Friday, February 19, 2016

Astral Greenjacket

I normally don't do product reviews but maybe I should with all the kayak gear I buy annually. This post is about a piece of gear that I rely on every time I head out on the water ... my PFD (Personal Flotation Device).

Over the past couple of years I have spent a lot of time in the water developing my kayak rescue skills and the PFD that has performed flawlessly for me has been my Astral Greenjacket. A few years back I was in the market for a rescue PFD and Rowan Gloag who was working at Ocean River Sports at the time recommended it to me. As soon as I put it on I knew it was the PFD for me as I felt that I wasn't wearing it but it was more like it was part of me. 

With padded reinforced should straps, enhanced flotation protecting the back and ribs, a large clam-shell front pocket, integrated quick release, rope ready storage behind the clam-shell, fleece hand warmer and the fact that it didn't rub the inside of my arms were some of the features that I really liked right from the start.

The only thing that took a bit to get used to is that it is a pull on (over your head) instead of being front entry zipper PFD. I do however like how easy it is to adjust with three torso straps on each side and a two-panel adjustable fit system designed to eliminate ride-up and allow for maximum mobility. Astral Designs have been using CORDURA fabrics as a primary component of Astral PFDs since day one and it is well known for its durability, quick dry time, and abrasion resistance.

Broken zipper mechanism
Last fall I was on a multi-day trip when one of the two clam-shell plastic zipper mechanisms broke in half. Not a big deal because I could still use the pocket but over the next few months it became more of a pain in the butt to have to fully unzip the clam-shell pocket to get anything out. Just before Christmas I contacted and sent pictures to Astral Designs who make the Greenjacket as well as the Brewer water shoes that I wear to inquire if there was any way to repair the broken zipper. 

I received an email back from Kevin Mulligan at Astral and he said that he would replace the PFD. WOW!!!! Not what I was expecting as all I was looking for was some sort of repair option. But it gets better as Kevin said that he would replace my PFD with the same model right away or if I wanted to wait until February 2016 I could get one of the new updated versions that would have metal zipper mechanisms.

Since my PFD was still usable I opted for the later and a few weeks back Kevin sent me an email to let me know that a new Greenjacket was available in 3 new colors to choose from.

It didn't take me long to choose the new all Slate Black model as I figured that it is color that will go with any other personal wear I use. After all, you have to look good on the water! LOL So I expedited my PFD back to Astral and in return they expedited the new PFD to me which arrived a couple of days ago. Sweeeet!!!

Right of the box and ready for my next day on the water. Thanks Kevin and Astral Designs!!

I depend a lot on the kayak gear that I buy to enhance my experience on the water and some items are more expensive than others. The Astral Greenjacket lists at $249.95 US on the Astral Designs website but there is an old saying of "You get what you pay for". I truly believe in this and won't compromise when it comes to my personal safety equipment. The Astral Greenjacket is worth every penny from a performance standpoint and having a company like Astral Designs stand behind their products with exceptional customer service like I received is priceless.

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