Wesley's Wild World of Kayaking & the Jackson Action Wagon (JAW)

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Long Term Review of Kokatat Maximus Centurion PFD & Comparison with Astral Green Jacket

Photo by: Brian Vermillion

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I have been using the Maximus Centurion for nearly a year now and it has served me well thus far.  The only problem I have had with it is one broken plastic webbing cinch on one of the side straps to tighten down the jacket.  This can happen on any PFD though from general wear and tear.

I came from wearing both generations of the Astral Green Jacket previously.  I love the low profile clam shell design (2nd Generation) of the new Astral Green Jacket, so the Centurion had some great expectations to fill.

Being a “big guy” the Centurion definitely floats me higher than the Green Jacket.  I discovered this well in all the swimming I do in our APE Clubs SWR courses we teach during the summer (and to be honest from a few swims I endured through the season in some kayaking trips).

There are lots of storage options in the Centurion with all the pockets and pouches.  I can carry my entire pin kit, knife, CPR breathing mask, whistle, and a point and shoot waterproof camera inside it with room to spare for snacks, etc…  I can carry all this stuff in the Green Jacket clam shell design too with room to spare.  I also love the Tactic Pack that you can attach to the back of the Maximus Centurion.  I use this for a hydration bladder for longer river runs and races.  You can retro fit this Tactic Pack to almost any PFD that has waist and shoulder webbing on the jacket.

I did find the extra bulk higher up on my chest on the Centurion (compared to the Green Jacket) to be something different to get use too; but I have discovered that is where a lot of the extra buoyance comes from to make sure you get rolled over on your back, if you were to get knocked unconscious in the water.  This is an important safety feature that I’m not sure the Green Jacket does well for me with its lower floatation.

I’m still not a fan of the Kokatat Tow Tether system that you can add to the jacket.  I have one of these on my Centurion and the extra accessory pouch of the tether system hanging loose on the side seems to me that it would be easier for it to snag on something, but I have yet to have issue with it.  The system seems to work well when I deploy it from the quick release webbing cinch.  However I have also had  a couple of incidents where the pouch/carbineer has come unintentionally loose from the quick release webbing cinch from hitting a solid hydraulic or pool after a big rapid or slide/waterfall.  Thankfully there is also a velcro strap through the carbineer on the pouch side, so the whole tether does not deploy out when this occurs and I’m not dangling 6′ of webbing out for it to snag on something (only the length of the pouch instead – about 14″).  I still prefer the easy to use side zip pocket of the Green Jacket for a tether application.

I also miss the belay loop that is on the front of the Green Jacket.  The Centurion does not have any type anchor point in the front and I have used the one on the Green Jacket before to set up munter hitches for lowering boats and/or gear during sketchy portages or hiking in/out of rivers.

I am a size 42″ chest and the M/L Centurion fits me well wrapping all the way around my sides with plenty of lap.  I wear a M/L in the Astral Green Jacket also.

At the end of the day both these PFDs are top products in their field of use and I would recommend either of them!  The main use of a PFD is to keep you floating in the water and the Kokatat wins in that purpose.  The accessory use of a Type V rescue jacket goes to the Astral.  You can’t go wrong in choosing either of these PFDs if you are in the market for a Type V whitewater rescue PFD.

Photo by: Nikki Winkler Malatin

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