's not for me, I'm way, way, past 15. But if I were a 15-year-old Mexican girl celebrating my Quinceañera, it would look like this...

Pretty creepy, huh? I promise you will have nightmares about that photo.

Like I was saying, the party wasn't for me, it was for the climbing company that changed everything. September 1st, 2010 was the 15th anniversary of Cordless.

I was going to post this yesterday, but I figured that it could wait until today because:

A - We decided to go climbing instead of banging away at a computer.
B - There's only like 12 people who read this anyway
C - I haven't posted anything in eight and a half months, so what's one more day?

That's right. 15 years ago, I bought a used Husquavarna sewing machine, a few yards of Cordura and about 40 cubic feet of foam. The rest, as they say, is history.

For those of you who know anything about these machines, it's not a walking foot but it can take bonded nylon thread. This little bastard stitched up at least 100 Crash Pads before I stepped up to a true industrial machine.

So with an initial investment of about 300 or 400 bucks in machines, fabric and foam, we built a multi-million dollar, world-wide industry and changed the climbing scene forever. Not bad, huh?

And I've still got one of those Pads right here in the shop. Technically, this one is Cordless Pad #4, as I sold Pad #3 and the first two were so shitty-looking that I popped the stitches and re-used the foam.

Anyway, yesterday we decided to go out to Little Cottonwood and take part in my two favorite things: a little bouldering session and a half-case of beer.

About a half-dozen of the extended family came out...

... and a few of them thought that crimpy problems in 85 degree heat are fun...

... which is totally stupid. But a good time was had by all, regardless.

So this one's for all of you who have helped contribute to what we have collectively built together since '95: We've taken bouldering from an unrecognized, unappreciated part of the climbing world and turned it into the scene's most popular arena. I want to give all of you my deepest gratitude. What we have accomplished will be appreciated long after we're gone.

On the flip side, I want to give a hearty Fuck You to the companies and people who are diluting the climbing world with low quality knock-offs of Cordless gear and generally treating bouldering not as a genuine, valid and viable activity, but merely as a marketing and branding opportunity. And if you need me to spell it out more clearly: Black Diamond can eat a fat dick.

Instead of getting all weepy and long-winded about who we are, where we've come from and where we're going, the best way for me to sum up the last 15 years is to include the photo and intro speech from our latest catalog...

"Here’s a photo of a shoddy one-car garage at the end of a dirt alley in Bend, Oregon. Big deal, right? To us it is a big deal, because this is where it all started. This was the Cordless shop from 1995 to 1997. And what came out of that sorry-looking hovel built an entire industry.

We didn’t start making bouldering gear because there was a ton of money in it or because there was a huge, international market. Just the opposite was true; back then, bouldering was a raw, fanatic, underground movement and we were initially ridiculed for believing that it would become anything bigger or better than that.

We did it because we saw a much larger potential, something that would take years to develop. We didn’t view the bouldering scene for what it was at the time, but what it could be. Sometimes, you have to look beyond what currently exists and see the larger picture, the massive possibilities.

Fifteen years.

We’ve been making bouldering gear for a decade and a half, longer than anybody else in the game, with more highs and lows than we can remember. But even in the worst of times, one thing has stayed the same: our devotion. Never give up and never sell out.

We don’t want to bore you with one of those “back in the day” stories. We’re all about taking things forward. This year, we are consolidating two exceptional product lines under one roof. Revolution and Pusher are now part of The Cordless Group, a collective that is dedicated to designing and producing the highest quality climbing gear worldwide.

Along with our production in North America, we have developed our European branch, Revolution/Pusher EU, to hook up all you guys on the other side of the Atlantic. We’re franchising like McDonald’s, baby.

Although it’s all too common today, we refuse to dilute the climbing world with shitty knock-offs and mass-produced junk made in some third world sweatshop. All of our products are made locally, if not specifically in-house. Same goes for the Euro crew. Local manufacturing allows us to dramatically lower our carbon footprint, maintain exceptional quality control and quickly introduce new products.

In every little intro speech we’ve written since ‘95, we have finished it with two simple words. We put it down there because we want you to know that the only reason we are still around is because of you. And you are the only reason we got into this gig in the first place. We hope you’ll understand that we sincerely mean this:

Thank You"

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Great Debate

So once again, it's been a month since I've written anything. I'm really starting to screw up this whole Blog thing. But now I'm making up for that lost time by resolving some of the most pressing issues of our time. Read on.....


Coke is better than Pepsi. Always has been. So there, it's settled. Shut the fuck up, Pepsi. Now we can finally end the stupidest debate in human history.


This is a very tricky topic, but one who's answer is easy to rationalize: Cake tastes good because it's made with a lot of sugar. Pie tastes good because it's made with a lot of sugar AND a lot of butter. Therefore, Pie is better.

And this is based on a side by side comparison, both being served individually at room temperature. If one were to heat up the Pie and add Ice Cream, the Pie's superiority is magnified by a factor of 50. Whereas, heating up Cake is just plain disgusting and adding Ice Cream to it makes the Cake a sloppy mess.

Another thing to consider is the special events or occasions these two desserts are served at: Cake is usually served at birthdays or weddings, events about "me". Pie on the other hand is served at Thanksgiving and family picnics, events about "us". So Cake is a narcissistic jerk.

Finally, I have to give credit where it's due: this topic was started by my man Josh Helke at Organic. He even dedicated a T-Shirt to this grand query. Evidently, he has a lot of spare time.


Ooooooooh, something about climbing. I know that this is an old-school debate, since better bouldering areas have been found in South Africa and New Zealand. But who wants to sit on an airplane for 37 hours to find out how much more bitchen' those places are? Not me. I'm containing this argument to Font v. Hueco.

Much of this depends on what style of climbing you prefer. Super-steep, powerful moves on little edges or more vert-angled, technical climbing on massive slopers.

And both areas have obvious drawbacks; Would you prefer to sit around and wait for the rare occasion when it stops raining (Fontainebleau) or would you rather pay a guide and get treated like a fucking 10-year-old on a field trip to the local Zoo (Hueco Tanks)?

But there is one thing that these two areas have in common: Although they are both populated by climbers I want to hang out with, they are both surrounded by people that annoy the shit out of me: Texans and French people.


I know that putting a picture of Bush next to De Gaulle is going to piss off a lot of French people, like putting a picture of Stalin next to the Dalai Lama. By the way, what would Stalin vs. Lama look like?

The Lama is a nice guy and all, but Stalin had the kick-ass Burt Reynolds moustache, so The Bandit wins.

But this whole "Texans vs. French People" debate is a little too complex. So let's simplify this debate even more...


One hat says: "I'm an ignorant dip-shit who voted for Dubya, twice". The other hat says: "I'm a pretentious douche-bag who reads his own poetry out loud".

By the way, did you know that "douche" means "shower" in French? Something to think about...

But I think that we can find some middle ground on this, if one were to find combination of these two annoying hats into one hat that nobody likes: Police Hats.

Taaaaa-Daaaaa! (or as the French say: Viola')