Sometimes, less is more – never has that made more sense than when I got my hands on the Alpha. Palm has produced some great buoyancy aids for the freestyler over the years, but the Alpha is quite simply a new breed of awesome.

The cut is perfect – tall and slim with the foam evenly dispersed across a large surface area. Both front and back panels are as slim as it gets and barely extrude from the body, featuring soft, layered foam ensure that moulds itself around you and sits snugly even without fully tightening the adjustment straps. One of the secondary benefits of a buoyancy aid is rib protection, the cockpit rims on carbon freestyle boats can deliver some savage blows to the ribs and spine, and a well fitting PFD definitely helps to soften the blows. I was initially slightly worried that the Alpha with its slim panels and soft supple foam wouldn’t carry out this job quite as well as some of the chunkier buoyancy aids out there. But after seven weeks of surfing every day on the Nile it proved itself, I think due to its great cut and the fact that it doesn’t ride up and leave areas exposed.

Adjustment – not a huge amount to say about the straps, they are easy to adjust, of a good length to avoid excess material flapping around and the shoulder straps can be neatly tucked away into the little cutout pocket. The lower waist strap also features the Palm signature anti-ride up rubber that further helps to cement the Alpha to your body.

Material – I love that it comes with the same ripstop material featured on the 2015 Fuse jacket; it’s light, durable and well proven in harsh environments.

Overall, I am stoked on this buoyancy aid. The most over-used, clichéd phrase to describe a buoyancy aid is “you forget you’re even wearing it” but the Alpha may finally be the PFD to lay some truth to that claim.

See you on the water – Bren

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