The Mocke Racer is a lightweight personal flotation aid popular in the surfski racing crowd. The Mockes, a husband and wife, are well-known in the surfski racing side of paddlesports; they both boast impressive wins in many races. They designed the Racer to be comfortable, to stay out of the way while paddling and to give a racer enough flotation to help him swim if he ends up in the water. They claim the mesh allows air to flow, which keeps the paddler cool. In the water, the mesh allows for more efficient swimming, and they claim it allows the paddler to dive easily when needed.
The vest consists of lightweight mesh chambers that hold XPS foam. The front of the vest has eight separate foam chambers and seven on the back. Taken together, the foam provides 13 lbs. of dead weight flotation. The chambers conform around the body. At first, it feels stiff, but as the vest breaks in and the XPS compresses to fit the body, it feels comfortable. Both sides of the vest have large pockets. Typically, racers use the back pocket for hydration and a flare kit. The hydration pack’s tube runs through a loop of fabric on the left shoulder strap to a Velcro tab on the strap’s front. The front pocket is large enough for multiple power bars, a VHF radio and more. Below the front pocket, there’s a tab for clipping a boat leash. There are two reflective tabs on each side of the vest.
The fit is snug, but comfortable, with enough clearance on the sides to stay out of the way while paddling. The shoulder straps adjust via a double metal D-ring system. Two-inch Velcro waist straps keep the vest tight and secure on the body. The vest is side-entry with a metal zipper on the vest’s left side. A single ladder lock buckle backs-up the zipper. The vest weighs 1 lb. 3 oz.
I had the opportunity to test a Racer this summer. I found it comfortable and light. It was cool. In the water I found that although it never slipped up over my head, it wouldn’t stay low, like my Stohlquist and Kokatat vests. The big pockets carried plenty of gear, but the Velcro closure won’t stay closed with heavier loads. On cold days, when wearing a drysuit, I noticed the vest tended to rise up and the shoulder strap’s metal D-rings brushed against my face. Over a wetsuit or rash guard, the vest held in place better. Surprisingly, the vest fits over my Tuilik and stayed in place for rolling. The main issue I have with the vest is the lack of any North American certification, which means that it’s illegal to use as a lifevest in the United States or Canada. Because it’s so light, it’s tempting to ignore the rules and use this as the only pfd, but that’d be breaking the rules.
I really wanted to like the Mocke Racer enough that I could see it as a replacement for my heavier vests, but the lack of certification and all the minor issues add up. For those reasons, it just doesn’t work for me — two of my friends use these vests exclusively. I’m not into packrafting, but I suspect that because this pfd is so light that it might interest paddlers into that sport. I looks much better than Mountain Laurel Design’s The Thing or Thermarests tucked under a rain jacket.
The paddlers using the surfskis in the below video are using the Mocke Racer.