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2013 Astral Designs Green Jacket Review

- Friday May 24, 2013
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We here at WeStroke are big fans of keeping ourselves as safe as possible while enjoying our favorite rivers and creeks. No matter what your skill level, intelligence and experience, safety equipment is a big consideration. Besides your helmet, one of your most important pieces of safety gear is your life jacket. Astal Designs is one of the top brands in the industry and their Green Jacket PFD is a rescue vest coveted by kayakers around the world. Needless to say we were very excited when Astal told us they were going to send us some of their newly designed for 2013, Green Jackets.

When the jackets arrived, immediately I noticed just how good they look. I mean, that's half of kayaking really, looking good. Am I right? Anyway, team members Jay Warner, Ben Ghertner and I all elected to get the black jacket with blue accenting rather than the green and black version. It's a hot looking color combo.

One thing that immediately stands out is the large front pocket. This is my favorite part of the whole jacket. The pocket is downright cavernous. Inside it, besides the large usable space,  there is a mesh zipper pocket and three other pockets of various sizes like you'd find in a backpack. Each one of those has a tie-down loop to attach your valuables to. I found that my iPhone 5 in it's Lifeproof case fit perfectly in one. There is even a snap clasp loop on the front of the pocket to keep the end of your tether out of the way or you can use it to hold your skirt up like I do.

Jacket Front
Click to see the gallery

The large front pocket sits on a panel, which Astal calls Foam Techtonics. The design of it allows it to move freely with your upper body, while the inner panel stays in place. I can contest to this manueverability and it so comfortable, you can even playboat in it and you'll find yourself forgetting your wearing one of the most advanced rescue vests on the market. This design also allows for a good fit for both men and women. To help with fit even more, there are straps near the front pocket, which allow you to ajust the length of the jacket.

Between the outer and inner front panels, you can store a throw rope and attach it with the flaps. Astral sells one called a Spectra that is the perfect size. Below that spot, the space is lined with fleece, which allows you to warm your hands on those cold river days. At the bottom of that area, on the front, there is a Spectra® climbing belay loop for when things get really hairy. On either side of the jacket, there are two small zippered pockets where you can store even more items such as a tether. These have been redesigned for 2013 to make them easier to get into and less likely to open on the river. Astral sells a web toe, a 6 ft. Spectra® tow strap equipped with a locking carabiner. Having a tether makes life SO much easier when you need to get a swimmer's boat to shore.

For the additional details, there is a quick release rescue harness, the shoulder straps provide around 1,100 lbs of strength, the jacket has around 16.4 lbs of bouyancy and there is a knife square on the front outer panel near the mid-drift to keep river knives out of the way, but still accessible.

I have really enjoyed my time that I've spent with the 2013 Astral Green Jacket but my experience has been limited to milder whitewater due to rehabing from my shoulder surgery. Bliss-Stick US and WeStroke team member Ben Ghertner has been wearing his everywhere however. Creeking on the Green River Narrows, running the Nantahala Cascades, playboating in the U.S. Team trials and much more. Be sure to check out the photo gallery to see Ben running some gnar and some shots of the jacket itself. Here is what he has to say about his experience with the jacket:

I started paddling with the green jacket two weeks ago and I have gotten to paddle the Nantahala cascades and the Tellico since then. This vest felt very familiar after paddling with the old green jacket, but with some helpful improvements. Like the old green jacket I soon forgot I was even wearing and did not notice a decrease in mobility. The new vest is cut a little different so that your arms can rotate and move more. The distribution of flotation not only allows more mobility but it also protects key places like ribs and spine to protect against breaks in the case of impacts. The pocket is also great. Compared to the old one it is much bigger and safer for your stuff because it has a zipper instead of a Velcro flap.  The vest also has many other safety features making it the rescue vest that I have chosen for my own personal use and the one I'd most recommend to others.

- Ben Ghertner

So for anyone looking for a rescue life jacket who doesn't mind a pullover design, you should definitely check out the 2013 Astral Green Jacket. It is a well tested and proven design with a host of well exectued and thoughtul improvements. For more information go to


- Well tested and proven rescue design

- Great mobility and comfort

- Incredible amount of useful storage


- Some may prefer side entry jackets to the Green Jacket's pullover style.

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