Highball

Review by planetFear
Wednesday 14th March 2007
The DMM Highball Pad has been a big seller for planetFear this year and I was very happy to review one to see what all the fuss was about.

DMM launched their first bouldering pads last year with the Highball, Dyno and Spot pads. The Highball is a standard hinge style, the Dyno is taco style while the Spot is a small, easy to carry / 2nd pad.

The Pad covers a wide area of 122x99cm

The Highball is a very well-designed piece of kit. Straight from opening it you can tell this was not a rush design job and that a fair amount of thought has gone into this bouldering mat.

Starting from the outside, the pad has a very tough fabric encasing all inside. The Cordura material is usually found on rucksacks and the like and it’s known for it’s durability. I’ve thrown this mat around a lot without so much as a scratch. I’ve also left it lying in some wet, muddy areas and the fabric brushes off water very easily, always a plus.

The seams on the mat are strong and well placed (offset) and you shouldn’t have to worry about wear & tear. The back of the mat has a rucksack style carry system that can be converted to a shoulder strap for moving between boulders or when carrying another rucksack. I never used this feature as the carry handles on the pad made moving it between boulder problems pretty easy.

The Highball has a bottom flap that closes over making it possible to carry the basics inside the mat but as the flap doesn’t make the mat a fully closed system (i.e. there is still some open space in the corners) it’s not advisable to just throw small stuff (brushes, shoes) inside without some thought, or better yet, placed in a small bag.

One of the simple, but rather smart, features is the carpet pocket which lies flat on the top of the pad and is easily opened and closed and the very strong load locker alloy buckles (used by Lowe Alpine on their packs). The yellow coloured top fabric makes it a very photogenic mat (for photos from above) for those who like photography alongside their climbing.

 

Getting into the meat of the pad, the actual foam, DMM have come up trumps with 3 layers that more than absorbed any fall I took…be it a small traverse over rocky ground or a highball. The mat is made up of 2 higher density foams on the top and bottom with a thicker, lower density foam in the middle. The 3 layers is a little unusual from other deigns which usually use just the 2. Again this simple design feature shows the level of thought gone into the overall design.

The internal foam specs of the DMM Highball

All the above describes the features of the mat but its real test comes when being used. As a reviewer I used the mat whenever possible but I saw it’s real worth when friends started to grab it for use on their own problems, or asked to move it to key fall spots. The mat performed well on all types of ground and I never once bottomed out or had the mat sandwich up when landing in the middle (a potential problem with hinge pads). The pads weight is not really an issue as it’s quite light and it’s an easy mat to carry and transport fitting easily into the boot of most cars.

Any negatives? Not really, one annoying feature was a floating buckle / strap which can be used to combine 2 mats together but in general use just got caught on bushes or hung out the back of the mat. Possibly the addition of a small zip pocket would also help in carrying small items while the bottom flap could be extended to create a fully closed mat.

Summary:
All these are fairly small issues and if you’re looking for a good mat that will protect your ankles from high falls, then the DMM Highball comes highly recommended – it’s certainly become my pad of choice.

Full Specs:

  • Size (open): 99cm x 122cm x 10.5cm
  • Foam: Top: 3cm layer high density foam
  • Middle: 4.5cm Open cell foam
  • Bottom: 3cm layer high density foam
  • Buckles: Anodised alloy
  • Weight: 5.4kg
  • Colour: Yellow & Black
  • RRP: £130
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