Astral Greenjacket Rescue PFD


The Greenjacket is packed with features, including those that you’d fully expect to find on a high-end rescue PFD, like a quick release rescue belt and a knife tab.

The most notable feature that the new Greenjacket has that its predecessor didn’t is a zippered clamshell front pocket. The pocket opens up wide and has several different compartments to store your gear. I can easily fit a knife, a couple of snack bars, and carabiners and prusiks in the pocket and keep it all organized. The pocket’s front panel is reinforced, so it maintains its shape even when empty. I have noticed that some of the compartments within the pocket don’t always drain well, but this is a minor issue in my view.

David Spiegel reviews the Astral Greenjacket, Blister Gear Review.
Front clamshell pocket of the Astral Greenjacket (shown in blue/black colorway).

As with all rescue PFDs, the Greenjacket has a knife tab where you can lash a rescue knife to your vest for easy access. Personally, I prefer to keep my knife in my pocket because rescue knives often fall out of their sheaths and I dislike having an object protrude from the front of my vest. If you do like to keep your knife on your vest’s tab, you may need to get creative with the Greenjacket’s because knives seem to stick out from its knife tab pretty dramatically, located on the lower left side of the front panel. I would also recommend looking into low-profile knives like the CRKT Bear Claw to use with this vest.

The Greenjacket also has two small, zippered cargo pockets on the sides of the vest, which are a good size for storing carabiners or a tow tether.

There is a compartment in between the vest’s inner and outer front panels where the paddler can store Astral’s compact Dyneema Throw rope ($60). I don’t usually like to store a rope on the front of my PFD because I it impacts my ability to hand roll, though rolling with a paddle isn’t an issue. The advantage of using this rope-carrying system is that you can easily have a complete rescue / unpin kit on you at all times if you stash other necessary items (anchor, prusiks, biners) in the clam shell pocket. This is a huge advantage when scouting or setting safety, as you never know when a rescue situation may arise. The Greenjacket also features an emergency belay loop, as well as ample webbing loops to store carabiners and prusiks.

Tow tethers are sold separately. One popular option is to buy Astral’s 6ft long spectra Web Toe ($53), which packs into the Greenjacket’s side cargo pockets. I’ve found that my Web Toe had a tendency to come unpacked if the side pocket was slightly open, so I switched over to using a Stohlquist RE-Traxt ($60) tether, which is elastic and fits well when I clip it to the PFD’s shoulder strap. I stopped clipping my tow tether to the quick release loop (located on the front of the vest at the bottom of the clam shell pocket) after it came undone several times in turbulent waters.

David Spiegel reviews the Astral Greenjacket, Blister Gear Review.
David Spiegel in the Astral Greenjacket, Otta River, Norway

One of the best aspects of my Greenjacket is simply its color. I opted for the bright neon green version instead of the black/blue color scheme. This makes me super visible on the water so my group can easily see me while I am sending signals upstream or while hiking through dense forest in the Pacific Northwest on our way to a put-in.

The Greenjacket also has some thin strips of reflective material on the back of the vest. This comes in handy if you get caught out in the dark on a late evening run, or if you like to get started super early for dawn patrol. And if you are really concerned with low-light visibility, the Kokatat Ronin Pro has significantly more reflective material than the Greenjacket.


28 days is not long enough to get a sense for a PFD’s long term durability, but the Greenjacket is holding up well so far. In fact, it still looks basically new. The 500 Denier Cordura fabric on the outer shell looks and feels tough and has held up to many a thorny blackberry bush. Even the zippered front pocket, which might appear to be a weak point at first glance, seems to very durable.

I will update this section if I have any future problems with the Greenjacket’s durability, but I honestly don’t expect to. My original Greenjacket lasted me over 200 days on the water, and I am confident that I will be using this one for a long time to come.

Bottom Line

Astral took an already excellent rescue PFD and made it even better. If you don’t think you’ll take advantage of the Greenjacket’s numerous features, and aren’t concerned about side impacts to your torso, then the more affordable NRS Zen may make more sense for you. And if you need a side entry vest due to shoulder issues, or just personal preference, check out the Stohlquist Descent or the Kokatat Maximus Prime and Ronin Pro. But for river professionals, rescue crews, and demanding expert paddlers, I think the Astral Greenjacket is one of the best whitewater vests money can buy.

3 comments on “Astral Greenjacket Rescue PFD”

  1. I’m also using a new Green Jacket, and I’ve put my Bear Claw on the left shoulder strap, and it works well. Only had it hang up on anything really once, and part of the floss that I tied it on with broke, allowing the knife to flip out of the way, but it hung on by the top, and I was able to toss it in the pocket.

    I’ve also heard of people putting their knives on a webbing on the lower panel, inside the hand warmer pocket, which keeps it wicked protected, put still easier than unzipping a pocket.

  2. Great review. I also use the M/L and have gotten it out about 20 or so times this year so far. The feature I love the best is the large amount of storage space, both in the front pocket and side pockets. I am 5’11 175 and have found the flotation to be more than adequate when the camel’s come calling and I’ve wet exited. I came from a Stohlquist Rocker to the Greenjacket because the Rocker did not fit my long torso. I plan on buying another Greenjacket some day once this one finally is retired.

  3. I am mainly a calm river/lake with aspirations of doing whitewater and maybe one day trying to guide/instruct. My boat has a seat that goes most of the way up my back with the padded back be uncomfortable? I assume it doesn’t effect range of motion much?

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