Photo:Cliff Pratt, paddler: Zac Crouse

The Astral Buoyancy Sea Wolf  PFD

The Green Jacket is considered by many to be an industry standard as far as whitewater rescue vests go. Offering comfort, great protection, loads of style and superior build quality, the GJ has become a legend. When we got wind of a new Astral PFD we were all ears. The Sea Wolf sounded really cool, and then when our first shipment of product hit the shelves, we confirmed our hunch; the Sea Wolf was bad ass. Imagine a super high mobility PFD (Astral Willis frame), with copious amounts of storage, boat tow capability, and enough bells and whistles to make the most hardened of open water touring boaters grin. Here is the scoop:

Specs:

Astral Buoyancy Sea Wolf PFD Specs
Astral Buoyancy Sea Wolf Colors

Pro’s:

  • Astral created the Sea Wolf with the intentions of it being the Green Jacket of the sea kayaking world. Their goal was to build a life jacket that had all of the functionality of a high end touring PDF (flare and GPS storage, towing capability, hydration compatible, etc), but without the bulk. The Sea Wolf is built on the Willis frame. The Willis utilizes a foam tectonics core, which is essentially a multiple moving panel design (as opposed to the PFD being one big piece of foam, which can restrict movement).
  • The front storage pocket is huge.It also provides protection against impact. The idea behind this pocket, was that besides being able to hold a lot of gadgets like a GPS, VHF radio,etc…it also is sleek. This feature comes in handy when one is climbing back into a raft or sea kayak. There are no edges to catch, making a quick entrance more pleasant (and quicker).

    The essentials...

    Another shot of the front pocket

  • Reflective piping placed in key spots. Again, with the focus on sea kayaking, it is nice to be seen in open water.
  • One of the best features of this jacket, is that it is compatible with a tow belt. There are zippered pockets for a web toe, as well as 2″ loops for the astral tow belt system. Whitewater kayakers, stand up paddlers and sea kayakers will take advantage of option.

    Loop for the 2" tow system

    Insert web toe (paddle biner) here.

  • The Sea Wolf is a side entry, or pull over, just like the Willis is.
  • Even though this PFD was designed with sea kayaking in mind, it makes a SUPERB vest for stand up paddling, rafting and kayaking. Rafters will love the storage capability of the front pocket, as well as how sleek the pocket is. When you flip the raft, you will not feel this PFD get in the way when you get back on. As for SUP, the Sea Wolf allows a very wide range of movement, and most importantly has a quick release system for attaching a surf leash. When stand up paddling in the river it is imperative to be able to break away from the leash if it gets wrapped on dangerous objects.
  • STYLE POINTS. As with all Astral products, the Sea Wolf has mad style…This is a sexy PFD. That’s gotta count for something right?

Photo:Cliff Pratt, paddler: Zac Crouse


Check out Spencer Cooke carving his way down the line…and wearing the Sea Wolf of course.

Con’s:

  • The Sea Wolf is a type III PFD and not a type V rescue vest. It is great for whitewater use, but it is not a full on rescue vest. If you are a serious creeker, get the Green Jacket (or a type V rescue vest), not The Sea Wolf.
  • Astral costs more than other brands. At $185, this is not a price point item. You get what you pay for. If you want the best, you are going to have to shell out for it.

The Verdict:

This is the most versatile PFD in Astral’s lineup. If you are going to do a bit of whitewater kayaking, stand up paddling, rafting, or sea kayaking…this PFD is worth looking at.  It has all of the features that you need for a day on the river (barring a serious expeditionary creek run), ocean or lake. It’s primary focus is for sea kayaking, but seeing that Astral based the framework on The Willis, we would think that this PFD will excel at most river sports. It is not the least expensive PFD on the market, but along with the price tag comes performance, features, style and safety.
For more info:
http://www.astralbuoyancy.com/news/testimony/sea-wolf-field-testing-paddle-to-the-ocean/
http://www.astralbuoyancy.com/news/team-news/sea-wolf-in-the-carolinas/
http://www.astralbuoyancy.com/news/product-announcements/operation-sea-wolf-unveiled/

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