Astral Kapok PFD's - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 01-24-2014   #1
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Astral Kapok PFD's

My wife needs to replace her PFD because it "inflates" in the sun and becomes impossible to zip. It seems to have gotten worse over the years and now she needs to dip it in the cold water to put it on. I've never had this problem my Extrasport and suspect it might be the Kapok fill. Astral still has the Kapok fill in some models and, while she likes everything else about her ABBA PFD, doesn't want to need to replace it prematurely for such a silly reason. Has anyone else noticed this? What PFD did you replace it with?

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Old 01-24-2014   #2
 
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I got a LDB with Kapok and the floatation bladder is vented in the lower corners by the zipper. Its never had that inflation issue. I bet a couple stabs would solve that problem....
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Old 01-25-2014   #3
 
Grand Junction, Colorado
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Both my wife and I have Astrals with the kapok, if I remember right mine's the Norge, her's the Abba, both 3-4 years old. Neither of us have had the problem you describe. Our's fit the same whether they are wet or dry. When we get in the water to cool off they don't stretch. We leave them in the sun all the time and they don't expand. You might contact Astral to see what they say.
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Old 01-25-2014   #4
 
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I would contact them as well and see what they say:
http://www.astraldesigns.com/news/support/contact-us/
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Old 01-25-2014   #5
 
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Zippers tend to get difficult after a few seasons. Try melting some candle wax into the zipper, work it back and forth then clear off the excess. Otherwise it sounds like that typical wet/dry effect that we all have to deal with.
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Old 01-25-2014   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floatingk View Post
I got a LDB with Kapok and the floatation bladder is vented in the lower corners by the zipper. Its never had that inflation issue. I bet a couple stabs would solve that problem....
I don't think you want to puncture the kapok bladder - - it will soak up water and become what we used to call a "sinker."

FYI, Back in the day kapok was used in the old "Mae West" style jackets, which were coast-guard approved, etc. and almost the only thing available to early river runners. We used them commercially. Before each trip we'd go through the pile, lift, squeeze and make sure they still felt light, i.e., to make sure they had NOT been punctured. The kapok is a plant fiber. Not meant to get soaked. But it does float very well.
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Old 01-25-2014   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BCJ View Post
I don't think you want to puncture the kapok bladder - - it will soak up water and become what we used to call a "sinker."
That is very interesting...didn't know it had a bladder. So it makes sense that there would be air expanding in the heat. Our ABBA PFD is a women's small so there is a lot of fill in a small amount of space in the front panels. I don't know why it seems worse than when it was new but probably just that the zippers don't move as easily as they used to. Of course, my wife assumes she's getting fat.
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Old 01-25-2014   #8
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I bought an Astral Norge precisely because it had kapok, which is excellent floatation. But I didn't like the belt system on that one so am back to a Tempo 200. But yeah, bottom line is, kapok floats well but has to be encased in a bladder to keep it dry. Foam doesn't have that issue. Everything's a trade off. And yeah, keep those zippers lubed. If not eventually the zipper pull tab breaks from all the stress on the loop that holds it to the zipper guide. That can be fixed too, but it's not easy to find the snap-on replacement tabs. After an hours-long search I did find some on eBay. Good luck.
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Old 01-25-2014   #9
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Well, now that you mention the tab, yes it broke off in November. What did you find as a replacement? Mine broke off my Extrasport Hi-Float years ago and I used a piece if the really strong, thin Kelty Nite-Sight reflective guyline. I haven't had any trouble with Rangers who have inspected it so I assumed I would do the same thing again (it currently has a small ziptie loop). If there is something better, and you can save me the time searching for it, please do!
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Old 01-27-2014   #10
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Contacted Astral and they said the problem we experienced is unusual but not completely unheard of. They offered to make it right (yay Astral!).
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