Australian paddle sports apparel manufacturer Vaikobi has thoughtfully engineered a lightweight, vest style PFD to meet the growing market for performance oriented safety equipment in the stand up paddling community. Their Ocean Racing PFD was designed by paddlers for paddlers. It is intended to provide a high degree of comfort and performance while meeting Australia’s safety standards and was used by a large number of paddlers last year during the “The Doctor”, Australia’s challenging 27 km distance race.
Vaikobi’s Ocean Racing PFD
Lightweight and breathable
Hi Vis fluorescent yellow for maximum visibility
Australian Standard 4758 Level 50- Mandatory for Australian Races
Compartment on the back to store a hydration bladder
No side panels for maximum breathability
Easy access front mesh pockets for storage
Front center zipper for ease of taking on and off
SUP Examiner’s Take
The Vaikobi Ocean Racing PFD is truly a lightweight, comfortable, vest style PFD that affords paddlers a complete range of motion – something not commonly associated with stand up paddling in a vest style PFD. While this is unmistakably a vest style PFD, based on SUP Examiner’s experience testing the product, paddlers will quickly forget they are wearing it. In fact, if you are accustomed to wearing a backpack style hydration pack, the Ocean Racing PFD with its integrated compartment for a hydration bladder will be an unmistakable upgrade to your gear.
The Vaikobi Ocean Racing PFD contains six adjustable straps (one over each shoulder and two on each side) to enable you to comfortably adjust the PFD for the best fit. The front panels each contain a small sleeve where you can tuck any excess portion of the side straps neatly out of the way. The front zipper is a thick, rugged design that should withstand regular use for a long time. A quick release buckle is added below the zipper to secure the PFD. The quick release buckle (when secured) also prevents the PFD from being fully unzipped.
The two mesh front pockets are a nice size – large enough to hold a cell phone, energy bars/gels, or whatever you need. The right pocket includes a clip on a lanyard for attaching small items. The padded shoulder straps are comfortable and contain reflective loops to hold the excess portion of the straps in place. Additionally, the shoulder straps each have elastic loops for you to route the drink tube of your hydration bladder along with plastic D-rings for attaching items.
The rear hydration bladder compartment is sufficiently large enough to easily hold the MOCKE 1.5 L Rapid Hydration Bladder we used during testing and could likely hold a 2 L bladder for extended journeys on the water.
The Vaikobi Ocean Racing PFD is breathable, although it will likely trap some body heat if used in a race on a hot day. SUP Examiner tested the PFD extensively while paddling an SIC Bullet 17.4 offshore in a range of open ocean conditions. Overall we were impressed by the results. This is truly a vest style PFD that you can paddle in. If we had to name one attribute that stood out the most, it was the easy of use from not having to carry a separate PFD and hydration pack. The Vaikobi Ocean Racing PFD is extremely comfortable and affords paddlers a full range of motion. It stays securely in place and doesn’t slide around, nor do the straps gradually work their way loose over the course of paddling. We liked it and we think you will too.
Always read the label on your PFD for a list of complete operating instructions. Rules and regulations governing the use of PFDs may vary from country to country. Always consult local regulations to verify compliance. Wearing a PFD while stand up paddling is not a substitute for knowing how to swim. Learn the local conditions and your own limitations before entering the water.
Disclosure: Vaikobi provided SUP Examiner with a sample product for review, however, the opinions expressed are our own.