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.