• Matthew Chebatoris

What is the Difference Between the Vaikobi V3 and the VXP Life jackets?


paddlexaminer, Vaikobi VXP, Shelta Hats, Vaikobi, Nelo Surfski, Braca Paddle, Braca surfski paddle, Santa Monica Bay, paddling
View of the Vaikobi VXP.


The question is raised in social media groups multiple times a month, “What is the difference between the Vaikobi V3 and VXP life jackets?” The initial question is typically followed by, “Which one do you recommend?” The responses which follow provide first hand accounts of individual paddler’s experience with one or the other. At least one respondent will often cite a commonly held misconception (more on that later) and the author of the original post is left with a dizzying array of information from which to sort through.


As a starting point, let’s take a look at the basic specifications of each lifejacket.


Vaikobi V3


Vaikobi V3, paddlexaminer

  • Center zipper

  • Two medium sized pockets - zipper closure

  • Four adjustable side straps

  • Two adjustable shoulder straps

  • No side panels

  • Hydration pouch on the back - 2L capacity

  • Multiple loops to route and secure a hydration tube

  • Soft, form-fitting buoyancy foam

  • ISO 12402-5 (50N Buoyancy)

  • Read PaddleXaminer's review here.


Vaikobi VXP


Vaikobi vxp, paddlexaminer


  • Side buckle entry

  • Large center pocket - velcro closure

  • Four adjustable side straps

  • No side panels

  • Hydration pouch on the back - 2L capacity

  • Multiple loops to route and secure a hydration tube

  • Soft, form-fitting buoyancy foam

  • ISO 12402-5 (50N Buoyancy)

  • Read PaddleXaminer's review here.


Our Take


I’ve worn both the V3 and the VXP extensively, paddling surfski, OC-1 and SUP. The shape of the two life jackets is the same. The main difference between the two is the VXP has non-adjustable shoulder straps, a single large front pocket secured by velcro, and side entry. The VXP is designed to sit a bit higher on your torso which gives the impression of being wider than the V3. If you lay one on top of the other, however, you will see that they are the same width. Since the VXP sits a bit higher, I found it is optimized for surfski paddling. The fact the shoulder straps are not adjustable on the VXP (they are fabricated from stretchy, neoprene-style elastic) is not an issue for me, but some paddlers may prefer the option to adjust the straps.


By comparison, the V3 is a fantastic all around life jacket that can be adjusted to sit higher or lower on your torso. It is also slightly longer than its VXP counterpart, which gives the impression the V3 is narrower than the VXP. I find the V3 to be very comfortable regardless of the craft I am paddling.The center zipper entry allows you to wear it just like a jacket. The two side pockets are secured by a zipper vs. the single large velcro pocket on the VXP.


My favorite of the two is the VXP, in large part due to its generously sized center pocket. The pocket is large enough to comfortably hold a marine radio and a few smaller items. I don’t have any feelings one way or the other about wearing a side entry life jacket vs. one with a center zipper, but I know some paddlers prefer one over the other.


Regardless of which Vaikobi life jacket you chose, the quality of the overall product is fantastic. Vaikobi’s high vis color range is perfect for keeping you visible and safe on the water. Both the V3 and VXP are visually appealing and functional for paddling multiple crafts in any conditions wherever your adventures take you.







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