You lifeline, your last chance at avoiding injury in bouldering is your Crash Pad. This important piece of equipment is what keeps you safe in the event of a ground fall and able to stand up dust off and hit the climb again. Its also your piece of mind if something does go bad on a climb that you have something there to protect you making it a very important part of your climb.
WHAT IS A CRASH PAD
Simple! A crash pad is what you place under a boulder problem to land on when you fall. Its a cushion that absorbs impact that otherwise would hit the rock under you. Not a fun thought to think about eh?
BUT WHAT IS THE HIGHLANDER?
The Highlander is a crash pad made by Misty Mountain, one of the top names in bouldering gear. Its designed to be easy to move and easy to maintain. While walking through the rough undergrowth to get to most climbs this becomes very important and well be covered in the design and how I liked it section section of this write-up.
The Misty Mountain Highlander is designed with many aspects thought into it. They thought of everything from the height of the pad over your head when your moving to the maximum unfolded coverage. They even thought of how it would fit into your tent! Here is a list of some of the features and what they mean.
Upper 1/4" closed-cell foam layer disperses impact force; lower 3" open-cell foam provides soft cushioning Landing surface (36" x 48") is covered with durable automobile-type carpeting
Lower and side surfaces are constructed from double-stitched 1050-denier nylon ballistics cloth Velcro(R) closures at the end of the cover allow the foam to be removed for washing
Folds into a 2' x 3' package with shoulder straps; carry your essentials folded up inside
Information gathered from REI.Com
HOW I LIKED IT
Loved it, wouldn't think of using anything else for even a second. The number one thing I like about the Highlander is its folded size. Its made perfectly for a normal climbers build. The shoulder straps are placed in a way that allows you to continue to wear your chalk bag around your waist but not so high that the pad is sticking above your head. This is very important because while you are walking in heavy growth and scampering through rocks at the same time, you avoid getting caught on a down hanging limb that could cause you to take a nasty tumble.
The other design point I loved was the thought going into its size. Normally a tent is constructed in a two person design when it comes to outdoor gear. Also a climber normally well go with a group of two people. If you've ever seen an outdoor tent you notice how normally the ends are tappered down at the feet after about 3 feet. The Highlander is designed with this in mind. Meaning it makes a dandy sleeping pad without having to carry any extra gear in it!
BUT HOW'D IT FEEL WHEN YOU HIT IT?
Boulderer's fall, thats a fact that all of us in the sport have come to expect and accept. A crash pad is your last defense as well as your best defense next to a trusted spotter you could have.
With its 1/4" impact foam lining to dissipate the impact and the 3" of underlying soft foam hitting the pad is as comfortable as you would expect after taking a 10' fall. To give you an idea, the majority of the time when a climber falls, they fall with their feet down hitting the matt with them first. My knees aren't what they used to be and tend not to be able to take direct impact. The Highlander absorbs the impact so directly that the foam moves around you with ease and with no twisting.
My pad is now over 2 years old with very little wear to it. If you keep up with the normal maintance and keep it unfolded during the off season you'll find that the Highlander well stay with you for a long long time. Treat it as nice as it treats you in other words.
IN THE END
Don't be turned off by the price tag (at $175 it might seem like a lot) its well worth the money you put into it in the piece of mind alone it gives you. And from the uses such as back pack to sleeping pad as well as crash pad you'll get all you can out of it making the price a steal!
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