First Impressions: Finding Her Flow in the Jackson Kayak Flow Whitewater Kayak

A quick run down of the new Swiss Army Knife of Kayaks, the Jackson Kayak Flow from CKS customer Halie Orr!

I was just taking off the river the day that Jackson released the medium Flow.  I had been anticipating this release day, curious as to what Jackson had been cooking up. I immediately pulled my phone out to catch a glimpse of the new boat. My interest was instantly piqued with the length being shorter and less volume than some of the current and modern river running creek boat designs. 

 "This boat is in a class of its own!" - Halie Orr

Some background on my paddling ability, paddling style and current boats that I had been spending most of my time in… I would consider myself to be an intermediate boater that loves river running with a little play on the side.  I mostly paddle class II to III+ rivers.  Over the past year I have spent most of my time in my Antix 2.0 & Gnarvana, both mediums.  I also still have the original gen 1 Jackson Zen 65 that I love to break out from time to time for some nimble river running.    I have paddled the Code, Scorch, OG Ripper, Ripper 2, etc.  I enjoy eddy hopping, jet ferries, s-turns, surfing, 360 spins & am just learning to stern squirt in my Antix 2.0

Jackson Flow Miami Vice Limited Edition

Back to the Jackson Flow, I had to try this boat out.  I picked one up in the sweet Miami Vice LE (Limited Edition) color.  Would that little bit of pink on the bow help me to channel my inner Dane Jackson?!  Haha, time would tell…  Bulk head adjusted, hip pads in, all within 5 minutes.  The ease of outfitting and adjustment is one of the many things that I love about a Jackson Kayak.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  Me and some of the girls were putting on the Pigeon River in TN to catch the last scheduled release of the season from the powerhouse to the Hartford Bridge. Having never taken a stroke in this new boat, I was off. 

My Initial Thoughts

I peeled out and I noticed that the boat got up to speed quickly with only a few strokes. I caught an eddy and practiced a few rolls.  We continued through a series of small ledge drops and I began to eddy hop.  At this point, I began to notice the great secondary stability and how snappy it felt peeling in and out of eddies.  The boat had good primary stability, but not so much that it would take away the nimble and fun feel of river running.  I immediately settled in with how the boat was handling with my paddling style. I could feel the sportiness and felt very confident as I made my way down the river. I took advantage of a few boof rocks and ledges, and I was able to boof the boat with ease.  When I began to punch a few holes the Flow punched right through them, and the bow remained high and dry with very little splash to the face(one of the things that I appreciate since I wear contacts on the river). I intentionally changed up a few lines mid rapid to see how the boat would handle it. I was able to change it up, no problem. The boat didn’t seem to lock in on a line like some boats that I have paddled in the past. I felt as if I could place the boat exactly where I wanted. I was enjoying the shorter length & hitting some tight eddies that I sometimes slide out of.  In Double Reactionary, I messed up my line and went into the swirly “no man’s land” eddy.  My friend came in hot behind me and plowed into my stern.  Whoops!  With a low brace and a few strokes, I was back on line.  Wow, most boats would have punished me for that mistake and I would have flipped over, but not in the Flow.  The next day I paddled the Flow on the Nantahala in NC.  I got to enjoy some 360 spins on the surf wave next to Pyramid Rock and got in some great surfs at Surfers Rapid.  The flat planning hull and crisp edges allowed me to remain on the wave and carve it up.  I took the traditional line after catching Truck Stop eddy at the falls.  I nailed my line perfectly and came through with hardly a splash.   

Jackson Flow Whitewater Kayak GIF

I enjoyed the size of the medium.  At around 165 lbs. & 5’5” tall, I felt the medium fit me perfectly without feeling too big.  I enjoyed the knee position and overall feel of the boat.  In my humble opinion, this boat is in a class of its own when stacked up against a lot of the river running and creek boat offerings currently on the market. I could see instructors teaching in this boat, as well as newer paddlers beginning to learn this awesome sport. As an intermediate paddler, I am looking forward to taking the Flow down some more technical and challenging rivers in the future.  I believe Jackson did a great job on this design.  I am also looking forward to paddling the Flow over the winter on some of the rain dependent local rivers and creeks in my area.  If you are in the market for a new boat, give the Jackson Flow a demo. I am really enjoying it so far.  


Written by: Halie Orr

Check out more from Halie and her partner Jes on their Youtube Channel Elevated Life Adventures!


Halie Orr

Halie Orr

Delesky34, Glad you enjoyed the review!! I have not paddled the small Gnarvana but I do paddle a medium Gnarvana. The Flow & Gnar paddle a bit differently & I choose either or depending on the river. The Gnar is most def my stepping up boat, love river running the Flow. I would recommend that you try them both out on a demo. I am thinking you will like the Flow, especially knowing that you were a fan of the Zen 65 such as myself . I found there to be a small bit more primary stability in the Flow Medium vs the Gnarvana Medium. I feel as if I roll my Gnarvana a bit easier than the Flow, but both boats roll very well, (more of me working out my technique). I can roll my Zen 65 a bit easier than both of those but I believe it’s the difference in deck height/volume that I had to adjust to. With good technique they all roll very well. Try out the Flow!! I believe you will enjoy it!

Tim Ray

Tim Ray

Good review !!!

WOW This was the review I’ve been waiting to see. I’m currently paddling a,zen 65 ( the only boat I’ve ever paddled) and looking to upgrade. I’m a,class 2 light 3 paddler with specs of 5 6 163. I’ve thought of getting a,small gnar. Have u paddled a,small gnar? Is it similar? Compared to the zen 65 is primary stability much better, same? I know the 65 isn’t hard to roll is flow similar? I maybe leaning towards a medium flow now.thankyou for a great review.

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