The Low Profile Vaikobi PFD
Like the Mocke Racer PFD, the Australian Vaikobi is a lower-volume, inherently buoyant PFD that is gaining in popularity as paddlers look for more options to the waistbelt inflatable PFD. Like the Mocke, it is NOT US Coast Guard approved thought it carries several international certifications, as does it’s South African competitor. So, make your own informed decisions about usage.
The Vaikobi appears to be slimmer, largely because it consists of two single foam panels in front and back, rather than the smaller, articulated foam pieces that comprise the Mocke. Some might actually find the Mocke more comfortable when moving – particularly when paddling surfski and outrigger – because of the articulation but really, it’s personal preference. I really didn’t notice much of a difference between the two. I can very easily get back on my board in both the Vaikobi and the Mocke.
The Vaikobi zips in the front, making entry a bit easier than the pull-over Mocke. There is also a third buckle to adjust snugness of fit at the base of the zipper. The Vaikobi also features two mesh pockets on the front, which are closed with zippers. The pockets seem a bit small, and I wonder whether larger phones, in protective cases would be able fit. My iPhone 7 in a its case is a tight fit.
The hydration sleeve on the back is straightforward and can accommodate a 2-liter bladder, possibly even a larger one.
One of the things that may make the Vaikobi more attractive to some is the fact it comes in a variety of colors, including pink, high viz orange, high viz yellow and red.
I did find the fit a tad bit more comfortable in the armpit area than the Mocke – I noticed a “hot spot” where the thick seam on the Mocke was starting to chafe. The cut of the Vaikobi comes down a little bit lower so there’s no risk of arm chafing there.
It too is pricey…however there are several US options for purchasing this product which mitigates any international shipping charges. (Editors Note: there is at least one US retailer for the Mocke PFD but it hard to find the full range of sizes in stock. Also, Southern Paddle Sports does carry the PFD but there is no online ordering option, it would appear, on the website.)
All in all, the Vaikobi Ocean Racing PFD is a great, comfortable alternative to inflatables, as long as you understand it is not US Coast Guard approved.