Gear Review: Jackson Nirvana
I only review kayaks that I like and I absolutely love the new Jackson Nirvana kayak. When I first saw photos of this boat my first impression that it was simply for kayak racing and didn't think much of it. After paddling it on the White Salmon for a couple days I can't imagine paddling any other boat. It's a demo from the Kayak Shed and am not looking forward to giving it back.
I'm 6'2" and 220 lbs and paddled the regular size (maybe it's called medium) Nirvana. I really liked this size and am excited to try the large Nirvana that should come out any day now. It's rumored to be 9'6" and I'm happy to see Jackson Kayak unafraid to cross the arbitrary 9 foot short boat racing length. I don't race and am glad to see them make the absolute best boat instead of the best racing boat for their pros.
Here are some key points about this boat:
1. It's incredibly fast. Paddling a fast boat has never mattered much to me but now I get it. It was really nice to easily make aggressive moves in rapids.
2. The tail is very stable. I assumed that the flat tail would catch edges but after paddling it for a couple days I haven't caught an edge once.
3. The bow quickly resurfaces. This is a really nice feature in case you miss your boof or if you can't boof.
4. It's incredibly easy to roll. I've been paddling the Mamba and Burn for the past few years and my roll in these boats feels forced. In the Nirvana my roll feels natural again.
5. The boat is very maneuverable. I paddled the Large Newmad for a while and struggled with how difficult it was to change lines mid-rapid. Even though the Nirvana is a longer boat it's surprisingly nimble.
6. It's fun. This one is difficult to explain. I simply enjoy paddling this boat more than other boats I've been paddling lately.
7. Finally, I really like Jackson Kayak as a company. Everything is made in the U.S., their customer service is wonderful, and they are actively involved in the whitewater community.
As I was paddling it I was trying to come up with with the downside of this boat compared to the Dagger Mamba 8.6. The only think that I came up with is that it doesn't surf as well. That's it. If you have a chance to paddle (or buy) this kayak I'd highly recommend it!