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Jackson Rockstar Large vs Medium vs Superstar

- Wednesday July 11, 2012
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At 6'1" and 170-175 lbs, I'm in between sizes when it comes to Jackson playboats. I'm pretty that's a fairly common size and after looking online at reviews, comments on the Jackson site, etc there are a lot of you like me. Reading comments on the Jackson Kayak Rockstar page, Clay Wright seemed to alternate between suggesting the Rockstar Large with a ton of added seat height and cramming into a Rockstar Medium. At 5'9" and 175 lbs, Clay is in a good spot for the Medium and because he's a bad-ass, can also throw the Large around. I however, am merely pretty good. I need to get a good fit so I can huck one around fairly easy. So which is the best for me? Only way to figure that out is to try them all! 

This past weekend, I headed down to the Ocoee with Michael Loftis to have a battle royale with 3 Jackson playboats. I paddled the Superstar on Friday, the RockStar Large on Saturday and a RockStar Medium on Sunday. Here are the results:

Click to see the gallery

Love the Rockstar hull, etc but it's REALLY hard for me to get a good fit. I constantly feel like I'm going to fall out of the thigh hooks when throwing it around in a hole. Keep in mind that this is with a Sweet Cheeks 100 on top of the padded seat, Jackson Happy Feet, Jackson Happy Seat, 2 large pieces of memory foam under my thighs, etc. Besides being still too much volume for my size, I frankly don't feel like dealing with all the extra outfitting. Looks like the freakin' spaghetti monster in my cockpit with all the hoses, strings, etc. I will say however that for running a river and down-river play, it's pretty awesome. Super stable and can surf in a hole/wave with it as well. If I could take an inch or two out of it and just a couple volume I think it would be perfect. Unfortunately it's not. I would have to outfit the crap out of it to make it work, don't like sitting that high, etc. 

On to the Medium. First, let me say that my height is the big disadvantage in this one. At 6'1", it is really cramped for me but after a lot of adjusting, I think I can make it work. I need to drop a few pounds for sure. At my height, I think 175 is absolute max for this boat to get the right balance. I'm gonna drop from 180 to 170ish and try it out then. Think  that will help and thats my normal weight anyway. I also switched out the Sweet Cheeks 200 that it comes with for a 100 and managed to fit a Happy Feet small in the bow. Helped out a bit and should make it easier to roll anyway. I should note that the Medium is a 2012 model and the Large is a 2011. They changed the outfitting in 2012 and no longer have a padded seat, just Sweet Cheeks on plastic. As far as surfing, throwing it around, etc. the only problem I had with it was that it seemed like it was harder to initiate the bow while surfing because I was kinda leaned back in it. Something I will have to work on and should decrease some with the weight change. Just gonna have to be more deliberate with it. Also, I should note that I could seemingly surf all day in it on a wave despite my size.   

Now to the Superstar. While I'm still on the low end of the weight range, it just fits me better, espically since I was pushing 185 at the time. Surfing was great and and I actually did the best with aerial moves, etc on it. As far as river-running, I actually prefer the Rockstar but I think that is partly because I've got so used to not having that longer slicey stern. I believe this is something I'll get over though and I'm really looking forward to spending some more quality time with it on the Ocoee. I also can't wait to see if/what they change with it for the 2013 models. Might have to snag one when they come out. 

So what did I learn from all this? I think I need a Rockstar Medium .5. Lol. Unfortunately they don't make that size so I think I'll drop a few pounds and stick to the medium and the Superstar.

Too long, didn't read? Let me give a short recap:

- This is for paddlers around 6'1" and 175 lbs. 

- Rockstar Large is a great river runner but just too big. Can compensate with tons of outfitting and high seat but still dealing with a ton of volume for that size. 

- Rockstar Medium is really close to ideal. My height is a little much for it and I'm kinda crammed in to get the trim right but I can make it work. Can't wait to try it some more, especially at around 170lbs. 

- Superstar is also really close to ideal. I'm a little bit on the light side of things for my size but can still huck it around quite well without a lot of customization to the outfitting. Very comfortable. Also runs the river well because of the added volume vs the Rockstar Medium. 


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