I was looking for something comfortable to wear whilst seated in the kayak, lots of
storage space, plenty of buoyancy and it had to provide a good amount of visibility. For a change I wasn't particularly limited
by my budget.
This PFD utilises Palm's Flex Formed Foam system which is supposed to offer excellent
comfort. There are seven pockets in total with the provision for a hydration bladder and a handheld VHF radio. It was available
in red or blue, red being the obvious choice for visibility at sea.
Adjustment comes in the form of a waist and midriff straps as well as shoulder adjustment.
Further adjustment whilst actually wearing the PFD is simple enough. A front zip design allows the Kaikoura to me removed
on the water, to remove a layer of clothing for example. The remaining loose from the front straps even tucks away into small
recesses so there's less clutter of the front of the PFD.
On the rear of the Kaikoura is a large pocket, designed for a hydration bladder, with
the shoulder straps containing loops to keep the drinking tube organised.
The rear pocket is also sub-divided to allow for alternative storage, perhaps for flares,
etc. This pocket has an over the shoulder opening strap which proved simple enough to operate. I have doubts as to how accessible
this pocket actually is on the water, no problems if your flares are laying upright, though if they were lying flat retrieval
would prove rather difficult!
Storage on the Kaikoura is superb and is one of features that has led to the praise
within the sea kayaking community. The front of the Kaikoura has four pockets along with fleece lined hand warmers and a whistle
pocket. The two main pockets contain pouches and key clips. The smaller front bellows pockets also contain key clips, whilst
allowing the storage of smaller items.
What is difficult to see is the hand warmer pockets, the two main pockets can be clearly
seen unzipped in the above photograph. the hand warmer pockets actually lies behind the rear most pocket, the complete upper
side of the pocket assembly is un-stitched allowing access to a fleece-lined pocket. I've used them over the winter period
and they are indeed effective, getting your hands out of the wind, allowing them a chance to warm up
For these hand warmer pockets to remain effective it's well worthwhile drying your hands
prior to using them. I've even kept a solid fuel hand warmer in each pocket for the ultimate warming experience!!
Left, right and rear pockets had a reflective SOLAS patch on them - an increasingly
common addition to paddling kit and useful for dawn/dusk and night paddlers.
The right hand pocket has an antenna hole in the large rear pocket allowing storage
of a handheld VHF radio within. The hole on mine was partially obscured due to an excess of material when purchased, though
careful trimming and a few re-enforcing stitches made it fully effective. It can prove fiddly to fit the VHF in the pocket,
though with a little practice it becomes quick and easy.
If you are unfortunate to capsize the radio is certainly not going to fall out, once
on the water access and retrieval would be easy. Obviously a waterproof/floating VHF is advised.
The Kaikoura has an flat, inside back pocket, which on the face of it has very limited
use due to its position and size. However it could be used to located a £20 note, a little loose change and some handy phone
numbers in a heat-sealed packet, should such an emergency arise.
The last pocket is located on the right shoulder. It's a small pocket with D-ring and
whistle already attached. I've also fitted a safety knife and lanyard into this pocket, though it could also be used to house
a smaller torch/strobe for night time or emergency situations.
Above the left pocket is a plastic accessory mount to which I have attached a strobe
There have been issues regarding the Kaikoura’s zip and corrosion, though the
design has been updated with a plastic zip and this problem addressed. If purchasing this PFD ensure it is of the more recent
design with plastic zips and not part of an old batch.
I've been using the Palm for a few weeks now and early impressions are very pleasing.
It's comfortable to wear and the storage solutions are proving to be excellent. Despite my initial concerns over its apparent
bulk, that proved not to be an issue on the water. The corrosion issues appear to have been put to bed. Overall, an excellent
piece of kit.
Review by V8ROB