Today I spend a few hours in the new Jackson Karma. Now today was quite unusual as once I was in the Karma and on the water I took an instant dislike to it!
Paddler Weight: Range 83-136kg
The large Karma was supplied by Northshore Watersports here in the UK. On picking up the boat I noticed it was pretty light. This was a surprise given the fact that it looks really really big. I was expecting something more akin to the Dagger Mamba and Wavesport Recon but the Karma was noticeably lighter.
On closer inspection it’s quite easy to see where the weight has been saved. The outfitting is simple and relies upon lightweight and tough hardware and the vast majority of it is plastic.
There is very little in the way of metal in the Karma with the minimal number of bolts and no full plate footrest bracketory. The footrest system seems very basic and as this was the first time I had tried out the system I wasn’t too hopeful about how it would perform. It reminded me too much of a a system that I think Pyranha first used around 25+ years ago.
However once on the water I found that it works rather well and I quite like the idea of being able to pull the footrest towards you when you are sat in the boat. It is also so much quicker and less fiddly than any other full plate footrest system I have tried.
The seat rail is welded into the boat which also acts as a stiffener for the hull, this feature is starting to become quite common in a number of the newer designs that are being released.
Setting up the Karma was super simple. The rope and cleat system works well and I moved the seat forward a couple of holes which only required one nut to be removed.
The lack of holes in the hull is really good and certainly makes sense. It was nice not to have any water ingress through the hull, it also saves on weight. And although the cockpit shape had left me frustrated trying to get my deck on the rim it did provide a really good seal with my IR Klingon Empire deck.
The cockpit rim does have a couple of holes at the front and back. I’m not sure what function they actually perform.
The backrest was very supportive but due to its size also made putting on my deck a little awkward. When the deck was on the backrest could be felt and seen pushing against the neoprene. I’m not sure whether this would lead to damage to the neoprene in the long term.
Looking at the boat on dry land you can see that the 103 gallon volume isn’t concentrated in one particular area – there is quite simply lots of volume in all areas!
The new Jackson Kayak range come supplied with a GoPro mount attachment, this essentially is a threaded hole that allows you to bolt a modified GoPro mount directly to the bow of the boat.
It seemed rude not to try it out.
At 210lbs (naked) I sit at the lower end of the weight range of the large Karma. On the water the boat feels pretty big and sits high in the water. It therefore bobs around a bit and feels very different to the Recon and Mamba. I did not like this at all and for the first 30 – 40 mins in the boat I was ready to call it a day and hand it back. However after moving the seat forward another notch and an hour or so of water time I began to really like the Karma.
It’s a pretty fast boat. The Karma shares the same planing hull design as the Zen, but has more rocker and volume at the bow than its river running sibling. The hull of the Karma is very interesting, it has an unusual configuration of multiple edges.
The edges offer good levels of primary and secondary stability as well as giving the boat something to grab the water with as you make a tight turn and carve.
The Karma has good acceleration and it can pick up waves easily and surf really well. Get it bang on and the Karma will just sit on the wave with no need for paddle correction. A little lean forward, back, left or right moves the Karma. This shows how well configured those edges are.
The Karma rides really high in the water and simply barrels through everything you put before it. Getting up to speed only takes a few paddle strokes and the speed is maintained well. To get the most out of the speed I reckon you need to put the boat on edge and drive it through the turns. Doing so produces a nice quick turn with no hint of the rails being grabbed by the water.
I think that the medium Karma may be a better option for me. I plan to give that one a try shortly.
Overall I think the Karma will be worth looking at by everyone who wants a creek boat that is a little bit different and quirky.