zen vs karma?

Paddling gear and boat review
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Mike S
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zen vs karma?

Post by Mike S » Thu May 21, 2015 7:15 am

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Name: Mike Potts
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Re: zen vs karma?

Post by Mike_P » Sun May 24, 2015 7:22 pm

I'll take a stab at this as I've pondered this many times and still not sure the right answer but I think it comes down to a few things. I sold my Superhero and replaced it with a Zen 75. I also have a 4Fun.

1. Do you want to do more river running & creeking including bigger drops (lean toward Karma) vs river running and playing including surfing (lean toward Zen).

2. Which boat do you fit into better (the 2015 Zen is sized a little bigger than the previous model). I'm 5'9" 190-195 lbs and tend to be a little big for the medium Karma and a little small for the large Karma based on the Jackson website but I haven't paddled either one. I'm just the right size for the old model Zen 75 which is what I have. I've onsidered the newer large Zen as it would probably be a little more forgiving for me (which I think was the goal of the redesign) but may be a bigger boat than I want to boss around and may be a little harder for me to roll given it's size but I haven't tried one out yet.

3. What other boats to you have and/or will this be your only boat? If I could only pick one boat I would get the Zen for sure.

Hope that helps. Would love others to chime in.
Mike P.

P.S. Would assume Karma is due for a redesign next year.

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Re: zen vs karma?

Post by hilbili » Mon May 25, 2015 7:28 pm

The new zen seems more like the karma with increased rocker and higher sides, yet more manueverable. Admittedly my demo was at ww school with low water, but I would take the zen over the karma for anything but hardcore high water steep creek runs( of which Ihave 0).
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Name: Charles

Re: zen vs karma?

Post by Charles1967 » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:14 am

I have a new Karma MD and a Zen 65 [2012]. After starting with a play boat, both are simply a riot to paddle. The Zen 65 was a fast, fun boat...but when I tried the Karma MD at the Ford I simply fell in love. I was shocked at the speed, surf ability, control [cutting ability], and forgiveness of that boat - it was as if the edges were there when I need them, but never got in my way when I didn't. The Zen 65 was fast, but at my weight in a 65 just required more attention than I wanted to give. I'm 170lb, 6'2 - and I'm guessing the experience YOU have with each boat will depend completely on how it performs based on where you land in the weight range and the seat adjustment.

The NEW Zen [small, medium, large] have added a few gallons, and some rocker. If you are going for NEW, try both...in current [not a pool or lake]...because they aren't cheap; although, my guess is you'd grow to love either one. If you are buying used...well, I'm partial to the Karma. Still, plenty our there to sit in and try. Try it before you buy it.

Side note: After paddling my Karma for months I had some 'myths' [how level boat needs to sit in water] about how far up/back I should be sitting in my boat dispelled by Stephen Wright [Jackson] at WW School. I made one adjustment and suddenly the paddling speed and control of that Karma MD jumped dramatically for me. Made me realize I'd passed judgment on boats in the past probably without ever giving those hulls a chance to perform as designed.

My two cents.... :twocents:
Siloam Springs resident a few miles from the Ford. ccoletexas@gmail.com - Charles

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Re: zen vs karma?

Post by Smo_Off » Fri Jun 05, 2015 2:29 pm

Two Words: "Dagger Ma'am-BA" :poke2: :ROFL:
My Favorite River is the one that I'm paddling.


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Re: zen vs karma?

Post by tomOzarkVideo » Mon Jun 22, 2015 7:05 am

I can't speak for the Karma. I've never paddled one. I will say that the new Zen is the best boat I've ever paddled. Enough volume and rocker to keep you creeking and enough play to zip all over your go-to class II practice run. I have paddled it 10 times and am still amazed with the things I can get out of this boat.

I have been through 4 creek boats in the last 2 years and I'm finally done looking... FINALLY!!!
"My favorite rapid was Boogie Water" - kru

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Name: Larry Tucker

Re: zen vs karma?

Post by LarryT » Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:52 pm

As someone who has paddled and owned a Zen 65 (twice), Zen 75, Karma MD and new Zen M, I can provide some input at 5'9 - 190. Two of the respondents have former Jackson kayaks I've owned. Jackson boats are very light and stable.

- Zen 65 - Fun to paddle and toss around. My favorite fun kayak.
- Zen 75 - Big and floats overthing. Just a pure river runner.
- Karma MD - Most stable kayak I've owned. My son did a private lesson on the Middle Ocoee recently and the instructor paddled a Karma MD. Probably the only Jackson I would recommend to a friend.
- 2015 Zen M - Very stable and responsive.

My main problem with all of the Jackson's (Zen 65 the least) was my legs would go numb. I had to get out of the 2015 Zen M every mile on one trip to get the feeling back in my legs. The configuration of the seat / hip pads just didn't work no matter how I worked with them.

I'm now on my 4th Dagger Mamba 8.1 and the primary reason is I can paddle them all day and have no back or leg issues.

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