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Astral Greenjacket Rescue PFD

David Spiegel reviews the Astral Greenjacket, Blister Gear Review.

Astral Greenjacket

Astral Greenjacket Rescue PFD

Size Tested: Large

Reviewer info: 5’10, 170 lbs.

Style: Pullover

Buoyancy: 16.4 lbs.

MSRP: $240

Days Tested: 28

Test Conditions & Locations: Big Water (Highwater Robe Canyon); Creeking (Gore Canyon, Tye River); Playboating (Colorado River, Skykomish River); Rivers and Creeks in Norway

This past year, Astral decided to give a facelift to their popular Greenjacket rescue PFD. I have been getting out in the new Greenjacket in a variety of conditions this spring, and I’ve been impressed. As an avid expedition creek boater, I was a big fan of the original Greenjacket, and everything I liked about that version is found on this new version, and then some.

At $240, the Greenjacket is a little more expensive than other top-end rescue vests on the market like the Kokatat Ronin Pro ($235), Kokatat Maximus Prime ($220), and the Stohlquist Descent ($225). However, the Greenjacket has an awesome set of features and a more customizable fit than these other PFDs, so I think it can be well worth the extra cash.

Fit and Comfort

I’m a fairly slim 5’10”, and the Greenjacket in a M/L size fits me very comfortably.

The Greenjacket is a pullover-style PFD, which can make things difficult for those with shoulder injuries and / or wide shoulders and chests because you have to raise your arms up over your head and wiggle into the vest to put it on. For what it’s worth, I personally prefer using a pullover vest instead of a side entry vest since I can put it on without having to refasten my rescue belt and tether for every session. I just slip it on, cynch a couple of straps, and I’m ready to paddle.

The fit of the Greenjacket is so comfortable in part because it is highly customizable. The outer front panel of the vest is allowed to move independently of the inner panel, which stays anchored below the chest. Astral calls this their “freestyle tectonic front panel” and it gives the two straps on the front (not the shoulders) of the vest a wide range of adjustability. My hunch is that women will also appreciate this feature, as it will allow for a more easily customizable fit around the bust than other unisex vests. (As far as I know, the Maximus Prime from Kokatat is the only other high-end rescue vest to feature similar technology, although Kokatat calls it their “Dynamic Suspension System (DSS).”)

David Spiegel reviews the Astral Greenjacket, Blister Gear Review.

Astral Greenjacket (right side) showing the inner and outer front panels.

I spent my fall and winter season testing out the significantly less expensive, minimalist NRS Zen Rescue PFD ($190), and the Greenjacket’s moving front panel makes for a far more customizable fit than the Zen’s. The Kokatat Ronin Pro and Stohlquist Descent (which are much closer in price to the Greenjacket) also lack this useful feature. Paddlers using the Zen, Ronin, or Descent must rely on adjustable shoulder straps to tweak the fit, which is more easily achieved with Astral’s system. The Greenjacket also has three straps on each side of the torso that provide a good snug fit, and don’t seem to come loose throughout a day of paddling. These side straps, when loosened up, make it easy to take off the jacket at the end of the day.

I’ve also really enjoyed the freedom of movement the Greenjacket allows while paddling, due in part to it’s relatively low-profile design. The new Greenjacket feels like it has a slightly lower-profile fit than its predecessor and its competitors, particularly with less material at the front of the jacket, over your chest. This could be due to the fact that it has anywhere from a half pound to a full pound less buoyancy than the other rescue PFD’s listed in this review. Even so, I have hopped in the water to swim a few class III and class IV rapids in the Greenjacket, and never felt like it lacked buoyancy in aerated and turbulent waters.

David Spiegel reviews the Astral Greenjacket, Blister Gear Review.

David Spiegel in the Astral Greenjacket, Skoli River, Norway.

The Greenjacket may also feel like it has a lower-profile fit because a generous amount of foam material is placed around the sides of the vest, wrapping around the torso. Another potential advantage to this design (vs. that of the Zen, for example) is that the material on the sides of the vest could cushion my ribs and abdomen during a big impact with a rock, tree, or another boater in a boater X race. Still, the material at my sides does not interfere with paddling, and feels less bulky than the sides of the Kokatat Maximus Prime do.

3 Comments

  1. Alex Kerney June 12, 2014 Reply

    I’m also using a new Green Jacket, and I’ve put my Bear Claw on the left shoulder strap, and it works well. Only had it hang up on anything really once, and part of the floss that I tied it on with broke, allowing the knife to flip out of the way, but it hung on by the top, and I was able to toss it in the pocket.

    I’ve also heard of people putting their knives on a webbing on the lower panel, inside the hand warmer pocket, which keeps it wicked protected, put still easier than unzipping a pocket.

  2. Chris Hankins June 13, 2014 Reply

    Great review. I also use the M/L and have gotten it out about 20 or so times this year so far. The feature I love the best is the large amount of storage space, both in the front pocket and side pockets. I am 5’11 175 and have found the flotation to be more than adequate when the camel’s come calling and I’ve wet exited. I came from a Stohlquist Rocker to the Greenjacket because the Rocker did not fit my long torso. I plan on buying another Greenjacket some day once this one finally is retired.

  3. Adam Ptacek July 30, 2017 Reply

    I am mainly a calm river/lake with aspirations of doing whitewater and maybe one day trying to guide/instruct. My boat has a seat that goes most of the way up my back with the padded back be uncomfortable? I assume it doesn’t effect range of motion much?

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