Jackson Kayak Zen 2015


First impressions of the 2015 Zen So after excitedly waiting to get my hands on a New 2015 Zen I finally have one. First thoughts I like it a lot. It is fast and easy to move around the river especially in big volume due to its full length rails and planning hull. I went for the Large size over the medium. At 80kgs (180lbs) I would have been fine in the medium, but I wanted a boat which would handle fine as a creek boat as well as give me the option of doing over night whitewater trips which the Large does.


At 89 gallons it is only slightly bugger than the Medium Karma I had previously. Even though it is a bigger boat it is still easy for me to boss around and doesn’t feel too large. That being said I did have to use lots of foam to make the hip pads fit properly. On the subject of outfitting there are a couple things I urge to keep in mind if you paddle a new Zen, firstly, make sure you have the foam blocks on the footrest, the four inch pieces of foam make a huge difference in the way the foot rest feels and without them the footrest feels way to soft, with them they are just as good as any of the other companies screwed in bulkhead but without the extra weight of the metal. Secondly make sure you have securely pushed the rope which holds the footrest inlace before paddling away, ther is nothing worse than it popping at the first rapid. A little trick I use with the footblock system is to get the block where I want them, then pop my legs out and pull through an extra inch or two of rope before locking it in, this accommodates the rope stretch when you push on it and gives a more solid set up. Thirdly lean forward when you do the back band up to get proper support. I have only paddled the Zen a few times so far but am aiming to chalk up lots more time in it over the coming months, as a big water boat is is fantastic, the volume is well placed and the boat stay up in the water really well, the rails are easy to engage into the water and really help the Zen to turn quickly (for a big boat it feels really agile and quick to change direction) but there also nice and high so the boat never feels hard to handle in fast confused water. And as for rolling the Zen is super easy, maybe the essayist river boat i’ve ever rolled. The back deck is nice and low behind the cockpit so getting into position is a sinch. I am curious as to how it will handle in a steeper environment (although I suspect it will be a dream) and would say I am skeptical about using it for BIG drops as the flat hull isn’t designed to absorb impacts like the softer rounder hull of the Karma, however time will tell and I can’t wait to get back out in Zen. Take a further look at the Zen on our web site here.











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