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|Bottom Line||This life jacket rose to the top for its ergonomic design that combines comfort with utility||Easily adjustable with a durable design for a secure fit and supreme flotation||A top notch life jacket to keep youth comfortable and safe on the water||A comfortable, easy to wear paddle jacket with a high value||Surprisingly comfortable, this super adjustable high mobility jacket is straightforward and functional|
|Rating Categories||Astral E-Ronny||Ruffwear Float Coat||Astral Otter 2.0||NRS Vapor||Stohlquist Fit|
|Comfort and Mobility (25%)|
|Quality of Construction (20%)|
|Features and Versatility (15%)|
|Specs||Astral E-Ronny||Ruffwear Float Coat||Astral Otter 2.0||NRS Vapor||Stohlquist Fit|
|Intended User||Mens/Unisex||Dog||Youth (50-90 lbs)||Unisex||Unisex|
|Manufacturers Stated Intended Use||Recreation, touring, fishing||Dog safety||Paddling and sailing||Paddling||Paddling, general boating|
|Entry Style||Front zip||Over-the-head, bottom clip||2 chest, 1 waist buckle||Side entry, side clip||Front clip|
|Wear Type||Vest||Top and bottom flotation||Vest||Vest||Vest|
|Sizes Available||S/M (31-37”)
|Youth (50-90 lbs)||XS/M (30-42")
|Youth (50-90 lbs)
Youth L/Adult XS (75-125 lbs, 27-33" chest)
Adult XL (48-60")
|Size We Tested||M/L (38-44”)||Large (30-37")||Youth (50-90 lbs)||XS/M (30-42")||Universal (30-52")|
|Measured Weight||24oz||18 oz||21 oz||27 oz||13 oz|
|Foam Type||Gaia + flotation foam||Foam buoyancy cells||Organic kapok & PE foam||Soft foam||PE foam|
|Main Material||300D diamond RPET||Nylon||200D and 400D ripstop nylon||400D urethane-coated ripstop nylon shell, 200D nylon liner||200D nylon shell, 200D oxford liner|
|Claimed Designed Buoyancy||16 lbs||No rating provided||11.5 lbs||16.3 lbs||16 to 18 lbs|
|USCG Classification||Type III / performance level 70||N/A||Type III||Type III||Type III|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Standing out for comfort and utility, the Astral E-Ronny is the life jacket we recommend the most. This 5-paneled, articulated vest has a 100% recycled ripstop polyester shell and closes with just a front-center zip. There are two zippered pockets (one large enough for a VHS radio or phone) and two mesh compartments that can be used to stash additional items. Although this PFD is low profile, it still offers 16 pounds of flotation and is USCG approved as a Type III flotation aid. It is available in three sizes.
The multiple panels of articulated foam give the E-Ronny a superior wrap around the torso, keeping arms free from the bothersome corners that plague many other bulky life jackets. The E-Ronny is particularly comfortable for stand-up paddle-boarders whose paddle strokes typically require a greater range of movement from the arm areas. There are two adjustment points on the torso of this vest, and the shoulder straps can also be adjusted, ensuring that you can get the right fit for your body shape and dimensions. Unlike many others we tested, this design does not have a clip at the very bottom of the PFD front; although we were grateful for the comfort that removing this buckle provided, especially on bare skin, it did result in the PFD being more prone to riding up on the torso.
The original design from the predecessor to the E-Ronny was based on the female-focused Linda model and therefore benefits from tapered padding around the chest area. This is a feature that all shapes of paddlers found comfortable. The E-Ronny is available in three sizes, fitting a chest size range of 31-51 inches.
Comfort and Mobility
The E-Ronny is impressive in this metric. The profile of this design leaves ample room for your arms, and even stand-up paddle boarding testers didn't complain about sharp edges or chafing. The superior adjustability of this life jacket supports greater comfort and mobility when swimming or recreating.
The back panel of this PFD has a significantly thinner profile and is designed to be suitable for all seat types, even recreational kayaks with high seat backs. This can be particularly important during long or hot journeys. Mesh panels further enhance the comfort of the E-Ronny. Positioned on the side and down the spine of the back panel, these mesh spots support enhanced airflow and help to mitigate discomfort during hot summer sessions on the water.
Quality of Construction
The outer shell is made of 100% post-consumer recycled, 300-denier diamond ripstop fabric that is durable and designed to withstand the abrasive nature of river adventures. Regardless of where our adventures took us, we were not worried about ripping this durable model.
The attention to detail on the E-Ronny is noteworthy. The lapels just below the shoulder straps were a notable feature we appreciated as they helped to prevent excess straps from flapping around in your face.
Features and Versatility
The Astral E-Ronny stands out for its features. There are two zippered pockets on the front panels. One is 8 x 5 inches and is large enough to store a VHS radio or small tackle box, with an attachment loop for added security. The second pocket is 5 x 5 inches, and we found it useful for storing smaller items such as a whistle, sunscreen tube, or sunglasses.
The supplementary mesh storage compartments on the front of each pocket add further tool or snack stashing opportunities — or a place to store some of that trash you may come across on your adventures. An additional attachment point is situated on the top left breast, suitable for securing a knife or other equipment that you want to keep on hand for quick access. There are additional attachment points on the lapels which could be used to secure a whistle or other lanyards.
The E-Ronny is designed with 16 pounds of buoyancy, with more flotation distributed on the front than the back. This is a USCG Type III jacket; however, it offers approximately 0.3 -0.5 pounds less flotation than some of the other jackets we tested. Despite that fact, this jacket was more comfortable and easy to swim in, which is also a needed component to help keep you safe.
When worn in the water, the secure fit of the E-Ronny supports a comfortable floating position. If conditions were suitable, we wouldn't mind floating around the water in this jacket for quite some time. In addition, the lower profile cut around the arms makes swimming more comfortable than many of the other options we tested, so the small amount of decreased buoyancy does not concern us.
Should You Buy the Astral E-Ronny?
This award-winning life jacket manages to fit in all the features while shedding some of the bulk we typically associate with flotation devices. It's a comfortable jacket that can carry your essentials on the water and adjust to fit a wide range of body shapes. The E-Ronny doesn't offer the highest flotation, so if you expect to be weighing yourself down with heavy fishing gear or other high-density objects, consider an option that is more activity specific. It isn't the cheapest option either, but it offers substantially more comfort and usability than the budget competition.
What Other PFDs Should You Consider?
If you are drawn to the fishing-friendly features on this jacket, you may also want to consider the Stohlquist Fisherman or NRS Chinook, both of which offer slightly more space to stash those essentials. Alternatively, if you are drawn to the low-cut profile and want to keep it as streamlined as possible, check out the Astral YTV with a more flexible cut and much smaller streamlined stash pockets.