Palm Gradient Boots–Tried and Tested review

Given what my Palm Gradient boots have been subjected to, over the last year, perhaps “Used and Abused” would be a more appropriate title? When I heard that Palm were producing a new Gradient boot, I was quite excited – I had a pair of the original Gradient boots, and they had lasted me well for years. It was difficult to see how Palm could improve on the originals, but as you will see from my description below, I believe the new Gradient boots are even better than the originals…

Let me start by saying that my chosen hobby; Kayak fishing, is not the kindest sport when it comes to equipment. I fish in some harsh environments and weather, and my footwear takes one heck of a beating. I had only been using the boots for 9 months, and in that time, they had already been to China twice, and Holland, as well as loads of kayak fishing trips on my local river and trips out to sea.

By the time I travelled to China for the Hobie World Kayak fishing Championships, the boots were showing a couple of minor battle scars; purely cosmetic (some scuffs and tears to the material on the front of the boots). Given what the boots had been through, I was impressed. My Kayak of choice (a Hobie) is powered by a foot pedal system called a mirage drive – and with the straps on the pedal drive constantly rubbing on the boots, they get a proper work out.

My Palm Gradient boots have been all over the world with me - Texas, Australia, Holland and China

In the image above, you can see that I am not wearing any socks (It was very humid, and quite hot). The image below shows a picture taken whilst I was on the kayak in England on a chilly (and rainy !) day. On this occasion I was wearing a Palm Ion bib and brace. The Ion has neoprene socks, and I was also wearing socks inside the Ion – and my Gradient boots still fitted comfortably…

The wide foot bed accepts fabric and neoprene dry suit socks

And as if that wasn’t enough, I have also worn the Gradient boots when on dry land, and not in the kayak. They are great for scrambling around river banks too….

The Palm Gradient boot - just as good out of the water, as in it

Now I don’t know of any other boot which is this adaptable. Palm have deliberately designed the Gradient with a wider footbed, in order that it will accept drysuit socks – its great when you have designers who understand the needs of their customers… water sports enthusiasts engage in activities which are quite diverse and pretty extreme at times.

Back to the boots themselves; and another great thing about the Gradient, is its sole. Its designed by Vibram, so you would expect it to be good. Its grippy and tough – just the sort of thing you need when messing about in canoes and kayaks and over slippery ground, This is what mine looks like after almost a year of constant kayak fishing abuse; pretty impressive…

The Gradient's Vibram sole is grippy and tough

The boots provide great ankle support, and they are very comfortable to wear – some of my fishing sessions go on all day, and comfortable footwear is important. The other thing which amazed me when I first used them, was how light they were, even when wet.

The Palm Gradient is comfortable and lightweight

The boots also dry out much quicker than my old boots (and my old boots did used to smell a bit after a few river sessions, something which Palm have somehow addressed in the latest Gradient boots – how did they do that ?).

Palm also have an eye for detail, the boots have a fabric loop on the heel, which helps when putting them on, and they also have a tab which sticks out – you can put your other foot on this tab whilst taking them off… simple, but effective.

The fabric loop and the rubber tab on the heel, aid putting the shoe on and off

My verdict…

Palm’s latest reincarnation of the Gradient boot is even better than the original. It has stood the test of time, and the following attributes make it an easy choice when selecting a new boot for kayak fishing/water sports…



Great tread grip when wet and dry

Excellent ankle support

Wide footbed supports bare feet and dry suit socks

…You even get a spare pair of laces!

For more information, refer to Palm’s website…

Associated reviews…

Tried and Tested Review of  Palm Kaikora PFD

Review of Palm upright bars

 Review of Palm Atlas Jacket

Review of Palm infinity floatbags