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Old 06-25-2009   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3
Green Vest V. Extract- Help!

I need help with vests! ive paddled, both kayaking and commercial raft guiding, in a stholquist wedge-e for YEARS! i finally lost it, and need a new vest- im going for a rescue vest and need advice if anyone has much experience in either of these vests.... my main issue with the green vest is the lame "back protection" and lack of ventilation for rafting those hot days. the wedge-e was superior for hot days!! the other issue is the "strapiness" and perhaps bulkyness of the GR.....ANY help appreciated!!

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Old 06-26-2009   #2
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Just went from Stohlquist Xtract to the Astral Green Vest mainly because my xtract was getting old, the pocket was tearing, and I was getting paranoid about degradation, but also because the zipper was partially broken and it was kind of a pain to deal with.

Anyway, I like the green vest much better, although I was never a big fan of the Xtract. The pull over the head design is just much easier and faster than dealing with the zipper and the release strap every time you take it on and off and that extra little buckle at the bottom you can never find. Grabbing the right part of the strap to tighten/loosen can also be quite the puzzle. The release strap always got folded up on the Xtract. The plastic zipper slowly got worse and worse over the life of the vest. It looks like they bulked it up on new models, but the clip for the biner was not stiff enough and would lead to the cowtail frequently falling out. Also the pocket was too small.

Basically the green vest seems to resolve all these problems. The back protection strikes me as at least as good as the Xtract (though I'm unconvinced that the advertised 'armor' on the shoulder straps does anything for you). I like the fit better, it's much easier to adjust, it's much easier to take on and off, it has a bigger and better pocket, it has 2 options for the cowtail (pocket or clip - which doesn't slip), it has a pocket for a small throw bag, it has better attachments for a harness, and it has some pocket on the side I haven't figured out what to do with but can't hurt. In short I can't find any advantages of the Xtract over the Green vest.

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Old 06-26-2009   #3
rockinRio's Avatar
Thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 231
I also moved from the Xtract to the Green Jacket. For about the same reasons as KSC.

I find there is a lot more storage.
I struggled to get my rescue gear in the Xtract. 2 pulleys, 4 biners, and two prusiks. With the Green the kidney pockets hold all of these items well, and out of the way. Plus you have the front chest pocket which snaps shut, and the inner mesh pocket for the throw bag or whatever.

Better harnessing

More comfortable/less bulky (in my opinion) there are times I forget I'm wearing a vest at all.

Less flotation, I didn't realize this until after I bought it. But I've done some swimming to test it and I feel comfortable about the flotation.

Sizing is off. I had to buy the L/XL and I'm an average guy usually buy M/L. The M/L felt very small on me in the shop. The L/XL synced down much better. However that meant lots of straps dangling. I had a friend come over, got geared up, synced it down, he pinned the straps, cut them down and bar tacked the tails. Now I'm all set.

The kidney pocket zippers tend to drift open a little bit. I have to check to make sure they are closed when putting it on. A small annoyance.

My knife gets caught by my paddle sometimes. Never had that problem with the Xtract.

All in all I like the green and am happy with the jacket as a whole. There are a few things I liked better about the Xtract (More flotation, and the safety buckle in the front, the knife issue) but they haven't been enough of a detractor to go back.

Side Note on the knife: I think this whole concept needs to be addressed better by knife and PFD manufactures. Everyone I boat with struggles with where to put the knife so that it isn't in the way but accessible. It is just one of those things I guess.
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Old 06-26-2009   #4
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
I agree w/ those additional points though I haven't checked out the buoyancy and found the sizing pretty true for me.

Re: the knife. I had this complaint initially as well. I ended up installing it with the handle pointing down and to the right (i.e. towards right hand). I also felt like my paddle would sometimes smack it, esp since this vest with pockets full will puff out a bit. I left my knife at the bottom of OBJ, which I also think may have had something to do w/ its orientation and hitting the paddle. With some careful zip tie placement I managed to get the new one pointed at a good angle in the up and to the right direction, which seems to be out of the way and I can still access the pocket.
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Old 06-26-2009   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 480
I totally agree with the previous posters about the Green jacket. The fit is so much more comfy than the X-tract but the knife location is kind of lame. For kayaking this is the best but I could see where you might get a tad overheated using it for rafting.
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Old 06-26-2009   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 787
No contest, Green Jacket - better features, fulfills modern needs more fully, better back protection AND the tow tether is fully in a pocket versus hanging off. There is really no reason to look elsewhere than Astral for a jacket these days, in my opinion - they are leading in innovation, design, safety, materials and responsibility (social/enviro).
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Old 06-26-2009   #7
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Edge o' the Dust Bowl, Oklahoma
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 195
Tried on a Green Vest a few weeks ago. That thing is ENGINEERED. Really liked the fit. Disappointed they couldn't fit in the capability for a hydration bladder, but I guess that had to go to fit in the other features.

Been waiting on Kokatat to release their Ronin Pro in the US for quite a while now. Latest word is that they are targeting an early-2010 release for us here in the States. McQuoid says he loves his.

Have looked at LOTS of knives and finally settled on the Gerber E-Z Out Rescue. Folder with a sheep-foot nose. This sucker will CUT! Rope and webbing with one easy motion - like warm butter - no sawing needed - and no worries about puncturing your leg with the rounded nose. Has a pocket clip and slides perfectly into the little stretchy pocket on shoulder strap of my non-rescue Astral. Multiple colors, decent price.

As for carrying rescue gear and such on your person (stuff does you no good if it's in your boat that is lost or pinned on a rock and you have to walk out): I've been saying for a long time that somebody should make a skirt with a zippered pocket on the deck. Wildwasser's now apparently done it. This is a touring skirt pictured. Buddy of mine has one of their whitewater skirts with a pocket, but I don't see it on their site. Maybe discontinued? Love this idea and wish my preferred skirt-maker (SkirtworkS) would add this as an option.

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Old 06-27-2009   #8
hojo's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,234
RE: Knives

From a SCUBA diving stand point, I leave my knife in a zippered pocket. I'm thinking that such an idea would work for kayaking if the pocket could remain closed. I've never been in a situation where I needed a knife so quickly that I didn't have time to get it out of a pocket.

I also use the Green Jacket and love it. I've had two swims in it, one though a rather deep drop and another through quick water and it performed well. If I was going into cataract canyon in huge water I may prefer some supplemental flotation. Otherwise, it's a good vest.
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Old 06-27-2009   #9
Commercial Paleontology
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 182
Astral Green

I purchased the A Green this spring & I am very happy with it. For my body shape & size I found it to be the most comfortable vest so far.

The knife issue has not been a problem for me mounting it handle down & to the right as someomne else mentioned. I feel like I am reiterating other peoples words but will acknowledge what I had issues with. Side kidney pockets do have a tendancy to try to work open but not a huge issue so far...& yes a back bladder would have been nice but I have done without inthe past so no big deal...I was just up on the Midddle Fork Salmon & for kicks we did some rescue practice & I jumped in a few rapids multiple times & felt the bouancy was adequate at Approx.215-220 lbs. Though It did feel a little less than my last Stohlquist jacket.

The range of motion & comfort is what give it the real thumbs up for me..Plus I am not the most flexible in my later years & I find the straps to tighten up the jacket very user friendly for me.

The jacket is a true kayakers jacket & can see how for more of a rafters use that it might not exactly fit those needs quite as well.

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Old 06-30-2009   #10
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3
Awesome! thanks everyone- GV here i come

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