Thursday, June 20, 2013

Asana KJ Signature Highball Crash Pad Review: Two Years of Use

It has been just about 2 years since I got my Asana KJ Signature highball crash pad.  Over those 2 years I have used the KJ pad well over 100 times.  It is always the biggest pad out in the boulder field when I am out, so naturally it gets the most use.  By "use", I mean being fallen upon.  Out on a normal day bouldering, the pad probably takes at least 50 falls (average height of ~6-10 ft) upon it, with the average weight of the falling person being 150 lbs.  So, imagine taking a 150 lb. weight and dropping it over 5000 times (this being a conservative guess) on the pad.  That's a ton of abuse for any one object to take, especially since most of the time the pad is laying on rough, uneven and often wet and muddy terrain.

How the Padding Holds up

The dimensions of the KJ Signature pad are as follows (unfolded): 66 x 44 x 5 inches.  The inside of the pad is what I really like.  It has 1 inch of industrial grade closed cell (stiffer foam) foam followed by 3 inches of high density open cell foam (firm and spongy), topped off with another layer of 1 inch industrial closed cell foam (Foam Types-for more details on mentioned types of foam).  This makes the pad landing system ultra durable and ultra impact friendly.  So after 2 years of use, does the padding hold up?  Has the firmness diminished?  Has the pad lost any depth (compacted)?

A clean pad for the picture(had to vacuum it to show it was still one color)!

The firmness of the pad has seemed to hold up very well.  Since the bulk of the landings occur in the "primary landing zone", I used a level and tape measure to determine how much the padding had been compacted by all of the falls.  Other pads I have had in the past either lose their firmness or have major compacting of the internal padding.  Measuring the Asana pad showed a minimal loss of the depth of the pad (as shown below).  I used a level to make sure I had the depth of the primary landing zone and measured on the non-shoulder strap side on all three sides (3 different spots per side).  All measurements were at or about 4.5 inches in depth.

A loss of only half an inch over 2 years of throwing this beast of a pad down on some rough terrain and then repeatedly falling on it is actually quite amazing.  Not to mention the stiffness of the padding still feels as if I just bought the pad yesterday.

Straps and Buckles

The KJ Asana pad has 3 metal cam buckles (unbreakable) that hold the pad together along with padded shoulder straps and hip strap (both adjustable) for carrying.  Carrying the pad around on longer more strenuous hikes is not too taxing due to the comfortable shoulder straps and hip carrying system.  I figured when I got the pad that the cam system that held the straps tight to keep the pad closed would, in time, destroy or fray the strap.  This has not occurred and appears to be not having an effect at all on the strap (as shown below).

Notice the buckles and straps are all intact with no fraying or tearing after 2 years!

I have trusted my life and legs to this pad for 2 solid years and have been completely satisfied with the way the padding, straps, buckles and fabric has held up to all of the abuse (including the rough New England weather conditions).  I am also able to put things inside the pad to carry (Asana Pro Spotter, camera tripod, etc.).  The only downside to such a large pad is the extra weight (which is still not that much, but it's a trade-off for the extra protection and peace of mind knowing there is a high quality pad below waiting to catch my fall.

My pup Bailey and me taking a break on the KJ pad

*All views expressed above are my opinions and based on my personal experience.  Bouldering is dangerous and there is no guarantee you will not get hurt even if using a crash pad!