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I was stoked to test out my new Jackson Zen in the Pacific Northwest this April. Some Portland-area paddlers who had been kayaking in Ecuador with us last winter wanted to show us the goods in their own backyards, so we got quite the tour.

We hit the East Fork Lewis, Canyon Creek and Opal Creek all within a 2-day span which gave me a lot of time with my new Zen!

My impressions? All good!

The most striking feature is the Zen’s speed. This boat really goes awesomely fast, which came in handy on Opal Creek. The water was pretty high and there were a few holes to punch and I was happy to have the extra speed.

The boat also edges well, is super stable on its edge, rolls incredibly easily and, despite being pegged as a “river running” boat, it boofed great too! I didn’t have any trouble getting the nose up and launching the Zen!

I’m am really looking forward to guiding out of this boat next season in Ecuador. It’ll be the perfect boat on Ecuador’s continuous, medium to large volume rivers. And it’s super comfy so I won’t mind sitting in it 5 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Small World Adventures will definitely be adding the Zen line to our fleet of boats in Ecuador, so if you want to try one out next winter you can!