First Impressions: Jackson Rockstar V on Low Water Class 3

Jackson Rockstar: A couple of weeks again, Jackson introduced the Rockstar V, their latest whitewater playboat. We took this kayak down Waterton Canyon of the South Platte, one of many solely rivers in Colorado with sufficient water to paddle within the late fall. CKS Worker Nick Gilbert wrote up his first impressions of this new design. 

Jackson Rockstar: When CKS first obtained the Jackson Rockstar in November, all of us thought we must wait until spring to put up something about it. However after a couple of laps down Waterton Canyon, one of many few runs within the state with any water left this time of 12 months, I made a decision it was price it to place my first impressions down on paper. Why write a evaluate of essentially the most cutting-edge high-performance competitors playboat on a Class 3 downriver run? Properly, on the finish of the day, that’s precisely how most of us use a ship just like the Jackson Rockstar V. Whereas we could daydream about browsing the most important waves on this planet at Stakeout in Quebec throughout spring snow-melt, on the finish of the day many people are paddling a playboat to boost a run just like the Ocoee, Brown’s Canyon, or Waterton. For many of us, our playboats are most frequently used for that early or late season run when the water is low and we don’t wish to take kayaking too severely. Competing at World Championships just isn’t on the radar for most individuals, and whether it is, you most likely aren’t studying my evaluate. So right here we go: A evaluate of the best efficiency playboat ever made, paddled down some shallow Class 3 mank.

In regards to the Tester

  • Top: 5’9
  • Weight 155 lbs
  • Shoe Measurement 9
  • Measurement Examined: Medium
  • Playboating ability degree: Mediocre

So far as my playboating expertise goes, nobody apart from my mother is impressed watching me surf a wave, and I am not significantly better in a gap. I’m glad if I can get sideways on a blunt or catch good air on a loop; trip for me would possibly contain 1-2 strikes earlier than I flush off the wave or out of the outlet. If you’re curious how straightforward it’s to provoke a pirouette as you phonics monkey, you must look elsewhere for a evaluate. But when your playboating model is about messing round and having enjoyable, you’re studying the fitting evaluate.

Outfitting, Consolation, and Sizing

Proper off the bat, you’ll discover the Rockstar V is extraordinarily comfortable for a playboat. There’s numerous house within the knees, which in flip meant that my ft weren’t pressured to be crammed into the entrance of the boat. The 2 main updates to the outfitting are Jackson’s new Bee’s Knees thigh braces, and a Linear Foam Foot Block as a substitute of the Jackson Pleased Toes Bag. The distinction between the Pleased Toes and the froth block is a matter of private desire and I favor the froth. Foam is extra easy and simple to get proper, I believe most individuals who haven’t spent a while experimenting with the Pleased Toes will favor the froth. Pleased Toes take observe to get proper and is usually a little finicky and unstable in case you are not used to it, however as soon as you work it out the glad ft enable for extra customization. The froth foot block comes as one stable piece, and could be lower right down to dimension for individuals who require extra foot house.

Jackson’s Bee’s Knees and Linear Foot Block within the Rockstar V.


Jackson stored the basic backband and Candy Cheeks within the cockpit.

The Bee’s Knees are a stable improve, they provide some adjustability and their exaggerated hook form actually cups your thigh, making the boat extra responsive. With the Bee’s Knees I felt like I had extra management of the boat as any motion of my legs brought about the boat to maneuver in response. Usually I jam two foam shims into every hip pad and threat dropping circulation in my legs to get the boat management I need, however with the Bee’s Knees I solely wanted one hip shim on both sides as a result of added responsiveness.

Other than the Bee’s Knees and the Linear Foam Foot Block, the remainder of the outfitting within the Rockstar V is much like earlier generations. The backband is safe and simple to regulate, and the Candy Cheeks seat pad is extraordinarily comfortable. To regulate the seat, fill the seat pouch with air, sit down, and launch the air to mildew the seat pad to your form. General, it’s exhausting to think about a technique to make a playboat extra snug. All in all, Jackson’s outfitting is on the prime of the business throughout their complete vary. It’s faster and simpler to dial in your excellent slot in a Jackson than in different manufacturers and the Rockstar V isn’t any exception.

It’s price noting that the Rockstar V is 2 inches shorter than the Rockstar 4.0, which leaves rather less size to suit your legs and ft. Paddlers on the sting between sizes ought to really feel assured sizing up as a result of this boat is comparatively straightforward to throw round.

Flatwater Efficiency

Waterton Canyon begins with a couple of minutes of slow-moving flat water, giving me the proper probability to cartwheel, bow stall, double pump, and get a really feel for the boat. The Rockstar V instantly felt extra balanced than the earlier model. It felt extra secure entrance to again, and I seen a bit extra secondary stability in comparison with the earlier model. I might attribute this to the second edge, which is a brand new function for the V. Making an attempt a couple of cartwheels, the boat was very balanced and extra secure on its ends than the earlier model. I felt that cartwheels have been very straightforward to provoke regardless of being on the decrease finish of the burden vary. I additionally thought that it had a clean rotation and was noticeably simpler to steadiness on the strict and bow than the earlier generations of Rockstar. The V additionally has a extra slicy bow, which makes flatwater tips simpler than within the 4.0.

Downriver Play

As I made my method downstream, the Rockstar V was intuitive and balanced by means of Class 3 rapids. Intuitive is my favourite phrase to explain this boat- it simply felt straightforward to paddle, for a playboat. There wasn’t a lot of a studying curve, it simply labored as I hoped and didn’t give me any surprises. Methods I already knew in my Jed or Rockstar 4.0 have been straightforward to deliver to the V, and as a downriver playboat I used to be impressed. Strikes which might be usually 50/50 for me have been understanding as a rule. The V additionally paddled downriver significantly better than earlier generations. I believe that the quantity distribution was improved for river operating, making this boat a lot much less prone to backender than the earlier model. I had enjoyable stern squirting in shallow eddies, pulled round a pair wave wheels, splatted a rock or two, and surfed some small inexperienced waves. The improved steadiness on edge and clean, balanced rotation when throwing ends have been confidence inspiring and inspired me to deal with each tiny function as a play spot. General, the Jackson design group introduced collectively scores of small enhancements and tweaks to make a totally new and enhanced boat.

I am actually excited to get the Jackson Rockstar V out this spring and discover the hull’s capability to surf inexperienced waves. Jackson advised us that the “new double-railed drop chine system provides the V the best planing efficiency of any boat but.” Whereas Waterton wasn’t the perfect take a look at venue for inexperienced wave browsing, the few small waves I did discover left me very impressed and excited for extra. The hull felt very fast, unfastened, and maneuverable–letting me flat spin surprisingly nicely even on small waves.

Double Chine on the RSV Hull

Preliminary Impressions

Many paddlers consider playboating as rodeo competitions or bouncing down a inexperienced wave. For many of us although, our playboat is a method to boost the native Class 3 run when different issues aren’t operating or we solely have time for a fast after-work lap. The Rockstar V excels at this sort of paddling with its well-balanced stability and intuitive dealing with. The consolation of the outfitting will provide you with extra vitality to paddle all day or strive yet another trick because the solar units in your post-work surf session. Initiating tips within the V is about as straightforward as it may be and can make you wish to surf, squirt, cartwheel, wave wheel, and customarily simply mess on runs that may in any other case develop outdated.

I am particularly excited to deliver this boat out to some bigger waves this spring when the flows are proper. Jackson nailed the quantity distribution and hull design on this boat and I’m going to be day dreaming about taking it down a excessive water Browns Canyon lap all winter.


If you’re on the higher fringe of the burden vary or have lengthy legs, I might advocate sizing up. For individuals who worth flatwater efficiency or wish to dial of their approach on a ship that’s straightforward to throw round, contemplate sizing down. Nearly all of paddlers will discover that being on the center to low finish of the burden vary improves downriver efficiency and large air together with consolation, whereas the bow and stern design will nonetheless allow them to throw the boat round a bit in calmer waters

Ought to I improve from the Rockstar 4.0?

The common paddler will benefit from the Rockstar V greater than the 4.0. The V seems like it is going to be simpler to progress in and is extra intuitive when initiating tips and paddling downriver. Don’t anticipate one week within the Rockstar V to take you out of your first loop to successful the native Friday night time rodeo, however you possibly can anticipate for many strikes to really feel higher within the V. The brand new hull and slicey, low-volume ends of the RSV will make most kayakers excited to paddle, and I can’t wait to see what this boat will do with extra water.

What else do you wish to know in regards to the new Rockstar? Tell us within the feedback and we’ll reply your questions in full evaluate come spring.

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