An athlete’s choice of gear can be the ultimate make or break in determining a successful day on the water. Well-designed equipment should only enhance performance by working with your body. For this reason, a good paddling life jacket will remain comfortable over extended periods of intense upper body movement.
Manoeuvrability and shape are two vital factors to consider when in the market for a sports PFD. Vaikobi has two paddling lifejacket designs that are durable, visible, and made from super-soft foam for the best fit: the VXP and V3 PFDs.
Both life jackets have an action-focused cut with a low profile and minimal bulk for activities like kayaking, surf skiing, and downwind paddling. They have large, sculpted arm and neck openings that allow for a full range of motion and movement.
The VXP and V3 Lifejackets have several specific design features. The choice for wearers ultimately comes down to personal preferences for features, colours, storage and style.
The VXP Life Jacket is an ultralight PFD with a sleek, low-profile design for performance paddling. It has a side-entry design that slips easily over the head and fastens on its side. It also features neoprene shoulder straps for extra comfort, meaning it will contour to all body types for the best possible fit. This life jacket has no side panels to maintain maximum breathability and heat regulation during intense exercise. Removing the bulk that dominates traditional life vest designs not only satisfies comfort expectations but makes it super-efficient for packing and travel. This PFD also has reflective detailing for safety in low-light conditions – perfect for early morning or late evening paddles.
The V3 Life Jacket is also a lightweight design that has fully adjustable shoulders with super soft padding. This life vest has a front centre zip with an adjustable waist area for a fully customised fit. It also has a slightly slimmer fit on the torso and sits a bit lower down under the armpits, compared to the VXP. While the V3 jacket is smaller, we use top-quality, comfortable foam with a high bubble count that provides maximum buoyancy for less bulk. It also features double side adjuster straps to prevent the vest from riding up when lifting and rotating the arms.
Both lifejackets are purpose-built for high visibility inshore and offshore in colours including cyan, orange, yellow and pink. The VXP PFD is also available in a stylish cyan colourway. The V3 has a large hydration pocket on the back that can hold up to 2L in a water bladder. The VXP can hold a water bottle or bladder within the front pocket. Both life jackets are feature hydration tube guides that position the mouthpiece for hands-free use, meaning water is conveniently accessible without having to muck around with a bottle. All Vaikobi lifejackets are ISO 12402-5 (Level 50) certified for maximum safety and wearer confidence on the water.
So how do I choose between the Vaikobi V3 and VXP life jackets?
Life Jacket Entry and Fitting
The defining difference between our life jackets is how they are entered and fitted. The VXP Lifejacket has a side entry configuration for a sleeker profile, and requires the wearer to slide it over the head when fitting. It has a more minimalistic design but still offers adjustable waist and shoulder straps. We pride this design on being specifically ultra-lightweight and flexible.
The V3 has a convenient front and centre zip used in conjunction with clips for adjustable contoured fitting. It mimics a vest style similar to traditional lifejackets and has fully adjustable shoulders with buckles.
Life Jacket Storage Pockets
As a result of the entry designs, pocket placement is also a distinguishing feature between the two Vaikobi paddling PFDs. If you prefer one larger pocket on the front of the lifejacket for carrying bulkier items, the VXP is the right choice for you. Its main centre pocket can hold bigger things like water bottles and waterproof mobile phone cases. The VXP pockets are fully covered, to hide and protect critical items, but with an internal drainage mesh to release water.
For a more compartmentalised design, the V3 has two secure closable mesh pockets with a secure internal lanyard for holding smaller items. The pockets are made from mesh, which gives visibility from the outside and allows the wearer to locate items more easily and quickly.