It didn’t take two trips out this spring on the kayak to realize that my old PFD had to go. Every stroke meant another time of uncomfortable rubbing under the arms, and that wasn’t going to last all summer if I was going to paddle much at all! So off to find a new, better Personal Floatation Device before making the mistake of just not wearing one at all.
After looking for bit, the Astral V-Eight Life Jacket very quickly started shining above the others. Being a hot-blooded guy who’s always sweating, their Air Escape venting was extra appealing. The price tag, however, meant that this had to fill some pretty important gaps in PFD-ville before finding some of the green paper in my wallet to disappear.
After taking a closer look, the entire design of the Astral V Eight continued to impress more and more. The back of the PFD shines with a mesh back 3/4 of the way up, leaving plenty of room for the back of the kayak seat to hit your lower back without any discomfort fromt he PFD at all. The pockets on the front have very little room in them, enough to keep some essentials with you, but don’t expect to store your lunch in it…though in all fairness, it does keep a nice and clean look to the PFD, and it doesn’t leave lots of baggy mesh pockets to get caught in anything.
After loosening the straps to look inside, you realize the unique eggshell shaped foam covered by some lightweight mesh awaits you. The eggshell foam works with the 4 front and 1 rear facing air vent, creating unparalleled ventilation which Astral calls “Air Escape” to help cool off us hot blooded animals! It all looked great, wrapped in 3 color choices: Blue, Black, and Olive, all are nice rich colors.
So this thing needed to be used to know if it passes the test, so off to the lake for a few hours of paddling. The first time you wear it you notice that the 2 top and 2 side straps are extremely simple to adjust, and you can snug it up to be extremely comfortable. Single straps on each side mean the PFD doesn’t rub at all when you paddle, the very thing my old PFD did that caused me to search out a new one…so within seconds I realized this was going to be a winner. After an hour of paddling, I realized something…I was wearing a PFD. I’d actually forgot after awhile, since it was actually comfortable to wear, and I hadn’t spent any time fidgeting with it, straightening it, adjusting it…nothing. I’d been paddling. Then I realized that I wasn’t sweltering hot either…double win! The Air Escape technology that Astral uses is rather unbelievable in keeping me cool. Now to be fair, it was only 78° out, but my old PFD would have had me dripping with sweat by then. I attempted to get a Cliff bar out of my pocket, which caused me to realize how tight the pockets actually are. They’re not so useful for putting things in or out of them, but they’d be great for keys or anything that needed to be kept in place.
So…into the water you must go, right? What’s testing a PFD like without knowing the most important thing…will it hold me up and not let me drown? So in I went to the unfortunately frigid water of early spring! After getting over the fact that hypothermia was going to set in soon, I realized my head was above water and I was in a position I felt comfortable with not drowning in. Next part of testing…I loosened the straps a little and quickly realized that you do want the straps to be snugged up properly, or the PFD will creep up over your head quickly leaving you in a position that would do little to save you in an emergency. So long story short: Keep those straps snug…they didn’t bother me when paddling, so I’m unsure why you’d want them loose anyway, but figured it was worth noting in a review!
So onward goes the testing to see how long this thing will last. Astral has made a PFD that fits my expectations in terms of comfort and saving me, so let’s see longevity how it measures up!
Product Being Tested: Astral V-Eight Life Jacket
Purchase from Amazon: Astral V-Eight Life Jacket