We are moving back to kayaks after years of rafting (and in my case, years of kayaking in the mid-late '70s in Holoform Riverchasers on the New, Gauley, Cheat... and sea kayaks in Baja...) and many years canoeing (Allagash, Red River, Boundary Waters, Algonquin Park...). We've taken the Traverse 10' and 9' on three-day trips on the Deschutes (3+), John Day (2+), Grande Ronde (3) all in Oregon. I also checked out the Jackson Karma RG (2 days on Deschutes) and Dagger Katana (couple of hours on the Willamette).
The Traverse is a really good multi-day river boat; I think it will easily handle medium size Class IV rivers (say the Rogue, next Spring now that I have a reliable roll back). It is quicker turning than the Katana or RG and just as stable - It tracked well enough on flat sections - though it still needs to be paddled like a whitewater boat, with hip action. People complaining about the tracking are, I imagine, trying to paddle as if it were a flatwater boat.
Between the cargo hatch, space behind the seat and space in front of the foot pegs it easily took the gear for a three-day solo... and between the two boats we could very comfortably do five nights. The optional hardtop is must-have; when we tried without it there was persistent leakage and constant fear of the standard hatch cover coming off. Because the cockpits are big, my wife (5'4") has a hard time keeping her sprayskirt on during a roll - me no (6' in the 10').
Perhaps the only low-grade element of the boat are the foam foot peg inserts. I understand that they will help make sure your foot does not get wedged in the pegs (and maybe they will even help hold the front pillar in place, since it is only fixed, to the deck, on top), but cutting them to shape is tricky (since JK states they are essential, it would be good to include a template for cutting) and the string and toggle arrangement does not inspire confidence.
All in all, we are really happy with them!
Awesome all round kayak! I have used it for whitewater, day trips and the BWCA. Handles rough or calm water equally well. Tracks well with drop down skeg and maneuvers well with skeg up.
First look at the Jackson traverse.
My first impression of the boat is its amazing, it has the bow rocker and edge lines of a solid creeking boat. The hatch seals well, for 40 extra bucks you can get a hard shell hatch cover to go over the soft one, it also latches in place which will make the hatch a true dry hatch. The 3 flush mount accessory points are setup for rod holders or a go pro stick. As with all jacksons it comes stock with a go pro mount and the Jackson simple yet utilitarian outfitting. The skeg controls are the same as the karma rg and are absolutely the simplest out of the conversion kayak skegs to use. With the hard shell cover I'd rate this as a solid class 5 boat but tomorrow will tell the difference. The only downside I see from the exterior of the boat is the lack of a drain for the hatch area, I'm gonna chalk that up to Jackson kayak banking on their hatch to be completely dry. From my experience with conversion kayaks no hatch is 100% dry some are better then others but they still leak. If the hatch stays dry after tomorrow's paddling adventure I'll be shocked.
Post paddle report on the Jackson Traverse.
The first thing I noticed while outfitting the boat, which actually is the only design flaw I could see. The loops for your throw bag are located to close to the seat. Other then that I have no problems with the outfitting. My 4 piece paddle fit with ease in the hatch which was easy to open and put back in place. I'm 5'11" 220 lbs so I'm not a small boater, I fit in the traverse quite comfortably, probably the most comfortable I've been in a kayak. On the water I noticed the boat got pushed around a little bit which is like a creek boat. It took me a few Rapids to stop treating the boat like a crossover and treating it like a creek boat with a hatch and a skeg. Once I did that the boat handled like a dream and by the end of the run my confidence level was up and I was at home in a boat that I found comfortable paddling in any water. It seemed like it auto corrected to line me up for great hits without needing many corrective paddle strokes. In my opinion Jackson has developed an amazing crossover boat that would feel at home in a lot of people's fleets. I like the boat so much that I returned the demo today and placed an order for one.
My observations after paddling it for about 75 miles in various water conditions, ranging from flat waters of Ohio with little to no flow, to class 3 rapids during a release. Clay Wright also gave some very accurate information during his video of it on jacksons site.
Clays thoughts are spot on regarding the turning while coasting, as I thought it was just me. When slowing without current or paddling, the boat will turn one side to the other.
The Traverse is a whitewater boat first and foremost, since it has the Karma hull, but it has the skeg which does improve tracking and its one of the few I can fit in due to the width of the cockpit. I can't fit in any Daggers or Pyranhas. I am at the upper limit of the boat, 6'2 and 285 but the boat behaves well, doesn't feel like its being a slug, is stable, and predictable. I've had experienced kayakers tell me it looks perfectly trimmed and I still carry gear in the stern area.
I usually have to paddle with 1/2 power strokes as it helps with the tracking and is very efficient. It gets up to speed fast, usually in 2-3 good strokes. If I need to add power, you lean forward and the boat is straight as an arrow with the power strokes. It will pivot about its center axis (yaw axis for those familiar with aviation) very quickly if desired. It works very well in the Ohio flatwater rivers and creeks.It was fun in the class 3 rapids I ran, though I couldn't stay in them long as I did not have my skirt yet.
The boat loves to surf, and at times will do it without trying. I was watching others playing in a hole while I was in the river in a light current. After 5 minutes I realized I hadn't moved downstream as the boat was surfing the current on its own.
I can keep up with rec and touring boats in flat water, without much effort. I love the whitewater rating and characteristics since thats my main focus, but I am realistic with the Ohio waters and the many flatwater sections.
For the waters I paddle, and my goal, I could not be happier.