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Palm FXr: First Impressions

A quick look at Palm Equipment’s newest Buoyancy Aid…

I like to keep my kit simple. Simple lasts. Simple is uncluttered, easy to use, with no extra “features” that add little to the product. The new Palm FXr is simple and so far, I love it. Palm have packed a lot of useful features in to a low-profile, minimalist design.


Looking at Palm’s range of buoyancy aids, it’s easy to see progression. The FX (or Felix) is a re-design of the older Helix vest, Palm’s low-profile playboating BA. They took the Helix, reshaped the foam and updated the colour scheme to match this season’s kit to make one of the best freestyle BA’s on the market. Which is great, if you’re not going to be called upon to do any rescue work. However, things can and do go wrong, which is why Palm have created a vest to better suit the needs of river-runners, the FXr.

First impressions – a clean design with little to get caught on and faff-free size adjustment. There’s no spaghetti tangle of adjustment straps to be found here.



Any excess adjustment strap can be rolled up and tucked away with a velcro closure:


 Shoulder straps too long? Tuck the ends in to the vest, out of the way:


I wear the Medium/Large and at 6 foot 1 it fits well, with great freedom of movement. Initially, I made the shoulder straps as big as possible, to have the vest sitting low on my front. As comfortable as that is, I found it better to wear it slightly higher on the chest after actually swimming in it.

Next, the front pocket – plenty of room for a basic pin kit. I use it to store my rescue tape, 3 karabiners with 2 big  prusiks and still the pocket doesn’t bulge outwards.


There is a small mesh pocket inside, to store ear plugs in. It’s nice to be able to pull out my karabiners without dropping my ear plugs on the ground for once…


As I’ve said before, I’m in favour of externally mounted river knives, even though they’re somewhat frowned upon in the UK. The new easy-access knife pocket on the FXr is a big step in the right direction. The pop stud closure keeps my folding knife secure and I’ve added a short lanyard to mine to make it easier to pull out with cold hands.


The chest-harness is the same type that I have become used to from previous models of Palm buoyancy aids. Simple to use and easy to find on the right side of the vest. Fear not, lefties, it’s reversible too.


Palm have taken what they’ve learnt from the Amp vest and transferred it across to the FXr. This photo shows how the chest harness is held in place at the back. No more webbing loops to accidentally clip a karabiner in to.


There is also a split D ring at the front, to clip a cow tail in to.  Less faff than the old style of “karabiner – park” and will also break open under heavy load, eliminating the entrapment hazard. Clever stuff:


So initial impressions, after wearing it on the water for the first time are that Palm are on to a winner with this vest. I wouldn’t want to say that I have “reviewed” anything until I’ve got it grubby and really put it through its paces on the river though… so watch this space!

I picked mine up from The Leam Boat Centre

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