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Super Hero 2008

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Super Hero 2008 - boats_1193-1
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Short Facts

Jackson Kayak

325 Iris Dr.
TN 38583

Phone: +1 931-657-3530

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Model Year
Intended Paddling Environment
David Knight, EJ, Clay Wright et al.


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Jackson Kayak creates the ultimate RIVER RUNNER!!!

We needed a straight up river running kayak that paddles like a Jackson, rolls like a Jackson, and is comfortable like a Jackson.

We started with the new Fun hull and built the boat up from there. This boat is the perfect companion for the paddler wanting a predictable, stable, carving, easy to paddle river runner that won’t hit a plateau before you do. Whether looking to creek the local run, or overnight the canyon, this full volume, planing hull, nimble, quick, safe kayak is your ticket. This will be a top selling kayak in 2008 and beyond, and sets a new standard in just how fun and versatile a river runner can be.

Some specifics:
The Hull: Cross-linked plastic for durability and shape retention (no oilcanning). Planing hull for great initial stability, surfing, and a predictable ride that the Fun and Star paddler can jump into and feel right at home. The same performance characteristics found in the Fun hull is all standard with the ideal drop chines that are effective but out of the way for creeking, and thruster chines for extra speed and directional control for front surfing (yes you can spin it too!). For those creeking this boat, look for effortless boofs that come from a properly positioned rocker break. David Knight is a genius, and his genious shows through on this hull!

The Side Walls: the side walls bring true Jackson Kayak rolling ability to play here with the addition of a rigidity bar for those wanting to seriously creek it (Team JK’s Jesse Coombs is already asking when he can “stomp the big ones” in it!) The flair in this sidewall is just right to give the beginner roller that extra confidence, while adding a secondary stability level that keeps you right side up and paddling. The angle is also set to make side surfing a hole (on purpose or not) easy, smooth, and non-grabby. There is nothing to catch while running slides for those who will be creeking this boat.

The Deck: Ample footroom is the first thing you’ll notice. Put your BIG booties/river shoes on and you’ll be comfortable, and safe. That foot-room also provides you with the volume to keep you on the surface for safety and confidence. The stern has the volume needed to keep you looking downstream after drops instead of back into the hole! You’ll love how the Super Hero busts through holes and stays on the surface and upright like Superman busting through a wall with a smile on his face! The smooth, well designed deck keeps your knuckles and elbows free and clear of impact on even the biggest drops.

The Outfitting: Boat Armor and Uni-Shock bulkhead on the adult models. Four swimmer and portaging friendly grab handles/attachment points, and a stainless steel security bar for safety in the most challenging situations. Side Kick outfitting is specially designed to keep weight to a minimum to assure easy carrying for kids.

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(Updated: December 17, 2008)
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Super Hero: A river running and creek revolution

About the reviewer

10 year class V veteran and film maker

Test environment

After 11 months, 150 class V days, and my most significant year of whitewater ever encompassing Brazil, California, Colorado, Pakistan, India, and Bhutan; I present my 2008 Super Hero review.


Super Hero Specs First Impressions: On February 9th, 2008 Jesse Coombs arrived with a couple of the first Super Heroes out of the Molds in Central Brazil. At first glance it struck me like the sleekest new ride at a car show: Smooth clean symmetrical lines over the deck and a high performance hull underneath. A quick hop in confirmed the JK brand wide attributes of comfort and ease of fit, but the generously proportioned 87 gallons of volume and the uni-shock bulkhead system take both the comfort and ease of fit to a new level: 5 minutes of shims and adjustments later, the Super Hero felt like it was made specifically for me. The following day, a couple more snuggings from the revolutionary back-band system and bulkhead, transferred hip tilt, to boat tilt, into an incredible carving sensation across a rain swollen high volume Brazilian roller coaster of a river. Ferries were crucial that day, and the Super Hero made them as if surfing across a perfectly green wave. As I engaged the edge a bit more, I was ripping at high speeds into a must make eddy... This boat Rocks!

Big Water:

By Definition a River Running kayak should be at home in High Volume rivers defined by strong ocean like currents and waves. From my first experience in Brazil I felt the boats potential in big water and really saw that potential come to fruition in Gore Canyon on the Colorado river above 5000 cfs. Jesse Coombs and I tipped toed into the Canyon on a late May afternoon and came out ecstatic about the performance of the boat in truly big water. Although compact in length, the boat punched ledge holes and wave holes alike due to the smooth hydrodynamic shape. In the high volume torrent, we often needed to surf a huge wave or hole to cross the river and the high performance hull provided the maneuverability of a play boat, while the volume maintains an incredible sense of stability through deep boils and eddy lines off the backside of the massive features.

To further strengthen my perception of the Super Hero as a Big Water (IE river running) Juggernaut was my recent experience on the roiling 15,000 to 20,000 cfs on the Rondu gorge of the Indus in Pakistan. Must make river crossings, ledge holes, and mandatory hole rides were the name of the game and the Super Hero was the right tool for the Job. While Chris Korbulic and I ran our Super Heroes, Darin McQuoid and Phil Boyer ran the the Hero with equal success and confidence.

Look for both models of the Hero ripping up the high volume rivers from the huge 2008 runoff of the Colorado Rockies to the mighty rivers of the Himalaya in this years release of Hotel Charley Vol. 4.

Steep Creeking and Waterfalls:
From my high volume experiences it was obvious that this boat was a high performance, big water river runner but how would it handle in the Steep stuff? For the rest of the Brazil Expedition I stuck with my tried and true Rocker for the really big stuff eventually stepping up to 100 plus foot high volume falls famously showcased in the Hotel Charley Vol 3, but I kept hopping in the Super Hero in between the huge stuff; each time more and more impressed with it's abilities. By early June of 2008 I was able to really focus on putting the Super Hero through it's paces. Over the next month and a half Darin McQuoid and I ran our Hero and Super Hero through one of the most spectacular string of descents ever achieved in a single California season. Dubbed the 8th River Expedition, our Heroes were put to the test through tens of thousands of vertical feet of technical mank, huge slides, and falls up to 75 feet.

The aforementioned voluminous proportions in concert with the smooth lines to a peaked deck made resurfacing quick and stable. Tight moves, in the super steep low volume water, were made enjoyable with the compact length on top of the quick acceleration and agility of the high performance hull. After that month and a half, in some of the world's most demanding creeking situations, I am ready to claim this River Runner as one of the top Creek Boats on the market!

Expedition and Overnight:
In the context of having everything that you need to survive for several days at a time stowed in your kayak, the rules of the game change on a multi-day trip. Storage features and capacity, weighted down performance, and safety features become paramount. In this context Chris Korbulic and I just put the Super Hero through the Ultimate Test. 11 days ago we left a put-in at 8000 feet in the Indian Himalaya with two weeks worth of food and gear. At the put-in our fully loaded Super Heroes weighed in at near 100 pounds yet all the gear and food was easily accommodated in the generous rear compartments with some heavier items stashed in front of the Bulkhead. Despite all this gear and food, I had room to spare. With numerous attachment points, all this stuffed was secured to the boat in case of a jarring portage or swim.

Although the river dropped a blistering 4000 feet in the first 30 miles through a boulder strewn river bed, the the Super Hero seemed to handle heavy loads better than any boat I have ever paddled. I think the compact high volume nature puts all 87 gallons of volume where it counts and keeps the boat floating high. This maintains agility and low exposure in shallow fast current.

In addition, the large cockpit opening allows easy entrance and exists on and off of steep slippery river banks even while stashing my precious video camera encased in a Watershed Bag between my legs. In all we spent 9 days negotiating over 7000 vertical feet of extremely demanding water with a river growing in size from 1200 cfs to over 8000cfs. As is often the case, we were forced to portage some insane sections of the river, and it is here where the compact size and outfitting of the Super Hero really shines. A shorter boat is simply easier to carry and the Super Hero makes long technical portages easier and safer with an adjustable hip pad for your shoulder and the standard carrying strap on the front pillar. This boat was made for multiday-expeditions!


Final Thought:
Just check out one of the latest Super Hero converts Devin Knight on the front page of the JK Web-site nearly flying off the page in the Super Hero... this boat is really incredible. Take one for a test flight yourself and you will be a believer too!


About Me
Location: Brazil, California, Colorado, Pakistan
Age: 30
Weight: 83.9 kgs
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