Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0
One of the most forgiving, all round whitewater kayaks on the market, the Jackson Zen 3.0 is used at kayaking schools around the world to inspire confidence in beginners and to advance technical skills of experienced paddlers. The high volume design is stable and sits high out of the water, but this is a kayak which can be driven around to make tight, technical moves on the most demanding creeks and rivers.
- Stable and forgiving
- Doesn’t mind if you’re a bit off line
- A great developmental kayak which is still more than comfortable in some gnarly environments
- High volume can make it more difficult to roll
Size, Weight, Capacity
The Zen 3.0 is available in three different sizes. There is some crossover between sizes and those who fall into the middle ground should consider the benefits of a larger or smaller kayak. A larger kayak will allow you a more stable experience, not to mention capacity to fit more kit in if you plan to go out for longer days. A smaller kayak is often more responsive and quicker to turn or maneuver around.
Don’t forget when working out your paddler weight to account for all the gear you’ll be wearing on the river.
The small model is 8’1” (246 cm) long and 25.5” (65 cm) wide. It weighs 44 lbs (20 kg) and has a paddler weight range of 80 – 160 lbs (36 – 72 kg).
The medium is 8’5” (256 cm) long, 27” (68.5 cm) wide and weighs 47 lbs (21 kg). The optimum paddler weight for this boat is 140 – 220 lbs (63 – 100 kg).
The large Zen 3.0 is 8’11” (272 cm) long and 27.8” (71 cm) wide. It weighs 50 lbs (23 kg) and has a capacity range of 200 – 280 lbs (91 – 127 kg).
Jackson pride themselves on having some of the most comfortable, lightweight, connective outfitting available. Their sure-lock system, using ropes and cleats rather than the traditional ratchet style tightener, prevents you from over tightening yourself into the boat. This allows you to be more comfortable while you paddle and limits the chances that you will cramp up halfway down a river.
The hip pads and thigh braces are fully padded and adjustable to make the boat fit you perfectly, while the padded seat will keep you extremely comfortable for long days on the water. A bulkhead style foot brace keeps you even more secure and allows you to drive the boat around and boof in style.
A ‘high and dry’ bow rocker allows you to lift the nose over anything and everything that might get in your way. Not only do you get a dry and confidence inspiring run, but it means the Zen 3.0 performs effortlessly on steep creeks and narrow features where boofing becomes essential.
The high volume rear of the Zen keeps it stable and clear of the water, resurfacing efficiently after drops or big waves.
Aluminium security handles are fitted all over the kayak for safety while a drain bung at the rear allows you to empty out any water you take on.
In a kayak world occupied by 9’ race boats and old school slice machines, it’s nice to see something which occupies the middle ground. The Zen 3.0 is never going to win any races, but then again it isn’t designed to. What it will do is get you kayaking with a smile on your face and, unlike a lot of aggressive race kayaks, won’t mind if you don’t quite nail your line spot on.
The high volume, forgiving nature of the boat makes it a perfect beginner boat, but don’t write it off if you’re an experienced whitewater paddler. It is more than enough boat to contend with serious grades of river and the bow rocker profile and soft edges make it a great creeker.
Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0 is Here!
Jackson Zen 3.0 Walk-thru Video
Zen 3.0 Review I Jackson Kayak
Specification: Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0