2014 vs 2016 Jackson Rockstar - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-07-2016   #1
KSC
 
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Boulder, Colorado
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2014 vs 2016 Jackson Rockstar

I'm looking for advantages / disadvantages of these two model years, preferably by someone not affiliated with Jackson. I can't find any reviews on the internet from unbiased sources.

I imagine the 2016 version is better on a big wave since that's what it's designed for, but what about little Colorado park and play holes and downriver performance?

Also if someone has actually found another brand to be more performant (i.e. Jed, Jitsu) with as much or more legroom than the Rockstar (2014 or 2016), I'd like to hear why.

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Old 04-07-2016   #2
 
down by the river, California
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16 is my favorite

Ive owned 3 of the 4 you mentioned: M Jed, M Rockstar '14, and M Rockstar '16, in that order. Of the 3, I find the '16 to well outperform both of the other 2. In fact, i had just bought the Rockstar '14 and demoed the '16 a few months later, and when i wiped the smile off my face was a bit depressed because i knew i had to buy another boat!

The '16 is a touch smaller, though still plenty of space for me (31"inseam, size 10M feet), which makes tossing it around in flatwater or small features a breeze. Way better balanced than the '14, which i thought had a somewhat bulbous/ not slicy stern. Stable on both ends. Perhaps the '16 has alittle less speed for river running than the other 2, but not enough to be too noticable..theyre all playboats.

My rankings (best first; more --- is more difference):

Comfort/foot space:
14 - 16 ---- jed

performance:
16 --- jed - 14

roll:
either rockstar - jed

Riverrunning (really, how well do any of these river run?):
14 - 16 - jed


Anyway, like i said at the top the 16 is my favorite. Hope this helps!
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Old 04-08-2016   #3
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Very helpful. Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 04-08-2016   #4
 
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Stop being such a cheapskate and treat yourself to a new rockstar already.


Hell, if I can learn to loop it....
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Old 04-08-2016   #5
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Says the guy who never pays full price for a boat...
You can loop? I assume you mean that while getting trashed in a hole you managed to stay in your boat long enough before swimming to get an end?
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Old 04-15-2016   #6
 
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I did the same as Fishy Counter, but mine went like this Bought the new 2015 4Fun, Traded for the 2014 RS then demoed the 2016 and cried, then wiped away the tears and got a 2016! I have owned Jacksons mainly,since the beginning, and several other play boats in between (LL, Dagger, Pyrahana, WS) but find that the Jacksons just fit me better. Demo, demo, demo or borrow if you have kind friends
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Old 06-27-2016   #7
 
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I've paddled all of these boats in the size large!

I paddled the Large Jed for a bit. I personally don't like the boats the designer of the Jed makes. The project X was also his design and I think that boat sucked HARD. To be fair though, I think it's not the hull so much as it's the cockpit and outfitting configuration. It makes those boats much shittier to roll. Blah blah blah it's you not the boat, except the boat's high volume all around you and silly small tall cockpit means it hits me right in the ribs preventing a good hip snap. Talking to other users, these boats do good for taller/lankier individuals for their weight, while Jacksons are good for everybody.

The Jed did surf good (that v-hull in the back is interesting) although I found it rather heavy to carve around on a wave because of that (paddled at Bend WW park green wave). It was fine in a hole. Cartwheeled okay. I could flatwater cartwheel it but it wasn't as friendly as other boats. Outfitting was rather meh. Paddled wierd in rapids like all of his boat designs. Stay centered, you're fine, everything outside of center feels like it's just trying to bite an edge or flip you, making it not confidence inspiring and thus I wasn't chasing anything all the excessively fun I can't recommend the boat.


I demo'd (and then later bought a new one) a 2016 Jackson Rockstar L. My friend Tim brought his 2014 rockstar. We ran the upper clack and were able to compare the two.

I think the 2016 Rockstar is the friggen cat's meow of downriver play. I can get the boat vertical with relative ease for being a big volume modern playboat. I was stern squirting in and out of every eddy, cartwheeling, and I hit my first wave wheels in this boat. It's confidence inspiring in rapids, to the point I gladly hit up mid river eddies then stern squirted right back out into the meat of features. It's tough to beat! On later trips down the Middle White Salmon I found myself wave wheeling in the middle of class III rapids. It's a rad boat!

My friend Tim and I switched boats. He liked the 2016, but wasn't impressed enough to run out and buy one over his 2014. He also noted some disadvantages. Here is my subjective review of the differences:

The 2014 has notably more felt volume despite only a few gallons of extra volume. This is because the boat has more rocker, and this places the volume higher up and more concentrated around you as a paddler. It also has 2 extra gallons that seem to nearly entirely exist in the tail. Because of this, the boat is more forgiving as a river runner in the sense you can be in the backseat a bit and not get taken for a wild ride. Tim's gotten a bit lazy because of this, and thus struggled with being in the backseat on the 2016 rockstar and thus losing control in harder rapids.

The 2014 and it's higher up volume doesn't get vertical nearly as effortless as the 2016. However, once vertical interestingly enough, it wanted to stay there longer. Easier stern stalls were held, even though it took more energy to get them up there. How strange!

The 2014 doesn't flatwater cartwheel nearly as well. Getting the bow under takes a fair bit more work, and because of all that volume and it's relatively higher placement tends to "reject" you if youre cartwheel is off a bit, IE: if you're too far forward it'll "pop" you out right onto your head while the 2016 has a bit more forgiveness in it. Comapre this all to say a Dagger Kingpin (older playboat) that doesn't reject you at all if you're over a bit too far, and you can start to see how this makes a boat more or less forgiving to flatwater cartwheel.



This is all a review of the larges though. My girlfriend has demo'd the medium 2016 rockstar, and we just got her a screaming price on a medium 2014 rockstar in pink! Given 2016 rockstars won't be cheap for at least six months, we went with this boat for the time being, even though she liked the 2016. Looking at the specs, in the medium very little changed between the two models, while the large boats ditched a few gallons and the height changed notably.

Only complaint she really had in the medium was specific to both years, and made sense to me: The large uses the sweet cheeks 100, as does the medium. In the medium it seems to put the seat up a bit high relative to the thigh braces, creating an uncomfortable position. A thinner set of sweet cheeks would have been nice, or better yet a normal padded seat as an option.


Oh and another thing: Everybody friggen hates the happy feet. They're all but worthless.
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Old 06-27-2016   #8
 
Sacramento, California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shredjesse View Post
Oh and another thing: Everybody friggen hates the happy feet. They're all but worthless.
Just a note, I love the happy feet, once I learned how to use it. If you don't read the directions, or look online for a YouTube tutorial, you are almost certainly using them wrong as I was. Once I learned that you want to suck the air out of them, after wedging your feet in, they work great. I can very comfortably go bare foot in mine once setup right.

The same thing applies to the Sweet Cheeks. I have to wonder if she has air in them. I have a medium Rock Star and have no issues with my legs fitting.
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Old 06-27-2016   #9
 
San Jose, CA, California
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I have and like the 2014 Rockstar.

Although, after reading these raving reviews about the 2016 Jackson Rockstar I definitely plan to try that boat out next time I am on the South Fork American.
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Old 06-27-2016   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bystander View Post
Just a note, I love the happy feet, once I learned how to use it. If you don't read the directions, or look online for a YouTube tutorial, you are almost certainly using them wrong as I was. Once I learned that you want to suck the air out of them, after wedging your feet in, they work great. I can very comfortably go bare foot in mine once setup right.

The same thing applies to the Sweet Cheeks. I have to wonder if she has air in them. I have a medium Rock Star and have no issues with my legs fitting.
Oh hellllll no with that nonsense! I've done everything with them. I've put foam behind them, I've followed every tutorial, I've tried them in many different boats, they suck!

Sure, you can get them setup decently to pretty darn good. Only then some of them break (in my case: 4/5 pairs have failed on me, some before even leaving the shop) and therefore start to leak. That means every time you get in the boat, the setup is a bit different. Adjust and reflate, oh hey the moved, or as they deflate or air gets into the bean bag it changes shape and suddenly your ankles are under stress.

There's a reason the overwhelming majority of people toss these things away and talk shit about them. They're garbage.

Sweet cheeks on the other hand, depending on the boat, are pretty darn sweet! Again though, they're a hit or miss product that fails and when it fails it's frustrating and a major performance inhibitor (sliding around all over the seat, bunched up wads of bean bags under one side or the other, etc etc).

For the price of these boats jackson should ship them with a foam foot option, and a seat pad option people can put on themselves.
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