Looking for a follow on from a Hero - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-15-2018   #1
Plymouth, UK
Paddling Since: 2017
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 5
Looking for a follow on from a Hero

Hi folks,

I'm looking to move on from my first WW kayak - a Jackson Hero - now that I have a better idea of what I want. However, I'm having trouble deciding what fits that "want" so I thought I'd ask for input from the US where there are more people familiar with the boat .

Bit about me: between 180 and 185, 5' 10"; late starter to kayaking (although have a few years before I'm too decrepit to paddle!); In my first WW season in the UK (we paddle in the winter!!) and am currently working on class 3 (with the Dart Loop being my usual paddle); having great fun and am an obsessive gear freak in all my activities (a large collection of skis, snowboards, monoskis, blades, ... as a case in point).

I like some things about the Hero very much: stability, forgiveness, weight, outfitting, ...

Things I don't like: slow, feels a little floaty, hard to feel connected, volume seems excessive for the kinds of things I paddle.

I want a boat that is a little more involving, allowing elegant flows from eddy to eddy in class 3+ (ignoring the fact for the moment that the limiting factor there is me) without being too unforgiving. No interest whatsoever in tricks and if the tail squirts it's because I've done something stupid by mistake

I've demoed a number of boats but haven't found what I want. For example:
Nomad - hated it, clearly not a fan of displacement hull creek boats
Burn - too edgy
Ripper - horrendously unstable from my point of skill

If they still made one, I think I'd be looking at a Fun Runner but they don't and I've never seen one in the UK.

Getting to the point of all this: Is there some one familiar with the Hero, the Antix and the 4Fun, who'd be willing to give some input on how they feel relative to each other and which one I ought try to track down to demo?



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Old 01-15-2018   #2
bobbuilds's Avatar
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Hero, 4fun, antix, fun runner, karma, Nirvana,

the Hero was designed to be stable, high volume, short, easy to turn.

It is a great boat to paddle, or Lear in and move up.

Some things to ask yourself when choosing a boat also, what is your paddling style?

A hero is a river runner, not there to do tricks or play. River runner

An antix is a river runner up front and a slicy boat in the stern. If you maintain forward paddling it will paddle like a hero, as soon as you start leaning back, getting sloppy and coming out of drops the stern sinks and squirts and you have to deal with that. River/river play

4fun, even more so than antix. Slow slicy, so much fun on class 3 for a comfortable boater to play and have fun. But hat to feel stable when learning and gets submerged in drops, pushed around. Think river play

Fun runner, river runner, not a slicy stern but lower volume than zen or karma. Stable, rolls well, good length for eddys. Good wave surfer, stops about their with play.

Zen, even more river runner than a fun runner, fast, stable, feels long, like a big boy boat. Runs rivers builds river skills. Surfs glassy waves, you can surf out of holes and great river boat class 3/4

Karma, highest volume, parting line, length. So sick! Most stable and forgiving boat on th list. It is a river runner creeker, a boat like this can be so comfortabl and fun to paddle in class 3/3+ to 4 it’s unfair,

Nirvana, new creeker, not much on it yet but newest designs are leaning to the advanced paddler where poor form is not tolerated, however it’s better than a karma big time in a lot of ways.

Paddler comfort and style.

If you want to delvelope river running skills on class3/4. the fun runner(3) zen(2) and karma (1) are my recommendations

If you want to squirt and stall and have class 3 stay pushy and fun I’d say. Antix (2) 4fun (1)

The antix is an anomaly. If you paddle an antix and never feel your stern grab you have good form and river skill, if it feels unstable and grabby you have to work for stability and you’ll squirt it up!

If I were building river skill I’d chose a karma, or zen biased on how you fit.

If I were to play I’d take a 4 fun

And if I want a challenge and uncertainty in my stern based on the water and class of river, antix.

Kayaking is so much fun.
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Old 01-15-2018   #3
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,306
The Antix and Ripper came from the same idea...a playful creekboat. They both have a high volume nose and a low volume stern. The LL Braap/Mullet is kind of in the same category but has a displacement hull. They aren't all identical, but the chance is good that if you had a hard time with the slicy hull of the Ripper then the same might be true of the other boats.

The Hero is definitely short, round and has lots of volume. This makes it very friendly, easy to roll, and easy to turn and manuever but might be a bit slower and won't track as well because of that. I think speed is a relative turn, since this will be quicker then a little spud playboat like the Star series, but certainly not as quick as some of the longer creek boats or the longer playboats (RPM, Braap, Antix, etc) and especially race boats like the Green Boat, Stinger and Karma Unlimited. It is also not going to hold a line as well as most of those boats. I bet its great to learn to roll in though...and you may not notice the downsides till you start getting better at edge control and the like.

Its worth having a look at boats like the Jackson Zen, Wavesport Diesel, LL Remix or the Dagger Mamba. They all have characteristics that provide both play and control, but have the volume to not have to worry about squirlyness or catching edges (as much).

At the end of the day no matter what you get, there is a learning curve. Kayaking is unlike anything else you have put your body through and it takes some time to get that muscle memory to settle in. The more time in a boat the better, so finding something you are comfortable in and that will make you look forward to going boating instead of dreading it is a great first step.

I'll be honest, its not completely insane for you to just go find the cheapest Dagger RPM you can get your hands on. That is the most successful whitewater kayak ever made and there is a reason for it. Its forgiving yet playful, fast but manueverable and is a great tool to learn the ropes. The Braap/Mullet, Antix, Dagger Axiom and Ripper all sort of tried to recreate it but still haven't quite gotten there. You can find RPM for supper cheap too, so no worries about buying a high dollar boat and hating it.
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Old 01-15-2018   #4
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,113
I'm going tell you you're wrong bloke. What you want is a Braap/Antix/Axiom/Ripper - whichever you can get your hands on & like best. I think these boats describe what you're looking for to a 't'. These also give you a nice separation between your Hero (which I think is a fine boat) and your new boat, X. I think you'll adjust to the feelings of instability.
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Old 01-15-2018   #5
My name isn't Will
Will Amette's Avatar
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 166
Originally Posted by Electric-Mayhem View Post
I'll be honest, its not completely insane for you to just go find the cheapest Dagger RPM you can get your hands on. That is the most successful whitewater kayak ever made and there is a reason for it. Its forgiving yet playful, fast but manueverable and is a great tool to learn the ropes. The Braap/Mullet, Antix, Dagger Axiom and Ripper all sort of tried to recreate it but still haven't quite gotten there. You can find RPM for supper cheap too, so no worries about buying a high dollar boat and hating it.
I have a trio of RPMs. One is retired, one was from the run they did in 2009 that I bought from a friend who never made friends with it for some reason, and I never got around to outfitting it. I loan it out to friends, and if my sweetie ever decides she really likes it, it's hers. I picked up a Special Edition for a 2015 Grand Canyon trip. This was a small run in 2013 that actually came with modern outfitting! Every now and then they trickle a few new ones out to the retail market. They still make them for schools. I love how it paddles, and most of all, it's comfortable. I had a Fun the first year they were made. I liked how it paddled, but it hurt me SO BAD I couldn't stay in it very long. You can find them for sale at a reasonable price, and if you find you like displacement hulls, you're in business. My self-support boat is a Tornado. Yep -- displacement hull.

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Old 01-16-2018   #6
Plymouth, UK
Paddling Since: 2017
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 5
Thanks for the comments. So far it seems the gamut is:

  • Karma (mamba, remix) if I want an easier life; the contra view being it's even more of a tank
  • Zen should be ideal for what I want to do; it's long and fast and possibly no more responsive
  • Antix (or axiom or ripper) for skill building; intended for squirting
  • 4Fun what it says on the tin; slow and a steeper learning curve
  • RPM the "perfect" boat; old outfitting and a displacement hull
  • Fun Runner might be the right compromise; older and can't find one here
  • Raptor (off the wall suggestion) bigger volume but responsive and a semi-displacement hull
Since I think I want a nice little sports car, rather than an SUV, I suppose I'm going to have to find a way of trying the Antix and the 4Fun on a river and see what I think. This has certainly given me pointers in what I should look for ... and I might end up in a karma if I decide I need more coddling

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Old 01-16-2018   #7
FatmanZ's Avatar
Northern Utah, Utah
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 685
Another vantage point:

Take some time and observe what kayaks others are paddling on the class III rivers that interest you and see what they do with their kayaks. Compare that with where you see yourself in a year or two. Like any gear, you can always resell and upgrade when you figure out your preferred interests/style.

What ultimately do you want to do and/or see yourself doing?

Do you want to navigate the class III stretches more easily with less chance of rolling? If yes, go the Karma, Zen, Hero route.

Do you want to mix it up and learn how to surf and squirt and play and do it all with a bit of a challenge? Grab a 4Fun or similar.

Do you want a cross between the two? Grab the Antix or similar.

Also, if you can, try out as many boats as you can and you'll find a preferred one before long.
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Old 01-16-2018   #8
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Poundtown, Wokastan
Paddling Since: 420
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,610
Originally Posted by drkdjones View Post
  • RPM the "perfect" boat; old outfitting and a displacement hull

Bahahahahah. Just about peed myself a little bit.

I still have an old RPM and I've spent a day or two in the remix. Do not confuse these two. Yhey are no where near the same boat.

Just an FYI, The Hero is a hole magnet. That boat seeks out and firmly plants itself in the nearest hole for convenience.
I saw someone do it on youtube.
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Old 01-16-2018   #9
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 819
Step 1: Purchase Braap.

Step 2: Peel out into current and notice strange new feeling- this is the feeling of kayaking. Wait, wasn't I kayaking before? No- you were getting swirled like a cork in a toilet. Embrace this new feeling- it is good.

Step 3: Live life of happiness and fulfillment.
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Old 01-18-2018   #10
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,766
My favorite all time kayak for my size 215 lbs 6 ft, is the RPM Max. You can fun run just about anything in it, surf like a dream, very easy to roll, soon as you learn to work with not against that flat stern - it stern squirts great, and they are cheap.

I went to a Remix 79 as a more manageable creeker, more storage space and still a great all around fun river runner. also plenty of good deals out there.

After many decades kayaking, I found out that a person needs more than one design kayak as it all depends on the river and what you want to do. But the RPM max in my case is the single best all around kayak I found.
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