It appears to be a rights of passage that when a person initially learns to kayak they end up wearing some rather geeky looking, and often ill fitting, centre style equipment. Yep, you know the stuff, big baggy blue cags with no breathability, wetsuits with more flushing areas than the average convenience., and dome topped helmets that make you look like the biggest dork on the planet.
It is therefore a relief to purchase your own gear. Kayaking equipment has come on a long way in recent years. Granted, Lomo’s cags can look a bit condom like, and personally I am not a fan of the look of the Sweet cags (though their helmets are the best), but the latest Palm range certainly looks very good indeed.
Palm spent a lot of time and effort redesigning their white water range both for looks and for fit. When I started out I bought a Palm Sidewinder cag, which worked well, but looked rather functional. I never know why many designers of kayak gear feel the need to put “Granddad patches” on the shoulders and elbows that stand out a mile. Can’t they get the same colour material?
So when the new Palm range came along I bought one of the new dry tops without hesitation. The model in question is the Atom, the top of the range dry cag in the new range.
One of the things I like about the Atom, and indeed the new range in general, is that there is a lot of attention to detail while still keeping the design very clean. The material has changed from the ripstop of old to the smooth face fabric of the new. Let’s be honest, the idea of ripstop on a dry cag is pretty pointless! Once ripped it makes no odds that the material won’t rip any more, the damage is done and the dry top isn’t dry any more!
The new smooth face fabric helps to give the new gear a cleaner, sleeker look. On the Atom there is reinforced fabric on the forearms, as well as a slightly more robust third layer approaching the elbows. The Palm logo’s themselves are now reflective and are seemingly infused with the fabric. This should mean that unlike the older models such as the Sidewinder, the Palm logo shouldn’t peel off through use any more. This will keep the cag looking newer for longer.
The fit of the Atom is superb. There is no excess material, and it moves with the movements you need to do effortlessly with no pulling anywhere.
Attention to detail is fantastic, with laser cut design work on the drainage holes and on the velcro closures, which also feature extra colour detail. The whole cag has the look and feel of quality. Most of what I say here regarding fit and attention to detail also applies to other models in the range such as the Flow, and the Surge. Palm also offer models specifically designed for females.