Jackson Kayak Zen 75 - Review by paddler Tony Dyrsmid
My first impression of the Zen 75 is as follows; Although this is a large kayak it is easy to carry due to the grab strap on the centre pillar and lighter carrying weight (43 lbs I weighed it) . Right out of the box it is super comfortable. The only thing that I had to do was move the seat forward a notch and I was good to go. This is standard fare for me as I have short legs.
I was amazed at how well the boat carves and holds a line while surfing even the smallest waves. I was able to look around much more and be aware of where I was on the wave, That put a huge smile on my face. Ferrying is so easy in this boat, one good hard stroke to cross the eddyline and then just rudder to hold your angle. It catches all the waves as you cross the river and you don't seem to drift down as I have noticed in other boats. It is super stable while ferrying and inspires a ton of confidence. Hold that line. Just point this baby and minimal corrections are all you will need to get where you want to go. And, you will get there fast as it makes short work of those sometimes long paddles between drops and to the takeout. With great hull speed and excellent tracking, attainments are also a breeze.
Due to the stability of this boat, I did not flip it while paddling. The initial stability is surprisingly good and the secondary stability is absolutely bombproof. That being said, I did a roll in the eddy and I can't say I have ever rolled a boat that that was so easy to roll. It was so easy that I had a big grin on my face as I came up. Unbelievable. What a confidence builder.
All in all I am very impressed with this boat and highly recommend it for any level of paddler. For beginners it is stable, tracks well, has great hull speed and most importantly is easy to roll. This is a great confidence builder allowing the new paddler to progress rapidly. This boat will take
you up to the advanced level of paddling big water in a relatively short time. For the intermediate and advanced paddler, try it and you will find love at first sight.
About Me: I am 5' 10, 190 lbs. I have been paddling for about 15 years but started late in life. I have just recently had 3 years of minimal paddling so my skills need to be brought back up. That being said, with just one hour in this boat I am already feeling a lot more confident and doing a lot more. I feel that my skills will leap ahead paddling the Zen 75 and I expect to be comfortable paddling Tamihi rapid (class IV) by early summer.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and have fun paddling. Look for the gray haired old fart with the big grin on the river.