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Jackson Kayak’s Zen

As a full time kayak instructor/guide I spend roughly 250 or more days a year in a kayak. When I look for a kayak to spend that kind of time in I’m looking for characteristics like safety, comfort/adjustability, space, and a kayak that’s fun to paddle. Looking for a boat with all of these characteristics has led me to the Jackson Zen.

One of the Zen’s safety features that I’m particularly impressed with is the “Boat Armor”. The “Boat Armor” is the internal frame of the kayak. The new Zen’s “Boat Armor” has been beefed up with an improved U-Channel that keeps the front wall in place and reinforces the hull. I also really like the grab handles on the Jackson Zen. The shape, diameter, and plastic over steel design is ideal for towing swimmers, carrying the kayaks, and tying the kayaks on trailers and vehicles.

It’s important that I’m in a kayak that I can be comfortable in when I’m out on the water teaching on class I-II or guiding on class IV-V. The Zen stands alone when it comes to comfort and adjustability. The “Sure-Lock Back Band” and “Uni-Shock Bulkhead” are both extremely easy to adjust quickly and are very comfortable. The foam seat is very comfortable to sit on all day and the seat is adjusted easily forwards and backwards on the seat track with one single thumbscrew. The Zen’s hip pad adjustability is also extremely convenient and quick. To add hip pads you simply lift up the hip pad and add a foam shim into the rear neoprene sleeve then place the hip pad back onto the Velcro of the seat in the most comfortable position for you.

The Zen comes in three different sizes: the 55, 65, and 75. Weighing roughly 150 lbs. I typically use the 65 or 75. When I’m guiding or instructing I usually carry a lot of gear: breakdown paddle, first-aid kit, pin/rescue kit, throw rope, extra food/water, and sometimes a hypothermia kit. I’ve been really impressed with the ease of access and the amount of space in the back of the Zen. I have no issues fitting all of my essential gear in the back of the Zen.

The Zen is fast, easy to maneuver, stable, predictable, surfs really well, and is an all around really fun kayak to paddle. Additionally, for the same reasons I love paddling the Zen I also put my students/guests in the Zen. Whether you’re learning to kayak on class I-II or an advanced kayaker pushing yourself on class IV-V, you’ll love the Jackson Zen.

Ben Morton
ACA Instructor/Instructor Trainer
Kayak, Canoe, SUP, River Safety & Rescue