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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I love the look of the new 2015 Zen. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a demo boat in my area. I'm hoping for some help to assist me to choose a size...
My weight is 175 lbs. I am 6'2" tall with size 11 feet. I have a 33" inseam. I do mostly class 3-4 river running in my area (occasional class 5), but plan to travel to do some creeking in the coming years.
I seem to be exactly in between the medium and large. I will have to special order the kayak and will be committed to it once I purchase it. Any help you can provide me will be greatly appreciated!
 

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Abron Cabron
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Zen Medium.

I am pretty stoked on the 2015 Zen L too... time to upgrade, as long as it fits like the 2014 zen L and NOT like the 2014 karma M. they changed the knee positioning in the Rockstar and Karma last year. I loved the shape, but my legs went numb quickly like the old EZG and 90's kayak designs we are trying to leave in the garden growing plants.......that Karma demo was very distressing to me, as otherwise JK boats have been pretty universally comfortable, and i have been able to progress, and stay all day comfortable like never before ,since 2010 and switching to JK.....This shouldn't be a problem for regular shaped i.e. petite.... people.

To decide sizes, in a nutshell i would advise you to go medium, unless you have a good reason not to. (XLarge person or big water/expedition stuff.)
I am a big boy, so Lg is definitely my choice.I also look to pack up for selfsupport as a need, and the superhero @95 gal can easily pack for a 4day trip, and still paddle like a champ...albeit a champ aircraft carrier. lol.

for reference, In my experience, (and cause they told me) JK sizes are generous, as in 2009 4fun worked for me at 230+, Karma M was brilliant except the knees.... and the 2011 superhero and 2012 superstar are my currently owned and favorite boats ever...yet.
I want 2015 L zen and 4fun if I can work it this summer. add a L rogue or XP10 and theres a quiver for you. Or me... actually :mrgreen:
only other logical comp is a LL super squirrel, or ZET director. those are on my radar. (ZET!!!)
If you go to JK. com, email or query them on the Zen product page. - they answer size questions all year long. i bet some one asked about your size already.
I would ask [email protected] i bet he is close to your size, and... knows some stuff.to say the least.
Cheers!
 

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This is an awesome boat that I've been loving to paddle! I am about your size and prefer the large. With your height and shoe size, it makes sense.

Can you describe your intentions with the boat, what you plan to run, and your skill level?

You really are in a pickle as paddlers your weight are split between the medium and large. The previous generation large Zen would fit you pretty well, but the new Zens are a little bigger.

-Micah
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your quick response guys.
Interesting...two opposite suggestions re size, yet both make sense. It really is tough to choose!
I would say I was an advanced paddler 20 years ago. I'm returning to paddling now that my kids have grown. Things sure have changed!
I was a strong class IV paddler and did paddle occasional class V with relative comfort. I will be using the Zen primarily for River running class IV, but would like to do some creeking now that I can afford the time and $$$ to travel.
 

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from what i gather the large is 90 gallons and the medium is 80. My wife has the large, but she is shorter than you. She is a class 3 paddler and hasn't had a hard time keeping the boat straight in rapids or on flat water so far.

I have not paddled it yet, but it is a way cooler design than what they did the first time. It looks rounder and has more rocker, pivots easy and is still very fast.

I think it is taller overall, creating more room inside. I was interested to hear how abron noticed the deck height difference in years with the karma, I knew it felt different but couldnt figure it out.

I paddle a large karma with the latest changes. I had to move the seat one back from what i used to, my wife paddles the new Zen and went one forward from center of what she was used to, interesting.

I would recomend the large boat over a medium, but please tell us what boats you've paddled and liked, jackson runs wide, so if you liked a pyrhana burn, you'll like the medium feel.

Also, sit in any boats in your area and give us feedback, after knowing what you paddle and where it helps us give ideas better.

I will be trying a large zen this summer, I was better in my villain than the karma, not sure if it is the volume or the hull design. I think its me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Boats I've paddled...I'm not sure that'll be much help:)

The last boat I owned was a Pyranha stunt 300 and a Dagger response before that. I currently own a Wavesport Fuse 56. I plan to replace it next year. I'm getting some of the "new" play moves down, but would love to get something more capable for play-boating i.e. Mobius or similar. I also don't much like it for running rivers. I find it too slow for that purpose.

Despite the fact that paddling is excellent in my area, there are very few kayak options available. We have a Pyranha and Jackson dealer close by, but they typically don't stock whitewater boats. There a a Wavesport dealer nearby as well. I have considered a Deisel, but it seems to me that the current model will likely be updated soon. To be honest, it looks a little long-in-the-tooth compared to the other more modern options i.e. 2015 Jackson Zen, Pyranha Burn 3 and Dagger Mamba 8.1. I guess what I'm trying to say is I will likely have to buy a new boat without getting to test paddle or even sit in one. Not an ideal situation...
 

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I'd give the med 2015 JK Zen a go. I paddle a Large (6', 32", size 12, 200lbs) but have spent lots of time in the 2015 Med this winter. I fit the Med cockpit great but will be in the Large this summer as its more appropriate for my weight especially in bigger water. If you can demo that is the safest way to know for sure. Where are you located? If I'm in your area you are welcome to try our Med and Large...

This new 2015 Zen is going to dazzle and surprise many people this spring. It's a really great design.


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Drive time from your town to the Zoar Outdoor Center in Charlemont Mass. is 9 hours and change. They don't sell every brand but they have quite a selection. Why not burn that spare time and money and try them all out. I bought a boat last season without even sitting in it. Never again! Just my two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey peterholcombe...thanks for the offer. I live in Ontario, Canada two hours north of Toronto. From what I've been reading in other reviews, I could paddle a medium for a "sportier" ride or a large for a more stable/ forgiving ride. i.e. Play in holes and waves or blast over them. How did you find the performance of the medium...being a healthy 200 lbs.


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Trailhead Paddleshack in Ottawa....I think there is another trailhead as well just not sure of location. As well MEC Toronto probably rents boats, no Jackson though :(


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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah...MEC sells Pyranha. I'm been interested in the Burn 3. I should fit the large perfectly...I'm a little concerned about the Pyranha outfitting, though. I've not read or heard many good things.
There is a Paddleshack in Muskoka. They generally don't carry whitewater kayaks. I'm afraid if I ordered one from them, I'd be committed to it.
 

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I am 5'7" 155# and like the fit of the M '15 Zen. The new zens are bigger than the old ones. Sounds like either M or L would work for you but paddle a bit different. If you want more playful go M, if you want more relaxed or better big water action go L. There is lots of volume in the front so the med should be comfortable with your legs and feet. Trying to help.
 

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I had both the zen 75 and karma MD unishock bulkhead pushed quite far forward in both boats at my 6' height. I really don't think even with the new volume the medium Zen would comfortably handle your inseam. To make it comfy you may have to have seat too far back making the stern grabby.....


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Plus with the type of water you plan on running, I would go with the L without a doubt. It is still way smaller than a Karma L.


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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I finally got a reply from Jackson about this...as expected, they say I can paddle either. Medium if I want sporty, large if I want stable. I tend to think large will be the way to go, based on the water I plan to run...as Dman987 suggested.

Thanks, everyone, for your helpful comments and suggestions.
 

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I used the JK 2015 Zen med this winter surfing in the ocean and doing attainment workouts in easy rapids. It was a lot of fun in the ocean allowing me to surf glassy waves I couldn't catch in my Rock Star. It punches waves and holes well with an easy dry bow design. It's really fast and rolls so easy.

Here is a video of one of my first days in the 2015 Zen med.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdZPThJOcRY

Now I haven't had great creek to really test my 2015 Zen large yet. I did paddle it in flat water and was really surprised how fast it was. I'll get to paddle it in CA this weekend and can report back my findings but I think it's going to have a very carvy fast feel. I think the large is the way to go at 200 lbs. for me as I'll be mostly paddling class IV-V in this boat.


Hey peterholcombe...thanks for the offer. I live in Ontario, Canada two hours north of Toronto. From what I've been reading in other reviews, I could paddle a medium for a "sportier" ride or a large for a more stable/ forgiving ride. i.e. Play in holes and waves or blast over them. How did you find the performance of the medium...being a healthy 200 lbs.


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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Great footage! I've done some similar surfing on Lake Ontario. It looks a lot warmer/ more comfortable on the Gulf:)
I weighed myself with my paddling gear last week. I am 190 lbs all-in. So...for river running and class 3-4 creeking and considering your experience with this boat, what do you suggest size-wise?
I tend to think large, but having said that, I sat in a large Karma and it seemed monstrous! I want the boat to be good for big water and creeking, but still be able to enjoy the odd surf etc without having to fight the boat too much. I'm finding boat sizing difficult. After a long lay-off from the sport, I'm still amazed at the evolution. Back when I was into paddling in a huge way, options for boat sizes were very limited...You just chose a boat and paddled. I kind of miss that simplicity.
 

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I'd recommend going with the large at your size with the paddling goals you mention.

Also note that the large Zen fits between the med and large Karma in paddler size/weight capacity. Jackson dose this throughout the whole lineup to offer a boat that is will fit anyone.
for example I paddle a medium Karma and large Zen.

Let us know how you like it when you get your new boat. Happy paddling!

-Peter
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