If the Astral BlueJacket looks familiar there's a valid reason. For many years now, Astral have produced the GreenJacket whitewater rescue PFD as well as the Sea Wolf touring PFD. Both feature the Foam Tectonics system, where the front of the PFD consists of two separate panels of foam. The lower section of foam wraps around your torso and is fastened with three pairs of straps, while the upper panel is able to move up and down. Adjustment for different torso heights is via two vertical straps located at the bottom of the top panel. The BlueJacket is an evolution of the Sea Wolf. Put it on and it feels familiar, but look more closely and there are a few subtle changes.
The front pocket has always been a big selling point of the GreenJacket & Sea Wolf and the BlueJacket is no different in this respect. The BlueJacket retains the storage space and clean lines, but the revamped interior layout has made the BlueJacket even more user friendly. The mesh storage on the pocket now has two zips, giving access into two separate storage compartments. You can now keep your gear more organised.
On the other side of the pocket (on the PFD side), are two pockets you can slide items into. Above this is a sleeve that provides an easy place to locate a folding knife (using the belt clip to keep it in place).
Strap management isn't at the top of the list of important PFD features, but having a place to attach the excess strap does make for a cleaner looking PFD with less 'stuff' to get in your way. The BlueJacket upper and middle side adjustment straps have a small section of velcro at the end which will adhere to the fleece lining behind the front panel. It's a simple solution that works well.
The BlueJacket comes in three different colours, so there's a colour to suit pretty much everyone. The other small change is to the shoulder straps. These have gained some padding and a nicely integrated attachment point.
Carry over features are:
- Side entry
- Two stretch pockets on the sides of the PFD
- A quick release waist belt option (so you can tow from your PFD)
By renaming the Sea Wolf as the BlueJacket, Astral have clearly created a 'family', with one sibling preferring a life on the river, ready for any situation it may encounter. While the second sibling is more interested in exploring the ocean, lakes and easy rivers. While the BlueJacket isn't as 'hardcore' as the GreenJacket, it retains the same fit as the GreenJacket, but in a much lighter package.