LE6 ‘The Steiner’

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Welcome to the latest installment from the Astral Limited Edition (LE) Program. This time we dug deep into our design archives to revisit the classic Astral rescue vest, the Aquavest 300.


The Aquavest 300 was Astral’s flagship model for many years after its release in 2004, and became the top choice for expedition paddlers like Daniel DeLaVergne and his TDub posse.  In 2008 we discontinued the Aquavest with the release of the Greenjacket, which is built on a more modern foam tectonic platform and features some updated technical features. Over the years there still remains a cult following for this classic design, so we decided to bring it back for a special LE run.

As with each LE we have added a little flavor to the LE6, which we have dubbed ‘the Steiner’. The back panel features some flowing embroidery lines and our current logo. For this special design we have chosen a unique icon, the Jersey Cow, which is subtly embroidered on the black yoke in black thread.

So why the cow you ask? In regards to the Jersey Cow, Astral founder Philip Curry recently wrote: “In biodynamic farming the cow is the top of the farm pyramid, always there, grazing in the background, imbibing the farm with nutrients and astral influence.”

But wait, why biodynamic farming and paddling? While the two concepts seem to be completely unrelated many of the fundamental principles in biodynamic farming are also applicable to other arts, including those of crafting pdfs or running a business as we will explain later.

Biodynamic farmers consider their land to be a unified organism, emphasizing the balance of holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants, and animals as a self nourishing system.  As with other forms of organic agriculture, artificial fertilizers and toxic pesticides and herbicides are completely avoided.   This incredibly sustainable movement was founded by philosopher Rudolf Steiner back in the 1920′s.

In his writings Steiner once wrote:

‘With our intelligence we live not in forces that pull downward but on the contrary, in forces that pull upward. With our intelligence we live in a force of buoyancy.’

Philip shared this quote with the Astral staff years later, and has cited Steiner and biodynamic farming as one of his motivations to start Astral. Philip runs Astral much like a biodynamic farm, using the best and least toxic materials available and using/reusing as many of our resources on site as possible. By approaching the business as a holistic system with biodynamic principles he has helped shape Astral to become the unique business it is today.  For this reason we offer this jacket as a retrospective on how far we have all come, from those who work for Astral, those who paddle with Astral on the team, and finally those who trust their lives to Astral jackets on the rivers.

Release Info: Now Shipping!

Price $240

Sizing Info: (measured in inches at widest torso circumference)

XS/Med: 30-42”

L/XL: 42-54”

How to Order: Contact your local Astral dealer to place an order. We are also accepting online orders through our Shopatron store.

cow embroidery from graphic factory

The Greenjacket LE5: Dark Water

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The Low Down:

Astral’s LE program creates several limited edition lifevests a year.  This installment, The Greenjacket LE5 ‘Dark Water’ was created by Astral in-house designer Kris Northern and assembled by our staff in the Asheville mothership.

Dark Water also represents our first LE featuring the new 2011 Greenjacket enhancements including:

-a new and improved front pocket with pull tab
-updated side pockets
-our easy access front knife sleeve

About this LE:

Dark Water features several breaking waves in grey threaded embroidery on black cordura. The style of the waves is based on Kris’ interest in Tibetan thangka artwork, which he has been exploring in the unlikely medium of spray paint on windows. You can view more about the window art on his website www.phidelity.com

The back panel features additional embroidery of a waterfall and a few rock outcroppings, as well as our iconic Wave Harvester on the side wing.

The design was initially inspired by the idea of an all black on black jacket after the much loved Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where Zaphod Beeblebrox decides to steal mega-rockstar Hotblack Desiato’s stunt ship (who is spending the year dead for tax reasons). Inside the ship Zaphod is having troubles with the controls exclaiming “Every time I try to operate one of these black controls, which is labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up black to let me know I’ve done it. What is this, some kind of galactic hyper-hearse?”

To make the artwork stand out on the black shell we decided to go with some grey embroidery instead of black, but the original concept of “all black everything” is still subtly transmitted in this stealthy new LE design which would make Jay-Z proud.

Release info:

Dark Water is tentatively scheduled to start shipping on July 25th.

Please stay tuned to this website, twitter, and our facebook group for the latest.

How to Order:

Contact your local Astral dealer to place an order. We are also accepting pre-orders through our dealer powered Shopatron store.

MSRP $260

The LE4 – Czech Yourself (before you wreck yourself)…

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Jakub at Zwick’s Backender, Green River Narrows

After much anticipation we are proud to announce the fourth installment in the Astral Limited Edition program, the LE4 “Czech Yourself (Before You Wreck Yourself).”

While kayaking in Cali and safety boating in Colorado, Czech and US couple Jakub Nemec and Meg Smith created the aesthetic design for this highly visible Limited Edition Greenjacket that would make Kobe Bryant proud. 22 years old, Jakub is an Astral team paddler who has traveled the world with his paddle in hand. Last year he came over to Colorado and met Meg, one of the most talented young graphic designers that we know. Meg’s work combines computer design and her eye for style with being out there and getting the best inspiration from deep snow and fast moving water – wherever the big mountains are.


Last April, Astral’s Yonton Mehler received an email from Jakub about his idea for an LE jacket to combine green, purple, and yellow to create a highly visible PFD with a unique vibe. Yonton answered right away with a blank template of the Greenjacket for the couple to get some design ideas rolling. Jakub’s original idea was to incorporate graffiti into the deign, but that didn’t go through Meg’s professional eye. She gave him the right beta: “You have to think more than design.” It took couple of weeks of running the goods in Cali and Colorado until Jakub came up with the ‘logo in the logo’ idea and Meg came up with the snazzy icon for back of the jacket. Meg liked Jakub’s idea but thought it needed something else. After quite a few revisions, Meg refined the deign to what we have here – the Greenjacket LE4.


For the first time we are using a combination of heat transfer and embroidery on the back, and the front features a unique Astral font created by Meg. Each LE sports an iconic figure, and this time “bootie guy” raises a toast to his swim.







This week we had the chance to join Meg and Jakub on the Green River. Here are a few images as they tested the very first LE4s:

Flying Squirrel Test Flight

The Czechxican spanking the monkey, LE4 style

 Meg Smith at Rapid Transit

This jacket is currently in production and we are building only 400 units total. Each jacket is hand crafted at the Astral mothership in Asheville, NC by our talented sewing staff.

Myra and Vianey finishing up the first LE4

US $240

About the LE Program:

Astral LEs are “Limited Edition” lifevests made in our home factory in Asheville, NC. The purpose of this program is two-fold. One reason is to offer our customers the choice to purchase a domestically made, highest end product. The other reason is to allow us to have more fun with design, to express ourselves according to seasonal creative influences. The LEs are built with the same meticulous details and supreme materials as our regular lifevests, but they are made in small batches, each having a unique artistic style. When you purchase one, not only are you going to look damn smart, but your money is helping to keep fellow Americans at work.

The Samurai Boof

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submitted by Todd Wells.

Photos by: Jason Cohen, Link Jackson, and Brendan Wells.

Yet again Astral has designed and developed a steezy limited edition Greenjacket: the Samurai LE3. Here are some photos of the LE3 being put to use on Idaho’s North Fork Payette and South Fork Clearwater with the World Class Kayak Academy.

Idaho Whitewater Samurai

Seth Stoenner leading WCKA down the NF Payette                                                                  Eric Parker gettin after it!!


The Idaho Posse



For the full story on these rivers check out http://toddwellswhitewater.blogspot.com/2010/05/wcka-idaho.html