When I’m at paddling events or on a river when I meet other paddlers it is pretty much guaranteed that someone will be wearing an Astral Green Jacket. After all it is a stand out design that works really well. However I have recently picked up a Kokatat Hustle R and wanted to take the opportunity of comparing the two in a little more detail.
The Astral Green Jacket and Kokatat Hustle R I have here are EU versions. For the European market the Green Jacket has a side entry feature where as the US version does not. The Kokatat Hustle R has some additional reflective SOLAS tape on the shoulder straps to meet newer ISO requirements in the EU.
Other than those features the the US and EU versions are the same.
Both are rescue whitewater vests with a rescue harness.
|Astral Green Jacket||Kokatat Hustler R|
|Foam||Gaia PVC Free Foam||Gaia PVC Free Foam|
|Shell Fabric||500 Denier Cordura Nylon||500 Denier Cordura Nylon|
|Liner Fabric||200 Denier High Tenacity Nylon||500 Denier Cordura Nylon and Neoprene panels|
|Sizes||S/M – 31 to 37″, M/L – 38 to 44″, L/XL – 45 to 51″||XS/S – 32 to 38″, M/L – 40 to 46″, XL/XXL – 49 – 55″|
Astral Green Jacket:
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.
Eight adjustment points ensure a custom fit. The points on the right hand side of the wearer are all QR which allows the Green Jacket to be put on or taken off via the side entry or via an over the head move.
One of the big features of the Green Jacket is the amount of storage it has. The biggest pocket is the clamshell zipped pocket that sits high on the front of the PFD.
Inside of the clamshell are five compartments for stowing and organizing all your rescue gear. This is just simply amazing.
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.
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 is a fleeced lined hand warmer pouch.
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. 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.
Having such a large pocket upfront can also make it difficult to get back into a raft for example.
The shoulder straps on the Green Jacket are fixed and are not adjustable in any way.
Getting the correct vertical fit is carried out by using the two straps sitting below the clam shell.
If you are intending to use a Cowtail the Green Jacket does not have any D-rings for storing the karabiner end. Instead a press studded loop of tape is used and is located on the front of the pocket.
Once you get the fit dialled in the Green Jacket is a comfortable and well fitting PFD.
Kokatat Hustle R:
The Hustle R is Kokatat’s most recent whitewater PFD.
Underneath the flap is an accessory attachment plate designed for your river knife. This is one of the features of the Hustle R that really caught my eye.
Where the Astral Green Jacket has a press studded loop of tape for storage of the karabiner end of a Cowtail the Hustle R has a conventional split D-ring. Just above the D-ring is a fairly sizeable pocket with a small opening. This is for the storage of Kokatat’s River Tow Tether, but can also be used for storing a sling.
Main storage comes in the form of a clam shell zipped pocket on the front of the PFD.
A D-ring for keys is provided in both the main compartment and the zipped front compartment.
Neoprene sections in grey on the inner side of both the front and rear of the PFD. This is pretty warm. Although it is summer here in the UK I have worn the Hustle R at midnight on the west coast of Scotland whilst on the water. It’s warm against the body and is perfect for tucking your hands in to get some protection from the wind whilst waiting around. And yes you can do this with any PFD but the addition of the neoprene panels make a noticeable difference whether it is dry or wet.
The PFD is highly shaped to contour with the body. I can’t recall wearing a PFD with as much shape to it. When you put it on the fit is superb. This in addition to the PFD sitting really low makes the Kokatat my own preferred choice over the two. Storage is significantly lower than the Astral Green Jacket but the shape, location of buoyancy, comfort, and the addition of the SOLAS reflective taping makes the Kokatat Hustle R stand out.