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Old 06-08-2016   #1
lookout mnt., Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 148
mamba vs zen

looking at one of these 2 for an all around class 4/5 colorado riverrunner with a little creekin, maybe 70/30. like daggers outfitting more. talked to the guys at the shop and they said they were pretty similar. more than likely buying used so will probably end up getting which ever one pops up on gear swap when i have the cash. will be demoing both these this summer. anyone out there that's paddled them both care to share their thoughts? pros/cons, etc. zen's deck looks a little creekier while the mamba seems to have a little creekier looking' hull.

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Old 06-09-2016   #2
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 47
jackson's don't last in colorado.

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Old 06-09-2016   #3
dirtbagkayaker's Avatar
Bazzaro, World
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,323
The bottom line is both are excellent boats. Any pros or cons would really me minimal. My advice would be to buy which ever one YOU like for your own reasons. Neither one will make you a better boater but the one YOU like best will be the one you use the most and the more you go the better you get. For me the butt test usually determines which boat I use. I sit in the boat for an hour in front of the tv or at shop and if my butt hurts I don't buy it.
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Old 06-11-2016   #4
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 383
Demoed both last year and paddled high water laps on #s & Browns. Liked the Zen better. Bought a L Zen this season & have had it on low volume creeks and high volume rivers. Still really liking it. Agree that you'll have your own opinion after trying them both...

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Old 06-12-2016   #5
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Salida, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 516
Mamba is more forgiving for the intermediate
No amount of money is worth your free time!
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Old 06-12-2016   #6
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Where ever the water is...., Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 440
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Zen is an incredibly versatile boat. Many schools are switching to them for easy paddling, easy to outfit and easy to roll. Then on the other end of the spectrum the top men's and woman's spots in the Homestake Steep Creek Championships were paddling Zens. It also won the short boat category in the Numbers Race.

All this means is the Zen is a very capable river runner and creeker with lots of stability and speed. I'd say you should go take one for a spin and see what you think.

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Old 06-13-2016   #7
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 75
Originally Posted by ColoradoBoater View Post
jackson's don't last in colorado.
As in they break or as in they sell quick?
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Old 06-13-2016   #8
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 130
May as well piggy back on this thread. I'm more of a Browns, Numbers, Clear Creek type of guy. The upper end of my comfort if I'm having a good year are high water #s, low water Gore, Bailey...maybe OBJ etc.

Are there other boats to throw in the mix (new or used)?. Karma, Squirrel, etc.? You can demo on the Ark but I never seem to be able to get an idea on how they would handle in shallow blast rock mank. Of course the semi-planning hull creeker is always marketed as "rad in big water, rad in shallow creeks, catches eddies wicked good but don't trip up on rocks bruh!"

I'm 5'11 160, old but still strong as an ox. Seems like I prefer bigger boats and would like some capacity for shorter overnighters. Is the sweet spot for volume +/- 85 gallons?

Anyone want to try and talk me into their clapped out used whip they are trying to get rid of?
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Old 06-13-2016   #9
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 47
Originally Posted by desertSherpa View Post
As in they break or as in they sell quick?
They break. If you plan on boating class 4 or 5 once the water gets low they won't last. I've seen 4 karma's break this spring alone.
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Old 06-13-2016   #10
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 53
The Internet can't tell you which one will be right for you. Both are great. Both suck. If you're buying new, the shops will count your demos toward a purchase so demo both, eh? If you're buying used you'll be lucky to find either and you'll likely get used to whatever you buy. I have a mamba 8.1 you can buy for 750; it is the best boat ever made.

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