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Astral Green Jacket 2013 – Review

It’s been a long time since I have had a new Astral PFD.

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There was something that I really didn’t like about the previous version. For me the fit was just not quite right, I know that lots of people really liked them but the design was not right for me. Roll on a few years and we have the 2013 Greenjacket.

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The 2013 Astral Greenjacket retains many of the great features found in the original. This includes a 1200 lb. tensile strength rescue harness with a quick release buckle and a Spectra® safety loop for emergency extractions. The movable front panel aka “Freestyle Tectonics” allow the outer front panel to move freely with your upper body as the inner panel stays anchored in place. This is a great idea that works well.

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Eight adjustment points ensure a custom fit. The points on the right hand side of the wearer are all QR which allows the Greenjacket to be put on or taken off via the side entry or via an over the head move. This seems to really help the Greenjacket fit a wide range of paddlers.

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“Flotection” armor plating along the sides of the vest protect your ribs and vitals from impact.

The PFD just feels super tough, the 500-denier Cordura® nylon with Gaia™ and PE foam flotation. Gaia™ foam is softer than foams found in most entry price point PFD’s for better flexibility, fit, and superior comfort. Gaia™ foam is based on an organic compound, is non-toxic and is free of CFC ozone depleting materials. All in all this makes the Greenjacket bombproof as well as being an environmentally friendly life jacket.

One of the biggest changes in the design is the the large zippered clamshell front pocket and to be honest it’s hard to miss. Inside of the clamshell are five compartments for stowing and organizing all your rescue gear. This is just simply amazing.

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There is a zipped mesh pocket on the clamshell so I can zip my car keys out of the way and know that they are secure. Little pounches on the body side (with clip in points in some cases) are ideal for bits and bobs. The one on my right (whilst wearing the PFD) is ideal for a waterproof compact camera.

One of the changes from the older model is that the zips on the two zippered side cargo pockets have been re-orientated to help prevent them opening by accident. They are perfect for the storage of a river knife or other parts of your pin kit.

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A storage space behind the front panel gives you room to carry a small throw bag. This would have to be a bag like Astrals own as it would need to be flat rather than a cylinder like most other bag systems. Underneath the storage system (just in shot) is a fleeced lined hand warmer pouch. Although it hasn’t been cold enough to try this out I have been told by a number of guys that I paddle with that this is a great feature of the Greenjacket.

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The front lash tab is a convenient place to hook your rescue knife but to be honest I don’t like wearing a knife in that position. But I know some people do.

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Having been a raft guide for a number of years I prefer to keep the front of my PFD clean so that if I do need to climb back into a raft from the water I can do so without anything snagging.

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I have been using the Greenjacket for playboating duties and despite it being a full on big water rescue PFD its uber slim profile and designed in freedom of movement makes the Greenjacket a very capable allrounder. It is very light, it stays put and is unrestrictive.

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So after all of that what do I not like? Well actually not that much. It would be great if the shoulders were padded a little more and a little wider apart so they sat square on my shoulders (hope that makes sense). A few different colour options would also be nice. The new Limted Edition (LE7: Hawkeye) designed by Pat Keller looks superb!

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Sizing is pretty accurate. At 15st with a 42″ chest I wear the M/L. The L/XL simply swamps me.

Size Chest Size

S/M 31″-37″
M/L 38″-44″
L/XL 45″-51″

5 Comments

  1. Nice review. I agree this new design will take Astral clearly back in the lead. Though I owned the previous model, the Velcro/snap pocket became a non-starter for me and I had to change brands. I lost everything out of the pocket that wasn’t clipped in. Having also used the old 300R (that had a zipped pocket) before the Green Jacket hit the market, that was a real disappointment. The changes to the new Jacket and the great fit that I’ve found in the Astral rescue vests will likely lure me back when it’s time to refresh.

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      July 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      I am a huge fan of the AV200 and 300 series. The cross over strap system is superb. This new green jacket is also superb. Great fit and features. I also feel that it is pretty clean and uncluttered.

  2. I have the previus model and was a little disappointed that I had just purchased it when the new version came out but after last weekend and seeing two of the newer models on the river had their clam shell zipper break I am quite happy that I was slow out of the blocks. Nice to have all that gear in there but even nicer to have it stay there. I have never even had the pocket on my older version come close to opening when I didn’t open it myself.

  3. Phil, you mention that the right side buckles are all QR but i cannot find any reference to this elsewere. Infact i have seen one review which says quite clearly that it would be nice to have a side entry.
    I wonder if yours is an early model which has now been changed?
    Cheers
    Nick

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      April 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      This is an interesting one. Mine is side opening but appears that this a European feature. I suspect it is to pass the testing that gets carried out over here. I have a US one as well that does not have the QR. There is no way of adapting the non QR version without damaging the integrity of the PFD.

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