The Jackson Kayak SUPerCHARGER Review
Jackson Kayak has pretty much dominated the freestyle whitewater kayak scene for the past 5+ years. Their river runners and creekers have been at the top of the class as well. In addition to whitewater designs, they’ve also been charging full steam ahead in the kayak fishing sector. The Coosa, Cuda and Big Tuna have earned the respect of the most hardened anglers out there. For these reasons, we were pretty excited (and curious) when we caught wind of a Jackson brand stand up paddle board. What could Jackson bring to the table? They’re all just world champ freestyle kayakers and river bass slayers right? WRONG. Jackson’s plan of attack, was to acquire a guy like Ken Hoeve aka. Hobie, and come up with a really well thought out design that will allow river SUP’ers to push their personal limits of what is possible on a stand up board (in regards to downriver paddling). Jackson was also able to keep the price at $799, which is much less expensive than the majority of comparable SUP’s on the market. Here’s a rundown of some of the features of the Jackson Kayak SUPerCHARGER that we thought were pretty cool.
- DURABILITY, STRENGTH AND RIGIDITY: The Jackson Kayak SUPerCHARGER is built out of roto-molded plastic. That’s the same material that Jackson uses for it’s whitewater kayaks. Think of the SUPerCHARGER as a creek boat for the river SUP world. You can boof and bash rocks, drop or drag the board, have your kids jump all over it, and it will keep on ticking. There are a few key factors that lead to the overall durability of the SUPerCHARGER. When you look at the bottom of the board, the first thing that you will notice is that it has a scalloped design. There are also scupper like holes. Both of these features add rigidity and strength into the board.
- MANEUVERABILITY: The SUPerCHARGER is very maneuverable, which is a necessity for paddling difficult whitewater. It’s overall length is 9’6″, and it has quite a bit of rocker which allows it to turn easily (similar to a creek boat). You can almost think of the Jackson Kayak SUPerCHARGER as a kayak that you can stand on top of and paddle down river. Because of the rocker, you can surf too – and not just a mellow surf on a tiny riffle on class I, but full flat spins on features like the Rock Island Wave!
- ULTRA DURABLE FINS / FIN BOXES One of the biggest problems in the sport of River SUP so far has been breaking fins. Rivers are typically shallow and have lots of rocks. Also, worse than popping off a fin on a committing run (or fun surf session) is breaking your fin box. This can be a costly repair. Jackson has remedied this issue by constructing their own rubberized fins. The SUPerCHARGER comes with thruster fin boxes that are part of the rotomold plastic – there are no fin boxes to crack because it’s all 1 piece of plastic. Also, the fins are soft to the touch, and are very flexible. Even the base of the fin flexes, which will dissipate impact energy. One other major benefit of having softer and more flexible fins is that they will not hurt you if they come in contact with you during a swim.
- ***COST***: OK, this is a big one here. The SUPerCHARGER retails for $799. That is at least $200 less than any other river SUP that we sell here at CKS, and almost HALF the price of a few boards. As far as performance goes, this board will hang with (or out perform) any other river SUP on the market, and is probably easier to paddle down hard whitewater than boards that are $1000-$1500+.
- QUALITY: As with all Jackson products, this board is high quality and built to last. Part of the reason for this is because it’s manufactured in the USA. Jackson makes a point to source as many products as possible from US based companies. As we previously mentioned, the plastic used on this board is the same that is used on the Karma creeker.
- STABILITY:This board is thick, wide and stable. Primary stability is a necessity for downriver stand up paddling. When crossing eddylines and powering through river features, it’s nice to to have a little bit of confidence that your board is going to stay upright. There are a few features in particular that lead to the SUPerCHARGERS incredible stability. For starters, it’s 38″ wide. In addition to the width, it’s flared sidewalls add stability, and deflect current. The front deck of the board is peaked, much as a whitewater kayak is, which helps the board resurface quickly and predictably. The main deck of the board is also slightly lower than the sidewalls. By lowering the paddlers center of gravity, primary stability is increased. Also, excess water is able to run off the back of the board – which is really nice. Water is heavy and awkward feeling when it builds up on the deck of SUP’s.
- WARRANTY / CUSTOMER SERVICE: SUP warranties have been known to be pretty subjective. It’s hard for a lot of manufacturers to warranty a board that they know is going to break. NO WORRIES with the SUPerCHARGER though! You get the full unadulterated Jackson Kayak warranty and customer service. It’s awfully nice to have a piece of mind when you are purchasing a product whose primary use is bashing on river rocks.
- GREAT DESIGN TEAM: Hobie and Tony Lee. What else can you say? Ken (aka. Hobie) had a darn good idea, and Tony made it happen. Jackson designs are world class, and the SUPerCHARGER is not exception.
FEATURES:As with all Jackson products, the SUPerCHARGER comes with a GoPro mount. This can also be used as a RAM mount – which means that you connect all kinds of cool stuff on this board. There are straps on the front of the deck for a cooler or anything that you want to bring with you. The deck pad is soft to the touch. If you get knocked down in the middle of a difficult rapid, you land on the SUP deck pad equivalent of shag carpeting.
The grab handles are soft, well balanced and comfortable.
- WEIGHT: We won’t lie, the SUPerCHARGER is heavy. At 57 lbs, you’ll have to work a little bit loading it on (and off) a roof rack. You also will not want to hike the SUPerCHARGER down Chukar trail this summer on a Gunny Gorge overnighter. On the other hand, most 90+ gallon creek boats weigh well over 50 lbs…Also, when you paddle down a river standing up, it’s nice to have some stability under your feet. One good way to add stability is to build your board from 57 lbs of stiff roto-mold linear plastic.
- NOT FOR TOURING: Any board that is 9’8″ long x 38″ wide, and weighs over 50 lbs is not going to make a very efficient touring board. Now if your idea of touring is strapping a cooler to the front, and paddling out to the sand bar at the lake to have a few cold ones, the SUPerCHARGER will do just fine.
We really like the fact that Jackson Kayak was not afraid to define their niche and go for it. This is a river running board – and it does just that. It does it REALLY well. This board will make you a better downriver paddler. You’ll stay upright more, be able to punch features that you previously had to paddle around, and will gain a lot of overall confidence with it’s increased stability. No, it is not the lightest board out there (not even close), but this thing is SUPER durable, costs WELL under $1000 ($799) and absolutely CRUSHES it on whitewater. We give it 2 thumbs up to the downriver SUP paddler.