Joe Keck Reviews The Jackson Kayak Villain

Photo by Alex Clayon. Product testing on The Escalante.

Well, fall is here. It’s always a time to look back at the kayaking season’s great memories and triumphs that we’ve had on the river. At the end, I always think back about my gear that was all shiny and new at the beginning. Did it work as advertised or is it time to try something new next spring? Well, one piece I loved all summer was my new Jackson Kayak Villain. I am a big fan of the Rocker and last winter I waited in trepidation for EJ’s newest take on the creek boat. My first few runs in the large Villain this year were on Escalante Creek. The initial impression was that the boat was fast, really fast, the fastest creeker that I had paddled. The large Villain has more volume and is longer than my trusty Rocker, but it boofs just as easily. I relate the superb boofing ability to the increased speed of the hull.

Next, the Mank Crew started making trips down to the ultra-classic Embudo. The new hull proved itself to be just as forgiving down the rocky desert funnel as the Rocker had for years before. Thankfully, she also proved easy to roll!
Later in the season, my boat and I tragically found ourselves in Texas. No matter because we joined a crew for the first descent of Bear Creek Falls!

The Official Jackson Kayak Promo video.

Pros:

  • Extremely fast. It’s a huge improvement over some of the other hulls on the market.
  • Boofs really well because it holds lots of speed over drops.
  • Has a huge amount of storage space behind the seat and in front of the bulkhead for multi-day trips.
  • I loved the foot room. I’m 6’2” with size 11 feet, so I have a hard time fitting real creeking shoes into most boats. The large Villain was comfortable right from the warehouse with the full 3” thick foam in the front.
  • Even with the increased length, the boat maintains Jackson Kayaks motto of creating quick forgiving hulls that are easy to roll.
  • I continue to love the Jackson Kayak outfitting with the uni-shock bulkhead. If you piton, the outfitting with take most of the energy and distribute it. I have personally tested this feature from 18’ high. The Villain also has no screws through the hull and remains one of the driest boats on the market.
  • The cross-link plastic is still going strong!

Cons:

    Photo:Bret Franson. Paddler:Joe Keck in his Villain.

  • The new Villain comes with one less attachment rope in the stern, which makes multi-day packing a little tighter. This is easily fixed with a few carabiners.
  • I didn’t get enough days in it this year!

Photo by Alex Clayton

The Verdict:

The new Villain rocks harder than Stevie Ray Vaughan playing Texas Flood!It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” Cheers from Texas and I’ll be off to the Southeast soon for more product testing!

Photo by Alex Clayton. Paddler: Joe Keck.

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