Gear Review: Vaikobi VDRY Paddling Vest
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Vaikobi VDRY – Stay dry, stay warm, be happy
I moved to Los Angeles in January 2008 for work after a six year stint in the East Midlands region of England. The climate in Southern California is remarkably different from England, yet the winter of 2018/19 has been without a doubt the coldest and wettest of my 11 years here on the West Coast and brought back memories of my time in England. We’ve had consistent temperatures in the 40s-50s F (4-10 C), massive amounts of rainfall, and the heater in my house has seen more use than the last three years combined.
I picked up Vaikobi’s VDRY paddling vest in December as autumn was transitioning into winter. The paddling vest, along with its sibling the VDRY Jacket, were released earlier in 2018 at the onset of the winter season for the Southern Hemisphere.
Vaikobi’s VDRY paddling vest is a dry vest featuring a ½ length front zip that allows you to manage your body temperature to the conditions of the day. The paddling vest has three enclosable pockets: two zippered ones on the front in the standard placement, and one velcro secured breast pocket on the inside. The latter is the perfect size for holding your sunglasses.
The drawstring around the waist allows you to secure the bottom to block out wind and water and the scooped back provides additional coverage. Ideally, I’d prefer two toggles to synch the drawstring in a more secure fit (one on either side), but the single toggle works well and is certainly not a detractor in the vest’s performance. Vaikobi’s lightweight dry vest is highly breathable and constructed with a mesh interior lining to facilitate temperature regulation during intense paddling sessions. I think Vaikobi could easily lay a legitimate claim to referring to the vest as “ultralight” vs “light”. It is really that good.
My favorite feature is the fleece lined collar. You can wear it up, down or fully zipped up in the style of a turtle neck. The soft fleece feels great around your neck and is perfect for blocking out the wind.
The water temperature in Southern California this winter has been mid-50s F (~13 C) and the air temperature ranged significantly depending on the time of day. Wearing the Vaikobi VDRY paddling vest paddling OC-1 has been a greatly appreciated luxury compared to years past. Especially with our colder than normal temperatures this winter.
The VDRY construction is highly effective at blocking water spray and wind. My core remained comfortably dry, yet didn’t overheat – even when paired with a Vaikobi PFD. The best aspect of the vest though is its versatility. You can easily wear it as an outer layer over one of Vaikobi’s VCOLD tops for maximum warmth and protection or don it on a brisk afternoon paddle over a lighter base layer when there is a chill in the air. In the coming months I anticipate wearing my VDRY vest extensively throughout evening OC-6 practices (we train from 1730 until dark). It is common for paddlers to rapidly scurry for warm clothing as soon as they get out of the water during spring practices and I expect the VDRY Vest is going to eliminate the need to rapidly shed cold, wet clothing this season.
The VDRY paddling vest is easily layered with a PFD.
Not sure which VDRY item is right for you? It all depends on the amount of coverage you are looking for, your local weather, the conditions you paddle in, and the craft you are paddling. I’ve begun to dabble in a bit of surfski paddling and one thing I realized straight away is that you tend to get a lot wetter in a ski than an OC-1 – conditions being equal. Vaikobi has added the VDRY Smock, billed as the ultimate in wind and water protection, since the initial release of the VDRY range and I’m reliably informed there may be a VDRY pant in the works as a future roll out. The future looks bright, or should I say dry!
Not sure where to find Vaikobi gear near you? Visit my friends at Ocean Paddlesports and you’ll be in good hands.