Boulder mat repair story

Growing up with an Alpkit Boulder pad, and giving my old friend new life

By Tobias Brewin

A short story about bouldering, growing up and our relationship with our kit.

Tobias got in touch with a belter of a story. We all develop relationships with our favourite kit, and when this happens we go to extreme lengths to keep it going. We see this on a daily basis in our repair stations up and down the country. Every kid needs a companion as they feel their way through life, perhaps we have seen too much Lassie, but Tobias shows us that the future might just be ok in their hands.

In June 2014 I got my very first boulder pad for my 13th Birthday. It was an Alpkit Phud taco-style pad, army green on one side and black on the other.

The following year I had a pretty successful junior competition season with the team at ROKT in Brighouse, which led to me picking up a sponsorship from EB shoes.

Heres me with the mat in 2015 at my local crag - West Nab near Meltham. I was posing for pictures to add to my EB profile in my new kit I ended up with womens pink djangos as my feet were too small for anything else.

Trips to the Peak and then to Fontainebleau with the ROKT team followed my trusty Phud always making the trip in the van. It proved excellent for protecting sharp edges! Here are boys from ROKT: Sam, Louis and Tobias - on Vin Rouge 7a+ at Isatis (On the left 2016, and the right 2017 - back to bag the send).

Bouldering with friends

Anytime I went out bouldering, my green pad came with me. It came on adventures to the Lake District, Scotland, and every year a big trip to Font. Sadly, as I grew the pad began to show its age. I lost the shoulder strap somewhere at Caley boulders and had to re-attach the carry handles at one point too. Its safe to say I never went easy on my pad.

After many years of hard use, it had a number of holes in the black side, the green side had started to delaminate in places, and the handles were once again hanging by a thread. By this time, I had left home and gone to university in Sheffield, to live right next to some of the best crags in the country. So this Summer I brought my pad home to patch it up for the autumn season, enter my mum Louise who has a sewing machine and great gear repairing skills to go with it. I asked for help to give the Phud a new lease of life and jazz it up in the process whilst reusing as much of the original mat as possible and saving it from landfill.

We had to bin the green side, the backing had degraded and covered the living room with scabs of green coating. To replace it we bought 1.5m of purple cordura type fabric off eBay. Thick enough to be fit for purpose, but thin enough to sew on a domestic machine. We salvaged the loops and fasteners and separated the black side from the green managing to also retain the zip.

When tracing the original cover, we found that we only just had enough fabric, but managed to cut it out in a way to get extra scraps to strengthen the corners and patch the holes as well as fully replacing the green side. After a couple of hours of confusing cutting, pinning, and sewing, my Phud was back in action looking fabulous in its new colour. The foam is a bit softer than it once was, and the cover isnt quite as tight as it used to be, but Ive been using it as much as ever in the past few months and in September 2023 I took it on its 9th Font trip.

To celebrate its new lease of life we went back up to West Nab, in what turned out to be a howling gale and tried to recreate the photos of my younger self. Funnily enough the boulders seem much smaller now. Same rocks, same pad, and same undying love for this sport.

Growing up with a bouldering pad

This boulder mat has been with me my entire climbing life, watching my moments of triumph as I top out on projects, and catching me for the hundreds of times Ive fallen onto it. The pad, never the focus in photos, but always there in the background giving me confidence to try my best. Serving as picnic bench for crag lunches, and as an umbrella when the weather closed in. Heres to many more years of climbing together, I cant wait for our next trip...

Bouldering Mats

Taco bouldering mat for your local circuit, 100 x 100 x 8cm
$159.99 $199.99
Large taco bouldering pad for frequent boulderers, 134 x 100 x 11cm
Hinge style pad ideal for frequent boulderers, 100 x 132 x 11cm
$259.99 $329.99
Small bouldering pad for sit starts and up-close impacts, 80 x 50 x 6cm
Cordura® chalk bag with waist strap for sport, trad or bouldering
$22.49 $39.99
Moisturising skin creme to keep active skin hydrated
$12.49 $14.99
UK made hardcore 9 litre stash bag with daisy chain loops
$49.99 $79.99
Minty lip balm containing all natural ingredients
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