Gear Review: Vaikobi VXP Race PFD
The new Vaikobi VXP Race PFD was released within the past few months and has quickly captivated the global paddling community. Built upon the foundation of Vaikobi’s established tenure in the performance apparel market, the new VXP life vest is designed as a comfortable, sleek, and lightweight life vest for all paddlers. The vest is constructed to ISO 12402-5 (Level 50), the most widely recognized international standard for this type of PFD, to facilitate widespread use around the world.
Like its predecessors in Vaikobi range, the VXP is available in a range of four hi-visibility colors: yellow, orange, pink, and cyan. The flotation is provided by Vaikobi’s standard lightweight form fitting foam and there is a hydration pocket on the rear panel capable of holding a bladder up to 2 liters.
So what’s different about the VXP? For starters, this life vest features a large front pocket with internal straps and loops to secure multiple items of varied sizes. Both the front and rear pocket contain large velcro closures to secure your items. The PFD is a side entry model and is constructed with two adjustable straps on each side. The shoulder straps are fabricated from neoprene for comfort and flexibility. Each shoulder strap is adjustable and outfitted with loops to route your hydration tube.
There is an additional loop front and center above the pocket to hold the hydration tube in an optimal spot for drinking. A large horizontal reflective strip resides above the rear pocket and the entire life vest is integrated with a reflective outer construction.
Packed full of fantastic features to enhance performance and elevate the style of safety gear, the Vaikobi VXP is well positioned to have a long-lasting impact on the paddling industry. As a former Naval Aircrewman and long time paddler I’ve worn my fair share of safety gear. The new Vaikobi VXP is far and away the most comfortable life vest I’ve laid hands on. Imagine a combination of the comfort of your favorite t-shirt and the performance and style of the latest hi-tech gear designed by NASA. This PFD looks sharp!
My favorite aspect of the Vaikobi VXP is the neoprene construction of the shoulder straps. The flexibility of the neoprene facilitates your natural, uninhibited movement as a paddler throughout all phases of your paddle stroke over long periods of use.
The large front pocket is fantastic and perfectly positioned to make it easily accessible when wearing the PFD. The side entry buckles are very easy to use – I have not had any difficulty reaching them to fasten/unfasten the buckles. The hydration pocket is also a wonderful feature and easily holds my Source 1.5 liter Widepac. I recommend rinsing the vest off after use with fresh water and hang it to dry in the shade or indirect sunlight.
Pro Tip: Unclip your hydration bladder from the drink tube after paddling and remove the bladder. Leave the drink tube in place and blow the water out before storing the vest for your next paddle. This way you will not have to re-thread the drink tube through the loops on the vest.
I’ve been using my Vaikobi VXP this winter paddling surfski – a new discipline for me after a number of years in various canoes, kayaks, and SUPs. I can personally attest to the fact the life vest floats a paddler well in choppy seas and does not hinder your ability to quickly remount a surfski!