Wrong back-design for very short torso
Modern fabric & design.
Orange color choice... great for rescue(and matches my kayak!). It has the olive-green accents and I can see it's a pretty cool, understated design color.
Cool air-flow technology I thought was gimmicky, but I actually do stay cool, so hat off to Astral.
Chest-friendly contoured foam at front.
Open-sided design allows unrestriced paddling and torso movement.
Very quick-drying... nice for pack-up after a day out.
Ride-up: I am short-torsoed (short between waist and shoulders), and I find that the high-back rides up in the water (but not on the kayak; it's out of the way until I submerge). There's a cooling mesh panel from waist-strap to foam-panel at back, and in the water this panel gives the foam the slack it needs to ride high and hit me in the back of the head if I try to swim face-forward. I can happily back-stroke, or bob about vertically. Solution to "head banging" is to tighten the upper set of side-buckles REALLY tight, then it stays down, but the side straps start to bite in & chest feels restricted. A longer torso would work better for this vest. Guys, no problem. Girls with regular or long torso, no problem. Girls with short torso, you'll love it until you need to swim in it. Overall, the pros outweigh the cons, and I don't regret the purchase.
Zipper: Has anyone else had issues getting the zipper up? I have to loosen the side-straps and squeeze the two foam front-panels flush together while pulling on the zipper. I would definitely struggle to put this on in the water.
As a guy 'blessed' with his grandfathers genetics, no amount of reasonable exercise or healthy eating (wife is a dietitian) seems to get rid of my spare tire even though I am 'only' in my late 30s.
So, when kayaking I have issues with both the back (seat) and the front (gut). I've gone through quite a few PFDs (lawn sales, gifts, etc.) for kayaking, but was trying to stay around $100 for my own purchases.
I ended up trying the V-Eight in the Foxboro store and actually sat in a kayak in the store. It was highly adjustable and the 1/2 back style cleared the seat back easily. The "short" front also cleared my other issue. I suppose it could ride lower, but it does not have to. With the adjustable and padded shoulder straps, you can set the front as low or as high as you want.
There is not much for way of pockets, but what would one expect with a micro-vest. There is one 4-slit tie-down and one mesh pocket. The pocket is snap with a loop for lashing/clipping stuff in and it could hold a camera or other small goods. I had a 12oz soda (plastic) and it did not get in the way of paddling at all.
A GREAT buy. Well worth what I paid.
Best out of the approx 20+ PFDs I tried
I paddle kayaks with high seatbacks (Prodigy Perception 10 ft and 12ft) in Florida. It took me a while to discover there were PFDs actually made to accomodate high seatbacks. The Astral Buoyancy V8 was the best of those I found. It is well made, light weight, cool in warmer temperatures and not too bulky. I have found that when trying to accomodate specific features, for example women's models (I'm female; tried various women's and women's highback models, in addition to others, and didn't like them) or highback models, the flotation material is shifted around to other areas of the PFD so that it is really bulky in inconvenient places like too much around the waist. The Astral v8 flotation material is evenly distributed and therefore doesn't interfere or get awkward when paddling. I also have a Stohlquist Getaway, but it can be warm, leaves me with a wet shirt, is somewhat bulkier and the stichting is puckered (at least on the one I found). Cost less, but I feel the Astal is better made and definitely worth the extra dollars.
Love this vest!
I bought this vest 2-years ago when I bought my first kayak. I have since bought 2 more kayaks and have bought 2 more of these vests because I like them so much. The vest has lots of adjustment ability so can fit people of differnt sizes. I bought a mediem/large and have been able to adjust it to fit a petite woman (5'2" and 115 lbs) as well as a 6'3" 200lb man. The foam panels in the vest are made in several pieces (where other vests are one piece) so it conforms more easily to the shape of your body and does not feel so bulky. There is lots of ventilation so it is not hot. A GREAT vest for Kayaking!
Great Life Vest!
Looks great, feels great. I am extremely happy with this PFD. I borrowed a cheap bargain store PFD recently from a friend because I had accidentally arrived at the water without mine. That lasted all of 2 minutes. I don't know how anyone could enjoy a day on the water actually wearing something like that. The Astral was quite a bit more money, obviously, but if you plan to do any boating/paddling that you will be wearing a PDF (and not just have it on board as required) the comfort is well worth the price!
This is a great pfd for almost any application. I have not had it long, but am very pleased at the craftsmanship and general fit. It is very adjustable and I don't feel hot whenever I wear it for long periods of time. This is a pfd that does not have all the bells and whistles that take up space when paddling, but if you want a vest that gives great range of motion this is a great choice.
as someone with less than limited swimming abilities a good pfd was needed, i researched forever before buying my kayak and this seemed like a decent opt. for me because my body produces alot of heat and in warm weather it sucks lol. i have gone on a few 4-6 hr river/lake paddles with absolutely no discomfort or overheating, it breathes SOO well and it stays in place even in water i love it!!
So happy with my purchase
Great fit, especially for women! Very well ventilated. Not bulky at all! Tried on several this was most comfortable. First day I used it, met 3 people on the water who had it and all agreed most comfortable. Easily adjustable to any build. Convenient bottom buckle if you don't want to zip it up. Definitely the best for paddling.
I purchased this product to use while kayaking and am extremely satisfied with it. The vents and the fact that there is not a bunch of material around your shoulds make it very comfortable. I would highly recommend it for any kayaker or other boater who desires mobility while on the water.
Far more comfortable than any other vest
I hate getting hot in my PFD and tend not to wear it at all during the summer. The V-8's ventilation system really works. Plus the cut is great too. It feels very form-fitting, doesn't ride up, the back fits well with the kayak seat, etc. Couldn't be happier.