Welcome, guest blogger, Jenifer Jakub!!!
I found the Rogue to be a sweet ride for the Canyon, and I most definitely hope to take it down the Canyon again next year. It was easy to pack, stable, and had a good place for a groover.
My favorite thing about the boat was the skeg. It makes a huge difference in the flatwater, as you avoid spin outs and it cuts through boils like butter. I ended up leaving the skeg down through most of the rapids, too.
When loaded, the boat handled great in the rapids. It was stable and easy to sail right through some big holes.
One downside is that it is relatively slower than some other boat choices which can make it hard to keep up with a fleet of, ya know, sea kayaks and green boats.
Another downside is that it is relatively small compared to some other boat choices (those sea kayaks); however, there was ample room for everything I needed and wanted. I felt the smaller size allowed me to keep it simple and prevented me from over packing and bringing things I didn't need.
On Packing... The nitty gritty details for those who want to know!
1 - The Rear Hatch
If you've ever packed the stern of a boat by cramming dry bags behind the seat and into the stern, it's a pain. The rear hatch makes it easy.
I packed my sleeping bag, most of my food supply, and other odds and ends in the stern. It does get wet in there, so anything you want to keep dry needs to be in a dry bag. It's a great place to stuff filler items that don't need to be in a dry bag, like tuna fish packets, energy bars, and extra fuel.
I found the cover of the hatch easy to take on and off. It also stayed put and nothing was lost, even when I swam.
2 - The Cavernous Bow
First of all, instead of a bulkhead, the Rogue has little foot pegs on each side. If these are in your way at all, you can easily slide them in and out. There's nothing to unscrew.
Secondly, the center pillar slides right out. This is a great spot for a groover. If you aren't replacing the groover with a center pillar, then you can clip your dry bags directly to the back of the center pillar. Then you can easily access your dry bags by pulling out the pillar, and there's no need to go digging into the bow. It's a great design.
I used two long 35L tapered dry bags and put those in the bow alongside the groover. First, I put things like a tarp and tent (not in sacks) to fill out the bottom of the bags. Then I pack things like my sleeping pad and Jetboil. Anything I want to keep dry, like clothing, layers, and down, go into smaller dry sacks, which are the last thing I put in the larger dry bags.
I gotta say, it's easier to stuff those big dry bags into the bow of the Rogue than into the stern of the Villain S (I did this on the Selway)! Since you don't have to get behind the seat, you get a bigger opening and they just slide right into the bow. In the Villain, I had to put the bag in first, then cram each individual item in one by one... and the sleeping bag, OY!
Now, although those bags slide right in, each morning I needed to use my feet to stuff the bags further into the bow. I'll admit, it was a tight fit, until I ran a rapid and they got pushed further into the bow. At that point, I fit rather loose without the foot pegs. I didn't find this to be a big issue. And I doubt it would even be an issue without the groover. This set up may not work as well for a taller person and should probably be tested in advance of the trip.
3 - The Cockpit
I packed a day bag of frequently accessed items so that I wouldn't need to access the bow or stern during the day. The day bag clipped onto the elastic cord used to secure the groover or center pillar, placing it directly in front of me.
I tied some cord around the section of seat by the hips, on each side. This gave me a place to secure a water bottle on each side of me, under my knees.
Lastly, there was additional room behind my seat, where I kept a dry bag, throw rope, and first aid kit.
All in all, I was quite happy with the Rogue and look forward to taking it on my next adventure.
For more details on how to build a groover and secure it in a Jackson Rogue, see this post on the official Jackson Kayak website. Note that if I had the center pillar in advance of the trip, I would have considered cutting it to snugly secure the groover inside it. I did not, and I found the cam straps to work just fine. http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2012/01/24/grand-canyon-2012-pre-trip-report-best-trip-for-the-rogue/
To hear more about my adventure in the Grand Canyon, stay tuned to the Jackson website. Part 1 of 3 of my trip report is posted at this link, and next parts will be posted soon!! http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2012/04/10/grand-canyon-post/