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Astral Designs "Ronny" PFD

Astral Designs "Ronny" PFD Hot

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Astral Designs Ronny PFD

PFD Make & Model

Astral Designs
MSRP ($):

The Astral Designs "Ronny" delivers the best answer to today's high seat-back recreational kayaks. Featuring a Thin-Vent™ back design, lightweight construction, and a large front pocket, this PFD has been designed for maximum comfort.


  • Thin-Vent™
  • Featherlight construction
  • Large front pocket for easy access storage
  • Quick Access Knife Tab
  • Reflective Trim


  • Colors: Orange, Red, Blue
  • Small / Medium:     31-37"
  • Medium / Large:     38-44"
  • Large / Extra Large:     45-51"
  • Design Buoyancy: 16 lbs


Greg Astral Designs Ronny
Greg and Robert in Astral Designs Ronny

Editor review

(Updated: May 29, 2013)

Astral Designs"Ronny" PFD

Many kayakers - especially kayak anglers in warm climates who frequently fish shallow water - seem to hate wearing PFDs. “They’re hot...” “They’re bulky...” “They don’t fit well...” When looking at solutions for “traditional” PFDs, I was directed to Astral Designs. Their lightweight “Ronny” (and companion “Linda” model, cut especially for lady kayakers) addresses all these concerns, and more.

For many, “PFD” conjures visions of bright orange blocks of foam, held together with white straps. The Ronny is a long way from that concept. As a USCG Type III PFD, it provides at least 15.5lbs of flotation using lightweight and compact PE (polyethylene) foam. The shell and liner are a high-grade 200 denier nylon, which resists dirt and saltwater grunge, and rinses clean after every use.

The front of the Ronny sports a large mesh pocket with an internal loop (to clip a whistle, keys, etc.), a quick access knife tab, and reflective trim. Zippers are the bane of saltwater garments, and the YKK heavy duty self-locking teeth get the job done. A Hypalon “grab tab” at the bottom of the zipper helps make zipping up easier.

I haven’t worn a vest that works better with a kayak seat - especially a high back. The big flotation pads on the back of many vests can be very uncomfortable. The thin back of the Ronny doesn’t force the wearer into an uncomfortable position, even with the highest backed seats. The large arm openings make for easy movement when casting, paddling, and reaching behind for something in the crate.

I finally got the chance to wear the Ronny on a hot day. Last weekend topped out over 90⁰F here in Florida. I hoped the light construction and mesh “Thin-Vent™” at the top of the vest back would make a difference - and they did. I felt the cooling effect of air circulating inside the vest and through the Thin-Vent™ every time I cast, shifted position, paddled, etc. Was I warmer than I would have been without the PFD? Of course. Was I uncomfortable? Not in the least - and I knew I was well-protected in spite of the high temperature.

With the up-front understanding that it is not specifically a “fishing PFD”, there are a few very minor things I’d change on the Ronny. A small elastic loop at the top of the zipper would hold down the pull and eliminate a snag point, especially for fly line. The pocket design is not really conducive for holding any but the smallest-profile VHF radios. I’d also like webbing loops or tabs atop the shoulders to hold a strobe or LED.

The smallest size Ronny was a little bit big on my ten-year-old son, but not enough to compromise his safety and I am sure he’ll grow into it before the summer is out. The “Linda” is the ladies’ version, and incorporates all the features of the Ronny. The pre-shaped foam panels provide a comfortable fit, and the mesh pocket is shaped to accommodate the differences in design. Although I didn’t test the Linda (for obvious reasons), I have no doubt it meets the same construction and comfort standards as the Ronny.

The true test of any safety gear is whether the user will actually use it - all the time. I’ve worn the Ronny for eight or nine hours at a stretch, paddling, casting, and doing everything else you do in a kayak. The comfort of this PFD is unmatched - after a few minutes, I’m not even aware it’s part of the game. I’ve never once felt the vest bind, pinch, or restrict my movement.

The Ronny is available in S/M, M/L, and L/XL sizes to fit chests measuring 31”-51”. Retail on the Ronny and Linda is $89.95. If you’re looking for a lightweight, modern PFD design that will keep you comfortable in high-back seats and cooler on the warmer days, look no further than the Ronny. I recommend it without reservation. For more information, check out the Astral Designs website: http://www.astraldesigns.com/products/

Greg and Robert in Astral Designs Ronny
Greg Astral Designs Ronny
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User reviews

1 reviews

5.0  (1)
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Ratings (the higher the better)
User Info
Pros & Cons
(Updated: December 03, 2015)

"My Ronny Floats Over the Ocean..."

As a newbie, I spent a good bit of time looking at various pfd's and tried to get one that was high quality with a reputable label, so most of those ranged in the low 100's up to the 140's. I was able to find the Astral Designs Ronny on a nice closeout discount at Backcountry Outfitters for about 30% off and as a new purchaser, they added on 10-15% discount, with extremely fast 2-day free shipping (for purchases over $50), the Ronny which initially was listed at $99 (and higher on other outfitter sites), ended up only costing me $57! They are still available I believe at http://www.backcountry.com/astral-ronny-personal-flotation-device?s=a
I can't recommend backcountry.com enough...like their logo too, and they included a couple of decals for my yak and paddles.
I am very satisfied with my Ronny. Although it is bulkier in the front than I expected, the back is the real satisfying part, as it is very flat and does not intefere with me leaning back in the seat of my Outback with the Jackson seat. It has the mesh lining for better "breathability" and is comfortable.

Plenty of pockets, though I don't put a lot of gear in them yet. Well made zipper, easy to close and open. Straps are easy to reach to adjust the snugness around your body.

User Info

Waters Fished:
  • Large Lakes
  • Small Ponds
  • Salwater Flats
  • Saltwater Bays
7-15 times

Pros & Cons

flat back, convenient pockets including one which will hold a can drink or bottle, easy to adjust side straps for securing around body snugly.
bulky front may intefere a little in tight sitting on kayak
Astral Buoyancy Ronny PFD
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