Palm Equipment’s Alpha buoyancy aid has had much use by us here at Sitons – it’s been our choice of flotation for the last few months. Out of the packaging it looks like a simple enough product with no gimmicks – simply a vivd red colour and lightweight secure buckle fasteners with (quoted) 60N of float compliment it’s low profile nature. This should be perfect for average flat water sit on top kayak paddlers right up to those who fancy a bit of moving water action.
The fit of Palm’s Alpha is super snug – a huge plus point when it’s on the chillier side as this ramps up heat levels. Enveloping the wearer’s body and sitting in the most ergonomic position possible it’s extremely comfy to use. Wrapped in the Alpha paddlers feel protected and the buckle fasteners improve upon an already winning formula – lightweight shoulder and waist straps are welcome. The webbing can also be tucked away within little retainer pockets – no more flapping straps! A 3D midriff belt stops the buoyancy aid riding up – something that can extremely annoying. And as snug as the Alpha fits it doesn’t impede paddling performance – arms and shoulders are free to wield blades to maximum effect.
Palm have manufactured the Alpha just right, making it instantly forgettable – in a good way – once out on the water. After all, if you’re concerned about your wet gear then you’re not focusing on the job in hand: enjoying your kayaking session. On flat water the Alpha provides piece of mind for kayakers covering any kind of distance, whereas in surf (we couldn’t resist trying it with waves in the mix) it was also up to the job and actually helped us out of a few sticky situations on occasion.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Alpha is a simple product. There aren’t any outside pockets or storage compartments to detract from its functionality – a simple tucked away internal pouch is all that’s needed. It’s simply a buoyancy aid designed to get afloat quickly and provide functionality and safety without all the bells and whistles.
We have to doff our caps to the style of the Alpha though. It’s a very aesthetically pleasing product. OK, not everyone will love the glaring bright red colourway of the one we’ve been using. In this instance the brand’s jet grey version may suit better. You have to acknowledge, however, you won’t be missed whilst afloat. This is a great plus point from a safety point of view. If you should get into difficulty then it’ll at least give paddlers a fighting chance of being see.
Conclusion Palm Equipment’s Alpha buoyancy aid is a snug, well-fitting aesthetically pleasing product designed with a simple job in mind: keeping you afloat while adding an extra warming layer. With an ergonomic fit – featuring the 3D anti ride-up waist band – it’s minimalist paddling attire at its best. And just because it boasts a simple design doesn’t mean the Alpha is any less of a performer – in fact, quite the opposite. ICF accreditation means it’s credentials are firmly intact (white water slalom paddlers can use it during events if they desire).
RECOMMENDED PRICE: £64.95