Voodoo Highball 5000 $369
Real Estate: 20 square feet
Thickness: 5 inches
Weight: 18 pounds
Design: Continuous-foam taco fold
The Highball 5000 is Spartan and effective. It doesn’t have a pocket or flap system for carrying gear, but does have five inches of dual-density foam that took the sting out of falls from 15-foot jumps. The taco-fold pad uses five straps to bind it into carrying mode, although folding the beast in half and buckling it down is like trying to handcuff an unruly hippie. The strap buckles are plastic, but the female receptacles are cleverly stitched to the side of the pad where you can’t tromp on them, and the male ends are easy to unthread and replace. A large, beefy suitcase handle makes it easy to pass the folded pad through tight spots. The padded shoulder straps and webbing belt are comfortable, easy to adjust and oriented so the bottom of the pad doesn’t bump your thighs. The top surface is a groovy leopard-print velvet that sexes up the pad as much as it cleans your boots. The drag handles on the 5000 are too small and too few to be useful, and, as with most taco-folding pads, the closed-cell layer of padding tends to migrate off to one side.