Astral Designs Belt Pack PFD
Just as board designs have changed, so to have the belt pack style PFDs on offer. The Astral belt pack PFD, with its attractive low profile style, is a far cry from many of the boxy shaped models produced by some manufacturers. As the name suggests, this PFD is designed to be worn at the waist. The straps are easily adjustable for a wide range of sizes and the excess can be tucked away out of sight.
Like most belt pack PFDs, the Astral model is activated by pulling down on a T-shaped handle which discharges a CO2 cartridge. The PFD is also equipped with a tube for manual inflation in the event the CO2 cartridge fails. Using the manual inflation tube is a great way to practice deploying the PFD. Once deployed, the PFD contains a yellow strap which the user places over their head. You can now comfortably hang your arms over the inflated yellow tube and swim to safety or wait to be rescued.
The PFD comes in an attractive black color and has an exterior pocket which work well for holding small items. Unlike some models, the Astral belt pack PFD does not contain a whistle. I recommend stashing one in the exterior pocket or attaching one to the belt strap for convenient access. Carrying a whistle is required by law in the U.S. and works well for signalling in the event of an emergency.
The Astral belt pack PFD is a great model for stand up paddlers who are experienced swimmers and paddling in calm water to mild chop. The design is aesthetically pleasing and after learning its features, any paddler should be able to confidently use this product.
Always read the label on your PFD for a list of complete operating instructions. Rules and regulations governing the use of PFDs may vary from country to country. Always consult local regulations to verify compliance. Wearing a PFD while stand up paddling is not a substitute for knowing how to swim. Learn the local conditions and your own limitations before entering the water. If you are unfamiliar with how to use a PFD, practice inflating it and putting it on prior to paddling.