Back when the DMM Highball first came out there was not many pads that were this good and affordable with it. You either bought the classic Franklin Dropzone or a DMM Dyno as far as I was concerned. I’ve had two Highballs on the go for a while now, so feel that I’m pretty well placed to give an honest review.


One of my pads has been on the go for over a decade now, and it is still in a satisfactory condition. Relegation to a garage floor for training board padding hasn’t happened yet! I’ve fallen off boulder problems in Wales, the Peak District, the Lakes, Fontainebleau, Switzerland, Yosemite, Bishop, Utah, Yorkshire and more recently Scotland on these Highballs. They have literally been on every major and minor bouldering trip I’ve been on and will still go on many more. The main reasons for this? They are bomb proof and functional.


I could probably leave this review here as in some ways there is no real reason not to get one of these if the size and design is to your liking. The only reason I would look around more now, is that there are so many choices on the market. That said, it is still here, it still sells and you still see them everywhere… they just won't go away.


Hinged pads are extremely popular for lots of people as they are much easier to store. This makes them easier to transport as well and, as you have no bend or compression in the foam when carrying them, they wear incredibly well. They are great to wrap around awkward, uneven landings. They can be doubled up for highballs, they make great seats, average beds and can even be used as a step for brushing those just out of reach holds. All important stuff!


The Highball’s durability is due to Ballistic Cordura on the base, 1000d Cordura on the top and Plastel on the closure flaps. No wonder mine is still going strong a decade on. The heart of the mat is a thick layer of open cell foam sandwiched between two thinner high density foam layers. It’s these 3 layers of top quality dual density foam (overall thickness: 10.5cm) which gives a good even distribution across the entire pad. It’s this combination of high impact and softer cushioning that make the pad a joy to fall on, even from Highballs (hence the name) and on uneven ground.


By modern standards this pad is no longer one of the biggest or thickest on the market at 122cm x 109cm x 10.5cm and 5.4kg, but this size is still the go to for a nice balance of portability and a secure landing. Whether you’re looking for your first pad, or something that will stand the test of time, you really need to consider this pad. If you want something that is very similar but slightly different dimensions and features, check out the Ocun Moonwalk.


To round up, and if you haven't read a description of the pad, here is the rest. The pad comes with a removable rucksack strap which can easily be rigged so the pad can be carried on the back or over the shoulder. There’s a starter carpet for cleaning rock shoes; personally I have never used this and probably never will as I take a little sit pad with me. The carrying system uses Lowe Alpine Load Locker buckles; functional and robust. Rubber moulded carrying handles make the pad a treat to carry between the boulders. This is actually a nice feature as lot of pads don’t stretch to this kind of detailing which is often a shame. The rounded corners help to increase durability (sure, the pads are still going so must be doing something right). Extra straps for carrying bag, shoes, etc - not used even once, though I’m sure it’s useful for some. I’ve always stuffed everything either in a bag and carried it on my front or for shorter sessions I stuff everything inside the pad.


I’m not sure if they’ve any intentions to update the Highball in future but there really isn’t anything to change, other than perhaps a non-absorbent base material as some of the newer models have. Either way, the Highball is a great all-rounder. Even with our local bias!


- Jack