Astral Indus Review By Russ Gartner

Astral Indus Review By Russ Gartner

Russ Gartner

Outdoor Prolink Dirtbag Dreams

“Review Scorecard”

Summary of your thoughts on the product: I am 6’@170lbs (1.83M@77kg) wearing a size M/L the fit is snug, as designed.

Pros: Easy to put on and adjust. obviously durable construction. It feels safe. Ample small item storage, Web-toe tether pocket, and internal throw rope stow is on point.

Cons: Bulky and stiff when you first put this on, expected to wear in. Your elbows hit the waist which is alarming but they DO NOT when you are paddling. No clamshell storage access like the green vest.

Rate (out of 5 stars, 1 being awful, 5 being perfect) the following categories:

-Quality: 5

- Features:  4

- Fit: 4

- Durability: 5

- Eco-Friendly: 5

Write - Up


Would you like to be safer during your whitewater activity? Enter the Astral Indus; The long awaited high float version of the class five crowd favorite Green Jacket is here! Follow me into the classic whitewater of the Southern Rocky Mountains where I put this vest to the test. Let's take a look at the fit, the storage, the convenience, and you guessed it..the swim!


It’s springtime here in the Southern Rocky Mountains and that means icy cold good times! I have an educated opinion to share having tested the Astral Indus on over 100 classic river miles: The Salt River, Animas River, and the Piedra River. After this test I am prepared to wear this jacket for all my Class V adventures to come, which are slated to be some high float versions.

III. fit/comfort/looks

Russ Gartner taking selfie infront of a river.
Russ Gartner

The Salt River running from the snowy White Mountains of Arizona starting high in majestic pine trees and down through the even more majestic Saguaro cactus is our first stop. This trip is about 60 miles and is best done in several days. Consider paddling for many hours during several days in a row. You can be confident that the Astral Indus does not compromise comfort. There was no chafing or rubbing. Frankly I didn’t notice wearing the Indus, which is a great compliment, as I was staring up at the astounding beauty of the great quartzite uplift. Superman has a cave of crystal, I have a canyon of crystal…eat your heart out superman, nice tights…check out my cool vest!

III. comfort/performance

Russ in front of river holding a paddle and kayak.
Russ standing infront of the Piedra River

The Piedra river is a well known classic in southern Colorado flowing through a magnificent forest and two spectacular gorges. It is a remote place in the world where I felt the extra safety of the Astral Indus high float mentally comforting. I didn’t intend to test out the floatation, but we are all in-between-swims! When I put on the Indus it is obvious to me that there is additional floatation surrounding me. The vest is a bit bulky when you first put it on however I found after paddling about 30 miles of the Piedra that it was not in my way. I was actively trying to notice the fit getting in my way and the low profile design did not interrupt my paddling. The river is Class IV with two Class V rapids, it's no joke and having the Indus on felt reassuring. No excuses, time to slay the dragons…

Russ sitting in his kayak on a rock

III. features/function/additional equipment

The Animas River is the coldest river in the world, change my mind. It also boasts some of the most difficult and continuous whitewater just outside your comfort zone. When I put on the Animas I do not want anything else on my mind but the task at hand. After proving the vest to be physically comfortable and mentally comfortable it was time to take a lap through Rockwood Gorge for some training. We practice here, and need our equipment handy. There is a web-toe tether stow pocket attached to a quick release rescue harness for the trained swiftwater professional. It functions just like it should with quick access and release. The shoulders are reinforced for being yanked out of the water and with the added hip floatation the fit is actually tighter than the Green Jacket. I felt less likely to slip out of this vest. For over a decade I have had a throw rope on my chest ready to help you and the Indus still has that pouch and  I’m still ready for you. There is a pocket to keep your effects, for me these items are: knife, spot device, prusik loops, marker, flint, chap stick, sunblock, and a couple carabiners…it all fits, plus a phone. Call your mother!

Astral indus sitting on top of Jackson Antix

Ok, you owe me big time for this one…I took one for the team and swam the coldest river in the world through the Animas River Playpark in Durango, CO so I can tell you that the Indus does indeed float…and it does!

Russ swimming through Smelter

VS competition

There are 3 other whitewater designs for high floatation. They are very uncommon as they are excessively bulky, some include floating pillows.


You can use this vest on all types of water as it is comfortable, low profile, and USCG approved. Listen kids, this jacket offers features that require training and practice. I am a trained Swiftwater Rescue Professional and a Kayak Instructor, and although this vest will fit you and function very well, there are features that can kill you without proper training and practice. You may remove these features and still enjoy the high float safety and comfort the Indus has for you until you get properly trained. 

Russ sufing Smelter

VI Sustainability

Astral uses PVC-free Gaia foam. Couple that with Cordura and stainless steel and you have a long lasting sustainable product.

VII. Final Word

If you are a beater like me who finds yourself seeking out monsters, slaying dragons, and fighting demons you will fit right into an Astral Indus. When the water is up and you are having an out of boat experience, don’t rest assured, in fact don’t rest at all…swim your ass off and get out of the river while the Astral Indus adds 33% more floatation to help save your life. 22 pounds of floatation brings the Indus, US Coast Guard approved, Type V Swiftwater Rescue vest to the top!

Your Pro Bio

Russ Gartner

Expedition Kayaker & Instructor :: 4 Corners Riversports

Russ Gartner is a kayaker from Durango, Colorado. Founder and Chief Enthusiast of Adventure, Russ has been on expeditions all over the world. Russ prides himself on being valuable to his teams, going farther than most, being the first to say yes, and last to say it's impossible. Be sure to say hello if you get passed by two young boys (Orin & Rowan) being chased by Russ and Lindsay, his wife!

Kayaker with a moose head holding a kayak
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