Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0 Review. Video too!
So I know I said toward the end of 2019 that I was gonna hit more frequent blog updates. Which I promptly did not do. But, maybe 2020 will be better. Hopefully at least.
So first video after my Indo trip is my review of the new Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0. I thought a way to get me to actually post updates on the website here could be to add some notes from this week’s video, might also be sweet if you don’t want to actually watch the video but still want to hear what I think about it. SO let’s talk Zen 3.0
So just like in the video before I get started I should say I am supported by Jackson Kayak, whilst they didn’t pay me to make this video I was able to buy this boat at a discounted price so keep that in mind when hearing what I have to say and consider that too when looking into other reviews of this boat and others.
Now to business, new Zen 3,0 is shorter and wider than the previous two generations, WAAAAAAY shorter and WAAAAAAY wider this has some serious pros. The big width feels so weird on the first paddle but once you get used to it (after about an hour of paddle time) you start to see the main benefit for it which is stability. Possibly the most stable whitewater boat on the market right now in my opinion. It makes crossing boils, ‘difficult’ eddy lines a breeze to coot over where as in my nirvana I would maybe have had to take a few extra strokes. I dig that.
The other big upside to the length is ease to turn. There was no point where I felt like I was fighting the bow to go where I wanted. I dig that too. Lots of times in the older versions I felt like you could wind up fighting the bow if you were not planning ahead well so this boat fixed that perfectly.
The length had a couple other big advantages too. It is the perfect boat for low volume rivers. We got on a couple of very low volume first descents that were a ton more enjoyable to paddle because of how quickly you could turn that would have been less fun in a longer boat.
Travel was also a ton easier both at the airport (my kayak made all three connections both ways which I couldn’t believe), it was easy to slip into bigger cars, bus luggage compartments etc etc. It was easier all around and I did appreciate that too.
The length did have a bit of a speed disadvantage. Whilst this boat is by no means slow it doesn’t feel like that sporty, race feel that Nirvana feels like. Nirvana seems to operate at it’s best when you are in the front seat and keeping it moving. And the trade off for this is that it travels fast in the flats (if you are mobbing). The Zen 3.0 doesn’t feel like that. It cruises a bit slower through the flats, carries speed pretty well in the Whitewater. BUT and here is the interesting thing, you don’t have to be paddling in the front seat, you can just be cruising and the boat will look after you. And I dig that!
So thats the length. Whilst we are not the subject of boat looking after you let’s talk about the bow. There is plenty of bow rocker than means it is easy to pick the bow up into holes, waves and drops. You can pick it up right up to the last minute, which is harder in the longer boats. The bow is also packed with plenty of bow rocker which means you resurface pretty fast too which I dig.
It is also one of the easiest boats to roll I have ever paddled. Which again, I was surprised about because of the width but fortunately the way the chines of the sidewall are set up it rolls like a dream. Even in hard to roll, aerated areas I always felt like the boat was helping me. And I dig that.
So yea, that is pretty much what I have to say. New Zen, I dig it. Of course watch the video, I put some gopro clips on there to illustrate my point and honestly I think I communicate better there compared with writing. Catch ya in the next one.
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