Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Astral Greenjacket Review

I have finally spent a bit more time in the Astral Greenjacket and I have decided it is time to go ahead with my finally review of the product.

My previous jacket was a Stohlquist Brik.  Which is a side entry style jacket.  I was really happy with performance and fit.  I did have a zipper problem which was a not really taken care of by Stohlquist.  I was teaching a class and was performing a "Cowboy/Back Deck" rescue and the zipper broke.  When I contacted service dept to get it fixed they wanted me to pay shipping and charge for the repair of a new jacket.  I passed on the factory repair and did the best I could do. I do not recommend that.  Next issue I had was there is simply no storage on the vest.  Not that big of a deal since I try to not load myself with stuff.  Overall it was a good fit and a clean front making it snag free while messing about the deck of my sea kayak.

On to the Greenjacket!  
My use of the Greenjacket is for sea kayak guiding and personal kayaking tips.  I plan to wear it as my guide vest during the 2009 season.  Plus I will be taking it on various trips of my own with water conditions ranging for protected water, heavily current water with many rips, to open coastal paddling.

Getting used to the pull over entry took me a bit.  It seem a bit awkward while pulling it over my dry suit.  But once it is on, it fits nice.  So I am going to first talk about the fit of the Greenjacket. After I pulled it on for the first time, I had to get familiar with all the tension straps.  Once things felt good I was able to see that this is a comfortable jacket.  No problems with range of motion in shoulders or rotation.  After getting in the water with the jacket I did have a bit of an issue with the shoulder straps.  They seem to ride up and lose connection to my shoulders.  I have worked on the adjustments and just cannot get it dialed.  Giving in to the fact that this may be the way it is just going to be, I wanted to make sure the entire jacket did not ride up or get easily pulled up. In testing the jacket held firm to the body and did not seem to ride up much.  The floatation of the jacket is nice and secure.  I never felt loose in the jacket, it always seems to be apart of me. There is an internal back band that gives a bit of extra support if you are in your kayak for extended periods.

I  have done plenty of rolls with the jacket and there was no hindrance what so ever.  I was concerned when I first got the jacket that it was going to hinder me in lay back flat to the back deck.  But this was not a problem. 

The storage on the jacket is massive compared to my previous jacket.  So I may be bit exaggerated to some on how much storage there is.  The main pocket is the front center of the jacket and it is pretty big.  It is easy to get in a out of while on the water and with gloves on.  The jacket comes tow ready, but I do not use a jacket mounted tow system.  I have been thinking about maybe setting up a short tow from the vest and keeping my North Water tow system for longer ranged tows.  There are small pockets on both sides of the jacket.  These have proved great for me to put small things for quick repair work or power bar.

The jacket has plenty of features for a rescue jacket.
Rope Ready
Tow Ready
Spectra Safety Loop
Knife Park
Padded Protection
Nice Pockets
Reinforces Shoulder Straps.

I hope to have the chance to test all the feature of this jacket during the 2009 season.

I am very happy with the Greenjacket so far.  I cannot speak for its durability until after the 2009 kayak season.

To give you a quick list of a few issues that I did have with the jacket.

First when I was teaching in the pool and not wearing anything under the vest.  I had issues with some of the tension strap connection digging into my skin.  I eventually had to loosen the vest and compromise fit for comfort.  I do not have this problem when wearing a dry suit.

Second issue I came upon was practicing the "Cowboy/Back Deck" rescue.  When I put items in the pocket it created a bit of bulk on the center of the chest.  When getting on the back deck the jacket would catch on the kayak.  This is a minor issue.  Once I was aware of this, I simply would get my chest higher off the deck.  But it did require me to alter my technique to be successful.

Overall this is a solid jacket.  Fit is nice, plenty of features and quality craftsmanship.  I would recommend the Greenjacket for anyone looking to have a vest that fits great and moves with your body.  If is secure and never feels lose.  If you are heading out on whitewater or going to take on some ocean tidal rips or surf, the Greejacket is a nice choice to take with you.

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