Friday, 13 December 2013

The Peak UK Explorer Zip PFD - Innovation & Comfort


The guys at Peak UK are a very thoughtful bunch. We came across them during our visit to the Paddle Expo in Germany in October, and spent a couple of very productive hours with the owner of the company, Pete. Their background has been the competitive whitewater & downriver disciplines so popular in the UK & Europe, & their commitment to innovation is what ultimately won them the gig to design & manufacture the entire set of paddle kit for the very successful British Olympic Team at the most recent London Olympics. 
When an opportunity like that comes up for a manufacturer, you can bet that a lifetime of ideas & designs that previously may have been unviable will suddenly start to become a reality, and looking through the range of all-new PeaK gear it becomes obvious that there has been a design explosion. Trust me, there were a lot of PFD's to look at when you wander around a paddle show for 3 days, but the range Peak have just released were a clear standout.
The Peak UK Explorer Zip, arriving late next week, personifies this innovative flair & we believe represents the next generation of expedition PFD. The same design philosophy of minimalist high performance that went into the designs they developed for the British Olympic Team, have been applied to this ground breaking design.
As with all touring PFDs, the location & functionality of pockets & tether points is what sets a good design apart. In this instance, Peak UK have integrated two long pockets designed for flares, VHF radio, PLB, cameras etc, along with two large front zip pockets for more storage for essential items, importantly, not at the expense of excess bulk. The volume distribution has been so well thought out, and even a considerable swag of safety kit won't unduly bulk up the wearer.
The side straps are hidden entirely from the exterior by a soft neoprene panel, the adjustable straps work on a closed loop system, so once set there are no loose straps around your shoulders or torso. The shoulder harness is protected by an adjustable pad. The rear pocket houses a hydration system with a clever double ended zip for flexibility in positioning the drinking tube. 
Best of all, the feel of this jacket is surprisingly compact, with a streamline cut that betrays it's practical functionality, & capacity to carry a fully kitted up range of gear for expeditioning. It feels like the absolute minimalist PFDs that have sprung up everywhere to satiate the legions of paddlers now forced to wear PFDs, who basically don't like wearing them, but has the carrying capacity of the old clunkers that 'got the job done' but added a lot of top heavy weight to your day on the water.
The jacket is completely compliant with the current ISO requirements for races like the Hawkesbury Classic, and is also certified by the International Canoe Federation. 
It's a little bit weird to be getting so excited about a PFD, but this one is a cracker. Our stock lands just before Xmas, & is available in sizes S/M & L/XL through our ONLINE STORE.

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