By CKS Online's Nick Gilbert
After the release of the Antix 1.0 in 2017, it was clear Jackson had a different idea than other kayak manufacturers of what a half slice boat should look like. The bulbous shape, shorter design, and stubbiness of the Antix created a boat that most paddlers seemed to either love or hate.
As someone who didn’t particularly enjoy the original Antix, I was excited to see a longer, more playful version in this updated model. The Antix 2.0 fills a truly unique hole in the market: this boat is more playful and smaller than any other half slice on the market yet the bow rocker and volume distribution lets you stay high and dry on hard whitewater.
Let me be clear here: this boat is not like the others.
It almost falls into a class of it’s own. The Antix 2.0 paddles like a playboat, but with the bow rocker and volume to get you out of a sticky situation.
Long story short, this boat is the half slice for people who want the most playful, fun and exciting ride the industry offers. This is not a creek boat with a slicey stern, instead it is a freestyle kayak that still paddles downriver.
First thing when you get in the boat you notice just how small it is relative to other half slice boats. While other boats in this category have a bow that mimics a creek boat, Antix 2.0 is noticeably shorter and lower volume than the competitors 9-foot models.
Next, if you like Jackson outfitting you will love the Antix 2.0. The familiar unishock bulkhead, string and cleat backband system make the boat simple to adjust and easy to get comfortable in. If you don’t like the Jackson outfitting, don't expect any major updates here.
In the Antix 2.0 you sit higher up, and this feels inspired by Jackson’s playboat legacy. The higher seated position gives you more leverage to engage your edge or to stern squirt.
In this boat, playing with seat position can lead to big changes in performance. Move the seat back to play or move the seat forward to creek. Jackson's outfitting makes the seat adjustment easy, and everyone should spend some time messing with seat position to make the boat work best for them.
On the water, the smaller feel of the Antix 2.0 will be obvious right away. This is a playboat that can creek, unlike most other half slice boats which are creek boats that can play.
This boat resurfaces well – often upright – even if you get stuffed. It skips out of drops like a dream. For how small the Antix 2.0 is, it's really hard to believe it stays so dry, even paddling over foam piles well above your head.
Right off the bat you will notice a few things:
- The Antix 2.0 is more playful and stern squirts more easily than any other half-slice on the market
- Compared to other boats, it's not that fast.
Jesse Shimrock in an Antix 2.0. Read his review here.
Jackson hit the nail over the head with the volume distribution and bow rocker on the Antix 2.0. This boat boofs holes that no other boat this size would dream of making it over.
The rocker is particularly pronounced and leads to big skips out of drops, even if your boof stroke isn’t perfect.
One of the biggest charms of paddling the Antix is it's ability to effortlessly keep the bow high. Even if you don't have speed or miss a stroke on the lead in to a rapid, a well timed boof stroke will send your bow flying.
The shorter design puts less boat behind you, allowing you to lift the bow more than a longer design would. I often found myself dropping off ledges with my bow lifted well above my stern.
Coming off drops, this boat is easy to throw around. Almost too easy! Occasionally I'd find myself getting lazy and not taking proper boof strokes as the bow rocker takes care of a lot of the work for you.
One of the cons of the shorter design is a slow hull speed. For tricky ferries and longer moves, the Antix 2.0 is a bit tougher to paddle than its 9 foot competitors. On the flip side, the boat turns on a dime and is easy to make adjustments for tight, technical moves.
Surprisingly, I found the boat doesn’t backender too easily, despite the lower rocker and lower volume stern. The shorter length of the Antix 2.0 allows you to stay forward and accelerate out of drops while a longer boat would catch its tail in the curtain.
That being said, the Antix can dish out a beating if you plug something you shouldn't. Additionally, the boat requires a bit of speed to cross boils or handle seams. If you don't paddle hard across weird currents, the Antix will punish you as the edges and stern can easily disappear in changing currents.
The Antix 2.0 feels like playboat that can also creek. Other half slice boats are creekers that can play a little. If you are looking for the most playful half slice boat out there, the Antix 2.0 is the one for you.
The Antix 2.0 has less stern rocker than the original and this makes the boat noticeably more playful. The stern is engaged far more often, and initiating stern squirts requires less energy and weight transfer. The high seated position gives you extra leverage to stern squirt or engage edges.
This boat is actually one of the easiest boats ever to stern squirt. Because it’s so easy to squirt, I found myself playing even on weak eddy lines that aren't great for other half-slice boats.
When stern stalling, the Antix 2.0 stern stalls more like a playboat (because the the stern is less engaged in the water due to shorter stern length). Compared to longer boats like the Ripper, you don't feel the current against your stern as much. At first, this made the boat feel unstable while stern squirting, but after a few days in the boat, I felt it was easy to adjust and hold long stern squirts.
The Antix also kickflips easily, and transitioning between edges to initiate tricks feels natural. Even if your technique isn't perfectly dialed, the Antix will let you turn an uninspiring rapid into a playspot.
Who is this boat made for?
The Antix 2.0 is perfect for paddlers looking for a half slice that is more playful and exciting than the traditional half slice design.
Alternatively, this is the perfect boat for someone who usually likes paddling a playboat but is looking for something with a similar feel that will inspire confidence on the water.
Fans of the Antix 1.0 will appreciate the upgrade, while those who didn’t like the Antix 1.0 should keep an open mind because the 2.0 offers a the redesigned bow rocker, volume distribution, and slicey tail that may offer a significantly better paddling experience.
Jackson Antix 2.0 Specs
Model Tested: Medium
Volume: 66 Gallon
Optimal Paddler Weight: 130-190 lbs
Weight: 38 lbs
Gore Canyon (CO)
Russel Fork (KY)
North Chickamauga (TN)