Let me start this review off by saying that this product is not, a life jacket, instead, this review is of a personal floating device from Astral. Astral’s Green Jacket PFD has become the go-to rescue vest for kayakers, paddlers and river guides around the world. If you ever find yourself in a rescue situation, the Green Jacket can prove to be especially useful.
USCG Type V PFD
Astral built all the bells and whistles into the GreenJacket which is rated as a USCG Type V PFD. Although this PFD won’t keep your head afloat if you get knocked out (only type 1 PFD’s work that way) it will pretty much do everything else one could ever need, especially when it comes to river rescues.
This pullover style PFD comes in 3 sizes and is easily adjustable via backpack style buckles. Each side of the Astral Green Jacket has 2 buckles that when tightened bring the foam of the PFD in around your body for a nice custom fit. These buckles can also be used to get in and out of the Green Jacket or you can simply pull the Quick Release Rescue Harness tab to open/loosen the PFD allowing for easy in and out access.
The Quick Release Rescue Harness is rated for 1200 lb making it a great tool for tethered or live bait swims. On the back of the Green Jacket PFD is a Stainless Steel loop that attaches to the harness. Once a Carabiner has been added and a rope set to the end of the line rescue swims become possible.
Green Jacket Pockets
For a PFD Astral’s Green Jacket has a ton of pockets which is never a bad thing on the river. Each side of the PFD has 2 small gear pockets that work perfectly for storing a pair of Carabiner’s on one side and a set of pulleys on the other.
Working up the jacket the main zippered pocket has a slot for a cell phone, a place to put a secondary knife, snacks, and a second zippered mesh pocket to store a set of car keys.
What Can Be Improved?
The front of the Astral Green Jacket PFD has a slot to attach a river knife like the NRS Pilot, however, it was unpractical to use. And overall not very functional unless you like losing knives. Perhaps this is not an Astral problem, however, most of the guides here in the Tetons using this vest all prefer to store their knives inside the main pocket of the PFD instead of attached to the outside.
The thinking goes that if you are reaching for your knife, the extra second it takes to slow down and pull the knife out of the main pocket most likely will be a benefit you in the long run. If you insist on attaching your knife to the Green Jacket try using a butter knife to guide the knife holder into the slot on the front of the PFD.
This PFD is packed full of features, it’s built for rescues, has the ability to attach a Web Toe directly to the front of the Green Jacket and Astral’s 45-foot Throw Rope can even sit inside the chest area of this PFD. Last but not least my favorite feature was likely the Green Jackets built-in fleece lined hand warmer pockets. When you’re hands get cold and you’re not moving on the river, these little sleeves go a long way.
This is the best PFD on the market for whitewater use, and just about everything else too. For $365 the Astral Green Jacket goes a long way to keep you and your group safe on the river.