Gear Review

Published on mai 12th, 2023 | by Kayak Session https://www.kayaksession.com/img-current-issue/upload-your-video.png

The Product Pro-File | Palm Riff – Gear Review

Welcome to « The Product Pro-File » at Kayak Session! This new section is all about helping paddlers learn more about the latest products on the paddlesports market. By chatting with designers and experts within the brands, we uncover the design and function behind these products. Explore the stories, craftsmanship, and innovative features that make these products stand out. Join us as we bring you exclusive insights to help you to make the right decisions for your paddling sessions.

Looking for a versatile PFD that’s suitable for all kinds of paddling adventures? The Riff from Palm might just be the solution. With features like a comfortable, body-hugging design and a flat storage pocket, this PFD aims to please a wide range of paddlers. But what sets it apart from other options on the market? Read on to find out more about the Riff’s unique features, environmental credentials, and more as we managed to catch up with Palm Equipment’s Product Designer Barney Caulfield .

Barney Caufield, Palm Equipment Designer

Where do you position the Riff in your line of PFDs?

We try and design most Palm PFDs with fit and features that lets paddlers decide how they want to use them. Technically we classify the Riff as a whitewater vest, but its very much in the do-it-all category – so for SUP, sea kayak or canoe, it’s the one PFD to do it all.

Is it replacing the FXr or FX?

In terms of our product line it replaces the FX, with the FXr being a whitewater rescue PFD with a UCLan quick release harness. Like the FX, the Riff is available in a wide range of sizes, so it will work for lot of paddlers, from kids up to large adults.

What are the newest features to be found on the Riff?

It’s a ground-up new design, so everything!. The overall shape tips a nod to our flagship Nevis PFD, with a low slung Flex Fit foam pattern that wraps around and hugs the user. The other key development is the side buckle release – it really simplifies taking it on and off. Thanks to our 3D waist system, Palm achieves adjustment and correct fit with just two side straps rather than three most other brands use.

What was the goal Palm aimed to achieve when designing the Riff?

PFDs are ultimately life saving devices, so we wanted plenty of float; to make sure an adult is supported well in aerated water. But also we wanted it to be really, really comfortable. We did this by layering the foam, and also cutting and joining it to create a wrapping body hugging shape, which when fitted still meets our aim for 60 Newtons of float (Palm’s in-house standard for whitewater compared to the 50 Newton ISO regulation).

From complete beginners to advanced kayakers who is the Riff best suited for?

As it has side entry but also the fit benefits of a vest, there really isn’t a group who this PFD won’t work for. We definitely had feedback from SUP and sea kayakers as we developed the design, as well as our usual whitewater team; so we tried to be broad in the approach. We added quite a few luxe details, like the neoprene padding on the shoulders and underarms, to make sure it really was comfortable no matter what layering you might be wearing – recognising paddlers use this sort of product in all climates.

What features stand out in the Riff that we haven’t seen previously?

A key feature was a big storage pocket that stayed flat to the chest when loaded, so it doesn’t get in the way when paddling, moving around in or on the water or climbing back onto a board or raft. Again we looked to the Nevis clamshell design, but refined the shape and came up with the Utility Draw design that is more integrated into the shell, so it stays flatter. Moving a few of the other features, like the secret knife stash pocket up on the chest, also helped make this possible.

Are there any environmentally friendly components in the Riff?

PFDs are one of the few bits of paddling kit that have to pass a safety standard, so the main components of the foam floatation and the shell fabric have to be approved. We use high grade 420 denier ripstop nylon in the shell and a tight woven nylon for the straps, which ensure the Riff works all the time and will last longer – meaning it will have the longest possible lifespan. Its something we work hard on at Palm, as products that last and still work well have a far lower impact that those that need regularly replacing. For the foam floatation we use Gaia foam. Unlike the PVC foam found in many older PFDs, Gaia is free from PVCs, CFCs and other forever chemicals. Plus it has great properties for chemical resistance, low water absorption and is naturally mould resistant, so a big win.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

As a brand we love the places we get to paddle, and want them to be there for future generations to enjoy, play-in and care for. We are really proud that 1% from sales of this model, along with our other white water PFDs, goes to the Free Rivers Fund who help fund and assist groups who work to ensure rivers and other waterways remain natural and free flowing.

Click here to check out the Riff on Palm’s website!
Palm Riff Walkthrough Video
Riff and Repeat Video

Check out below some technical info on the Riff! Including the features, colours and much more.


  • 3D anti ride-up waistbelt
  • Easy Glide nylon straps
  • Flex Fit
  • Utility-draw front pocket
  • Vent Mesh liner
  • Buckle side entry
  • Easy access knife sleeve
  • Elastic strap keepers
  • Neoprene padded shoulder straps
  • Pocket clip-in point
  • Reflective details
  • Velcro pocket compartment
  • Webbing lash point


  • ISO 12402-5 certified (UKCA approved)


  • XXS (50 N)
  • XS/S (60 N)
  • M/L (70 N)
  • XL/XXL (80 N)


  • 673 g (XXS)
  • 765 g (XS/S)
  • 862 g (M/L)
  • 944 g (XL/XXL)


  • Gaia and EPE PVC-free foam,
  • Nylon 420D ripstop fabric


  • Jet Grey, Teal, Chilli

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