The Drop Zone Pad has been upgraded as of 2014. See below for additional details.
The Black Diamond Drop Zone crash pad has a redesigned multi-density foam layer set up for longer lasting impact protection. The new foam lay-up is 1" of dense closed-cell PE foam on top and 2.5" of softer high-compression PU foam on the bottom. This new blend is a bit more stiff and has slightly better impact cushioning than the last version and is simply more durable so it will last longer. The rest of the pad is well put together with the exception of the way the pad has an awkward twist or bend to it when in pack-mode. This is only really an annoyance if you carry a heavy load on rough terrain otherwise it was not really a big deal to most of our testers. Also, like most taco-style pads, it does not lay flat when first opened after being folded in pad mode for awhile. The edges stay curled up and bent inward until it relaxes or gets stepped on a bit. This seems more pronounced with the slightly stiffer new foam but is also nothing more than an annoyance. On the flip-side, the benefit of a taco-style pad is that it has no hinge that can bottom out on jagged rocky landings making it worth the minor annoyances in most cases. If you never boulder at areas with jagged rocky landing zones then bottoming out and curled up edges could be enough of an annoyance to consider one of our hinged style pads like the Best Buy award winning Metolius Session. The hinged pads are more compact for storage, fold open and close easier and lay perfectly flat.
One of our testers' favorite new features on the Drop Zone and also on a lot of other pads on the market today is the handle between the top of the shoulder straps. This "center lift handle" helps to lift the pad onto your back in pack-mode and also just to carry it around from boulder to boulder. This handle comes on all Black Diamond pads. The other feature we found very useful was the elastic mesh flap closure system. The two strap flap cinches up the load securely and has tough, easy-to-use metal hook buckles. The last but not least cool feature is the rubberized "Batman Suit" coating on the outside of the pad that helps the pad stick to angled surfaces and is also highly water repellant. This pad is a great pad to do it all. It is lightweight but larger than average size and has plenty of useful features. The taco-style design works great for most landing zones and the functional rubberized coating is like no other. With all that combined, this pad takes our Editors' Choice award.
View our complete Bouldering Pad Review to see how this compares to others.