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Jackson Flow Kayak Review: First Impressions

Author: Simon Coward

The brand new Jackson Flow Medium Whitewater Kayak is hitting the shelves in Fall 2023 and Summer 2024, and I’m stoked. I just got off the water after trying out this latest model for the first time and here's my take on its performance.

Stability and Control

My initial thoughts? This kayak handled as expected. It felt light on the water and was nimble and easy to control. Tracking through eddies and carrying speed through eddy lines and downstream went well. Keep in mind that the river was at a mellow class two, but the kayak's performance speaks for itself.

However, there's a caveat – the Flow truly shines when it's on the move. To get maximum stability, you'll want the boat either moving downstream quickly or moving across current. It didn’t feel great when idle. Once you get it going, though, it feels very stable and controlled.

putting it to the test

I put the Jackson Flow through its paces, executing a bunch of eddy turns, running small rapids, surfing some green waves, and taking on a couple small holes. The kayak didn't disappoint. I managed a couple of flat spins and nice front surfs.

surfing performance

When front surfing, the Flow had an interesting quirk. It put off a bit of a plume of water at the front, almost like a displacement effect, which felt a tad unusual but didn't compromise control on the wave. In fact, being able to flat spin a river running boat was pretty neat.

Filling the Gap in Jackson's Lineup

Jackson has hit the mark with the Flow. It's not as hefty and Class five oriented as the Gnarvana, nor as sporty as a half slice like the Rewind or Ripper – and it's not meant to be. Instead, it fills a sweet spot in the market as a stable, river-running kayak that inspires confidence.

While it may not offer the same sporty thrills as some current half slice alternatives, the Flow shines as an excellent boat for teaching and tackling harder class four and easy class five rapids – which is kind of my max these days. For class three and easy class four, I'd lean more toward an Antix or Rewind.

A Versatile All-Rounder

The Jackson Flow Medium Whitewater Kayak is a fantastic all-rounder and a significant upgrade from the Zen 3. I’m really looking forward to seeing intermediate and beginner paddlers getting the Jackson Flow into whitewater, building confidence and helping more advanced paddlers progress.