Straight out of the packaging....
The PFD is largely made from CORDURA® 500D material with a vent mesh liner. Stretchy neoprene also features in places for comfort. The camera flash highlights the reflective solas patches and reflective piping.
The Kaikoura is front zip entry, featuring a quality YKK zip. Wear/stress points are bar-tacked for strength and durability. A small rubber tab at the base of the zip helps a lot with fastening the zip. A buckle beneath the zip is for fastening the 3D anti-ride waist belt.
The front features webbing on both sides - handy for clipping on a knife, safety lights or a whistle
Two larger pockets and two smaller pockets can be found on the front. Double zippers on the two large pockets will allow for a VHF radio aerial to protrude whilst holding the radio secure in the pocket.
There are smaller compartments inside the large pockets and clips for leashing accessories. The large pocket will easily take a digital camera, mobile phone in a dry bag/case and small items of tackle whilst remaining fairly flush within the design of the PFD. One of the pockets houses a whistle on a leash. The smaller pockets on the front of the large pockets will be handy for storing packets of hooks and other terminal tackle. The pockets again feature quality zips with toggles.
Behind the large pockets you can find fleece-lined hand warmer pockets....these will be nice to protect the hands from wind chill!
Up to the shoulder straps...
Solas patches and D-rings for clipping on accessories
Easy Glide straps for adjustment - they really are easy to adjust but hold tight in place. Bar-tacked for durability. A neoprene band can be used to direct a hydration bladder (not included) drinking tube towards the front of the PFD and the nozzle can be tucked into a small pouch on the front of the shoulder strap behind the solas patch.
To the back....
Again reflective Solas patches, piping and decal. Bottom strap wraps foam around the body for a comfortable fit, side straps ensure the flex fit pre-curved foam sits against the body for a wrap-around fit. D-ring at the base is for crotch or leg straps if needed (not included).
The large back pocket is compatible with with a hydration bladder (not included) but may also be handy to store other items. It expands to quite a large size. The pocket is held shut by strong velcro and can be opened using the rubber strip handle. A drinking tube can pass through a small opening at the top of the pocket labelled H20.
On the inside....
Soft cushioned vent mesh liner for ventilation and comfort. Shoulder straps are a stress point so again we find bar-tacked seams for strength and durability. The standard safety information is detailed on the inside of the front panels. The Kaikoura conforms to EN ISO 12402-5 (watersports) and ISO 12402-6 (paddlesport) safety standards. A grippy rubber neoprene waistband helps prevent the PFD from riding up during use.
On the body....
From the front:
and the back....
with the hand warming pockets in use....
and with a VHF radio (Standard Horizon HX851e) in the front pocket and clipped onto the shoulder strap......
This is a well thought out PFD and it looks great. Its ergonomic design and features allow for a comfortable fit. The anti-ride waist belt keeps the PFD snug to the body when moving around. The neoprene lined arms are also a nice touch to prevent chaffing of the underarms whilst paddling.
The various pockets will be very useful for the kayak angler to store terminal tackle, accessories, a camera and a VHF radio amongst other things. The VHF also positions well when clipped onto the pouch at the base of the shoulder strap. Numerous clips will come in handy for leashing items too. Solas patches, reflective piping and the included whistle are a nice touch safety-wise.
The Palm Kaikoura RRP is £159.95 - this is a serious investment for a piece of kit which primarily does the same thing as a basic £30 PFD i.e. it provides buoyancy. The well thought-out design, numerous features and quality build may warrant the extra cost for the kayak angler looking for a top-spec comfortable and durable PFD. The Kaikoura looks like it will it stand up the kayak fishing abuse it shall receive but time will tell.
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