Astral Buoyancy Sea Wolf


Hey cowboy I hope you’re fast
‘Cause I’m the baddest gunslinger ever was
Hey outlaw, follow me outside
And keep your fingers on the triggers while we party all night.
Welcome to the gun show
– in this moment

The Astral Buoyancy Sea Wolf is a great new life vest introduced in 2012.  The only downside is that strangers may come up and start touching you like this…. (see pic above!)  Well, hopefully not, but you know how those old sea wolves are!  Well, regardless of the questionable feel-up from Astral’s promo video we decided to buy a new Sea Wolf for Sue. . . Here’s why, 

The Sea wolf is well designed. The vest moves freely where it needs to and is comfortable to wear. It has a good number of pockets & attachment points, a hand warmer, space for a hydration pack, and is set up for an optional quick-release tow belt as well.  We love the adjustable, inner flotation panel that rests below the chest making it very comfortable for women who need a bit more space up top. (It may not be so comfortable for men who need a bit more space around the belly however!) The vest is easy to put on and take off over the head and has side exit buckles to make the task even easier.  Oh, and did I mention it comes in black?

I’ve always thought Astral vests were comfortable PFDs, just on the verge of being great for sea kayaking and the Sea Wolf is no different. What puts it in the “almost” category for big water are just a couple small issues. First, the jacket could really use some small attachment points inside the pockets or at the very least, inside the big front pocket.  Small sewn in d-rings allow you to attach a lanyard to your camera, whistle or other toys that you may keep in there.  While I may want to keep my camera inside the big pocket, I also want to be able to tie it off so I don’t lose it in the water. My MisFit from Kokatat offers attachments inside all of my pockets. The vest also lacks the old-school hard plastic attachment point on the front for a knife. The shop clerk told me I could just keep my knife in the pocket… Um.. well, no.. and even if I did.. I can’t tie it off with a lanyard due to the lack of attachment points inside the pocket.  (We could have a whole discussion on the issue of tying off your knife, but we’ll save that one for another day!) The other thing I want on a sea kayaking vest is a convenient place to keep my VHF radio.. Yeah, most vests don’t take a VHF into account, but well, any good sea kayaking vest should.

Although I love the idea of a big central pocket to hold all of your junk, the danger is that when you unzip it, is that all your stuff ends up falling in the water.  There is a small zipped mesh pocket inside the cover of the Sea Wolf pocket.  Of course don’t forget to zip your mesh pocket, or you’ll lose everything when you flip open the larger cover. Years ago Peak UK did the deep front pocket well with a top zip deep mesh design.  Yeah, the mesh had to go, but the deep pocket would hold all of your stuff without worry that it would fall out.  Too bad they didn’t keep up with that. Although I do see the upside in the flip open design, I find it a bit worrying as well.

Now as I said.  We bought the vest which lists for around $185.00.  It’s a great all-around PFD and I’d certainly recommend it for most paddlers.  Add a few attachment points inside the pockets and I’d even more highly recommend it.  Give me a place for my knife and VHF.. and I’ll even recommend it for sea kayaking. :)

Oh, and check out this shot from their video (The whole promo video is below as well)… Are they saying you could fit a Bud Light in that big inside pocket?  Hmmm….



And if you’ve not had enough, check out this video below for the amazing modeling technique… Oh, yeah and keep an eye out for the free GUN SHOW!  lol!

**images taken from Astral Buoyancy’s promo video…

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2 Responses

  1. Great review. Thanks. It has a lot of interesting features. Funny how they only show men modeling this jacket in their videos. Being a girl and looking the design makes me doubt it would be comfortable and might look strange on a girl. I’d be interested to know what Sue thinks of it too as you test it out.

    Cheers from Canada.

    1. tvcrider

      Hi Derrick,
      The latest version of the Astral Sea Wolf (2014) addresses at least two of the issues you cite above:
      (1) It now sports a lash tab in on the outside of the clam-shell pocket.
      (2) The individual pockets inside the clam-shell now have tethering loops.

      Astral claims that most VHF radios can be carried inside the clam-shell with the tip of the antenna protruding between the dual zippers. Since I shoulder mount my VHF it’s a non-issue for me.
      Safe paddling, Joe

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