Gear Review: Astral Layla LE
Every year Astral makes limited edition, artistically decorated runs of their popular PFDs. This season Astral released their first “LE” of the women’s specific PFD, the Layla.
What I like about the Layla LE
It's a front entry with a side zip. I’ve worn Astral PFDs for most of my boating career and loved them all. After using the pullover green jacket for many seasons, it's nice not having to do the “life jacket dance” over the head taking it on and off.
It has a sleek font that is one piece from top to bottom, which makes it easier to slide back into the boat. I’ve had a few boater friends over the past few years switch from their bulkier jackets to the Ringo (Astrals Uni-sex version of the Layla) for this reason, and sing its praises. I tested it out in some flat water on my last run and found it much easier than my blue jacket to get back into the boat.
It also has a smaller storage pocket than a lot of other Astral jackets, which helps keep its sleek profile. Let's face it when given the option of a large storage pocket (I’m looking at you, Astral Blue & Green Jackets), it's easy to accidentally fill them up with clutter. That extra stuff can weigh you down and make the front bulky which makes it more difficult to slide back into your raft.
What makes it women’s specific? It has “sculpted chest support”. In other words, they removed some of the foam in the front to make room for your girls, instead of just squishing them down. If you have a larger chest and haven’t tried a women’s specific PFD before, I highly recommend it.
The artwork on this PFD is so cool! As the saying goes, look good feel good. The Artist Kate Shea designed it in collaboration with Kayaker Nicole Mansfield to “celebrate the elegance and playfulness of water and women.”
Things to know
It does run a bit larger than other Astral PFDs. When I cinched it down all the way, I did max out the straps on the side. Which I’m not even close to with my Astral Blue jacket of the same size. I would strongly consider taking a close look at the sizing, or trying this PFD on before purchasing.
It is only 16.3 lbs of flotation. While this is on par with most of the other Astral Whitewater PFDs, it is barley above the minimum requirement set by the US Coast Guard. If you are a bigger person, or a rafting a high-volume river, you might want to consider a PFD with more flotation.
As sold, it is a type III PFD. It is quick release belt compatible if you are looking to use it as a recue PDF. You'll have to buy the harness separately.
To get yourself a Layla LE you’ll have to visit one of these retailers while supplies last.
10% of sales of the Layla LE will be donated to the Lulu Love Tour and Columbia Gorge Kids Club. These are both organizations that help empower women and youth in the outdoors.