Sometimes a walk down to the cellar or up to the attic results in unexpected discoveries. An examination of some unpublished Soulboater reports in our archive, brought to light this product-review of Armin and Toni from 2005. Although it's now only of interest for second-hand buyers, here it is:
Robson AKC Protector PFD
The new official personal floatation device (PFD) of the Alpine Kayak Club (AKC), produced by Robson, promises top functionalitiy and optimal comfort. Designed for the perfect fit and optimal safety, the PFD has straps that circle the entire torso, a panic release, adjustable shoulder straps, one large zipper on the front, a small zipper pocket on the pocket front outside, and a web pocket on the front inside.
That’s pretty much what the dealer will tell you, so what else can it do?
The first impression is nice: easily noticable orange color combined stylishly with black, clean workmanship, and visible but not overwhelming logos. Looking a bit closer, we noticed that all those extra clips and snaps (the ones you notice aren’t closed once you’ve already gotten in your boat) aren’t even there. The shoulder straps adjust well, but getting your hands on them can mean having to reach really far back, and if you’ve aleady got the thing on, it can be nearly impossible since the strap runs under a cover at that point. But since you only have to adjust this sort of thing once, we won’t hold this point against it. The two chest straps also don’t need additional adjusting since the PFD only needs tightening on the four side straps (two on each side) when putting on or taking off the vest.
Due to this, the PFD has a bomb-proof fit. One big problem, however, at least with our size M model, was the position of the main chest strap. The clasp system is positioned so close to the front pocket that the two items tend to get in one another’s way. When trying to tightly fit the chest strap the clasp was pushed up and open. In this position it stands in the way of the right arm which will hit it occasionally while paddling.
The front pocket is large enough for a knife and one or two granola bars. If you take out the additional floatation/protector, there’s even enough room for a first-aid kit and a water-proof camera. With the extra foam and a full front pocket, the PFD gets to be pretty full up front, but even without the extra floatation, the PFD tends to have enough floatation. Along the top of the PFD is an extra grip which can be integrated with a climbing harness. In those not-so-comfortable situations (climbing portages, rescues, rappelling), this can be a big help.
One big minus to this model, however, is that it is targeted to men, and mainly big men. The S/M model fit our testers (Toni, Armin, Harry, and Steve) wonderfully, but we had to search for quite a while to find a torso big enough to fill in the L/XL size! A smaller model for women, youth, or just plain smaller people would be a good idea for Robson here.
Summary: well-made PFD with a well thought-out strap system. It fits great, and the looks are both stylish and modern.
Report by Armin (paddeln.at) and Toni, soulboater.com, ©2005
English version written in 2006-01-19
Further Info: www.robsonpaddle.de