The new edition of the Asana Hero Highball has a hinge that I don't think is an improvement over the older taco style pad. Some people may prefer the hinge, but not me. They could have made a hybrid angled hinge or added at least some padding to the hinge area to take care of the bottoming out effect.
Other than that Asana has innovative designs and good overall workmanship and is made with quality materials. The padding on the older model wore out faster than most. Asana made an obvious design breakthrough when they made pull tabs on the ends of their straps. The handy pull tabs help you get a grip when the pad is packed full of gear and you need to tighten up the load for hauling (this is only really useful if you use your pad as a pack a lot). I also like how this pad has most of other needed features like secure shoulder straps and flaps to hold in stuff.
Asana Hero Highball Pad ReviewPrice: $215 List Pros: Durable, functional, easy to use.
Cons: Hinged, prematurely soft foam.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hero Highball Pad Vs. The Hero Highball PRism
Asana has provided us with a few details on the new upgrades for the pad which now goes by the name of the Hero Highball PRism.
"If you choose the "Disturbed and Random" color selection, you will get a Charcoal or Black Cover and a Prism Deck and Flaps in any multitude of color combinations. The Hero Pad is designed as a highball pad to provide more comfort than the normal 3-3.5 inch mats on the market so when your projects get higher, you can still feel stoked about pulling hard moves. The Asana flap system allows you to "piggy-back" any other pad of equal or lesser size on the front of the Hero. This goes for all of the Asana Crash Pad Line. The pad measures 48 x 36 x 4 inches OPEN and 36 x 24 x 8 inches CLOSED. The pad is made from 1000 denier nylon w/ bottom and side flap and has an "E-justable Suspension System" (includes adjustable height contoured padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, and a waist belt). The pad has three carry handles and weighs 12 pounds. The foam is hybrid fold and has one continuous sheet over two subdivided under layers; 1 inch of closed cell on top, 2 inches of open cell in the middle, 1 inch of closed cell on bottom."
The Hero Highball PRism isn't so different from the Hero Highball that it replaces, and so we think our review below will still give you a pretty good feel. The price has increased from $195 to $215 list. Below you will see the older version of the Highball on the left vs. the two photos of the Highball PRism on the right.
I liked the old taco design of this pad. However, the new hinged design will lay flatter, pack into a car or closet easier, and the padding will last longer without the constant folding and creasing of the taco style. I also like the pull tabs on the end of the straps
I do not like how the padding gets soft much sooner than on other comparable pads. It is possible to replace the foam and it is nice to have a pad that already feels broken in when you buy it. That said, it could be a bit stiffer.
For $215 this is in the middle of the price range for the pads in this review. At $175 the Organic (also hinge style) has better foam and workmanship. It is probably the better deal for most boulderers. For $199 you can have the Black Diamond Drop Zone with the taco style (no hinge).
— Chris Summit
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