Following on from our Rigging at home post, if you have a safe and certified rigging set up, then lucky you! Please stay safe, and an important part of staying safe is having a crash mat or a landing mat. No matter how experienced you are, we believe that you should ALWAYS use a landing mat. Anyone can fall, even doing tricks that you've done a million times. A mat can save you from broken bones, concussions or even death. Yes, that is as dramatic as sounds.
Deciding on the right option can be confusing as there's a heap of things to consider, and when it comes to your own personal safety, it's worth thinking about a few details such as foam type, foam density, width, length, and the type of covering used.
It goes without saying that all mats should be covered in a durable PVC / Vinyl cover, have a non slip base and be made of fire retardant foam as standard. But it's always worth checking the tech spec to be doubly sure!
As a rule of thumb, the higher you are training off the ground, the thicker your mat should be and the more surface area it should cover. If you're not sure, then please ask us or your aerial instructor. We know that storage is tricky, oh believe me, we know! But when buying a mat , the size and thickness will depend on the height you will be going to, so please do your research.
The below are some options that you might find useful for a home set up.
Crash Mat for higher aerial work beyond 4m
When it comes to thickness, you'll find that as the depth of foam increases, the density of the foam tends to decrease to accommodate for greater fall heights. For instance, while a 20cm thick crash mat might have a sponge foam density of 40kg/m3, a 40cm thick mat is often reduced to 25kg/m3 density, providing a softer landing where a greater fall height is potentially involved.
In our opinion, always go as thick as you can for landing mats! But 20cm/8" thick mats are good for most aerial work. Bi-folding mats are good because you can instantly double the thickness of the mat. But unless you have more than one, you are reducing the surface area that your body can land on, so make sure that if you do fall, that your whole body will land on a mat.
FIRETOYS FOLDING CRASH MAT V3
This crash mat is 200cm x 120cm and a generous 20cm deep. But it's genius lies in the fact that it folds in half and has carrying handles which makes it easy to transport and store.
Crash Mat for low aerial work (up to 3-4m)
1.2m x 1.2m x 10cm deep mats
Really low aerial work
For aerial such as aerial conditioning, or aerial yoga where your feet are never too far from the floor, then thinner mats are fine. Beware with aerial yoga though, as if you are taking to the air and undertaking some dynamic moves and drops, then you should have more cushioning underneath.
IMPLAY(R) SOFT PLAY GYMNASTIC LANDING CRASH MAT
2.4m x 1.2m x 5cm
Pretty lightweight and has carry handles. Not very thick, but better than nothing.
Custom made mats
If you're lucky enough to have the budget and space to design your own mats, not only do you get to pick the fun bits like the colour and the thickness, but you can also decide on the foam density.
For Foam Density, and without meaning to sound too much like Red Riding Hood, you want your landing mats not too hard and not too soft. Hard and dense enough to provide some resistance and cushioning if you fall, but not so hard that it hurts when you come down in a controlled manner. It's a balancing act, but there are solutions available. At Flying Fantastic, we have our mats custom made. As big and as thick as we can accommodate in the studio. Hard enough to allow for safe spotting, but designed with a soft inch thick foam topper to take the edge off the impact when landing. We've worked with the lovely folk at PG Foam - https://pgfoam.co.uk
NB: Some of these recommendations are affiliate links, so we will make a small percentage on any order you make. But regardless of where you buy it, please always train with an appropriate mat. You only have one body. Look after it.