I have paddled the jacket about 10 times now and find it very comfortable.
For a rescue vest it is wonderfully low profile, allowing unhindered arm
movement. The overall construction is rugged with obviously high-quality
stitching and fabric. My favourite innovation is the zipper pouch that holds
the pig-tail, cow-tail, monkey-tail, whatever you want to call it. It's
never smart to have a length of dangly rope hanging off of your life jacket
and I am not sure why so many people think it is a safe practice. The pouch
on the Aquavest is easy to access quickly and keeps all the slack rope out of
The vest incorporates a belay loop made of spectra webbing. I am sure this will come in handy a few times in the future. The vest also claims to sport extra impact protection on the sides. I suppose this is true because there is some extra plastic there but the description is a bit misleading. The plastic only covers a few inches of the ribs and seems to serve mostly as part of the adjustment mechanism of the straps. I think Astral just attached the term "impact protection" to appeal to the creeker market. The plastic is necessary to the smooth adjustment of the jacket's size but you would have to be pretty lucky to have it protect your ribs. I have received far more impacts on my shoulders than under my arms. That being said, it doesn't get in the way, doesn't really add any weight, and doesn't hurt to have it there.
The aspect of the vest that I like least is the hassle of readjusting all the
straps every time you put the vest on. A zip-up vest is simpler. Every time
you put on the Aquavest you have to tighten four separate straps and every
time you take it off you have to loosen these four straps. Since my drysuit
does not have a pee zipper this is a pain in the ass because I wind up taking
off the vest a few times every trip depending on the size of the drops we're
going to run. |
The jacket is pretty expensive at $185 US. The only way I allowed myself the purchase was by getting a pretty good deal from an American friend. Overall, the jacket is well constructed and comfortable if cumbersome to get in and out of. It is very low profile and incorporates many well-constructed safety features. The only aspect I have not tested out is the buoyancy, and I don't intend to anytime soon.