Zen Specs/Price

Zen 55 –

  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Length: 7’11” (240 cm)
  • Width: 24” (60.3 cm)
  • Height:  13” (30.5 cm)
  • Volume: 60 US Gallons (219 liters)
  • Ideal Weight Range: 70-120
  • Cockpit Dimensions: 32.5′ x 18.5
  • MSRP: $1149

Zen 65

  • Weight: 39 lbs
  • Length: 8’4” (254 cm)
  • Width: 25-1/2” (64.8 cm)
  • Height: 13-3/4” (32.4 cm)
  • Volume: 70 US Gallons (257 liters)
  • Ideal Weight Range: 120-180
  • Cockpit Dimensions: 34.5′ x 20.25
  • MSRP: $1149

Zen 75

  • Weight: 44 lbs
  • Length: 8’10” (269.2 cm)
  • Width: 27” (68.6 cm)
  • Height: 14” (35.6 cm)
  • Volume: 80 US Gallons (295 liters)
  • Ideal Weight Range: 150-230
  • Cockpit Dimensions: 36′ x 21′
  • MSRP: $1149

Comments on “Zen Specs/Price”

  1. michael tjo
    August 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Thank you for the Zen!! I’ve been looking at the Remix, Axiom and even the Donsa – I can’t wait until this hits the shops so I can compare

  2. Jenny
    August 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I’m thinking this may be the kayak for me. Was thinking about a Villian or Super Hero Elite. I’m getting into ww,am athletic,middle aged,but not sure how hard or easy rolling will be for me. I wanted a boat a least 8′ with lots of stability. I have to over come a crushed knee,balance stroke,cancer but still alive and kicking. Done many miles in rec kayaks from class 1-2 waters. The torrent SOT has gotten me down the Hiwassee many times. Could the Zen be the best option for Jen
    in my desire to take on the 3 and 4 white water?

  3. Ray Allen
    September 22, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    What’s the expected release date for the new Zen?

    1. ruth
      October 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Are there more specs to come on the ZEN?
      Release date?

  4. Wes Prince
    November 14, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    A true river runner has been missing from the JK lineup. The overhead of the design looks pretty good. I’m hoping you won’t make the same mistake as with the 2nd Gen Hero and give it a full planing hull. It should have a semi planing hull as the current Hero, Mamba and Diesel. It’s the only way you’ll compete with the Mamba / Diesel as the semi-planing hull and roundish profile is what makes these boats true river runners. They are forgiving for beginners to learn in and also for advanced boaters in big water. The Mamba is my boat of choice for the Upper Gauley, Sect IV and Cheoah for this reason. Give me a reason to sell my Mamba and make my stable all JK!

    Also if this boat gets a SP hull you need to make kids versions. Most kids aren’t little Danes / Emilys and need a design better than the Funs and 2nd Gen Hero to learn in. Your competition is starting to edge up on you there except for the smallest kids, who will only fit in a Fun 1.

    1. November 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      There are endless possibilities in boats we could make, but this one seems to fill a big gap between our more creek-oriented 2010 Hero and our Fun series which focuses even more on play than ever before.

      We’ve actually given the Zen one of the slickest planing hulls you’ve ever seen on a river runner! Tired of compromising big-water potential for creekier spots and the public ‘perception’ of trippy… when we can all run planing hulls down most things just fine, we’ve gone fast and loose with this one instead of dumbing down the surface like the newer Burns, Mamba’s, and Diesels. Sounds like this isn’t what you’re asking for but you’ve got to try it before you write it off… so much more fun than any other larger volume boats you’ll have to feel it to believe it. I’ll bet it’s as easy to paddle downriver as the Mamba but will blow it’s doors off once you get in a hole or on a wave or just for carving hard across currents.

      Not sure what you mean by ‘little Dane’s and Emily’s’ but a kids version seems like a good idea! The Lil Hero and Side-kick will have to do for now though … no slouches themselves already. As for the competition – good! I dream of a world where kids have options in outfitting preferences, hull designs, and sizes just like adults… we can’t make em all!

      All the best –

      Clay Wright

  5. Sean G
    December 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    In comparing your specs to the FunRunner and weights of paddler, why is the 58 gallon Zen rated for such a light weight paddler than the 60 gal FunRunner ? I see a big difference in the width but really nothing else. Why such a gap for 2 gals in weight range ? Does the dynamic part of the hull sit lower in the water on the Zen ?

    I like 55-60 gal boats at that length and hull shape. Especially the width, most boats these days I dont like because they are so WIDE !!! I believe manufactures are bending to marketing in that respect and making them wider so more folks can roll-em.

    I would prolly forego your initially posted advice for specs/weight of paddler if I purchased this boat.

    1. December 16, 2011 at 4:07 am

      Hey Sean-

      Volume has not much to do with sizing, this is a popular myth but it’s a myth. It all depends on WHERE you put the volume and what the boat is for. So I would rather we just leave volume off the specs and suggest people look at the weight ranges instead. Higher, wider knees make many feel they should paddle a smaller boat than is suggested when this isn’t the case.

      As an example: A very narrow, flat topped boat could be paddled by me (175) even though it has 40 gallons… and it might be the right size due to the HULL of the boat supporting my weight correctly. On the other hand, a wide, full deck volume boat might also fit me perfectly even though it’s got 80+ gallons. Most all of that volume is above waterline and the hull floats me the same way as the smaller boat does regardless of what shape is on top of it.

      So clearly the Fun Runner is a lower volume DESIGN .. meaning the deck is lower and narrower than the higher volume DESIGN of the Zen. Thus the SMALL Zen has about the same volume as the Small / Medium Funrunner. Make sense?

      Clay Wright

  6. David Maribo
    December 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Clay: so, you’re saying that a given individual would paddle a higher-volume Zen than Fun-Runner?
    … David

    1. December 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm

      Hey David –

      I’m saying that a person at X weight would be right for, say, a 70 gal Funrunner OR a 65 gallon 4-Fun or a near 80 Gallon Zen or a 90 Gallon Villain.

      Volume does not equal size, especially since different companies measure the volume different ways.

      Many companies post the specs before there is a kayak… the specs are for the public to ‘choose’ by but have nothing to do with the actual volume of the kayak.

      I’ve worked with companies that just guess, some who go by the computer model (no shrinkage) and others that fill the boats up individually and measure the actual gallons… these generate massively different results.

      In short, consider trying boats based on recc weight ranges and styles instead of volume figures as they are very misleading and often don’t compare from one company to the next.

      Clay

      Clay

  7. Ray Allen
    December 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Wishing you all Happy Holidays and can’t wait to see the new Zen!!

  8. Nico
    January 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Hi,
    when will you post some “original” pictures of the Zen 75 (not prototype or computer model)?
    When will this boat be available in Europe?
    “Technical” question:
    Why is the cockpit in the middle/front end lower than at the sides and not higher, as it is for example at the first series of the Funs? This will bring more leg room for guys with loooong legs for easier entry and also emergency exit?
    Thanks for an answer!
    Cheers,
    Nico

    1. January 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Hey Nico –

      Not sure when the photos will be up or European boats get there but on the cockpit rim:

      The high forward cockpit rim is good for getting legs into and out of the boat, but it’s subject to excess skirt wear and some wicked face impact when you piton or land flat off a waterfall or even tuck forwards to roll or loop etc. I bet the cockpit rim is more ‘level’ with the water than it is tucked downwards but we’ll see soon enough.

      If you put the cockpit rim as the highest point of the boat it’s not going to ‘mate’ well with other boats when stacked on the car either. Tends to cause oil-cans in the hull it’s pressed into and tries to ‘slide out’ of the stack.

      Hope this helps!

      Clay Wright

      1. Nico
        January 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm

        Hi,
        thanks for your quick answer and good explanation.
        So I’m realy looking forward to seeing the pics of the final and ready boats.
        Sorry for my second post with same question from today, you can delete it.
        Nico

  9. Nico
    January 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Hi,
    when will you show some original pictures of the Zen 75?
    When will the boat be available in Europe?
    Thanks for an answer,
    Nico

    1. January 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Launching it on Monday!! : )

  10. Mike Thulin
    January 27, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Displacment or planning hull?

  11. Stephen
    January 30, 2012 at 4:14 am

    Are your specs on the 65 and 75 correct? Are they really the same length and width?

  12. Paul Kurth
    January 31, 2012 at 3:43 am

    Awesome boat! How much does the 65 weigh? Thanks

    1. March 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      I can’t say the specs but I can say the Zen 65 I paddled yesterday was light! Lighter than my Hero (38lbs?) but heavier than my Rockstar M, I would guess 35 lbs? This was an early boat we had to test so I can’t just weight it, sorry. I am impressed how light we got this one.

      We will try and get full production specs up soon.

      Clay

  13. Stephen
    January 31, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Sorry for posting the question about specs twice. I didn’t realize my question was up top. I was looking for it at the bottom. ;>)

  14. Mike
    February 1, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Can you add boat weights? Also how “forgiving” are the edges?

  15. Gordon
    February 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    How well will tall guys with big flappers fit this boat?
    220, 6’4″, 36″ inseam and size 13s! I want some comfort for my toes!!

    1. February 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Forwarded this to our big guy expert – look forwards to a response from Colin… Let us know when you find out!
      Clay

    2. Don
      May 1, 2012 at 3:42 am

      I just recently paddled the Zen 75 and you should fit pretty well.
      You might have to change out the foam on the bulkhead. I wear a size 13 shoe.

  16. Tony Dyrsmid
    February 11, 2012 at 4:46 am

    Zen 75 specs. ????

  17. Matt
    February 15, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    So why not just call them the 60, 70 and 80 since that’s their volumes… seems like that’s going to confuse a lot of people.

    1. March 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Well, the funny thing about volume specs is that they don’t actually do a very good job of telling people what size to buy anyway.. it’s a myth that you can know what boat to paddle based on volume.. one us manufacturers have been plagued by more than ever recently.

      Unfortunately for all of us, this popular misconception has caused many boaters to buy the wrong kayak from us many, many times because they go by our specs instead of by our recommendations.

      I believe the volume was increased on these kayaks between OR Show and present by those extra gallons… I also know it was almost all above water line where it won’t make any difference on who chooses what boat. I also know keeping these ”numbers” as the sizes will hopefully get more of the right size paddler into the right size boat than using the correct information, and our boat sizes will be much more in line with other people’s numbers (whether theirs are accurate or just added for ‘sizing’ varies by the company).

      What’s unique is that we are stating the correct volumes instead of just running with the popular sizing numbers … and calling it ‘volume’.

      Sorry for the long-winded answer but we’re pretty open-book at JK…I like to just put it all on the table.

      Clay

      Clay

  18. Guillaume
    February 27, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Would you recommend the Zen as an overnight/multi-day boat?

    1. February 29, 2012 at 5:59 am

      While it won’t store as much gear as a Villain a medium paddler in the larger size Zen should have ample storage capacity. I’ll let you know more as soon as I get my hands on one! Clay

  19. Shirley
    March 1, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I’m wondering what size Zen to order. I’m a 5’2, 135 lbs, beginner to intermediate paddler. My main goal is to get down the Nantahala with dry hair. I currently paddle a 2011 Hero. Suggestions on the Zen?

    1. March 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Hey Shirley –

      Just got to see Emily Jackson racing both the 55 and the Zen 65 against each other and she was MUCH faster in the 65 .. she weights somewhere between 135 and 145 I would bet and did have a rope and water in her boat. Dane, at 130, looked great in both boats… but he always does.

      I just bought a Zen 75 for me (170 / 5’9”) and feel the larger size is less playful but really, really forgiving and easy to paddle.

      SO – if weight is a concern, test the 55 for sure – if you like it you’ll save your shoulder a few lbs. But the Medium is still a smaller feeling boat than the 2011 Hero (lower knees, tighter cockpit) and you could always add a second seat pad if you want an even tighter fit.

      Bigger the boat, the drier the hair – unless you slip trying to pick it up at the takeout 🙂

      Clay

  20. Stephen
    March 8, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I just got a weight of 47 lbs. for a just-delivered 75 from one of your distributors. How do you account for the difference in weight between that and your posted weight of 43.5 lbs.?

    1. March 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      I’m not sure but I know very few scales measure the same ‘weight’ 🙂

      If you feel sure your boat is 47 lbs consult your dealer. Most boats will shift around a couple lbs either side of the designated weight range due to all sorts of factors but anything more than 5 lbs is unusual. But also check your scale… when I did boat testing for us – to see what other people’s boats REALLY weighted I found very few of the ”MFG Specs” to be accurate and some brands (no names mentioned to protect the guilty) were 7 lbs over weight on occasion and varied 5 lbs boat to boat often.

      I also found MY SCALES were unreliable most of the time, so I had to weight each boat 3x and take the middle weight… and know that I was likely off a lb or two.

      YEs, I got a 30$ cheapo digital scale from Walmart, but tested every one in the store and this was the most accurate. Our scales at JK are MUCH more reliable, consistent, and we do use them often. But sure, we get some mistakes now and again.

      Hit me up with more if you need to – my first name at Jacksonkayak.com
      Clay

  21. Sharon
    March 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I’m really excited to try out the Zen. Right now I paddle a Little Hero and a Villain S. The Little Hero feels a little small and the Villain S feels a little big. So my question is, which size Zen would be best for me? I weigh about 130 and typically carry about 10 – 12 lbs. of gear in my boats. I want a boat that I can teach out of, a boat that is fun on the Ocoee, but also a boat that I’ll be comfortable in on the Upper Yough.

    Which Zen should I get?

    1. March 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      HEy Sharon!
      You are the perfect candidate for the Zens and have 2 sizes to choose from.

      ALL Zen come with a ‘tighter fitting’ cockpit area… lower knees, narrower hips. IT’s a more ‘snug’ feeling than our beefier creekers.

      At 130 I would suggest the Small … and it’s small! If you intend to carry 10-12 lbs of gear in your boat (That’s a lot of gear for the Ocoee BTW) you may appreciate the faster, looser feel of the 65 even at your weight because that would put you at 145 … and I saw Emily paddle both just yesterday and she was clearly faster in the Medium. This is if those 10-12 lbs are NOT including the normal set of gear you weight, water bottle, and throwbag we ALL carry.

      Just FYI… our specs are for your weight yet we test everything with gear on and a rope in our boat as well.

      As far as the Yough – Zen is the perfect boat… creeks like a champ but fast on the flats and ‘slalom-esque’ for the slots and ferries the Yough is famous for. Love my Hero on the steeps but makes the Yough and Ocoee a bit too easy. The Zen acts like a longer boat than it is. Can’t wait to take some out for a demo weekend somewhere soon.

      Hope this helps!
      Clay

  22. Susan
    March 10, 2012 at 1:45 am

    I’m in the market for a comfortable bigger boat that’s easy to roll for class III water (the lower Yough is as much excitement as I can deal with for now) and that I can use to teach beginners. I’m recovering from arthroscopic hip surgery, so comfort and good outfitting will be key to getting me back in the river this summer.

    I’m 5’4 and 150 lbs. I have paddled the 2011 Hero and LOVED it, except its really too tall for me in the front.

    With that in mind, would a Zen or Fun Runner be a better boat for me? What’s the real difference, and which one is more forgiving on my sloppy roll?

    1. March 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      5’4” and 150 – you have plenty of options!

      For starters, try a 200 Sweet Cheeks or any seat lift (stadium pad) to lift your shorter torso into the right position for the deeper boat. I’m 5’9” and I use a a seat lift in almost all my boats but they are really best for shorter torso people. The Hero in particular has enough primary and secondary stability that it can handle a much higher center of gravity than most other kayak designs. Try sitting on folded bubble wrap or styrofoam just to see for yourself.

      Next: Both Zen and Funrunner are a lot lower in the bow and around the knees – this will make these boats more comfortable for most people and also make it easier to get in a proper forward stroke. The Zen is more of a pure river runner, nice and loose for surfing but ample volume in the stern too. I suggest the Medium not the small. In the Funrunner, you’ll gain some stern-squirt ability and also lose some pounds… it’s a really light boat. Medium in this one as well (60).

      If you plan to keep the Hero the Funrunner might be a more different choice … perfect for those low water hot days of summer. If you want only one boat then the Zen is more versatile when you want to challenge your skills on a new run.

      As for the roll, both seem easy enough but I predict the funrunner might have a slight edge given the lower cockpit and lower stern. On the other hand you might end up using your roll a bit more since it’s more playful.

      In order:
      Stability – Hero, Zen, Funrunner (All great primary, Hero and Zen more secondary)
      Ease of Rolling – Funrunner, Zen, HEro (all easier than just about any brand I know)
      Creekability – Hero Zen FR
      Surfing – FR, Zen, Hero
      Weight high to low – Hero Zen FR

      Hope this helps!

      Clay Wright

    2. Greg Dickson
      April 13, 2012 at 3:53 am

      An interesting comparison of the Hero, Zen & Funrunner. I replaced my 2009 Hero for the Villian S because the Hero was too deep/bulky and I had trouble rolling it. I’m 5’8″ 155 lbs. The Villian S rolls much easier for me but doesn’t surf well at all. So I’m wondering if you’d compare the Zen to the Villian S as you did the Hero & Funrunner? Thanks, Greg

      1. April 15, 2012 at 5:50 am

        Zen vs Villain S: For starters I’m 170 lbs and comparing the Villain S to the Zen 75 / 65. I don’t care to paddle the larger Villain like I do the larger Zen.
        Zen 75 is a pretty good creeker but it’s got a flatter hull and harder edges.. both on the hull and at the parting line… so it’s a comparable creeker to the Villain S for my weight even though it’s a larger size boat. Zen is way faster, and you feel the speed coming across eddy lines or holes. It’s way better surfing as you can not only carve better but also spin and grind. Fast n loose on the waves, feels fast and carvy in the rivers.
        Villain S is no slouch on speed but kicks back on it’s stern rocker a bit more when landing. Villain S much easier to boof and nicer feeling grinding on rocks. Villain S lands much softer on a big boof. Villain S will hold up better to a piton or pin.
        Zen 65 more of a river-running playboat at my weight – fun for easier runs when you want to surf lot and creek some too or just bigger volume fun rivers where you won’t be trying to keep your bow up as much. I would choose it for lots of runs I’m familiar with at my weight and likely the funnest of these boats in most places. But the 75 gives me that extra flotation .. broadens my range of what I would creek it on since it’s better at staying on the surface and the edges are more forgiving.

        Villain S for creek boating, Zen 75 for surfing, rivers and dropping creeks, Zen 65 for more surfing and playing on class 4 to 5minus rivers… at my 170 lbs. Hope this helps! Clay Wright

  23. Sharon
    March 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    So, when will the Zen 55 be available for demo?

  24. Melissa T
    March 26, 2012 at 4:20 am

    After years of searching I’m hoping the Zen works out for me! I’m 4’11” and 110 lbs and have a very hard time finding boats that fit. I was recently considering purchasing the Little Hero when I came across the Zen 55 online. Tried it on at the local shop and I was amazed that I didn’t feel like I was swimming in the boat. Just ordered the yellow Zen 55 yesterday! I think I’m going to have to add some seat lift (I’ve got a custom carved insert I made) but I expected that. The only issue I noted was that the thigh braces weren’t adjustable forward/backward like in the Fusion S I currently have and even when I adjust the seat forward they still were like knee braces. It would be nice if they could move an inch closer to the seat then the outfitting on the whole boat would be perfect for me! Otherwise it seems like a great boat, can’t wait to get it out on the water!

  25. Kevin
    March 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Hello. My fiance and I have a Rockstar and Super Star respectively but for river running and creeking, we have always gone Liquid Logic. This time however, I’m contemplating getting a Zen for my fiance to replace her too big LL Remix XP9. She has paddled a Remix 59 and liked it so my question is, how does the Zen and Remix series compare? She’d only be doing up to the low side of Class IV creeking and river running. Also, she is 5’1″ and weighs 110 lbs. Would she better off in the 55 or should she move into the 65? Remix 59 and Zen 65 seem about the same size and she was on the very light end of the 59.

    Thanks so much!

    1. March 29, 2012 at 5:53 am

      Hey Kevin:

      If she paddles a playboat she’ll appreciate the Zen 55 for sure – a similarly fast, nimble boat to the Remix but with a full-on planing hull for not only surfy but also to give the boat a much more ‘surfy’ feel while driving your lines. The Zen puts playboat like performance into a fast river-running body to produce a really sporty but forgiving experience. And yes, I think the smaller size would be best… that’s the 55.

      Clay

  26. Gordon
    March 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Demoed a Zen 75 at the Nanty last week. LOVED its performance. Very nimble, and surfs almost as well as my SuperFun. Walks over the bigger stuff without slowing down. Way fast on the flat stretches.
    My only gripe: not quite enough footroom. Size 13, 36 inch inseam.

  27. Simon
    April 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Hi,

    Apologies for another weight based question. I always seem to fall between the high weight range of small boats and the low end of larger ones. I am 130 at the moment. Would the 55 or the 65 be the better bet for me?

    1. April 19, 2012 at 2:35 am

      At 130 you would be in the smaller one, but with your lens and more gear you may want to try the 65 and see what you think.

      I’m 170 and digging the 75 for more creeky adventures thought the 65 is more playful and sporty. Depends on what you want. The larger sizes ‘fit’ suits a lot smaller people now… lower knees.
      Clay

  28. Simon
    April 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I forgot to mention that I am 5’8 in height and intend to use the boat to carry a bit of gear including DSLR with large telepho lens along with the usual safety gear.

  29. Peter Holcombe
    April 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I paddled a Zen recently and loved it. It was a change from my normal Rockstar and Super Hero and I wasn’t sure I would like a “river runner” but it was a blast. It is so fast and effortless to roll. I felt like I was in a sports car zipping around from eddy to eddy and surfing glassy waves I had always passed up. It is a great boat for beginners or the experienced alike. I let a few others paddle it that day and a few said it would be a great Grand Canyon boat.

    I’d love to see a kids version for the 30-100 lb. range. This would be a great first boat to learn in, fast, forgiving and easy to roll. I buy one right away for my daughter. Please consider this!!!!

  30. Rick
    April 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Clay, we’ve been a Dagger family for years, but after a lot of research I just bought a Villain and gjiven the quality of the engineering and the ride, I’m a solid Jackson fan now. My 15 year old son has outgrown his Dagger Infrared moslty due to cockpit size (he’s 5’4″ / 110 lbs). I just orderd a 55 Zen for him from NOC but Im wondering if I should have gone 65. I dont see him getting over 5’9″ /140 in next 2-3 years and I want to make sure this one lasts him for awhile but lets him really be able to push his limits. He is intermediate skills (II/III)with goals to III/IV and beyond. Given all this did I make right call or should I swap for a 65?

    1. May 2, 2012 at 5:05 am

      Hey Rick!

      I guess it depends on what he’s going to be doing with it. Dane Jackson is now about 135 and did go with the Zen 65, but he’s using it as a creek boat – his only creek boat. I know Emily paddled both a 130 – 140 lbs and looked a bit faster in the 65 as well. On the other hand both these kids have playboats as backup and are looking at these boats for river-running, not play. So your son will be great in the 55 for awhile but once he’s 140 he may have to upsize then on more challenging water or watch him discover more and more play.

      Hope this helps!

      Clay Wright

      1. Rick
        May 3, 2012 at 4:36 am

        Thanks Clay, actually we made it up to Sparta yesterday to pick up his boat and. your guys let us sit in 55 and 65 Zen and he ended up going with the 65 as a creeker. Your team is tops with client service… Even got a great tour of the operation. He is still talking about it. Thanks for creating a lifelong memory for my son and I. You all are the best.

  31. Kocho
    April 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Zen 75 vs. FunRunner? I want to do attainments and surf on a fast long (mostly green) wave on a big-ish river. Would the FunRuner or the Zen be “faster” for attainments and catching that long-boat only wave?

    I’m 6’4″ with long legs and size 15 shoe, 190lb. Tried the Zen 75 over the weekend and I fit OK in it (not great, feet are pointed forward more than I like, but still comfy enough). How does the Fun Runner compare in terms of leg length and foot room with the Zen?

    What bugged me is that I felt I needed the seat all the way back to trim the boat (I could fit 2 holes forward of max back, but that way the bow seemed to dig and the stern too lose this way).

    How would the longest FunRun and Zen compare for my intended use?

    I have a Wavesport Fuse 64 for “play”, which I intend to keep for now. Looking to add a kayak for those “big water” days (for me this is class III/III+ on the Potomac below Great Falls) and to surf the longer waves on rapids where only old style slalom kayaks and the likes of Perception Pirouette can hang onto.

    I’d put “surfing” higher than “river running” on my list of priorities with attaining to the surf spot with minimum or no portaging a big part of the deal (takes about 30 minutes to paddle upriver and there are a couple of places where a fast hull is needed or you walk).

    Thanks!

    1. April 30, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      Kocho,
      The Zen 75 is gonna be the boat for you for sure. The Larger Funrunner is smaller, and won’t have quite as much speed for attainments and raw-green-wave-surfing. Don’t worry about seat position too much. Unlike some other boats, we don’t design ours to paddle best with the seat forward. Ours are designed to paddle well in the middle, bow up with the seat back, and bow down with the seat fowards–a lot of that will depend on personal preference and paddle style. I paddle my Zen 65 with the seat one notch from all the way back…I’d only move it forward if I were stern-loading the boat with overnight/rescue gear.

      ENJOY IT!!!
      Stephen

  32. ben@bendewell.com
    May 2, 2012 at 3:02 am

    I’m looking for my first new boat in 15 years and looking closely at the zen 75 after a test drive this past weekend. Will I be able to carry a breakdown paddle in the stern?

    1. May 2, 2012 at 3:18 am

      Ben,
      You should be able to carry a break down for sure. How easily it’ll fit will depend a lot on the kind (number of pieces) in the breakdown. You should be able to fit a Werner 4-piece easily. The Zen’s pretty freakin awesome, huh? I LOVE mine!
      Stephen

  33. Annie
    May 17, 2012 at 5:01 am

    Hi,
    I sat in the Zen 55 and loved the feel of it. Can’t wait to demo! I was wondering: can gear be stored in the front? I only quickly glanced and it didn’t seem possible with the foot braces. The reason I ask is I am wondering if the Zen could be used as a cross-over boat too – the Rogue feels too big for me. Thanks!

    1. May 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      It’s soo easy! Pull bulkhead rope till it’s sternward as possible, remove the foam blocks with the cord lock, grasp the bulkhead plastic plate by the top and bottom and wiggle / pull till it pops off.

      It’s easy to get in front of our bulkheads with little things just by pulling it sternward and sliding stuff under the plate too, but for larger items the plate pops on and off, connected by a track on the front wall.

      For more gear consider the 65.

      Good luck! Clay

      Clay

  34. Bill
    May 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I am 5’10”, 33″ inseam, 198 lbs. I sold a villian s(which helped me make the leap to class 4 a couple years ago) and bought a zen 75. I tend to like my boats on the small side, but the zen 75 feels and paddles like a smaller boat. I like having a planing hull and edges for eddying, ferrying, and surfing my way down the river. The zen does all this and is way fast to boot. This boat also handles funny water and bigger water well. My 175 lbs 16 year old son, who is just starting out, learned to roll easily in this boat. This is a great all around boat, just not a playboat. I’d say if you are on the fence with this boat, you won’t regret going bigger. I also paddle a hero, a 4fun, and a dagger axiom 8.5(which will be the next boat to go when I can afford to replace it with the funrunner 70.) I am stoked about my son getting into boating especially since it will be easy to let him use my jackson kayaks since they adjust so quickly between users and are oh so comfortable. See you on the river-

  35. ju22
    May 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    when jackson zen will be sold in europe. I can’t find anywhere.
    thanks.

    1. June 6, 2012 at 10:15 pm

      Boats were shipped a month ago, not sure how to trace where they went but check again at your local dealer and let us know. Info@jacksonkayak.com will know more if you still have no luck.

      Clay

  36. Darcy W
    May 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I am paddling on flatwater/lakes currently and slowly moving into the river as my young son progresses. he is into slalom (using a fiberglass slalom boat) and i just fool around while he is learning the basics. Would this be a good boat (Zen 75)for me to use as we eventually gravitate to whitewater gates? I also do a little flatwater touring for exercise, does this boat track staight on calm water or does it handle more like a playboat?

    1. Darcy W
      June 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      After more research looks like a Rogue is in the picture.
      Thanks anyways.

    2. July 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      Darcy, Zen is fast and straight with hull shape to peel into eddies and round stuff, gates included. Longer than a playboat so performs MUCH better in the flats.

      1. Darcy W
        August 22, 2012 at 6:51 pm

        So far i have demo’d a villain on the river, rogue on flatwater and will be using a super hero on both flat and river this weekend. I really enjoy the Rogue and since the majority of my paddling will be class2/3 or flatwater, the rogue is going to be purchased soon. The skeg is pretty sweet for the flats.

  37. Bill
    June 4, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Hi,

    Way back while you still were doing the prototype, I asked about a possible boat to replace our kayak club’s broken Remix 59. I figured I’d email again since it looks like the final boat has slightly different specs.

    The boat has to serve two purposes: it needs to be a good volume boat for NZ West Coast runs AND we need to be able to teach in it.

    We are looking for a boat that will suit the paddlers in between a Mamba 8.0 and a small Thunder (which the club has already). I have no doubt the boat will be awesome on the coast New Zealand runs our better paddlers will be using it on, my question is: how will the 65 work for a beginner in the 150 lb weight range? You list a range of 135-200 lbs for the paddler, but obviously the boat will perform differently for paddlers on either end of the scale. I’d be curious to know how various size paddlers find the boat.

    Also, one issue with boats like the Mamba is that, while they are forgiving for more tentative beginners, they can also lead to some sloppy habits. How is the Zen for teaching good carving technique?

    No sense beating around the bush: the other possibility is a Diesel 70. What would you say the differences would be between the two?

    Thanks again for all your help. We are still eagerly awaiting the Zen’s arrival down here!

  38. Sean
    June 4, 2012 at 5:08 am

    I’m shopping for a whitewater boat to use mostly for surfing and rock gardening on the coast. I’d like to have a faster boat to make the paddling a little easier and to allow a little easier transition onto waves. Is the Zen a boat you’d recommend for that, or another one in your lineup?

    Also, size wise I weigh 190 and always have 10-15 extra pounds of gear on me. Should I look only at the biggest zen, or should I also consider the mid size?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. June 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Sean,
      The 75 is the right size for you for sure! They’re sized down a bit so the 75 is more of a “medium/large” than a really big guy’s boat. It surfs great and is SUPER fast, and fun downriver. You’ll love it!
      Stephen

  39. Steve
    June 4, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I am 5′ 4″ 200 lbs (yep, a bit portly). My inseam is a ridiculously short 26″. I have been paddling a WaveSport Diesel 70 for about 2 years, but I am over the paddler weight limit by about 10 lbs and the better I get the more I realize I am sitting too low in the water. If the Zen 65 is also 70 gal, what allows it to hold a heavier paddler? And if I am on the cusp of top end weight limit, should the 65 be a good fit? I am also concerned with my shortness because most boats seem to be designed for the average 5’10” paddler. I am considering either going with an upgrade to Diesel 80 (god forbid I lose an extra 10 lbs) or the Zen 65 and was wondering what the handling differences might be. Unfortunately, I don’t have a local shop (within 2.5 hour drive) that has whitewater Jacksons to demo.

    1. June 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      Steve,
      You’d be perfect in a Zen 75! Our boats are sized down, so the 65 is really a medium/smaller boat. I’m 145 and feel like the Zen 65 is the perfect size for me. Try not to worry too much about volumes and other numbers–look more at the recommended weight ranges and what friends of similar size say about sizing. You shouldn’t have any trouble outfitting the 75 to be comfortable at your size either.

      I can’t really compare directly to the diesel, but I love my Zen. It’s really fast and fun downriver (and stable), and it surfs great. I’ve run some very challenging creeks in it and done very well, and love the hull for playing 🙂 It’s also the lightest boat in it’s class for your size.

      Enjoy!
      Stephen Wright

  40. ronnie williams
    June 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I tried out a zen 75 last week. My first time in a whitewater kayak. I’m 58 yrs old, 175#, 5’8″ tall and size 10 shoe size. I would like to know if you think I should get a 75 or 65 Zen. I’ll be learning on class 2 and maybe a few class 3 drops and rapids. I’m still having trouble with the rolling. Thank you.

    1. June 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      I’m 170 and LOVE the Zen 75… the 65 is lighter and a bit easier to roll but if you can roll the larger size boat it’s just so much more stable and forgiving to sit so high on the water I think it will be a great choice for you.

      I sit up on an extra foam pad to make it easier to ride an edge through a turn, so consider sitting up a bit higher than normal if you feel challenged with your edging.

      All the best! Clay

  41. Davis Tubre
    June 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I am 5’3″ and weight around 145. I am almost 70 but highly active. I am interested in the Zen 55 as a whitewater and recreational river kayak.

    The Zen 65 fits better than any whitewater kayak but a little loose on the side. I only got to spend a few minutes in the Zen 65 but was extremely pleased. I am curious if the Zen 55 will have any storage capability I can use for river runs. PS I was only in the Zen 65 for about 30 minutes.

    1. June 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Davis,
      Thanks for the comment!!! The Zen 65 is the size for you for sure–no doubt. The 55 is really more of a kids’ boat/much smaller adult’s boat. I’m exactly your weight (5’4″), and I’ve been paddling the 65 as my river runner and creek boat all season. I feel that it’s the perfect size for me–very fast, forgiving, and fun!!! If the hips were a little loose, you might need to add some hip pad shims (which should come with your boat). Between the unishock bulkhead & Foam, the back band, and the hip pad shims, You should be able to get very comfortable and snug with the outfitting just the way the boat comes. For what it’s worth, I like the way my Zen 65 paddles best when I have the seat one notch back from center. Enjoy!!!!
      Stephen

    2. hilde
      June 21, 2012 at 2:44 am

      Davis-
      I also love the Zen and the 65 is perfect for you!
      Do a JK search for “Zen Outfitting Tips” It is an article I did about all you need to know to make the boat fit like a glove.
      Hilde

  42. Kristi
    June 23, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Hey, I’m 5’10”, 135 – 140lbs. Looking at the Zen; what size do you recommend? Thanks!

    1. June 24, 2012 at 12:18 am

      I like the larger size so you MAY like the 65, as a river-runner and creeker but less for play.

      Some like the 55 at your weight but give the 65 a try first – with your height I’m pretty sure you’ll prefer that larger ‘fit’ and faster paddling speed.

      Clay

  43. John
    June 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Hey, I’m looking for a replacement for my 2012 Mamba 8.1. I love the way the new Mamba handles, but I’m getting tired of having to constantly pull over and drain out the water (unlike my very dry 4Fun). How does the Zen and Fun Runner compare to the new Mamba? Also do you have a size recomendation for 5’9 180 pounds? The boat will be used in the small rivers of the Pacific Northwest, but most likely Class III and IV rivers.

    1. June 24, 2012 at 12:14 am

      Not sure why Dagger puts so many holes in the boats but it’s come up before…

      Yes – I think the Zen is a lot like the Mamba but with a slicker planing hull, more initial stability, and less weight.

      I’m 5’9” 165lbs and choose the Zen 75, a BIG boat for my weight but it just handles so beautifully and goes so fast I can’t give it up. Funrunner 70 also fast and more playful for sure, lower edges, lighter weight, sporty little boat.

      Either will handle your local runs from the Skykomish to the Cascade to Wind, White and Little White. Zen will carry more gear and keep you on the surface more often, Funrunner better for surfing and feels more slalom-like sporty. Both surf MUCH better than every other river running boat we’ve ever made.

      Hope this helps!

      Clay

  44. Rich
    July 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

    I’m 170 lbs and 5’10”. I tried the Zen 65 on the Trinity River in Nor Calif this past weekend. There are MANY things to like about the Zen, but one thing was kind of a deal breaker for me, and I’m wondering if you have any thoughts. In the bigger waves if it got kicked off line I was having to really muscle it back where I wanted it to go. Consequently, I was having moments of feeling like I was having a hard time controlling the boat. There is plenty I don’t like about my Mamba, but it’s pretty easy to get back on line if need be. Any thoughts?

    1. Hojo
      July 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Rich,
      Have you considered trying the 75? I’m 170 dry and likely 185 geared up and wet and that puts me closer to the limit of the 65 where I’d be drafting lower and more susceptible to the whims of the river. I paddled the 75 last night on a technical creek (Big Thompson) and felt like I could easily hold a line through the various drops where I would have to work extra in my diesel 75, though I haven’t had the Zen on big river waves (kind of lacking such luxuries in CO at the moment). In my experience, and in comparison to my Diesel, the Zen has a broader (better, I’d opine) chine zone to use so you have to lean a bit more or less depending on the conditions which, of course, will effect your lines.

      Good luck,
      -hojo

  45. Ed
    July 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I’ve been using rental boats while I learned the last couple years and looking to buy now… I’m 220 lbs, 6’5, 37 inch inseam with size 14 shoe. Gonna be in class II/III rivers mostly… Have a questionable roll right now…
    The biggest issues I’ve had with the rentals is getting my long legs into the smaller cockpits and then leg/foot room.
    What would you recommend I try the Zen, FunRunner, or something else?
    Thanks, Ed

    1. July 19, 2012 at 2:13 am

      I would go with the larger Super-hero or Villain as the Funrunner 70 and Zen 75 are better suited to under 200 lbs.

      With the 37” inseam the Villain might fit for sure but I think the Super Hero will fit you as well. Super Hero is shorter and more stable, Villain is faster and tracks better. Both have really big cockpits!!!

      Clay

  46. Jim
    July 19, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I’m 6’4, 34in inseam, size 13 shoe and I fall in the 220-230 lbs weight range. I currently paddle a Dagger RPM Max, but the last time I was at the NOC I demo’d a Zen 75, a Mamba 8.6 and a Remix 69. I thoroughly loved paddling the Zen, but I had someone tell me to look at the Villain or the SuperHero over the Zen. Which would be the best boat for me paddling in the Southeast?

    1. July 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      Hey Jim
      The Zen is a new boat so many people haven’t had the chance to paddle it. At your weight i would say that it wouldn’t provide you the stability you would want. So yes i would say Villain or Super Hero.

      We are all from the southeast so we use them all on the rivers down here. The Villain won’t surf anything if you were planning on surfing near as well as the Hero. So if you were planning on catching a wave, go with the super hero. the villain and hero both will take you down any river in the SE. Just depending on whether you want to stop and surf at all!

      Hope that helps!
      EMily JAckson

  47. Larry
    July 23, 2012 at 5:13 am

    I am 5’8″ and weight 228, 30″ inseam. I am getting in to kayaking and wondered what would be the best fit for me.

    1. July 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      While you’ll fit into any of the Zen’s at 228 you are on the upper end of the Zen 75.

      We wish we had made an 85 for bigger paddlers but I’m finding the Zen 75 suits me really well at 165 lbs, and I’m choosing it over the Zen 65 for the extra versatility and speed. I’ve paddled the 65 a lot, so I know you’ll get a lot out of the 75, but demo it to make sure it’s the river-runner you are looking for as it’s more of a Medium-Large than a true Large.

      The Super-Hero and Villain are both much bigger boats …and suit larger over 200lb paddlers. I would guess the Zen 75 size to be right in between the Villain S / Villain, Hero / Super Hero sizes.

      Hope this helps Larry!
      Clay

      Hope this helps!

  48. Charlie Passacantando
    July 27, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Hey, Just started kayaking this year with a recreational sit on top. Retired in Asheville, NC. 5’7″, 190 lbs. Recently discovered Jackson kayaks here in cyberspace. I need a whitewater kayak to learn and progress so I can do Linville Gorge before I check out. I got it down to the Zen 75 or the Super Hero. If I was running Linville Gorge just east of Asheville, would you hope I was in a Super Hero or would you say, “Your call, Charlie, you could do Linville Gorge with a Zen 75 or a Super Hero.” I’m thinking either one is fine. I could be ignorant.

    The real reason I ask is (and this will give away my present inexperience) I don’t understand even what it means when people say: Big Water – Zen 75; Low Volume Creeking – Super Hero. Do you have time to school me on what is meant by that?

    I like what I’m hearing about the Zen 75 but if Linville Gorge is my playground of the future, I have no problem getting the Super Hero should that be a no brainer.

    Thanks!

    1. July 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Charlie,
      You could ultimately do fine in either boat. I’d think that the Super Hero would be an easier boat to learn in because it’s more stable and more forgiving side to side. It’ll also be a bit easier to keep your bow up when going through steep rapids. The Zen is a really fun boat. It’s fast, it carves around, it’ll surf well as well as go downriver. The Super Hero is just a confidence-inspiring machine!
      Stephen

  49. Taras
    August 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    hi,
    Just about to buy a new river runner, so looking at the zen, fun runner or super hero. I am 210 and 5.8. I have been paddling the 4fun for the last year on mainly grade 3 rapids and play boating only a little. I find the 4fun great, but when I have been on bigger rivers I don’t feel it handles as well as a larger boat.
    Basically I would like a boat to river run, surf and play on small holes and be stable enough for grade 4 rapids.
    Which out of the zen, fun runner or super hero would be best suited to me?
    Thanks
    Taras

    1. Taras
      August 12, 2012 at 8:03 am

      Anyone?

      1. Taras
        August 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

        Why do you guys choose not to answer posts regarding people who near the top weight range of the zen and fun runner? Are the weight ranges incorrect?

        1. Bill
          August 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm

          Taras, I paddle a 4fun and started taking it on class 4 runs this summer, but I bought a zen 75 this spring for my bigger water boat after selling a villain S. The zen has speed, surfs and carves well, and gives you confidence in bigger water. I’ve paddled the funrunner 70 several times and it is much faster than the 4fun and surfs better than zen, but it is not nearly as stable in big water as the zen. If you plan on keeping your 4fun I’d go with the zen, otherwise I might think about the funrunner. I also have an axiom 8.5 which is very similar to the funrunner and I like it, but prefer jackson outfitting. I also paddle a 2011 hero and it is a great all around boat but doesn’t surf as well as the 4fun, funrunner, or zen. I am 5’10”, 33″ inseam, 198lbs class 4 boater. Good luck choosing, hope this helped.

  50. jeff
    August 8, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Looking for some expert advice please. I’m a beginning/intermediate paddled looking to move into class iv rivers and then some creeking in the next few years. I live in east tn and am 6′ 2″ and 205lbs. I’m trying to decide mainly between zen 75 and superhero. I’m a little concerned from what I’m reading that the zen 75 is mainly for 200 lbs and less. How will the zen do for some intro creeking? Should I go with the SH? I would appreciate your thoughts and advice.

    1. jeff
      August 17, 2012 at 4:36 am

      Please

      1. Charlie Passacantando
        August 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm

        Zen 75 generally fits 160 lbs to 260 lbs. True…SH is a larger boat.

  51. Brad
    August 10, 2012 at 1:37 am

    I’m in the market for a new river running boat and think the Zen might be just what I’m looking for. I’m just not sure which size to go for. I am 5’8″ and 185lbs without gear. My primary stomping grounds are the Payette river in Idaho, although I’m not a North Fork (big class IV/V) paddler as of yet. I want something that will work well on both big pushy class III/IV and technical rock gardens. Seems like both the 65 and the 75 will fit me, but I’m a little concerned the 65 doesn’t leave much room to spare.

    1. August 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Brad,
      You need the 75 for sure. I’m 145 lbs and the 65 feels like the right size for me. It’ll be perfect for you!!!
      Stephen

  52. Heather
    August 15, 2012 at 1:58 am

    5’6 120. The 55 fit well but cant help but womdering about the 65. Afraid it might be too much boat?

    1. August 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Heather,
      You could probably happily paddle either the 55 or 65. 55 if you want something a little lighter/more playful. 65 if you want something faster/more stable downriver with a “Floatier” feet. I’m 145 and feel like the 65 is the perfect size for me 🙂
      Stephen

  53. Alan
    August 20, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Guys,
    I’m buying your Zen 75 today.
    Demo’d it in pushy class IV and loved the boat! It carves great and is a solid platform for someone like me (can’t pay attention for long….look, something shiny!). Very forgiving and super quick! I purposely dumped it into the biggest holes I could find and only once did I get flipped. The roll-up in the foam pile was snappy and easy.

    Is Dane loving the Zen for Creeking? I run the Arkansas and the Colorado and smaller creeks like the South Platte at Foxton. I’m thinking this is my new creek boat, what say you? Also, how do I know if the Zen I’m buying has your new plastic in it? The serial number says 2012 at the end but you didn’t start using the new stuff until late in 2012 I hear. Thanks!

    Alan

    1. August 20, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      Hey Alan
      Should be the new stuff plastic wise! Dane does use this creaking a ton BUT for something with the potential of severe pitons we recommend being careful as it wasn’t designed to be our FULL on creek boat… The reason is if you hit hard enough there is potential for folding… its not meant to take hard pitons…

      Other than that its good to go.. Dane takes it off the green and other class 5 runs with no issues, he also hasn’t had any problem with it folding or with pitons…

      Emily

      1. Alan
        August 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        Right on Emily! To avoid the piton scenario I’ll try to pay more attention…..Hey anybody want to ride bikes? Stupid adult ADHD.. Thanks for your help and I’ll see you on the river!

        Alan
        Pine, Colorado

  54. Jeff
    August 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I’m a beginning/intermediate paddled looking to move into class iv rivers and then some creeking in the next few years. I live in east tn and am 6′ 2″ and 205lbs. I’m trying to decide mainly between zen 75, superhero or villian L. I’m a little concerned from what I’m reading that the zen 75 is mainly for 200 lbs and less. Do you think the Zen will be a stable boat for me at my weight and skill? How will the zen do for some intro creeking? I tied the Zen 75 on some class II and loved it, but wondering what it would be like on something bigger. Should I wait on the new Karma before I buy? I would like to run rivers and some creeking, but something fast enough for attainments and some surfing would be best.

    1. September 13, 2012 at 3:41 am

      These are good questions Jeff ..

      at 205 in East TN I would go Super-hero for your intro to creeking boat, as it’s just SO easy to paddle. Zen would work but it’s more likely to make the rivers you like more fun at your size than it will extend your skill level immediately. Karma is a Zen / Villain mutant so the hull is surfier while the ends and mid volume are creekier than the Villains… Super Hero is a sure thing, we’ll post about the large Karma as soon as it’s done. Clay

  55. Josh
    August 24, 2012 at 12:25 am

    At 135 lbs would you recommend the Zen 55 or 65?

    1. August 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      Josh,
      I’d go 65. I’m 145 and paddle the 65 very happily–I even overnighted out of it in California this year 🙂 You may want to sit up a little higher than stock, and move the seat back a bit, but I think that it will paddle beautifully for you! Enjoy!
      Stephen

  56. Marie
    August 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I’m fairly new to whitewater kayaking and am looking for a stable boat. I’m 135 lbs. and 5’10”. Would I fit in a Zen 55 and would I find the stability in it that I am looking for?

    1. August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      Marie,
      I think that you’d be better served with a Zen 65. I paddle one at 145 lbs and feel like it’s exactly the right size for me. It will be much faster and more forgiving/stable than the 55 at your size. The 55 is more like a larger kids’ boat.
      Enjoy!
      Stephen

    2. Martin Nilsson
      December 3, 2012 at 9:33 am

      How tall a person could possibly fit into the Zen 55? Any chance a 5’11” skinny man could squeeze his legs into it? I am only 130 lb, want it snug and narrow so that I can handroll it with one hand. No big water paddling, just II – III runs

      1. December 7, 2012 at 3:46 am

        Hey Martin –

        You’ll have to check on that as it’s all about inseam and that’s a little boat! What do you want this for – creeking or river running? Or just rolling? 130 is good and maybe you’ll fit with the bulkhead trimmed down or removed with just foam installed in the bow. I’ve seen it done but haven’t looked closely. email ckemp @ Jackson kayak dott com can tell you how. Clay

  57. Travis
    September 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I’m very new to paddling and have only paddled rec boats that I’ve rented a few times with my 13 year old son. My son and I loved paddling and have decided that we will take some whitewater lessons after we get a couple boats. We live in shelbyville tn on the duck river and would like to paddle the duck and maybe on the lake occasionally, my question is that we really want whitewater boats that we could use as our skills progress but will spend a lot of time on the duck river on flatwater. We wanted to know what whirewater boats would work well for us, he is 13 years old 5’2 100 lbs, I’m 40 years old 5’8 170 lbs. I really like the look of the zen but since I’ve never used a whirewater boat the looks are all I have to go by. We really want pre whitewater boats if they will work for us on flatwater for cruising the duck river and small lakes as we progress into whitewater.
    Please help us out as he and I are really wanting to get started as fast as possible. Thank you for any help and info you can give us.

  58. Heidi C
    September 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Hi, I just started whitewater kayaking this summer and have been trying to decide what boat to buy. I’m 5’8″ and 175 lbs. My husband and I paddle in Vermont or in the Northeast.
    I paddled the Zen 65 yesterday and finally felt like it was the boat for me, I could control it well and felt pretty stable. Reading some of these posts, it seems like other people my height/weight prefer the 75?
    I also paddled the mamba 8.1 the day before and very much preferred the Zen 65. Seemed like the Mamba 8.1 pushed me around too much, like the mamba was paddling me, while I paddled the Zen 65.
    My first novice weekend I paddled the Hero, which was great, but I want to buy a boat I can do more in, grow into a bit, surf a bit, etc. So I’m definitely thinking the Zen, but now I wonder 65 or 75. I did feel very comfortable in the 65.
    Thanks!

    1. September 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Hey Heidi:

      Since you’ve paddled it an like the 65 seems like it’s the boat for you!

      I weight 165 and prefer the larger Zen 75 but much of that has to do that I want a full-on creek boat from my larger boat instead of an ‘all arounder’ as I so often paddle playboats up to class 4.

      The comfort factor is common to most every size of JK boat, as David can make the smallest boat fit me comfortably even when it’s not really my size.

      Hope this helps!!!

      Clay

      1. Travis
        September 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm

        Could someone please tell me if a zen would work for me on lakes and slow moving rivers until my son and I could get into some whitewater kayaking, we are very new to all of this?

      2. Heidi C
        September 3, 2012 at 11:58 pm

        Thanks, Clay!
        That really does help – I guess it does depend on what you want the boat for and what works for each person!

  59. Rob
    September 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    We’ve been riding rec kayaks on I’s & ll”s and my son & I want to step it up and start taking lessons to ride the Occoee and other white water in our area. I’m 5’11 240lbs 34″ inseam & he’s 6′ 145lbs 32″inseam. We’ve been both working out pretty hard so I’m losing weigh and he’s gaining weight. We’re hoping the Zen will be a good fit for the both of us. The 65 for him and the 75 for myself. We both like the idea of surfing. Any input would be appreciated.

    1. September 13, 2012 at 3:35 am

      Hey Rob –

      While the 65 will suit your son at 145 for years most likely, the 75 will be a little boat at 240 and I would suggest something more like a Villain or Super-hero. The Zen 75 is best up to 200 if you want to improve your river running skills faster rather than just play around. Hope this helps! clay

      1. Stephen
        September 13, 2012 at 10:17 am

        So your listing the boat as being for people up to 260lb is a bit off the mark, now isn’t it? I’ve seen several comments from Jackson staff that indicate the 75 is not really for people as heavy as it’s listed for. What gives?

  60. Jose
    October 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Hi, I’m an intermediate paddler (180 lbs and 180 cm tall) and confident with class III rivers like Noguera Pallaresa (Spain). I don’t like creek or difficult rivers (like High Noguera). I’ve seen the Zen (55, 65 and 75) in Llavorsi last 29th september (NPRF) but I didn’t have the choice of testing it. Is the Zen 65 the best size for me attending my weight and my paddling preferences (class III) ?. Thanks a lot

    1. October 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Hey Jose –
      The Zen 65 would be sporty and playful… like a cross between play and river running, the Zen 75 will be all river-running with surfing but harder to cartwheel etc.

      I’m in the 75 at 160 lbs as I mainly use it creek boating and like the ‘ride high’ but still spinnable hull, the speed, and the ergonomics.

      Hope this helps!
      CLay

  61. Gordon
    October 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Which skirts work best with Zen 75? My SuperFun skirts are too big, and the cockpit shape is much different. I have a large that works fine on the length, but still seems too wide; it does not make a good seal on the sides.

    1. Butler Cox
      October 15, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      Gordon,
      FWIW and because the JK folks may be away at WW Symposium, an IR Shockwave XXL-deck fits my 75. It’s a bungee which is OK here since we’re up there in age and max out on Class II+, but I do spend a lot of time on my ear practicing with it underwater and it has never leaked. Don’t think it’d be enough with heavy water cascading directly down on it, though, so if you’re on bigger water, I believe stronger skirts from IR in XXL should work. A Snapdragon XL cockpit cover fits very well (cuts down on gas mileage a bit,too). Great boat, the Zen!

      HTH

  62. Butler Cox
    October 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for the Zen! Lovin’ my 75. Will the Fun Float fit in the 75? Looks like it might based on the 29 l x 26 w size quoted in the store, but: 1)Will the arch fit around the aft wall? 2) When in position, is the inflator hose long enough to be able to reach the mouthpiece behind the seat?

    Thanks!

  63. Larry
    October 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    OK Here goes, 178 lbs, 5’10
    I love my All Star and Fun and I have a Villian. I am looking for something in between. Not a full on creeker and not a play boat. Should I consider the 65 or 75?
    Thanks

  64. Jerry
    October 31, 2012 at 2:52 am

    I am 59 years old, 6 foot, 165 lbs and size 12 feet. Have purchased a cabin in NC near Asheville so hope to be finding more time to WW kayak in next couple of years and will retire in 3 years. I am an intermediate WW paddler and have been paddling sea kayaks for years. Paddled a Burn in a WW class at NOC and liked it. At my age doubt I will ever be a overly adventurous paddler but like to push myself. Tried out a Zen 65 at the Charlotte WW center and liked it but not sure if will be capable of doing more difficult waters. Would I be better off looking at the 75 or at my age sticking with the 65?

    1. October 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      Jerry
      If you want a boat that will be confidence-inspiring and easy to paddle, while maintaining speed and fun, I’d go with the 75. It’ll just ride higher and be a little more forgiving. You could certainly paddle a 65 happily, but the 75 might just make it easier to push your limits. Clay’s around your size and paddles the 75 exclusively.
      Enjoy!!!
      Stephen

      1. Jerry
        October 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm

        Thanks for the advice

  65. Gaelle
    November 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Hi there!

    I’m considering the Zen for a all around kayak. But i’ve some doubts about which size would fit best. I’m a small framed woman at 115 lbs and 5’2.
    What would be the best for me the 55 ou the 65?

    I’m paddling mainly on class III rivers here in Quebec and do some surfing (even at the beach 2/3 times a year). But no playboating or creeking.

    When choosing a boat my two main considerations are:
    – the weight, I lack the muscles here! 😉
    – the speed. Is the zen fast and tracks well on flatwater for a WW kayak? We do have a long (2 miles) flat water stretch to endure where i live before enjoying the WW!

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. November 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Gaelle,
      I’m pretty sure that the 55 would be perfect for you. I’m 145-150 lbs and the Zen 65 feels like the perfect size for me. It’s very fast for a WW boat, and you’ll love the lightweight for moving it around on the water. Should be perfect for class 3 river running and great for surfing. I think you’ll like it best with the seat in the middle or rear of center.
      ENJOY!!!!
      Stephen

      1. Gaelle
        November 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm

        WOW! You’ve already answered my questions!
        That’s customer service!

        Thanks a lot Stephen for your advices.

        xoxo from Canada.

  66. Larry
    November 5, 2012 at 1:51 am

    OK Here goes, 178 lbs, 5’10
    I love my All Star and Fun and I have a Villian. I am looking for something in between. Not a full on creeker and not a play boat. Should I consider the 65 or 75?
    Thanks

  67. Stephen
    November 24, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I’m 220 and am looking for a new boat for easy downriver and ocean surfing. Will the Zen 75 fit the bill, or doesn’t it have enough volume for my weight? Thanks.

  68. Susan
    January 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Hey
    I’m 5’5″ and 128lbs and am wondering which size of the ZEN would suit me best – the 55 or the 65. Can anyone help me out?
    Thanks a lot
    Susan

    1. January 12, 2013 at 2:03 am

      Susan,
      I’d go 65. I’m 145lbs and the Zen 65 feels like the perfect size for me. The 55 is really for 100 pounders. You may way to sit a little higher than the boat comes stock for some extra leverage, but I bet that it’ll paddle great for you regardless.
      Enjoy!!!
      Stephen

  69. Sam
    January 24, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Hi

    I am looking for kayak for rockhopping / surfing at sea as well as for river trips that include whitewater. Just wonder which one would be best Rogue or Zen? i am 190 lbs and 6′.

    If you could compare shortly these two kayaks by surfing, flatwater speed and ww abilities.

    Thanks

    1. Noah
      January 28, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Okay I’m offically torn….

      I’m 5’9″ about 145 or less most days never over. I’ve paddled a dagger mamba 7.6 and thought it fit me well but everyone tells me to get the zen 65 instead of the 55. Comparing the 55 specs to the mamba 7.6 they are very similar and I’m looking to buy my zen soon but can’t decide and there are no local dealers in the area to sit in one. But going from the mamba 7.6 to the 65 seems a bigger jump and I’m done growing at my age so I won’t outgrow it.

      Comments appreciated and thanks!!

  70. Larry Foltzer
    February 12, 2013 at 3:54 am

    Your 360 degree view of the Zen isn’t working!
    Do you offer a senior discount on some or all of your products?

    1. February 13, 2013 at 9:30 am

      You can ask our dealers for discounts as we do not sale direct, each dealer is different too..
      As for the 360 view, thanks for the heads up!
      Emily Jackson

  71. Noah
    February 22, 2013 at 12:44 am

    Okay I’m offically torn….

    I’m 5’9″ about 145 or less most days never over. I’ve paddled a dagger mamba 7.6 and thought it fit me well but everyone tells me to get the zen 65 instead of the 55. Comparing the 55 specs to the mamba 7.6 they are very similar and I’m looking to buy my zen soon but can’t decide and there are no local dealers in the area to sit in one. But going from the mamba 7.6 to the 65 seems a bigger jump and I’m done growing at my age so I won’t outgrow it.

    Comments appreciated and thanks!!

    1. February 22, 2013 at 4:51 am

      Noah,
      Definitely go for the 65. I’m 5’4″, 145 lbs and I’ve paddled the 65 a good bit. At my size, it surfs great, is really fast and forgiving downriver, and I’ve even creeked in it a good bit! The Zen 55 is really more of a kids’ boat–it just won’t be forgiving downriver for most people over 110-120 lbs. The Zen 65 actually feels as though it’s exactly the right size at 145…I don’t feel as though I’m in a boat that’s too big for me. Nick, Clay, and EJ all paddle the 75 (they weigh 155 – 170 lbs).
      Enjoy your Zen 65! You’ll love it!!!

      For what it’s worth, I think that we all paddle the Zen with the seat 1 notch back from center. That seat position seems to be a great balance between easy to turn, easy to keep the bow up, and plenty of stern for forgiveness. Try a few seat positions, and see what you like best 🙂
      Stephen

      1. Noah
        February 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm

        Awesome! Thanks so much for the information I just needed someone from Jackson to confirm I was making the right choice!

        1. February 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

          Noah,
          Enjoy it, brotha!!!!
          Stephen

  72. Bill
    May 1, 2013 at 7:11 am

    I keep trying to find the answer to this, and I seem not to get a response. So, a 6’5″ person with size 14 or 15 feet: can they get in the Zen 75? I’m not anywhere where I can demo one, so I need to know in advance. Thanks for your assistance!

    1. May 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Bill,
      Sorry for the delay in response. What’s your inseam? I’ll try to ask some of our longer-legged team paddlers for you (Colin Kemp?). There’s a good bit of room in the Zen, but I’d need your inseam to know for sure.
      Stephen

      1. Bill
        May 2, 2013 at 6:35 am

        Hi,

        Thanks for the reply. Inseam 36-37. The boat is not for me; it is to be a club fleet boat for our bigger guys, so the sizes are approximate (based on our taller club members).

        Regards,

        Bill

        1. May 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm

          Bill,
          Sounds like there should be plenty of leg room, but it’s worth noting that the Zen 75 isn’t a great heavy guy’s boat. I wouldn’t go above 215 lbs with it if you want it to be easy downriver. It’s more of a medium-Large. For bigger guys, they’d probably be happier in a Karma L or a Superhero–you loose the fun surfing, but they’d be much more forgiving downriver over 220 lbs. hope that helps!!!
          Stephen

          1. Bill Parks
            May 3, 2013 at 3:04 am

            Hi,

            Thanks for the reply. Most of the time, the issue is we have really tall but skinny guys who cannot fit in smaller boats, but tend not to weigh enough for the really big boats. I’m a little reticent to go for the big Karma as I want something that can also be used by slightly smaller paddlers, eg. me at 6’1″ and 185 lbs. I’m worried the Karma will have limited use beyond the really heavy guys. And the Zen (we have a medium) just paddles SO well.

          2. May 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm

            Bill,
            The Zen 75 would be perfect for you and go up to 215ish for your other paddlers just fine. The Karma will handle those 200+ lbers really well. Despite having lots of volume, it paddles like a smaller boat with a good bit of nimbleness. Sounds like you know what you want with the Zen and you’ll really enjoy it!
            Stephen

  73. Keith
    June 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Need some help deciding between Zen and Karma. My specs age 59 5-7 175 inseam 29. Solid class III boater. Currently have Fun and a 75 Diesel that I am looking to replace. I will be using this boat on Pigion, Chattooga, Ocoee and other rivers when I don’t play in my Fun. I am looking to be comfortable and have a boat with some speed to get to the inexperanced paddler that needs assistance. I like introducing new people to the sport. Thanks for your help.

    1. June 8, 2013 at 6:25 am

      Hey Keith!

      175 lbs is perfect for a Karma Md or Zen 75 it’s just a question of which style you want to paddle.

      Zen – surfy and fast, this river runner is light for it’s volume and will run just about any class whitewater. It excells at surfling – cabably of spins its. Like a better Diesel.

      Karma is more forgiving when on edge and stays on top even better, it’s more durable for rock impacts and heavier because of it.

      Zen is a newer, planier Diesel, Karma more for challenging the hardest runs you’ve ever tried. Both will get you far along.

      Hope this helps! Clay

      1. Keith
        June 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

        I think the Zen fits my needs. I sat in a Zen 65 and 75 but did not get topaddle either. The 65 felt great and the 75 felt large to me. At 5-7 and 175lbs I felt like I sat deeper in the 75. Would you recomend the 65 or the 75 with sweet cheeks. If it is the 175 what size sweet cheeks would you recomend. Thanks Keith

  74. Nigel
    June 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Can you clarify the height of the Zen 65 please. 13-3/4” equates to 35 cm whereas it says 32.4 cm in the specs.

  75. Darcy
    July 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I have been paddling the zen 75 @ 228lbs(not including pdf/wetsuit)and am 6′ tall, it seems a little grabby in the stern with the seat 2nd hole from farthest back. Should I leave it there and drop some body weight(LOL I know SW has advised 215lbs) or move it back to center? Is the unforgiving feel of the stern just from the difference in boat design compared to my Rogue 10? Which is kinda what I suspect. The boat obviously feels smaller than the Rogue but it is fun and easy to paddle. I prefer this boat design over the “generous” rocker design of the Karma L. Seems a little more slicy and fast for general river running….

    1. July 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      Hey Darcy –

      Lower weight would help but anytime the stern feels grabby try moving the seat up for sure. It’s a slicier shape than the Rogue some you will have to get used to it – in particular make sure to lean INTO the waves and holes you encounter instead of leaning back away from them – this should help a lot!!

      Hit me for more as you think of it… Clay

      1. Darcy
        July 7, 2013 at 3:18 am

        Thanks, I will try the seat forward. How much of the foot blocks can be trimmed? Just notch/angle the outside edges or can I trim it thinner?

        1. Darcy
          July 10, 2013 at 5:57 am

          Bingo, 1 notch forward …. Thanks a million CW

  76. Sarah
    July 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    My boyfriend and I are beginning whitewater kayakers. I think from reading about your different boats that the Zen series would be great for us to start with for river running in Kentucky and doing the Nantahala, Ocoee, and Pigeon in Tennessee.
    I am 5’8″, 130 lbs, and have a 34″ inseam; is the Zen 65 right for me, or would you recommend a different craft?
    My boyfriend is 6’0″, 180 lbs, and has a 35″ inseam; would you recommend the Zen 75 or something else?
    Thank you!!

    1. July 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      You guys could go up or down in sizes.

      Size up (65 and 75) for river running stability and speed, size down (55 and 65) for a lighter more playboatish feeling

      But I think the 65 and 75 will fit your needs best given your experience level and his inseam requirements.

      All the best! Clay

  77. Frank
    July 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I’m 6’5 / 250#/size 14 foot and currently have a Super Hero and a Monstar (super snug fit) but would like something in between for II/III+ river running, playing, and comfort. Zen 75 or am I destined to stay in the Super Hero?

  78. Matt
    August 12, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I noticed a few big guys were concerned about how the 75 handles their weight. After reading the posts and seeing the moderators shying away from directly answering how it paddles big guys I was a little worried. But the boat seems fine to me. I am 6’2 230lbs and have paddled it on several rivers now. I wouldn’t take it creeking on anything steeper than Wilson’s but it is absolutely fine on big water. Seems built for catching big waves on big water, ideal for the Gauley or Lochsa. Will take it down the GC no hesitation in the summer. It has been many years since I’ve done a monster endo. Forgot how it feels to be truly launched.

    1. August 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Matt, thanks for that! Most of us on the team are smaller, so it’s VERY helpful for us to hear how our boats handle bigger guys! I’m stoked to hear that you’re enjoying your Zen, they’re great boats!
      cheers!
      Stephen

      1. Gordon
        November 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

        I’m 6’4″, 220 lb, size 13 feet. I paddle the Zen 75. I cut the foot foam blocks in half so I had plenty of room for my long legs and big feet. It is the most comfortable boat I have paddled to date. I’ve paddled class III and a couple of IVs with this boat. It handles everything just fine. It’s my favorite downriver boat. It’s not as playful as my SuperFun, but it is WAY faster and punches holes the SF gets stuck in. It tracks straight.

        1. hector
          January 22, 2014 at 2:04 am

          where do you bigger guys have the seat placed? mine is in the middle right now but I think I may want to experiment and start moving it back. in pictures of me the kayaking the boat looks dead even, but I hear there are some benefits to having the stern sit just.. a bit.. lower.

          1. January 22, 2014 at 3:03 am

            hector,
            It shouldn’t matter whether you’re a big guy or little guy too much, just that you’re a good size in the boat you’re in 🙂 Don’t worry too much about waterline, but instead try a few different seat positions and see how you like it to paddle. Make sure to not only move the seat, but more importantly move the bulkhead and backband to actually hold your body in a different place. Seat forward, tighter backband and footblock farther forward: stern is going to be more forgiving side to side and it’ll paddle more like a slalom racer would like: put the bow where you want and pull the stern in behind it. Seat back, looser backband and bulkhead farther back: Easier to turn to bow cross current, and boss the bow angles. It’ll also be easier to boof and keep to bow up, and carves off the stern as you peel-out and ferry.
            Most of us prefer the Zens with the seat back a bit, but not so far back that the stern feels grabby!
            Hope that helps, buddy! Experiment and enjoy–the Zen is a great boat!
            Stephen

  79. James
    August 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Looking at a Zen or Funrunner. Ive paddled a Diesel and 4Fun, but want to try a new boat. Im 6ft 210. What is the major difference between the Zen and Funrunner?

    1. August 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Hey James –

      The Zen has a fuller volume stern and a wider platform while the Funrunner is slimmer through the bow and stern for a more slalom-like feel and also has less volume.

      At 2010 I would try the Zen 75 first, as it’s larger by a bit.

      Have fun! Clay

  80. keith mills
    August 27, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Whats happening? I was interested in purchasing a new Jackson boat. 5’11” 175, I plan to get the c 1 conversion and immediately change it. I wrecked a car and can’t kayak anymore, and its been a while since I’ve paddled. I plan to run SE rivers [Ocoee,Nantahala,Chattooga etc.] Please kick me a little info on the best option for river runner, play,all around boat I can grow with that will be stable in a C1 configuration. i know thats an insane request, but whatever you see as the closest option would be great.

    1. August 30, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      Hey Keith –

      Welcome back to the sport! The Zen 75 is my idea on our best boat for you – skilled paddler to convert to C-1. It’s a 9′ very fast but very stable ‘river runner” and the 75 is the exact size for you as a c-1.

      Enjoy your Zen 75! Clay

  81. Shian
    August 31, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Beginner. Looking for a boat to learn and grow with. For use in running and flat water. Height- just under 5’3″, Weight – 106 lbs without gear, inseam – 30.5″. Would a Zen 55 be suitable for me? Or a Zen 65 or the smallest Karma? Would there be enough space in the Zen 55 stern to fit in a bag for DSLR equipment? Extra gear (photographic equipment) might be an additional 16 lbs. Please advice on which boat/size would be more suitable for 1)just me, and 2)with photographic equipment (very rare occasions). I’d most likely go for 1) but would like to know the available options. Thanks.

    1. September 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      Hey Shian:

      Without camera equipment the Zen 55 no doubt – perfect for your weight and needs plus it’s lighter than most other models anyone sells.

      With Camera equipment it’s still a great option, but you could also consider the Funrunner 60 at that point or if you really want to load it up the Karma S. The Karma is more creek-worthy so easier on rivers but heavier on land. The Funrunner only comes in md and lg (60 and 70) but it’s a smaller size boat than the Zen or Karma and designed for light weight by being lower volume and more playful.

      I don’t know how big your equipment is, and if it will fit in your lap when you use it or not but a Zen 65 would fit a lot more back there than anything but the Karma S. Hope this helps! Clay

  82. Scott
    September 27, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Hello
    I have had my 75 for about 5 months now!
    5’8″,155, inseam 31″
    Would like to know how you decide where to place the seat?
    I have been told so many different things.
    Right now I have it all the way forward, as my instructor eyed me in the boat on flat water and said that the boat should be level, equal height in bow/stern. Is this correct? Finally what about seat height? I feel low in the boat for some reason, I always do the back band super tight, but still feel like I am leaning back and low.

    If you could please help me out here I would be super stoked.
    I just started kayaking this summer and the Zen has been amazing, it is such an great all around boat. Love the outfitting, the weight is super light, and the green swirl color is cool!
    Thank you, Jackson Kayaks rule!

    1. September 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Scott,
      I’m glad that you like your new boat! I’ve really enjoyed the Zen when I’ve paddled it too! The old theory that the bow and stern should be equally out of the water hasn’t been relevant for years…almost every modern kayak has more rocker in the bow than stern. I wouldn’t worry about how the ends/parting line look in the water, but adjust your seat placement (and foot rest and backband to hold you in the middle of the seat!) based on how it paddles 🙂 Nick, Dane, EJ, Clay, and I all paddle the Zen with the seat back from center, but that’s just personal preference. Basically moving back will make it easier to keep the stern behind the bow, it’ll make it easier to keep the bow up, it’ll carve in and out of eddies easier–rather than having the stern spin-out, and help prevent bow spin-out moving downriver. MOving forward gets the stern higher out of the water, but drops the bow a bit. So in general, I like to move back until the stern starts to feel grabby…it’s just makes it easier to boss the bow around on ferries, peel outs, and boily water. SO if the stern feels grabby, move forward. Otherwise, experiment with being farther back to see how that feels 🙂 At your size, there should be plenty of stern volume to move back a bit.
      Enjoy!!!
      Stephen

      1. Scott
        October 1, 2013 at 6:09 am

        Ok
        Well that makes perfect sense now!
        My stern was always spinning out, surfing was no fun as I was always perling, and when trying to learn how to boof, I was having no luck at all.

        Thank you so much Stephen for the seat placement tips!
        Also wanted to let you know that your great vid on back deck rolls worked for me, loving the back deck rolls now.
        Scott

  83. isaac78miller35@gmail.com
    October 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I have seen to wait ranges for the Zen 55 I am 125 lb and am 5’6″ ……I were a small spray squirt. so would this be the kayak for me… I have played in a old Necky Gliss 7’11” long.. it was fun but heavy..

    1. October 22, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Hey Isaac –

      You will have a sporty time in the 55 – perfect for river running and some play – or could go to the 65 if you want more of a creeker / river runner and are growing.

      This boat will be different but similiar to the Gliss and I think the skirt might still work as it’s smaller than our Medium size cockpit rims and the Gliss is an older model medium boat. Not sure how the weight compares, the Gliss is many year ago! Enjoy! Clay

  84. Neil
    November 11, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Hi i have just started ww kayaking and just bought a used zen 65
    i am 5′ 10 & 175lbs in my paddling kit, i see from reading your comments that the 75 would be better for me do you think this will
    affect the learning curve as i am only going to be padddling grade 2-3 water at the moment

    thanks neil

    1. November 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Hey Neil –

      I’m 170 and have been paddling a Zen 65 lately for fun and it’s a great boat for my size. While the 75 is more of a ”creeker/river runner’ at my weight and would be more forgiving for you I’ve really enjoyed the zippy feel of the 65 and how easy it is to edge side to side since it’s narrower. I think this will be a great boat for you to learn in – not as easy as the larger boat but it will teach you to really edge into currents and carve turns quicker as a result. Plus it’s lighter and more manueverable. Let us know how it goes! Clay

  85. Sue
    November 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Hi there,
    I am looking for a kayak primarily for river running and creeking and have been looking at the Zen because I would prefer something small and light. I am 110 lbs and just under 5ft 2 inches tall. I currently paddle grade III/IV and end up having to pad everything out and I struggle to fit my deck with a seat so far forward! I sat in a 55 and it was beautifully comfy but would it have enough float?
    Sue

    1. November 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      Sue,
      The Zen would be a good choice if you like a sportier/smaller design. It would be light, fast, carvy, great to stop and surf, and fun! The Karma Small would also be a GREAT size for you and would be more confidence-inspiring if you want a design that will make it easier to feel comfortable in harder water. You can certainly creek in either (I overnighted class V in a Zen 65), but the Karma would be easier to keep the bow up, and probably a little more forgiving side-to-side. In any boat, I’d think that it makes more sense to add some foam to get the fit just right, sit where it paddles best, and enjoy it 🙂 Hope that helps!
      Stephen

  86. Jenny S.
    December 16, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I’m looking for a larger boat to take out on the Selway (self-support). How well does the Zen ride loaded? Without gear I’d be 155lb (5’10”); thoughts on whether or not I can fit myself + gear in a 65?

    1. December 19, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Hey Jenny –

      For Selway in Summer you could get by for sure, as I weight 170 and love the Zen 65 as a sporty river runner. That leaves you 15 lbs of gear! Stephen Wright did Cali overnights in his (he’s about 145) and brought cans of coffee. If you want to take more stuff, consider the 75 and a sweet cheeks 200.

      Hope this helps!
      clay

  87. Oli
    February 10, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Hi there, I am currently paddling a Super Fun as a playful river runner in the Pacific NW. I mostly surf or spin as our group goes down the local rivers (III-IV, Wenatchee, Skykomish, Green, Rogue, Salmon, etc.).
    At 6’1, 215-220lbs with gear, I love the boat but I am looking for a second one that would be a bit more forgiving at higher flows or in pushy steeper sections, where my skillset could use more speed and stability.
    Looking thru the Jackson specs and Q&As, the Zen 75 sounds great, but am I too heavy to enjoy all its features in higher flows? Then and for my weight, are the speed and surf abilities of the Karma L a better fit over the Super Hero? Thanks.

    1. February 10, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Hey Oli –

      For the NW and out a Super-fun the Zen 75 will be a hoot for you. It’s not a true ”river runner” at your weight but you are coming from a playboat so it should perform more like a longer, more stable playboat: faster, a bit squirty, but overall better bow/stern stability for sure. Try one first if you like to make sure. We dropped the weight ranges as the main use of the boat has been more river-run and less play for most people. Colin Kemp uses the Funrunner 70 and loves it at 220, and the Zen is more forgiving and larger than that by 5 gallons.

      As for Creeker – the Super-hero is my top pick for those in between the medium and large or for those paddling lower volume runs. At over a foot longer, the Karma L will float you higher, be faster, and likely be more suited to the Sky and Rogue type of big water. The Super-hero is more stable and easier to keep straight while the Karma is faster and has more planing surface and volume. Karma surfs better in more places. Super-hero easier to keep online and uber-forgiving but more suited to rocky runs on steeper creeks or beginners than the more hard-driving Karma.
      Hope this helps!

      Clay

      1. Oli
        February 11, 2014 at 1:16 am

        Thanks Clay,
        Very helpful, you’re making a great case for the Zen as the next boat in the quiver. I am looking into trying one.

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