Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Kokatat Bahia Predator Review | Colin Chick

It's been two years since I bought my last PFD, so I thought a change was in order. The biggest problem is all the choice!

Hmm, what to try first? The Palm Kaikoura, Palm Hydro, NRS C-Vest, or the Astral V-Tour all have excellent reviews and certainly look the part.

This past year it has become clear to me that Kokatat is the way forward. I use the Kokatat Expedition Goretex drysuit and Kokatat Hydrus drypants, which are fantastic pieces of kit, so why wouldn't their buoyancy aids be the same?

The question is which model to go for?

Now one of my main reasons for not going for the Palm Kaikoura is all the pockets. Once you've filled them, as I usually do being an angler, I find this to be a hindrance when self rescuing and the metallic items stored in the pockets will eventually rust.

So my choice was the new Kokatat Bahia Predator.

The back of the PFD as you can see in the photo has been drastically cut back to allow better movement, has foam to retain your core temperature in the winter months, and doesn't interfere with high back rests.

The Bahia Predator offers plenty of support. It has a waist strap along with four adjustment straps which connect the back to the front offering lots of adjustment (before and after lunch). 

The shoulder straps are also adjustable and have neoprene padding for extra comfort.

The Kokatat Bahia Predator has one pocket on the left of with plenty of compartments and an attachment loop that's handy for keys (non-electronic).

On the right hand side it has a special thermo-formed pocket, which is very good for any fly fishermen or single hooked lures/soft plastic lures. I think this feature will attract a lot of anglers.

Although I'm not a lover of loads of pockets I do like to have kit close to hand like my safety knife, pliers, VHF, and a few other bits. So the other part of this buoyancy aid that I really like is the attachment straps inside and out.

The Kokatat Bahia Predator is now available at Escape Watersports, and is a cracking buy for the price it is at. Highly recommend it!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Palm Lightning Throwline Review | Eddy Mead

Now we all have that 'beater' friend that we go paddling with, that's why it's important to have the right safety gear for when things go wrong. Most essential in my view is a throwline, but there are so many to choose from, and surely they all do the same thing?
Well I've been fortunate enough to get my hands on the hugely anticipated Palm Lightning Throwbag, and here's why I'm choosing this line to pull my beater friends out of sticky situations...

Firstly the Lightning has a fresh look with some new bright colours that will stand out on the river, and in low light/poor visibility conditions you're not going to miss this flying at your face! Considering the bag holds 18m of 8.5mm floating line, it is seriously light and compact making it perfect for storing in your boat and not adding too much weight. This is essential on long hike ins or actually paddling on the river. This is without a doubt the most compact line on the market.

The most exciting addition to the Lightning is the Fidlock closure, which is essentially a plastic clip that locks in place easily with a magnet. Opening the bag and getting line out quickly is essential, and with this system you can pop it open with a thumb and then snap close just as quick and easy.
The closure is not reliant on the magnet, so once closed it is secure. This is a massive step up to competitors popper closure which I find fiddly and hard to close.

The biggest complaint I hear about throwlines is that the neck and opening are too narrow and that packing the bag is a pain. Palm have responded with a super wide opening that has been modelled on climbing chalk bags. The neck has been stiffened so it stays open by itself which makes repacking a breeze.

The line inside has also got a fresh new look to match the bag which again is highly visible. Although the bag is crazy small, the line inside is a nice hefty 8.5mm which has a real nice feel and will feel comfortable for both the thrower and receiver to hold onto during rescues compared to other compact lines which can be a little "cheese wirey" on the hands. The line is attached with a figure 8 knot to a heavily stitched tape, the line can be removed and used by itself or put back in with a knot of your choosing. Finally the line has a breaking strength of 8kn which is more than enough for your paddling needs.

The bag has two loops on the back so it can be carried on a waist belt which is ideal as a lot of compact bags only have one loop so the bag hangs awkwardly, not with the lightning!

And finally the tape pops out of the bottom and makes a small loop so the bag can be attached to karabiners and rescue rigs. The loop is only big enough for a karabiner so there is no chance of someone's fingers or hands getting trapped, this is a snag free bag.

In my opinion the Palm Lightning Throwline is going to lead the way in the water sports rescue market, everything has been thought out and there are plenty of minor details that put it apart from the competition. This is my bag of choice and I look forward to carrying it with me through the year, you never know when you'll need it!

The Palm Lightning Throwbag is currently due to be in stock May 2016.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Viking Kayak Arrival at Escape Watersports

The long awaited day has come... The first 2016 Viking Kayaks shipment has landed!

We've had quite a few pre-orders, but there are still a few available so don't wait around.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Summer's Rescue Training

Exercise Polygon took place this week, bringing together the emergency services to help and train each other in various flood rescue situations.

We were asked if Summer would help out by being the dog in distress for an animal rescue scenario. Seeing as we can't usually keep her out of the water this didn't seem like it would be a problem.

Armed with a buoyancy aid for extra floatation on the moving water, Summer was quick to jump in and start swimming on such a gorgeous day in Cardiff.

Summer had become a bit of a celebrity by the time she was called up for the rescue, with kids and adults chanting her name as she conquered the rapids at CIWW.

Even after the exercise was over, we struggled to get her out of the course!