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Photo Credit : Kalob Grady

Crystal-clear water, scenic views, and quality whitewater, are only a few aspects that make the Upper Palguin a true Chilian classic. For my first trip to Chile, I was ecstatic to paddle this spectacular river after seeing it countless times in kayaking videos. The canyon consists of 3 drops: a double drop, 10ft and 15-20ft. Each waterfall is clean, non-consequential, and absolutely treats; the perfect conditions to take a Zen 3.0 out for my personal first rip.

To enter the river, you hike for a little over 5 minutes and then launch off a natural bridge over the river into a flat pool below. You then navigate through a mangy rock garden, and arrive at the double drop. For the first move, you ride the curler and launch yourself over the first hole. The first boof is followed by a big fluffy 6ft drop. I did laps on laps on laps of this drop, enjoying every lap more than the last. I took off of boofs, using the Zen 3.0 as my rocket ship.
The canyon latter winds around a corner, where it then drops into a 10 ft waterfall. The lip rolls for the first 6ft, and pulling a late boof stroke is the most ideal line. It is the only drop on the river where you cannot scout or lap. For first time, you just have to trust your insignias and send yourself off it.
The third drop comes second behind spirit, for the most photographed waterfall. It lies on the narrow far right channel of the river. The water over the rock continues to flow to the right, so before you go over the lip you have to turn your bow further to the right. The move isn’t challenging, as the water goes from a flat pool to the waterfall. Personally, I’ve struggled boofing larger drops and have a hard time keeping the bow up. The aspect of the Zen 3.0 that stood out the most to me, was the amount of control I had in the 15-20ft of free fall while running this waterfall, as it was easier to keep the bow up.

Just judging the Zen 3.0 by its appearance is a benighted view of the it’s performance. The boat’s stability, rocker and easiness to control, all contribute to the character of the kayak. The Zen 3.0 is not designed for racing, and is meant for joy laps and instruction. For those looking to go fast, I highly recommend the Nirvana, it is a well designed race boat and is an excellent choice for any run.
Even though the medium was a size too big for me (I’m 5’6’’ and weigh 135 lb), I still found it manageable and easy to control. I mostly paddle the Nirvana, and am used to handling kayaks with a surplus of volume. The medium Zen 3.0 is 8’4’’ in length, which made the kayak super easy to maneuver and turn, and gave me more control over my kayak, compared to the 9’ Nirvana. Unlike the previous Zen, the new Zen 3.0 has more rocker, allowing for easier boofing and the kayak to skip out more after drops.
The only aspect that I struggled with while paddling the Zen.30 was putting the edge down on boofs. However, when I did return to the states I was able to paddle the Small Zen 3.0, and I didn’t have this problem. I’ve fallen in love with the small, boofing is a dream, and for the first time I feel like I have complete control over my kayak. The small Zen 3.0 is going to become my primary kayak and am comfortable paddling it on class II and class V.
All in all, the Zen 3.0 is a versatile kayak that everyone can have fun in. It was a blast to paddle and I had some of my best lines in it on the Upper Palguin! Be sure to get in contact with your local Jackson Kayak dealer to give one a demo and to check out our boat financing on our website!

Happy Paddling!