The quality of the plastics are spot on with no flimsy parts anywhere. The outfitting is comfortable with the back band and feet rest being super quick and easy to adjust on the move. The volume is astounding for such a small boat!
The boat is super stable even in the most unsettled water. The confidence you gain from tackling your first rapid, through your first river and onwards is amazing. This boat truly opens up opportunities that you didn't even know existed!
Being short with a real nice hull design meals that you can do plenty surfing safe in the knowledge that the chances of tipping the boat are slim.
Speed wise... It's nowhere near as fast as a Zen but it more than makes up for this in the ease in which it can be thrown about. Eddy hopping is a breeze, throwing it on edge is an awesome feeling and launching off waterfalls is bliss!
You don't need to worry so much if you screw up. This boat forgives and simply carries on. Some say that Jacksons are easy to roll, I agree, but if you find yourself upside down you've done something incredibly silly or else you've done it on purpose!
It's such a shame that this boat has been discontinued but I am glad that I got, basically, the last new one in the country! Hopefully Jackson will revisit the Hero in the future and give us another 'latest and greatest' version using the ever evolving abilities to design outstanding boats.
The new Hero is 3"-4" shorter than the previous one and the drain plug is in the center of the stern, making for quickly emptying the kayak.
Two thumbs up for this kayak.
Let's get the bad bits over with first:
The outfitting. Jacskon Outfitting is weird. The foot rests are safe but if you're like me you have to wonder about having lots of rope by your legs when you're paddling...
The backband uses Jackson's patented rope and cleat system which means it's very easy to adjust but very difficult to get tight. It tends to slip when in use and sometimes the whole lot comes out of the cleats completely (not good).
This said, once set up the boat is VERY comfortable.
Utilizing the Jackson playboat hull sounds like a bad idea for a river runner but somehow it works. The Hero has a surprising turn of speed and tracks really well even in big volume. The rounded hull makes it incredibly easy to roll. After drops the boat resurfaces very quickly. The balance of the boat is fantastic and it surfs river waves with surprising ease.
The build is brilliant. I took a swim in a river in flood (it was my fault not the boat's!) My Hero did 3 miles without me and came out almost unscathed despite getting a good beating from in several holes. Bombproof plastic, which is for the best as cross-linked plastic is difficult to repair!
All in all a really nice boat that would suit a beginner looking for a stable friendly platform or an advanced paddler looking to run class 4/5. The outfitting lets it down what is one of my favorite boats, hence the 8/10 score.
If it had a decent backrest and less fussy footrest it would have been a 10