Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Signature Asana Crash Pad: Phase 3: Testing

So, I just spent a week and half in Bishop testing the new prototypes (5 made in all) with the Asana Team. We compiled a bunch of great feedback that will only make the pad better. I will spare you the details for now, until we have the next prototype finished next week. Then you can see the changes for yourself. We have improvements being made to nearly every element of the pad, really dialing it in. I'd say that our first prototype was about 85% of the way there. The last 15% is coming from fine tuned changes to the carrying system, closure system, foam combination, and measurement details.

Charlie Barrett and I checking out the differences between our two prototypes

Checking out the gear storage system

Nice burly handles

Talking design...

Golden Shower, v10

Took come good drops from here before committing to the heel hook crux last move. Simply amazing boulder problem!

Mesothelioma, v7 or so

As promised, I will take your comments into consideration. See below.

awesome ... it looks cool - bether than my big madrock pad ... i hope to get one of these here in europe :)
Thanks Martin. We plan on offering them globally, so stay tuned if you're interested!

m. said...
I wonder about the hing system though. Up here in Squamish we find it quite difficult to flatten out landings with that style. I prefer a taco style. Also with damp ground it's nice to have a top fabric that allows you to wipe your feet dry. Aside from those small points the pad looks quite beefy.

When you say that you prefer the taco style for flattening out landings, do you mean that you like to fill in holes with the folded up pad? Or, do you find that the full taco simply does a better job of staying rigid over the gaps? Would love to hear some further input on this fact. Regarding a top fabric to dry your feet, we will be swapping out those camo accents on the corners of the pad with carpet. We noticed the same problem in Bishop with all the snow around. Thanks!

Anonymous said...
Whoever comes up with a viable inflatable/deflatable pad will own and revolutionize the market. The main impediment to these things are their size, making them impracticable for air travel (and having 4 of them in a small rental car once you get there), not to mention the stigma of walking around with a mattress strapped to your back. Also the CFC's involved in manufacturing the foam pad itself makes them about the least green, least recyclable, least biodegradeable climbing-related product on the market.

Maybe ThermaRest, the inflatable sleeping pad company, could be
approached for input as to how to make this happen. I think eventually someone will come up with a better idea, and we will all look back and laugh (like we do now about lycra in the 80's) about how ridiculous we all looked carrying mattresses around...

Agreed. Technology is advancing rapidly and climbing equipment is only getting more specialized. Flashed has an Air Pad that is actually quite effective in dispersing the force associated with long falls, however like you said, a design like this is quite heavy to carry...

Corey said...
Have you considered a strap on the top for those of us who like to pad stack and carry multiple pads?

Honestly, we haven't for this model. We feel that it's big enough as is, and when we make the final tweaks (including perhaps a new foam combination), it will clock in around 15 pounds. However, I've seen some creatively simple ways to incorporate what you're talking about, so I'll look into it when I'm in Boise this Monday.

Anonymous said...
Do you plan on double stitching where the shoulder straps connect to the pad? That always seems to be a weak point on crash pads, mainly when carrying a second pad strapped to it. Pad looks awesome and the weight is unreal for a pad that size.

Macca said...
That is one sweet looking prototype! Globally sounds good, try getting a few over to Australia if you can. We are seriously starved of good climbing gear over here!
Send me an email through the contact form on my website and we'll see about getting some over there. Glad you like the look so far!

Anonymous said...
looks rad.
any idea what the price is going to look like?

Stay tuned for the answer to this. We will be discussing it on my next trip to Boise, on Monday. We expect to launch a Pre-Order option very soon.

Jay said...
Wow the pad looks great!

Looks like it has highballs covered. Perhaps a small matt for cleaning the soles of your shoes would be handy also.
Good luck
Sydney OZ

Done. Thanks!

gian said...
wicked pit protector feature!!!

Thanks! It works well!

a bit skeptical about the lightness...
in my very limited experience light pad=crap foam. Heavy pad=sturdy, durable foam.
It's a compromise...

Fair enough. We are using the same foam combination as the old Gunther right now, which held up great. I've been using the Gunther for the past 2 years and the foam is still in great shape. However, we are looking into some different options for foam combinations to help with high impact falls. I'll let you know what we come up with next week.

jack said...
Rad I could definitely use one of these. I like the backpack feature and the straps to keep the pad level. How does it feel to have your own signature pad?
Glad you like what you see. I'm not usually one to do the whole signature line thing. This is a first. As weird as it feels, it's been a joy to work so closely with the design and production team to churn out a great new product.

Stay tuned for the results of the next prototype....

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Signature Asana Crash Pad: Phase 2-Prototypes

Here are the first images of the prototype I am testing here in Bishop, CA. Not too bad for a first go, eh?! Yesterday I took the pad on a 100 problem circuit at the Buttermilks. I was very pleased with my ability to easily move from boulder to boulder using the handles and carrying it as a suitcase. The gear pack held a few pair of shoes, a community chalk bucket, my wallet and keys, food and water. Most of all, the pad is light: about 13 pounds, making it the lightest pad for its size on the market (in this prototype stage).

66" x 44" x 5"

"Pit Protector" straps keep the pad rigid over uneven landings

Clip in gear pack for all your bouldering needs

"Pit Protector" straps always stay attached. Just tighten and loosen the D rings as needed.

Cam Buckle closures are SUPER durable and easy to use

Totally redesigned carrying system. Fat shoulder and waist straps carefully positioned to fit both short and tall torsos.

KJ Signature Asana Crash Pad.

I'll be in Bishop for a few more days of testing before we send the results back to Asana for another round of prototypes. In the next post, I'll go over how some of the features are working out, what we are going to change for the next prototype, and hopefully, a timeline for it's release. As always, feel free to comment if you want to see a feature added that you don't see here already. We'll take it into consideration!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Signature Asana Crash Pad: Phase 1-Concepts

I’ve been bouldering for about 12 years now. In this time, you think that I would come across a crash pad that I LOVE. One that is durable, comfortable to carry, has great features, isn’t too big, too small and looks good. Well, this is where working with a great company like Asana comes in handy. I’ve been working with Asana since 2006. I’ve used their crash pads on every boulder problem I have done since then, big and small. I’ve taken 25 foot diggers in Bishop, back-flops in Hueco, and patent-pending “tuck n’ roll” ass rockets from the 30 foot range. Every time I have walked away. My pad of choice in all of these years has been the “Gunther Highball.” It’s 5 inches thick and 5.5 feet by 3.6 feet. In my opinion, it’s a great size. Not to big or small. Despite being a great pad to land on, the Gunther was in need of a serious make over. So, after summer Outdoor Retailer, I went up to Boise, ID for 4 days to design my “perfect” crash pad.

Designing a new product takes time. It’s a process. It takes good communication between the athletes (testers), designers and producers. Compromises need to be made by all parties, egos need to be left at the door, and the common goal of making the best product possible must always remain the focus. We have broken this process down into 5 stages.

1: Concepts

2: Prototypes

3: Testing

4: Revising

5: Completion

We are in the thick of this process right now and I want to bring everyone who reads this blog along with me. I’m going to write a post on each stage of the process until we have a finished product. If you think we are missing a key feature, leave a comment and let us know what you want to see in YOUR perfect crash pad.

To begin, let’s look at the conceptual stage. Highball crash pads are classically heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable to carry. I wanted to fix all of these issues without compromising durability. So, I began drawing and listing all of the features I wanted to address:

  • Carrying system: Needs to be comfortable with a heavy load, have wide but thin shoulder and waist straps to distribute the weight, a chest strap, and carefully chosen torso measurement so the pad may be carried with comfort by short and tall climbers alike. The shoulder and waist straps need to positioned low enough on the pad so not to hit the bottom of the pad when hiking on a steep trail, but not so low that the pad it top heavy.
  • Closure system: No flaps. Instead, incorporate a gear pack that clips in. Needs to be simple and durable. No plastic. No clips or hooks. Needs to maintain the ability to hold tension over time.
  • Functionality: Need to create a bouldering system, a few select products that work well together and go out bouldering with you every time. By eliminating the closure flaps, we simplify. To keep gear from falling out, we should add a bouldering pack that clips into and comes with each pad. Needs big handles for moving around. Needs carpet somewhere on pad for wiping shoes.
  • Aesthetics: Big, bold color. Simple.
With these items in mind, I began imagining, drawing, listing, discussing, debating, measuring, and eventually, cutting material to make the pad.
The Drawing Board


Measure twice, cut once....

John Albright, Asana Head Designer

Cutting the new pad template...

I just received my first prototype and I'm currently in Bishop, CA with fellow Asana athlete Charlie Barrett and Asana Team Captain Ryan Held testing it out. Stay tuned for the first images of the new Signature crash pad. I must say, I'm proud of it.

Progression Soundrack

The guys over at Big Up Productions have released the soundtrack to Progression. I'm listening to it now and it definitely gets me psyched to get out of the coffee shop and up to the Buttermilks. In fact, I'm off. But go check it out. It's well worth it: