The FX PFD from Palm Equipment has been around in one form or another for years and has been one of Palm’s top sellers throughout its lifetime. In 2013 Palm took the FX and totally overhauled its fit and the material used.
The new FX has been such a success that it seemed to make sense to move things up a gear and develop a rescue vest using the same platform. Palm have done exactly this and have released the FXr in early 2014.
Low profile foam panels
Slimline front pocket with inner compartment, key ring clip
3D anti ride-up waistbelt
Easy Glide strap adjustment throughout
Continuous loop failsafe shoulder straps with strap keeper pockets
Reflective detail on shoulders, front and rear panels
I have used the FX for almost a year for playboat duties and have used a Palm Extrem River Vest whilst out in my creek boat or river runner. The FX is a superb bit of kit and I was intrigued to see how the FXr would measure up against both the FX and Extrem PFDs.
In many respects the FXr is just the same as the FX. The majority of the features have remained the same. However changes have been made in a number of key areas. The easiest change to spot between the FX and FXr is the addition of Palm’s rescue belt. This is the same system used on all of Palm’s rescue PFDs and includes a metal O-ring for clipping in to. The belt is threaded through the fabric of the PFD which gives the PFD a really nice and clean look. Both the metal O-ring and rescue belt can be easily removed. A cow tail can be easily added to the belt and the carabiner parked by clipping it into the split D ring located at the bottom of the pocket. This plastic D ring is for storage of the carabiner and cannot be used for any sort of other attachment including any safety related ones.
The FXr like the FX is a slab design that is put on over the head. The slab is a much better fit than on the previous (pre 2013) FX model, as it has been shaped to contour with your torso. A better fit is a safer fit. In addition the low profile design of the FXr allows for great range of movement. Adjustment to all of the straps is simple and straight forward. The waist band/belt is coated with a rubber material (3d anti ride up) which helps to keep the PFD in place. Whilst paddling, rolling and swimming I found that the adjustments available kept the PFD exactly where I wanted. I didn’t have any issue with the M/L test FXr riding up or twisting out of place.
The fabrics used in the FXr are pretty heavy duty 500D Cordura, and are same as used in the more expensive Extrem River Vest and match in colour to those used in the dry top range.
The FXr is available in Sherbet (a bright orange with contrasting blue zips/stitching) and Aqua (a bright blue with lime green zips/stitching). Nice little touches like the contrasting stitching and reflective piping really makes the FXr stand out.
The front pocket is huge and is easily accessed via a large zip. It doesn’t have such a wide opening as the Astral Green jacket but is definitely adequate. Inside is a useful clip in point with its own plastic clip, D ring and small mesh panel for keys etc. The zip is easy to spot as it is in a contrasting colour to the rest of the PFD (see above). The pocket and the foam slab sits low on your body which again gives great levels of movement for paddling and dare I say it, makes swimming pretty easy. Although not tested extensively whilst swimming I didn’t have any issues with the amount of buoyancy that the FXr and didn’t find it to be different from other PFDs I won including the Extrem and Greenjacket.
In addition to the main pocket is a small knife pocket. This is located above the main pocket and runs horizontally at the top of the foam slab. The pocket is easy to find/access and is fastened shut with a press-stud. I have tried a couple of folding knives in this pocket and have found that it works well.
Palm have made a really good looking and highly functional PFD with the FXr. It has taken the FX which is a superb PFD to a new level. Palm have a PFD that I think will be a huge success with a wide range of paddles. All boaters will love the fit and comfort of the PFD. Creekers and river runners will love the robust fabrics and addition of the rescue belt. You have therefore a PFD that can be used equally as well in a number of different scenarios. The only bad point I have really spotted is the fact that Palm may have inadvertently created a lower cost PFD that is actually better in many respects than the Amp PFD.