DMM Highball Review

RRP: £195 (Correct on 01/02/18)
Weight: DMM – 5.4kg

The Review
At an overall thickness of 10.5cm the DMM Highball is an excellent pad with noticeably more foam than many other mats currently on the market. It features a hinged design and uses highly durable materials; Ballistic Cordura for the base and 1000d Cordura for the top.

A hinged design will split opinion (no pun intended); with many people being put off by the effective weak spot/line it creates in the centre of the mat. This is in contrast to a taco style design where continuous foam means there is no weak spot.

However, DMM have done a great job of ensuring the hinge is tight fitting and that the two sides of the mat butt up against each other to help alleviate this. Whilst the hinge design is ultimately weaker than an equivalent taco style design it does make the pad far easier to transport; being marginally quicker to pack up and more economical on space in the boot of a car.

Likewise for storage at home, the fold flat design makes it easier to store. Also, as DMM point out it also allows the pad to be folded and then be used to pack out holes in the ground.

The DMM Highball features three layers of foam; two layers of high density foam and one thick layer of open cell foam. This configuration of foam gives the mat excellent cushioning properties, whereby the two high density layers seem to give good overall stability and the open cell layer provides good shock absorption.

The integrated slot for the starter carpet (for cleaning shoes) is an excellent addition. The starter carpet itself cleans shoes well and can simply be shaken or hovered once it’s ready to be cleaned.

The fabrics of the bouldering mat itself are great for durability and the corners are curved to reduce wear.

The Highball also features side zips so that the foam can be removed and the outer washed.

The Highball features Lowe Alpine load locker buckles (The metal buckles commonly seen on Lowe Alpine’s top end mountaineering packs). Whilst they undoubtedly add to the overall cost, they are a significant improvement over traditional plastic buckles; being much stronger (given the likelihood of getting stood on).

The good

  • 10.5cm thickness is around 0.5 – 1.5cm more than many other pads.
  • Configuration and combination of foam layers help create both good stability and shock absorption.
  • Metal load locker buckles are great for durability.
  • Hinge style design makes for easier transportation and storage.
  • Durable outer fabrics and rounded corners mean it should last a long time (plus replacement foam is available from DMM).
  • Starter carpet (and storage sleeve) is great for cleaning shoes.

The bad

  • The hinge style design is certainly not going to be liked by everyone, and despite DMM doing a good job of alleviating some of the weakness created by the hinge, a taco style design is still better for continuous protection.
  • Price; at £195 the DMM Highball is priced above many similarly sized bouldering mats (However it should be pointed out that this higher price is more than justified through the choice of materials and design).

The verdict
If you’re after a hinge style bouldering mat then the DMM Highball should be high on the list. It’s very durable, well designed and its choice of foams and configuration make it relatively stable whilst also being good for shock absorption.

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