Drop Zone

Review by planetFear
Monday 12th March 2007

This popular mat from Black Diamond is a re-release of the Franklin Drop Zone. The only notable difference between the two pads is that the Franklin has pull tags on the buckles to help adjustment. Also, one’s label says Franklin, the other says Black Diamond. You can’t fool a boulderer that easily!

The mat is a ‘taco’ style mat, folding over like a taco to carry and unfolding totally flat so as to eliminate having an ankle-twisting seam. I found it easy to fold and unfold and, like a taco, you can put anything in it! You can easily stuff kit inside the mat to carry to the crag, and, the side flaps that hold it closed ensure that you don’t loose a shoe on the walk in! It easily holds a bag with climbing shoes, chalk bag, jacket, brushes, food, etc...

Something that I noticed about this mat when climbing was that I forgot about it. I never had to worry about falling off onto the crease or hitting the ground through the mat-a very worrying experience at the best of times! It is constructed from an inch of closed-cell foam on top of 2.5 inches of open-cell foam and covered in a sturdy Cordura cover. I always felt safe falling (and jumping) off onto it, which I did, repeatedly and from varying heights, from Hueco highballs to Grit grovels. All in the name of research, naturally.

Despite being so functional, the Drop Zone still manages to be surprisingly portable and fits into the boot of my miniscule Mazda 121 (albeit with a bit of persuading). I have also covered a fair distance carrying this mat and it never felt too heavy. It has adjustable rucksack style shoulder straps and a hip belt; they are comfortable but could maybe do with bit more padding, especially if you are carrying a lot of kit. These straps cannot be removed or adjusted so you can carry the mat handbag style. I did not see this as a disadvantage as I could usually fit everything I needed into the mat and it does carry well on your back. The buckles that are used to adjust the shoulder straps and hold the mat closed could also be improved. Although they are brilliantly designed to double as bottle openers they are stiff and I found them quite hard to adjust, especially to tighten up.

The mat is held closed with two panels of material that connect to buckles on the pad. These flaps are handy when the mat is folded out as you can stand on them to keep your rock boots dry, while avoiding standing in the way of missiles falling from above onto the mat! There is also a zip pocket on the outside of one of these. This is a perfect place to store a mat or towel for wiping your shoes. Bigger objects fit in here too and I found it a good, safe spot to keep things like my camera or phone on the walk in. Remember to take them out before you start falling off though!

Overall, I think this mat is a really great piece of kit. It works very well as a landing zone, carries gear well, is safe, reliable and practical and, easy to transport and carry about.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

If you have any products you would like reviewing please contact reviews@planetfear.com

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Bookmark: Add to Favourites Add to Google Bookamrks Add to Delicious Digg this Add to Myspace Add to Facebook Add to furl Add to Yahoo Review on StumbeUpon Add to reddit Add to Newsvine Add to Windows Live Favourites
Add to Technorati Add to Twitter Add to Yahoo Bookmarks Add to Aol Favourites Add to Ask Add to FARK Add to Slashdot Add to Mixx Add to Multiply Add to Simpy Add to Blogmarks

Comments

There are currently no comments on this article.

Add a Comment

Title
Comment
Security Code:


Please enter the security code in the text box below.