I have been using the Palm Extrem Vest for the past year as my main PFD. I must admit that from the start I was a little sceptical about the front opening system and did have a debate with myself about whether or not I should have bought the over the head Amp vest.
After 12 months of use I am now ready to commit my thoughts to the site.
The Extrem Vest evolution continues, setting new standards in safety and useability. Our flagship front-opening PFD with masses of storage.
• Flex Formed Foam panel wraps around torso
• Quad-buckle front entry
• Large, zipped padded front cargo pocket with internal divider
• Chest mounted zipped knife pockets
• Internal rear padded pocket for documents, safety gear or hydration bladder
• Tough grip panels at shoulder for boat carrying
• 3D anti ride-up waist belt
• Easyglide strap adjustment throughout
• Continuous loop failsafe shoulder straps tested to 500kg with strap keeper pockets
• Removable chest harness with quick release cam buckle and load spreader
• Welded O-ring with Velcro retainer
• Dual cowtail parks
• Solas reflective detail on shoulders, front and rear panels
Materials:Cordura 550D/Balistic Nylon/Vent Mesh liner, Gaia PVC-free foam
Colours: Blue/Jet Grey, Red/Jet Grey
Size options: XS/S (65 N), M/L (70 N), XL/XXL (75 N)
One year down the road and I have to say that the front opening design works really well. Putting the Extrem on is really easy and taking it off is easy. All of the straps are very accessible and easy to do up. Once fully fastened the Extrem feels and offers full protection just like an over the head model . Full marks!
The vest sits nice and low when on, which is the feel I like. It feels very similar to my old Astral AV200 vest and my much older Lotus designs PFDs. Adjustments to both the shoulders and main body are simple.
Storage areas are plentiful with two zipped pockets near the shoulder straps. These contain a quick release tab system for say your knife and a supplied whistle. Two larger zipped pockets on the front, the largest of the two includes D ring to clip items two and an elasticated pocket divider so you can keep your Snickers bar separate from your camera. Finally there is a hydration system compatible rear pocket inside of the vest.
The vest is fitted with a chest harness and has a welded loop positioned on the rear. I have not used this fully on this vest but the system is identical to those that I have used on other Palm PFDs (and most others) so I have no doubt that it will perform well. One feature that I do really like is that the shoulder straps form a critical part of the whole PFD as they are formed with one continuous loop of tape (tested to 500kg). The vest also has two D rings fitted (one front left the other front right) to allow you to clip in and store the end of your cows tail. I initially thought mine was broken as it is split! In reality the split in the D ring is deliberate and allows the cows tail to break way from the karabiner end if it were to become snagged. Ditching the whole of the harness would of course free the other end.
I have “tested” the PFD on a couple of occasions on grade IV water and it performed well. It did not hinder swimming or rescue and remained in place throughout the “tests”.