If you have read my other review on the Astral Tinker or know me at all you will know that I am a fan of Astral products. The Astral Greenjacket PFD is my go to. That said, I got the chance to review another Astral PFD I was stoked! I have a 37” chest and B/C breasts. I tested out the Small/Medium. The Layla comes in three stylish colors that are true to how they look online.
Fit and Comfort
The Layla is not a rescue vest and this is quickly noticed when you first put it on from how thin and simple it feels. The fact that it is made out of multiple types of foam and that it is a little longer in the torso allows for the thinness feel. Even though the Layla is a little longer you still can sit in the boat comfortably, however, I would think that for someone with a shorter torso this could be too much. As for the women-centric design, the boob cups are nice but definitely geared towards women with larger breasts. I have B/C breasts and felt that if I were any smaller this PFD would be overkill.
Structure and Durability
The Layla is easy to put on with its quarter zip entry. If you find yourself constantly going down desert rivers this something to be aware of because of how much wear and tear your PFD gets in the sandy wind and silt-ridden waters. I tend to avoid any PFDs that have a zipper as their main mechanism of keeping the system closed on your body as I have seem them to be the first part that goes.
Along with the zipper is a bottom buckle to close the system. I like that it is placed below the foam to really secure the PFD to your body. One thing I noticed about this buckle was that if you tightened it then unclipped without loosening, the buckle would slip back into the housing for the strap and you would have to do some digging for it. Luckily the strap is not enclosed all the way around so it is a quick fix. Other than that I found the Layla to be structurally sound.
There is plenty of room for shoulder mobility making this a great PFD for any types of boating from fishing to SUPing to kayaking to rowing. The shoulder straps are conveniently located and easy to self adjust. The front pocket is easy to access and big enough for snacks, a little sunscreen, and your river knife. (Or a beer if you are of age!)
Although, this not a rescue vest, Astral has made it adaptable for adding on a quick release belt. And, with no surprise, Astral nailed the buoyancy of this Type III PFD.
Once again, Astral nails another PFD. The Layla is a great option for the casual to the everyday boater. Even though it has the ability to add on the quick release belt, if you are looking for a rescue vest I would keep looking. (Check out the Greenjacket) Guys! Don’t let the woman-centric design deter you from checking this out too! I have a male friend who sails and loves this PFD.
Emily Katz is stoked to be stoked outside! You can find her perma-smiling in the mountains, rivers and canyons of the West where she has over five years of guiding experience. She currently splits her time between Moab, UT, and Crested Butte, CO. In Moab she is an Instructor for Colorado Outward Bound School-Southwest Program leading multi-day backpacking, canyoneering and rafting courses. In Crested Butte she is a Ski Instructor for the Adaptive Sports Center and a Crested Butte High School Cross Country Coach.