Palm released the highly successful FX last year, which is their lightweight, very comfy, playboating PFD. For this year they have released its safety conscious brother the FXr. Mine arrived six weeks ago, since then me and it have been on the river almost everyday, so I have had a good amount of time to test it out.
What and who is it for? Its the PDF for doing everything on the river! The FX was designed to be low profile and sit out of your way, and that’s what the FXr still does. However it has also had a chest harness installed, and extra buoyancy. Making it great not just for freestyle, but also playing on harder rivers where you want the same freedom of movement but don’t want to comprise on the extra safety features.
The fit? I have worn the Amp for the past few years and have always thought it to be a great PFD. The FXr however for day to day wear has become my new favorite! This is mainly down to the cut of the vest. Once its on you just don’t notice it! It sits kinda low on the torso, meaning that your arms have full movement without ever rubbing or catching. I find the shape hugs the torso and rotates with it, meaning that it stays where you want.
The adjustable side straps sit in the usual place for Palm’s buoyancy aids, with one sitting low and flush to the interior of the foam, and the other slightly higher. These create a comfortable and very adjustable fit, so no matter what layers your wearing you can always get it correct. Something I always struggled with on the Amp was releasing these adjustable straps due to them being mounted fairly far back and my shocking lack of flexibility! However the FXr buckles seem to be mounted slightly further forwards and as a result are easier to operate.
The shoulder straps are relatively wide and well padded, making them perfect for carrying kayaks on. I also noticed they have put some a tougher rubbery fabric on the wear point, so durability should not be a problem. They rated to 3.2 kN, so are plenty strong for a variety of rescue scenarios.
Style? I think this PFD has plenty of it! Palm have created a very clean looking design, which you can colour match with the Fuse cag. The shoulder straps have clever keepers to keep any excess out of your way. Like wise the adjustable side straps have velcro keepers so that any excess can be rolled away. This all adds to the clean look this PFD promotes.
Features? The R stands for rescue, and this mainly means the chest harness, which as you would expect is the real deal! The buckle is the same as the Amp, and looks to be adjustable if you would rather have it set up for your left hand. The clipping point sits high on the back for stability.
A large easy to use pocket is a feature I always look for on my PDF’s. The FXr has the best pocket I have used. Its really large with a zip that makes a big semi circle. This allows easy access to your stuff, but equally does not open so wide that you will loose anything – Perfect! Inside the spacious pocket is a small mesh pocket for ear plugs and other such things and a couple mounting points for keys/whistle.
For years I have never found quite the right place to keep a knife. The Amp was good with its to smaller pockets, but the prize has to go to the FXr. Above its pocket is a sleeve with a sturdy plastic popper. This allows a knife to be slid in and a small piece of cord can be left hanging out, making your knife secure but still very easily accessible with one hand. A great bit of design and no need to look like Rambo!
Wear and tear? I have now worn it for around fourty days. This has been to Slovenia, Corsica and Italy, all of which are usually quite sunny places. The fabric is Cordura 500D which is know for being very tough, and certainly seems to be holding up very well with no signs of wear. The zip on the pocket is YKK and placed well so I don’t think it will get damaged easily when climbing over rocks.
I have it in the Sherbet colour (which looks brilliant with the matching Fuse jacket!) It is a lighter colour so can get a little grubby if your crawling around the river bank, but it always seems to wash off just fine with a quick dunk in the river.
Final word – awesome!