Jackson Kayak Fun Runner Review With Dustin Urban

I finally have a great answer when beginner-intermediate kayakers ask me which boat to buy. After paddling the Fun Runner 60, I’ll recommend this boat to most beginner-intermediate paddlers. I say “most” because there are some paddlers who are super aggressive and fearless from day 1 and are ready for a more aggressive playboat in their first season. Unless that sounds like you, take a serious look at the new Jackson Kayak Fun Runner. This boat strikes the perfect balance; it’s a forgiving river runner that’s playful without being edgy, a perfect choice for beginners or intermediates that want to get comfortable on the river and still have the option to work on some intro playboating.

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to roll: There was no “pause” in my roll like I’m used to in a full-on playboat. Instead the Fun Runner glided right through to upright effortlessly. Seriously, I was quite surprised by how easy it was to roll.
  • Stable: Solid secondary stability will help you build confidence as you get more comfortable on the water.
  •  Fast and “carvy”: Because more “creeky” beginner boats (Hero, Mamba, etc) have more rocker and softer edges, they’re harder to keep going in a straight line. The Fun Runner tracked really nicely for paddling downriver and ferrying, and it carved beautifully in and out of eddies.
  • Still playful: If you choose one of the “creeky” beginner boats, you’re definitely sacrificing play. In the Fun Runner you can still play your way down the river with moves like front surfing, back surfing, spinning and stern squirts. It’s been years since I skyed stern squirts like I did in the Fun Runner. You’ll be able to tell if playboating is your thing and you want to try something more aggressive, but you’ll still want to hold on to the Fun Runner for your favorite river runs.
  • Outfitting: the unishock bulkhead system is safe and comfortable, and the seat is very easy to move.

Cons:

  • It’s not a full-on playboat. You won’t be learning to loop in this boat.
  • This isn’t really a con, but take the time to choose between the 60 and the 70. At 155 pounds, I was able to stern squirt the 60, but it also seemed possible that I could get back-endered in bigger water.

Kickin’ it old school in The JK Fun Runner.

Verdict:

This boat nails the sweet spot for a “sporty” river runner. It’s not easy to design a boat this playful and this forgiving at the same time. If you’re looking for an awesome river runner that you can still take to the local playhole or wave, you should seriously consider the Fun Runner. See you on the river!

Stay tuned for more video footage of the Fun Runner squirting and surfing it’s way down the BV Play Park! Coming soon…

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