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Old 02-03-2005   #11
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 177
Can anyone tell me the difference between the 04 and 05 astral? I have looked on their website and can't find much. I have an astral now and really like it so I would like to get the rescue vest, but I want a vest that won't give me problems


Whiskey's for drinkin' and waters for fightin'
- Mark Twain
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Old 02-03-2005   #12
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062

The difference between the '04 and '05 is the shoulder straps. It seems that Astral ran into a conflict with some patents held by Extra Sport and was force to change the shoulder adjustments before OR last summer. So, no more 3 strap jacket. The new 05 jackets will have independant shoulder straps. That's about the only major difference.

I felt that orginal design I saw at the '03 summer OR show was a little weak, so I didn't bring them into the shop last year ('04). Now the jacket that was released mid season last year was different from what I saw the privious summer. With all the changes that Astral Bouyance did between the '03 and '05 jackets, the new '05 looks solid.

That is why you saw the old one's on sale on the net. It was because of the change in the shoulder straps. (Note: that change has been made to all the AB vests for '05. No more adjusting the shoulders by using the side straps. They are not connected anymore.)

I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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Old 02-03-2005   #13
pbowman's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 245
My wife bought me an Astral rescue vest for Christmas, so I haven't used it yet. It is apparently the '04 model b/c the shoulder straps are adjusted through the side, not independently.

Anyway, have any of you with the new or old Astral rescue vest experienced difficulty with the release buckle? This is my first rescue vest, and there appears to be two possible problems with the release buckle location.

First, it is not centered on the vest (offset to wearer's left, if I remember correctly), so it appears to be easily reached by the wearer's right hand, but more difficult to grab with your left hand vs. a model where the buckle is centered on the vest. If it is on the other side, the same problem (just opposite hands) exists.

Second, it appears that buckle could partially become "tucked into" the hand warmer pocket on the front, also creating difficulty in releasing the buckle.

While I appreciate the comfort of the Astral design, I am a little concerned with the above issue. Given that this is the first rescue vest I will use, I may be (and probably am) missing something here. However, if there is difficulty in using the release buckle due to the location on the Astral, I would rather have a little less comfortable vest (Lotus or Stolquist or ??) that has a more fool proof, centered buckle location.

Any advise or experience is appreciated. Later.
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Old 02-04-2005   #14
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 177

Do you think there is a big difference in safety between the vest NRS has (not sure if it is the original OR vest or midseason release) and the 2005 vest? And when are you going to get in the 2005 vest?

Whiskey's for drinkin' and waters for fightin'
- Mark Twain
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Old 02-04-2005   #15
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062
Rescue PFD

I don't think that safety will be any issue with the vest. Safety comes mostly from fit, features and coverage. As long as the release buckles work smoothly, you should have no issues with it (if it opens from the side or the center, it shouldn't matter). Whatever you own you'll get familar with it over time.

Some folks didn't grasp the concept of the full adjustable side and shoulder combo. Other's jumped on board right away. It's one of those things that you have to try on to see if you like how it sits and rides on your boat.

Some folks didn't like how the shoulder straps pulled away from the body when you pulled on the '04 vest. But, in theory pulling on the shoulder should tighten the vest around the mid section giving an even tighter grip on to the body. Still interfeard with Extra Sports patent and it had to go away.

Still a safe vest.
I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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Old 02-04-2005   #16
badkins's Avatar
Laramie, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 488
Hey Don, how much are you charging for the Astral rescue vests?
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Old 02-04-2005   #17
rivermanryan's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 580
Has there been any problems with the harness releasing cleanly? My impression was that it looked like there was a chance it could get snagged in the pocket area. That is a safety issue, if you need to release and it snags, and holds you on the line.

Don- not a matter of releasing it, but coming clean of the vest after release.
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Old 02-04-2005   #18
ACC's Avatar
dropzone, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 845
one thing i noticed about the astral rescue vest last season (i wore it for the whole season as an instructor) is that it rides pretty low. i liked the fit and mobility, but i like to use a salamander waist throwbag and the astral came down too low to leave room for my throwbag while i was in my boat. also, because the vest only came in two sizes, i ended up with really long and annoying tails on the cinching straps. that issue is likely eradicated with the 05 vests. for now i'll stick with my x-tract.

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