Jackson Karma Kayak Review

Jackson Karma Kayak Review
  • 9.5/10
    Price - 9.5/10
  • 10/10
    Design - 10/10
  • 9/10
    Stability - 9/10
  • 10/10
    Features - 10/10
  • 10/10
    Quality - 10/10

jackson karma kayakWhether you are a light kayak user on the weekends, or an avid river runner any time the weather allows, the Jackson Karma Kayak is one of the best moderately priced boats on the market. I am impressed with the simple, timeless features that carry into all kayak activities I am drawn into from one week to the next. I never know whether I’ll be hitting some white water, or offering lessons to my nephew on the calmer waters of the lakes that surround my home. This kayak is designed to accommodate any skill level with a well-balanced, nicely performing piece of equipment.

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specifications sheet jackson karma

So why the Jackson Karma?

Here are a few of the Pros:

Comfortable Cockpit

The Jackson Karma Kayak is wider and much roomier than I expected. It has a level of comfort that is nice, but it does tend to make you feel you might pop out at any instant. This is mostly an illusion since I never had any instances where I fell free from the boat. having sat in many different types of Kayaks, this is by far the most comfortable ride to date.

Forgiving Performance –

You do not need to be experienced at kayaking to thoroughly enjoy the performance of the Jackson Karma. It can go fairly fast when you want, but slow and straight to a pleasurable pace when you need a break, which is essential for beginners. I enjoyed the leisure pace allowed in the calm flats, but could quickly pick up the pace as the water demanded.

Weight and Ability to Carry –

They say you are only as strong as your ability to carry your kayak. I have a small frame but was able to pick up this boat and move it with relative ease. This speaks volumes of the weight distribution and balance. Packing it back out to my vehicle was just as easy, even after a long, challenging day on the river.

Balance On the Water –

The extended width of the Jackson Karma makes the boat feel a bit more balanced on the water. The robust construction of the hull, including ridges, gives the feeling of security when you are hitting the rougher waters and obstacles.

Ease of Correction –

Sometimes paddling the Karma too fast tends to give the sensation that you will lose control, but this boat is remarkably easy to correct. All I had to do was slow down the pace and felt in full control once again. I believe this was a problem in transitioning from using the Stinger to the new Jackson Karma. The boat tends to want to carve through waves and holes, rather than simply do the expected glide.

Outfitting Excellence –

One of the more challenging things to learn for those new to kayaking is adjusting the bulkhead. I think Jackson does well to create an easier method of just pulling the cord tight to make the change. There is no need to pull the boat in and adjust with screwdrivers and Allen wrenches. You do need to monitor the condition of the chord before each trip to make sure it is in good working order.

The Miracle of Staying Dry –

The Jackson Karma Kayak provided one of the driest river runs I have ever experienced on my first trip out. They have designed the hull with very few openings where water can enter and get you soaked. I was able to take full benefit of the cooler air along the water, without getting completely drenching like I was accustomed to for other kayaking trips.

Ease of Climbing In and Out –

Having been lake-dunked more than a few times by cheaply made kayaks, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to climb in and out of this boat. It does take a little practice initially to know how to maintain balance when entering and exiting a kayak, but none of those fundamental stability issues exist with the Jackson Karma.

The versatility of Use –

The Jackson Karma Kayak seems to be the perfect boat for creek/river runs or a single lazy paddle around the lake. I was a bit timid to try the Karma. It was said to me long ago that Jackson was not a Kayak built for serious river runs. I am happy to say this kayak has performed well under every circumstance my trips have demanded.

Trustworthy Performance –

I honestly believe that the best confirmation of trust in a product is being able to feel comfortable in placing an unseasoned person in the cockpit and knowing they will be okay. The Jackson Karma Kayak is a great little boat for anyone to learn the sport safely.

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Here are a few of the cons:

Lack of Adjustable Cockpit Features –

Not having the ability to adjust the seat or thigh guards meant a few moments of careful repositioning at critical times. The cockpit has almost too much room that it feels loose, even though you are technically pretty secure. The shallow depth of the boat makes it impossible to get in the more familiar crouch position I am used to. The legs have to be kept more out-stretched and can suffer a little fatigue over the course of the day.

Awkward GoPro Mount –

The included mount for a GoPro camera is in a very awkward position. It is not at the best level to take pictures and videos of whitewater activities. It is annoying to look at.

Opinion Summary, Is It Worth A Buy?

I urge you to give the Jackson Karma Kayak a try if you in the market for a stable, well-performing boat that will answer all of your kayaking needs. This product comes as close as possible to be able to fit the needs of most adult sizes and skill levels. There are faster boats out there, but the Karma has speed combined with a level of control that is hard to find in many others of similar size. You will be pleased with the durable, yet light-weight construction. This will be the boat you grab for that unexpected day off from work. It can be carried and loaded quickly by one

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