Words By: Eric Lund
"Over the years I’ve been through a few different PFD’s. In the past I’ve used a Kokatat Ronin Pro, Stohlquist Descent, and two generations of the Astral Green Jacket. Today I’m reviewing the latest iteration of Astral’s flagship PFD, the GreenJacket."
Size tested: M/L
Size of Tester: 6’1” (185cm), 215lbs (98kgs)
Testing Environment: Flatwater - Class IV
Since it’s introduction the Green Jacket has been a go-to rescue vest for guides, instructors and serious paddlers in all disciplines. Over the course of the 2015 season I spent 40+ days paddling around the province with friends and leading club trips. Overall I’ve been very happy with my Green Jacket. The unique floating front chest panel makes for a very comfortable fit. The pullover design is simple and relatively easy to get in and out of. Construction quality is on par with the other high end vests mentioned above. The Green Jacket is a ‘pullover’ design, unlike some of the other Rescue Vests. I really like this style of vest and have no problems getting into or out of it. If you have mobility issues in your shoulders, it may be a slightly more challenging and a side or front entry Vest might be more your speed.
The biggest changes I can see with the current generation of the Green Jacket are around the front of the vest. The chest pocket has been tuned up with a divider system as well as an interior pocket within the main pocket. The dividers are nicely sized and hold a couple of carabiners, pulleys, webbing, prusiks and chocolate bars neatly and easy to access. There is also a internal sheath in the pocket to hold a folding knife, if that’s what you’re carrying. The pocket within a pocket has a mesh panel on the interior side so that you can quickly locate items you might have stashed there. Also, on the front of the vest, the clip-in point for the pigtail carabiner has been changed. No longer is there a cam loop, this has been replaced with a webbing loop held with a snap. On my old Green Jacket, the cam buckle holding my pigtail ‘biner frequently came undone leaving me trailing my pig tail in the river behind me. So far, the new snap system seems to have rectified this problem.
Photo: Eric and Brodie enjoying their Green Jackets on the Lower Pacuare in Costa Rica
The Green Jacket is equipped with all the rest of the features you’d expect on a first rate Rescue Vest:
- releasable chest harness
- ample adjustment straps to securely snug yourself in
- reinforced shoulder straps
- lash tab for an externally carried knife
Is the Green Jacket for everyone?
Probably not. In my mind this is certainly the vest to beat in the Rescue Vest category, however lots of folks don’t need all the extras that come with a Pro level Rescue Vest. The Green Jacket is at the top of the scale Price wise, it will set you back 300$ to pick one of these up. Kokatat, NRS and Stohlquist all come in between 200-260$ for their rescue vest options. For a committed trip leader or instructor, the Green Jacket is pretty hard to beat; If you’re looking for your first whitewater PFD, you might look at the Astral YTV or the NRS Vapor.
NOTE: There are colur changes and some minor design improvements for 2016. This includes a beefier zip on the front pocket and some minor material improvements.