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Old 09-29-2013   #11
gdtrfb8's Avatar
Silverton, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 67
I just finished a two week Rescue Vest Test-a-Thon, and I put some notes together to try and help others with making a similar decision. As I state in the attached document, I have not paddled ANY of these vests. These are my thoughts after extensive research, repeatedly trying them on/wearing them around the house, and looking them over like the gear-junkie that I am.

Long story short, I was sold on the Descent, but it didn't work out. I'm now 99% sold on the Maximus Prime. I was really surprised how well it fit after thinking it looked a bit bulky, and the construction is rock solid. I did not get to try out the Ronin Pro, but did try the Greenjacket and Zen. If you want/like to get into the weeds (details!), then check out the attached pdf where you will find a more extensive description and a Pro/Con list for all four vests.

Kevin Hill
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Rescue PFD Reviews.pdf (47.7 KB, 273 views)

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Old 09-29-2013   #12
peterholcombe's Avatar
Where ever the water is...., Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 441
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I've had a Green Jacket for the last few seasons and have liked it well...

I just switched to the Kokatat Maximus Prime and have been liking it also. The Maximus has more float and is really comfy. I like the covered knife attachment, Goes on easy and moves well when paddling. I'd try them both and see what fits you best.

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Old 09-30-2013   #13
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
Originally Posted by lmyers View Post
I am highly impressed by the floatation I get from my Green Jacket. I used a Stohlquist Brik before hand, and the increased float from my Astral is definitely noticeable.... had it 3 years now and haven't noticed any change yet.

Another vote for the Green Jacket here.
Logan, i think i weigh a bit more then you, lol. thats my problem, also my GJ foam seems to be pretty compressed, as all PFDs look after some years of heavy use. mine was the very first year they came out i believe, so maybe 6 years even.
Still loved that jacket tho. I even emailed astral to see if there was any plans to make a 'higher-float' GJ (@18 lbs).... they said not so much. I still think its a great idea. the new GJ is 16.5 lbs, .5 more then the old one. that was their concession to us fatty's...
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Old 09-30-2013   #14
hojo's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,234
I'm debating switching from the green to something else. I like the green, been using it for just over 3 years, but I've started to wear a few here and there to try out. I think I'd like a little more flotation, and I really like jacket style better than pullover as a personal preference.
On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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Old 09-30-2013   #15
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
Whatever it's worth the 300 was re-released. Astral Limited Edition LE6 Rescue PFD "The Steiner" Nantahala Outdoor Center, NOC - Kayaks, Kayak Gear, Paddlesports Gear, Whitewater Kayaking Gear, Kayak and Kayaking Gear Sales

Looks like maybe they are sold out but a buddy just picked one up. They are out and for sale but apparently not widely available.
The sunshine walked beside her
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Old 09-30-2013   #16
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Got the '13 Astral Greenjacket this year to replace worn out one. Haven't tried Kokatat. Maximus looks sweet though. My reasoning on sticking w/ Astral:
- I like the pocket for rope (don't think anyone else has this)
- I hate zippers. Pullover style is way more simple for me and eliminates another failure point. Some don't seem to like pulling things over their head though.

Kokatat puts padding on shoulders - Astral would take the hint.
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Old 09-30-2013   #17
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 265
Originally Posted by KSC View Post
- I like the pocket for rope (don't think anyone else has this)
The Ronin does.
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Old 09-30-2013   #18
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 490
I've had the Ronin Pro for three years now. I can not compare it to any other modern jackets. My last one was a Lotus rescue. When I cinch the Ronin up the way I like, low side straps tight under the ribs to hold it down and the other straps lose -- it fits well and doesn't interfere with my paddling. There are a few things I don't like about it:

1.) those undersized cute little buckles they use on the side straps both failed very early on for me. Like first season and not from abuse, just regular fitting before paddling. Major disappointment. In fact, I feel that they are a safety hazard. Those bottom buckles should be overdesigned and/or oversized. Look at how small the piece of the buckle is that actually holds the strap in a loop. I now have both of my straps perma-tied with a double-fisherman knot where it used to be a fastex adjustment buckle. I don't miss the adjustment because of my body style, but I think it's lame that they used such wimpy buckles. If they'd busted in a swim and the jacket had come off over my head, that would just been the shits. Also, I like to cinch that bottom strap down so that a good swim won't send it right up and over my head. Spec a buckle that holds up, period. PS - I asked Kokotat about repairing them and they said they can't repair PFDs per Coast Guard regulations.

2.) the pocket up front does fit the little yellow astral bag, but barely and it makes an already bulky torso bulkier. I'm not a fan of the waist throw bags for the same reason though. Too much crap sitting around my waist. Maybe on a diff jkt I'd feel differently, but on the Ronin, stuffing a rope in there is too restricting for my taste. Now typically I like a tight pocket, but perhaps a bigger pocket that I didn't have to stuff quite so tightly would ease the throw rope issue. It would be nice to always have a bag on me.

Overall, it's a better float than my 10 year old Lotus that I've semi-retired, but it could be improved.
Damn it feels good
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Old 10-01-2013   #19
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Overseas, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 135
I took a log across the chest in class V after Rooster Tail on Grape Creek. I got a Ronin Rescue shortly after, I love it in everything, but my squirt boat.

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