Foam / Fall Protection
The Shogun is constructed of two different foams: a closed-cell foam over an open-cell foam. The combination is supposed to give the pad good energy dispersion without making it too stiff.
When I first got the Shogun, however, it seemed very stiff—just opening it up and standing on it seemed rock hard. But after only one day of bouldering, it softened up nicely. I then worried that if it broke in that much in just one day of climbing, it would get too soft, but that didn’t happen. The pad seemed to break in easily, then maintain that perfect line between too soft or too hard.
This season at Hueco, for example, I tried lots of climbs with sit starts, like Loaded with Semen (sorry, that’s the name). If you blow the first move on sit starts, you sit down hard on your tail bone—which is when you find out what your pad really feels like. It ought to be soft enough not to knock the wind out of you, but firm enough not to let you feel the ground under it.
The Shogun struck this balance nicely, absorbing the impact of a fall while never letting me feel any uneven surfaces, roots, or rocks through the bottom of the pad. I have owned only two crash pads prior to the Shogun, but I have used many, and, in my experience, the Shogun was the most comfortable. Mad Rock foam feels too stiff; Metolious and Black Diamond pads seem to pack out too quickly.
When I go bouldering, it’s typically just my wife and me. I am a lot bigger than she is, so spotting isn’t much of an option for her. She usually saves me by moving pads, so a larger pad that doesn’t need to be moved as much is great. The extra length of the Shogun actually makes it feel like there are two pads where there is usually just one.
I also found myself stacking the Shogun on the top of all the other pads on high balls. The stacked pads not only offer more fall protection, but placing the Shogun on top covers more gaps between the smaller pads underneath. This in turn reduces the number of edges on which to possibly roll an ankle, which is fairly comforting when falling backward through the air.
While in Hueco Tanks in December, people were actually asking to borrow the pad for tall problems. And when I put the pad down at the bottom of classic highball problems like See Spot Run, people started to show up and give the climb a try. The extra area coverage seemed to give everyone a little extra confidence.
The Shoguns foam is wrapped in 1000-denier nylon, and all corners have an extra layer of abrasion resistant material. This adds to the stiffness when the pad is new. The opening and folding of the pad is a bit of a pain at first because of the stiffness, but this also became easier after just a couple of days out. I haven’t been able to use the pad for the years it would take to really judge the overall durability, of course, but from what I’ve seen so far this, I’ll wager that this pad will hold up to years of abuse.
The Shoguns also comes with a small pocket that Flashed says is “for valuables,” which I ended up using for keys and tape. (The opening of the pocket is a zipper that’s just over six inches long, so I couldn’t fit any of my guides or larger items in it.) The pocket is actually tucked in between the layers of foam, so be aware that anything you leave in there could be crushed by people landing on it.
Flashed also says the top of the Shogun is upholstered for comfort and wiping feet; it just felt like nylon to me—very durable, but no better for a foot wipe than any other nylon-topped pad, and no more comfortable, either.
Overall, I really like the Flashed Shogun. Four hundred dollars might seem a bit steep, but the construction quality is great. And compared to other pads from Organic, Mad Rock, or Metolius, I felt it was more comfortable to carry and had better impact absorption. I also prefer the Shogun’s closure system.
If you’re looking for a bigger pad, I would highly recommend the Shogun. It’s big on the ground, easy to move around, and feels small on your back.