Vaikobi's entry into the low profile race and fitness ready PFD market arrived last year and has been steadily picking up steam with paddlers ever since.
So is the jacket for you? Read on to find out.
First, a few stats:
Weight-2.2 lbs (on digital scale)
Colors-High Visibilty Orange and Yellow
Compartments- 3 including posterior Hydro
Price- $135 (USD)
Size tested- Large
Characteristic Body Shape-Generally Longer Torso
Period of Testing- 90 days
I tend to engage in a good deal of precursory visual assessments before committing to a PFD. Initially, upon viewing images of the Vaikobi, I was concerned that perhaps it may have been a tad too wide at the upper and lower back as well as the top front area. This proved to be unfounded.
The first thing I noticed when taking the Vaikobi out for assessment was---nothing. I noticed absolutely nothing that grabbed my attention---I consider this a good indication that the jacket hit the mark in the low-profile arena. I did not feel any tightness or pinching in any areas requiring high mobility or anywhere else for that matter. In full disclosure, I forgot that my intention was to test and simply carried on with my session. Since this first outing, I have used the Vaikobi exclusively.
During colder months it was worn over a semi-drysuit. With the arrival of slightly warmer weather- a wetsuit, and finally, rash guards in the present. All similarly felt very non-invasive. The two front compartments are thankfully zippered, which I greatly appreciate. I tend to get concerned about losing my keys in deep water with open pockets. The compartments are not expedition friendly, but this is not the intended purpose for a racing PFD. The pockets have enough room for the necessities: Keys, gel-packs and perhaps a small EPIRB. The hydration compartment should fit standard bladders and if not used for it's intended purpose could easily carry more gear if desired.
The jacket zippers in the front and has an additional buckle strap under the zipper. I personally prefer zippered options over those that have to be pulled on over your head. Side buckles allow for additional adjustments for fine tuning your fit.
Flotation is rated at 50 and has no problem providing adequate buoyancy. The large fits my 175 lb frame perfectly but also seems to work well for smaller and slightly larger paddlers.
Overall, a great PFD from Vaikobi that hits the mark for racing, fitness paddling and those that prefer a low profile jacket.