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I don’t really consider myself a “playboater.” Oh, I’ll admit I spend most of my paddling time in my Rock Star, but there are reasons for that other than just play.

I like the light weight and short length of my Rock Star for transporting and carrying. Its short length and sharp edges make the Rock Star easy and fun to rip in and out of eddies. And, of course, if a river has rapids, it almost always has at least a few playable features.

Unfortunately, where the water difficulty exceeds class IV, I’ve been finding my play boat is something of a liability. So, this year, I went shopping for a new creek boat and I am now the proud owner of a Jackson Hero.

It wasn’t an easy decision. There are some great creek boats on the market. I looked hard at the Zen and the Karma as well as other boats. It turned out that the Hero was the right boat for me.

First, the Hero is short. Which is good because so am I. I’ll be carrying it in some pretty rugged country where the length will make a difference. Short is good when you’re catching micro-eddies, too.

Admittedly, the shorter hull means the Hero is a little slower than some longer creek boats. That’s ok. Compared to my play boat, the Hero is a rocket.

The Hero is on the light end of the creek boats’ spectrum of weight. Some of the places I plan on paddling this year have some heinous portages. Weight is important.

The Hero has some very well designed rails. The combination of short length, light weight and great hull design make the boat excellent for slicing in and out of eddies and making smooth ferries in swift water. That helps keep paddling fun even if I can’t throw down.

Finally, the Hero’s planing hull allows for some fun surfing and even some flat spins on waves. It eases the transition from play boat to creek boat.

That said, you’ll probably still see me paddling my Rock Star most of the time. But when the going gets rough, the Hero is the creek boat for me.