Palm Atom Bib
The Atom Bibs follow on from the popular Ion Bibs and are similar in many ways. They are a premium salopette that are design to keep your lower half dry. This makes them particularly useful for kayak fishing and all sit-on-top kayaking as the only part of you that is likely to get really wet (unless your jumping in!) is your legs, from paddle splash, waves topping the kayak and fish on your lap. Unless the conditions are unfavourable then you can often spend an entire day on the water with your upper half staying practically dry.
The Atom Bib will keep your lower half dry - this does not mean that they will keep you warm. They are nothing more than a barrier between you and the cold water and/or wind. They will keep you warmer compared to not wearing them at all but realistically they provide little in the way of real warmth. To keep warm you will need some suitable thermal layers to wear beneath. We will get onto that later....
For the last 12 months i have used the Palm Ion Pants (now the Palm Atom Pants) - effectively the Atom bib but without the bib section! These were great but i did find that when in the RTM Tempo i am often sat in a paddle of water due to the low seating position and lack of a scupper hole under the seat. Occasionally if a lot of water was coming into the seat when paddling through messy stuff the water would creep up my back. This is the reason i have gone for the Bib this time around, as the upper section should prevent this from happening.
Lets take a closer look at the Atom Bib....
The Atom Bib is mainly constructed from Palms XP 3-layer fabric - durable, waterproof and breathable. The XP 3 Supplex Nylon face fabric is coated in a water-repelling, microporous polyurethane. The pores in the polyurethane are too small to allow water droplets to pass through, but large enough for water vapour to pass through to the outside air thus making the fabric waterproof yet breathable. Just what you need when paddling on warm days.
The Atom Bibs also features XP-4 layer 320D reinforced panels in high wear areas such as the knees and seat.
On the XP 3-layer fabric upper bib section you find elasticated shoulder straps and a space mesh back - for ventilation and to make the top half lighter to wear.
The shoulder straps are adjustable via a a small plastic tab which is easy enough to use and adjust into position.
Elasticated sides keep the upper section snug to the chest and sit low enough so that they do not interfere or chaff the arms when paddling.
Onto the lower trouser section.....
The Velcro adjustable waist is simple and effective. Simply do them up tight enough to provide a good seal against the body but not too tight to be uncomfortable to wear. The velcro waist is compatible with a twin waist cag to form a reasonable seal against the water.
A low profile flexible TiZip Masterseal relief/pee zip features and comes supplied with lubricant to keep it well maintained. It is fairly easy to open and close and will come in handy if nature calls!
The velcro adjustable ankle cuff is constructed from a tough cordura-type material for reinforcement in this high wear area. The ankle cuffs will always get plenty of abuse where they contact your footwear and rub against the kayak whilst moving around on the kayak, so its good to see durable material here.
The ankle cuff overlap is high enough to allow a decent length boot to be worn under the cuff.
The Atom Bib features XP 4-layer fabric socks with Nylon 320D reinforced soles. The socks are double taped at the seams on the inside and outside, again for durability to prolong the waterproofness of the socks.
Socks are always an area of high wear and suitable protective footwear must be worn over them to prevent them from wearing through and compromising waterproofness.
I am using Palm Descenders as footwear and have been for the last year - you can see an initial overview of those here. Tough and comfortable, i love em!
Palm Seti Pants
As previously mentioned, dry clothing will keep you dry but not necessarily warm. They will keep you warmer than not wearing dry clothing in the sense that the water will not be directly in contact with skin but primarily dry clothing provides a barrier between you and the water and weather.
In order to stay warm you will need to wear appropriate base layers, ideally ones that are designed for paddle sport use. These will be lightweight. breathable and have fast moisture wicking properties. I have opted for the Palm Seti Thermal Pant to wear beneath the Atom Bib. The Seti Pant is designed for mild/cool conditions so will be great for Spring through to Autumn. For the colder Winter period i can always layer up and add additional base layers.
Lets take a closer look....
The Seti Pants are constructed from lightweight and breathable waffle fleece. The fabric is constructed in such a way as to allow plenty of ventilation between the small squares of fleece, thus allowing moisture to be channeled away from the body.
The soft lined elasticated waistband keeps them in place on the body. A small internal pocket features which could be handy for storing a car key or similar. A fly opening also features.
The fabric is soft and stretchy and can equally be worn both on and off the water. I have been using mine as thermals to wear to work!
A two-piece suit allows much more flexibility than a one-piece drysuit. The Atom Pants will always be worn as i will want to keep my lower half dry. The Seti Pants will be worn most times too unless it is exceptionally hot. Descender Boots will also be worn to protect the fabric socks. So thats the bottom half of the two piece suit sorted.
The main flexibility comes in the upper half of the suit. As previously mentioned, on calmer days you can often stay practically dry on your upper half unless your jumping in, but you never know when you may fall in unintentionally. Whilst not wanting to overdo the top half with several layers in order to stay dry, i also don't want to end up freezing cold if i was to fall in. I have been using the Palm Kaituna Neoflex top (overview here) over the last year and find it brilliant as a paddling top. It keeps me warm in mild conditions but isn't too hot for paddling on the really sunny days. It also keeps you reasonably warm when damp or wet from wave splash. I've jumped in with it on several times and it does help combat the chilly UK sea water, well its warmer than not wearing a neoprene top anyway! So the Kaituna is what i will be wearing most often with the Atom Bib.
Neoprene isn't for everyone though and there are several other types of thermal base layer that could be worn instead. If the weather is really hot i'll be wearing just a t-shirt - unlikely on my days off anyway!
For the colder days when the wind chill is a problem i can simply add a cag - i use the Palm Vector
A Quick Test
I used the Atom Bib and Seti Pants during a short session last week. Initial impressions are good - the Atom Bib was comfortable and the upper section was hardly noticeable to be wearing. The bottom trouser section was also comfortable to wear both whilst paddling and with my legs straddling the kayak whilst fishing. I got them covered in fish slime so went in to clean them off after - all dry with no water ingress through the pee zip or anywhere else. The Seti Pants also did their job and kept my legs warm.
NOTE: when wearing dry trousers make sure your vent as much air from the trousers as possible before going paddling. To do this crouch down when wearing to remove as much air as possible before re-sealing the waist band and standing back up straight You can also walk into the water up to the waist seal to vent the air out too, if possible. Venting can be done via the pee zip on the Atom bib too if your on dry land. It will feel like you've vacuum packed yourself but if there is no air in the trousers then none can escape if your find yourself in the water. As air escapes through the waist seal it gives the water a chance to seep back in - it wont be a lot but better to try and prevent it in the first place.
With my clothing sorted for the season, i can now concentrate on getting out and catching some fish! I'll give the Atom Bibs a few months of abuse and report back on how they are coping.
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