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The Jackson Flow Whitewater Kayak: Is there room in your quiver? - Next Adventure

The Jackson Flow Whitewater Kayak: Is there room in your quiver?

The Jackson Flow is the most recent whitewater model to come out in the Jackson lineup. As usual they’ve drummed up a lot of hype around this boat and you have probably seen Instagram reels of pros running this boat on all sorts of whitewater. Instead of labeling this boat with useless adjectives like Rad, Cool, and Flow-y I’d rather break down the nitty gritty to give you a more accurate picture. As with any boat, this may be the perfect choice for some paddlers but not for others. 

Whitewater Kayaking in a Jackson Flow

I’d argue that the Jackson Flow is the return of the river runner. Classic river runners like the Dagger Mamba, Pyranha Burn, and Jackson 1 were hot models on the market for years. These were a great choice for many paddlers as they began their whitewater journey, while also being used by pros all over the world. The Flow resembles a river runner in that it is shorter, has less rocker, and has less volume than modern day creek boats. While it may sound like its missing a lot of things there, you can gain quite a lot depending on where you’re paddling.  

The shorter length (8.5ft for the MD) makes this boat incredibly maneuverable. I found it very easy to switch up my line mid rapid and catch eddies at the last moment. I really enjoyed that freedom and the length helped me “play” the river a bit more than I would in a typical 9ft creek boat. What was also impressive to me was how well it held a line. I think because it doesn’t have an exaggerated rocker profile the boat is less likely to get spun off line like some others in its class.

whitewater kayaking

The low volume of this boat can be both helpful and a liability. At 77 gallons, this kayak just felt a bit small on stompy holes in class 4/5. I got bogged down a few times and didn’t resurface as quickly as I do in the Jackson Gnarvana. This slowed down my line a bit and increased my chances of getting stuck in a hole. I also found that water liked to load up on the flat low volume stern which was not super confidence inspiring. To me it displayed that the Flow really performs better running rivers than on steep creeks. It also seems like it would perform best on low water opposed to high water. 

All in all I think this kayak would be best suited for a smaller paddler who isn’t trying to push their limits on steep creeks yet enjoys class 2 to 4 river running. This person would receive the benefits of a maneuverable and stable kayak that can surf waves, catch eddies, and hold a line really well. You will get more control in the Flow than a larger creek boat, and more forgiveness and stability than a typical half slice. This kayak would also be an excellent choice for a beginner looking for a first kayak that could help them progress in their paddling skills.

Paddling the Jackson Flow whitewater kayak
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