Palm Kaikoura PFD
It seems that every kayak fishermen is looking for the perfect PFD, one which is comfortable to wear, not too bulky up front so as to hinder re-entry, but with enough personal storage to keep all the essential close by should they need them.
Well Palm have got quite close with the Kaikoura. I have been wearing one of these since they first hit the shops, well actually just before they hit the shops, my first one was a prototype with the only difference between mine and the final version being the zips weren't the final type which is a good thing as they have been the only thing to suffer over three years of use and abuse, finally succumbing to the dreaded salty rot.
The Kaikoura is one of Palm's expedition level touring PFD's with a YKK front central main zip with a small neoprene flap at the top to keep the zip pull tidy and clear of snagging, the two large zip pockets at the front of the PFD are a perfect size for keeping a set of personal flares in, the one on the right hand side has been designed to take a VHF radio, with a small hole for the aerial to push through, this is not practical at all, I found it difficult to remove the VHF from the pocket, however turning the radio around and allowing the aerial to poke through the top of the zip was the perfect solution. My ICOM is still clearly heard with the zip done up tight. Inside the pockets there is a small velcro pocket with a D-ring, I use the d-ring to secure a long strap which is attached to the VHF should I drop it in use. the other velcro pocket stores my hand held compass.
Two smaller zipped pockets are situated on the front of the main pockets, these I tend to use to keep a pair of forceps and other small fishy bits and pieces.
A very nice touch is found between the two main pockets and the main body of the PFD, a pair of fleece lined hand pockets, these are a very welcome edition when sat at anchor on a chilly morning, just pop your hands inside to keep them out of the breeze whilst watching your rod tips... lovely.
On the right shoulder there is a long pocket including a safety whistle attached to a lanyard. On the left shoulder a rubber loop to fit your safety knife.
On the back of the Kaikoura is a larger pocket with velcro cover, this will accommodate a 1.5 hydration bladder, there are red elasticated loops over the shoulder to keep the feeder tube in place and near by for a quick drink. The Kaikoura does not come with a hydration bladder, we use a Platypus 1.5ltr bladder in ours.
Comfort wise the Kaikoura is top drawer, the flex formed foam inner is shaped to wrap around your body, the arm holes are neoprene lined to prevent any chaffing and the lining of the PFD is a soft vented mesh which is very comfortable on the skin during the summer months.
Adjustment for a perfect fit is through the shoulder straps, a large strap on either side of the body and finally what Palm calls their 3D Waist Strap which stops any riding up when you enter the water.
The Kaikoura is very comfortable both on and off the water. During the summer months the soft vented mesh prevents any sweat spots and you don't get that feeling that you would prefer to paddle without it... not that I ever would.
In the water, the 3D Waist Strap when adjusted correctly keeps the PFD in place, avoiding any ride up which could prove fatal. Its worth point out here that it's important to adjust your PFD correctly and check each time before leaving the beach, if you don't the PFD can ride up above your head which could end in your demise.
Finally as with all Palm Equipment there are Solas reflective detailing on the shoulders, front and rear pockets.
Having outgrown my first Kaikoura, my tummy has grown a little over the years, I'm now on my second, the only difference as mentioned before is a set of superior zips on the pockets, otherwise its as comfortable as ever.